Knizewska 6 Edyta Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year United Kingdom
Ellie Discrimination &Human Rights Lawyer of the Year USA 14 Shefi
Welcome to the 2022 edition of the Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Awards. Lawyer Monthly is pleased to announce that the full list of winners of our 2022 Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Awards has been published. In the traditionally male-dominated legal sector, it is paramount to recognise the work of women whose achievements – both for themselves and for their clients – have won them acclaim in their areas of specialisation. The Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Awards is an annual spotlight of these exemplary professionals and their tireless efforts to develop themselves and the legal industry at large. This latest release includes a range of exclusive interviews with some of the most dynamic and ambitious women in the legal sector today. Featured winners include Law 365 founder Kim Simmonds, who lays out her vision for the future of tech in the legal sector, and Amelie Urso-Mehideb, who discusses her development as a notary public following the passage of the ‘Macron Law’. We also hear from Chrissie Cuming Walters on how she aids her clients in arranging complex financial settlements according to their individual needs. Last but not least, Ellie Shefi shares the trajectory of her storied career in law, delivered together with an inspiring message for women who wish to become a voice for change. Profiles of these winners and many more can be found throughout this year’s release. We at Lawyer Monthly are proud to present this special publication. Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists.
Edyta Knizewska 6 United Kingdom Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year Founder of FIT Legal Solutions “I think that now more than ever before, the horizon looks very appealing forwomen who are looking to make a bigger impact and succeed in the banking andfinance industry andwhowill showthat, in aflexible anddynamicworking environment, they can achieve great things,” www.fitlegalsolutions.com | www.derivativeslab.co.uk To win our banking and finance lawyer of the year award once is no mean feat. To do so twice in consecutive years takes success to a completely new level. But that is exactly what Edyta Knizewska has achieved. The founder of FIT Legal Solutions, a boutique legal consultancy, and Derivatives Lab, a pioneering digital educational platform sharing knowledge about the banking and finance industry, Edyta was determined not to rest on her laurels following her award last year. A return to normality post COVID pandemic was soon engulfed by international economic turmoil, testing the best in all aspects of professional practice. However, Edyta has succeeded in driving her business forward with great entrepreneurial zeal, growing her client portfolio to include global asset managers, insurance companies and asset allocators, and is building a team around her. As someone who knows only too well the restrictions of working in a corporate environment, Edyta has flourished in the more flexible and dynamic landscape of professional practice, carving out a niche where a highly personalised approach offering bespoke business and legal solutions is proving very productive.
7 “I think that now more than ever before, the horizon looks very appealing for women who are looking to make a bigger impact and succeed in the banking and finance industry and who will show that, in a flexible and dynamic working environment, they can achieve great things,” says the Polish-born lawyer, who is qualified to practice in England and Ireland. Edyta is a legal and business consultant working with high-profile asset and investment management firms, FTSE 100 companies and brokers. Throughout her career, she has built up a vast network of brokers, asset managers, institutional investors and service providers.
8 United Kingdom What was it that first attracted you to derivatives and trading relationships? Growing up, I would never have imagined that I would go on to head up global legal derivatives teams for leading financial services company Credit Suisse and Man Group plc, the world’s largest listed hedge fund. When I was young, the women around me – my older sister, mother and grandmother – all worked extremely hard, but in roles that were very much stereotypically characterised by society-imposed gender norms. This was the catalyst that ignited the fire in me to go out and pursue international opportunities and build a successful career in the corporate world. It was a difficult journey and I had to adapt and thrive in a very competitive world. Making my way to the UK (having won an international scholarship at the University of Plymouth to study International Relations), I then went on to study law and secured a sponsorship with local law firm Foot Anstey. I started working with them in 2006 in Commercial Litigation. While a fantastic experience, it made me realise that the rigidity of private practice was not something I could fully embrace. After taking a year out to pursue my passion for travel, I was missing the hustle and bustle of the corporate world and decided to ‘try and make it’ in London. At that time, I did not quite know what kind of role would be best suited for me. With some litigation and corporate experience, I was always attracted to the idea of having a ‘Wall Street career’. I trusted my intuition and kept applying to places that triggered my interest. During this process I came across a niche of lawyers specialising in trading agreements and derivative negotiations; like tax lawyers, they seemed to be representing a very different breed. Soon enough, the vision of becoming a legal counsel working for a global investment bank became an attainable goal. I decided to pursue a career in this field, going on to join Credit Suisse as their legal counsel and negotiator shortly after leaving private practice, and I did not look back. I was totally hooked; I knew that banking and finance was my niche and where I wanted to develop and advance my career in the derivatives market.
9 United Kingdom “Being a people person, I thrived in the negotiation sphere andhave beenpassionate about helping market participants navigate through the myriad of derivatives documents and trading relationships.” With progression in mind, I moved to Man Group plc, one of my best career moves to date. Not only did I develop as a derivatives lawyer, but I grew as a person, strategist, project manager and leader, co-heading the prime brokerage and trading legal team in London. How did this work compare to your previous experience in commercial litigation? How did it differ? Just starting out in my law career in the UK was both highly exciting and daunting, being a young woman originating from Poland. Having witnessed my parents work hard seven days a week in Poland to secure a better future for me and our family shaped my character immensely and developed my strong work ethic that has served me well ever since. Starting out in commercial litigation at Foot Anstey was a fantastic stepping stone into the corporate world. We represented clients in all stages of domestic and international litigation in both established and emerging markets. During my time at Foot Anstey I completed seats in corporate, family and intellectual property. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. It is difficult to compare commercial litigation to being a derivatives lawyer, but I do remember realising two things when I first came across it – how conceptual and complex anything to do with banking and derivatives litigation was and that, if I wanted to explore it as a real possibility and become an expert, I would have move to one of the big cities that are hub locations for derivatives, so my next move was to London. Not being fully satisfied that I had found my place in law with commercial litigation, when I started working in the derivatives space it incited passion in me I never knew existed. I went on to manage a number of high-profile strategic launches, including single investor mandates and sovereign wealth funds. I also led negotiations of legal documentation templates and headed successful implementation and delivery of various transformative cross-border regulatory and business transformation projects. Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year Being a people person, I thrived in the negotiation sphere and have been passionate about helping market participants navigate through the myriad of derivatives documents and trading relationships. With extensive experience working with the buy side, sell side and asset allocators, I have built up a skill set I could only have dreamed of if I had remained in commercial litigation. What was it that finally gave you the push to leave corporate life behind and found FIT Legal Solutions and the Derivatives Lab? I hit a point where I started realising that if I did not make some brave decisions, I would never reach my full potential or build my dream of working for myself.
10 I had established an immense level of contacts within the banking, finance and law sectors and had the ability to access a global array of industry experts, which made me think “Now is the time”. As the global pandemic hit, I did not give up; if anything it made me more resilient and determined to make a success of it. Timing is everything and the post-pandemic period is proving to be a very good time to be running a boutique business, free from the chains and ceilings of corporate life. The corporate landscape has changed in so many ways and I am extremely lucky to be creating a career by my own design without having to conform to the corporate working environment. FIT Legal Solutions was born out of years of experience and my desire to provide bespoke derivatives documentation and business consulting solutions to market participants globally. With over a decade of hands-on experience working in the legal, banking and finance industry, I was able to secure my first client almost immediately after leaving my corporate job. With FIT Legal Solutions proving highly successful over its first three years, Derivatives Lab (DLAB) was launched. One of the first of its kind, Derivatives Lab is an online educational resource created for all those currently working in or interested in the derivatives industry and keen to gain unique knowledge about the legal banking and finance field. It offers access to a wealth of know-how, tips and hacks for negotiating derivatives documentation and step-by-step, real and tested strategies to excel in your career in this industry. As part of the DLAB venture, I am also coaching and mentoring a number of young aspiring derivatives lawyers and graduates as my way of giving back for all the amazing support I gained throughout my career to date. United Kingdom “Startingout in commercial litigation atFootAnsteywas a fantastic stepping stone into the corporateworld.”
11 What would you regard as the greatest of your career achievements to date, and why? Without a doubt, setting up FIT Legal Solutions. I am immensely proud of where I am today, having set up on my own following the turmoil of a global pandemic and riding the current economic crisis. With market participants keen to take advantage of the recent volatility in the markets, FIT Legal Solutions’ unique delivery is well positioned for clients to be able to deploy capital faster for their relevant strategies, thus starting to make returns for their investors before their peers have even begun negotiations. This was my biggest goal in setting up FIT Legal Solutions and it has proved that taking that leap of faith and leaving the big corporates can certainly pay off. However, I could not have done it without my time spent in the corporate world and gaining invaluable experience and confidence of working from a very different perspective. I am committed to paving the way for others who are looking to build careers in this industry by sharing my unique insight and knowledge acquired through years of working in the financial services industry. In addition to sharing free valuable content online, Derivatives Lab will soon be launching its first online course – the ISDA Lab, a step-by-step practical guide to understanding and negotiating ISDA Master Agreements. It is early days (but exciting times) for Derivates Lab. A pilot course was carried out with select audiences earlier in the year, which was very well received and has allowed us to fine-tune our online course ahead of its launch in the very near future. In what ways has your perspective changed since ‘going solo’? In a world where big corporations are front of mind, bespoke specialist businesses can provide the personal service that is imperative when establishing client relations, a unique and attractive service I am very proud to offer. I believe FIT Legal Solutions can achieve quicker time to market for clients by delivering more structured and tailored solutions to trading documentation negotiations. A personalised approach allows the buy side to launch their products more seamlessly and the sell side to better understand, often delicate intricacies of the buy side processes. Going solo is the biggest possible confidence booster as you only have yourself to rely on. It has taught me that anything is possible if you are passionate about it. You have to be extremely resilient and disciplined, two attributes that I have had to build up throughout my whole life. Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year “In aworldwhere big corporations are front ofmind, bespoke specialist businesses can provide the personal service that is imperativewhen establishing client relations”
12 United Kingdom career there, to being where I am now by having worked hard to enjoy a successful corporate career. Running my own boutique business today is the icing on the cake. Is there a particular piece of advice that you would offer to anyone interested in the management of trading relationships? Do as much research as you can to make sure it is the right fit for you. It took me a long time to find the correct pathway for me and that involved working in various roles within the commercial litigation sector as well as representing clients on both the buy and sell side of financial negotiations. It is a very niche sector and one that requires a lot of dedication and hard work, as with all careers, but also one that is highly rewarding if you are committed. Communications and client relations are key in this sector, so speak to as many people connected to the industry as possible and take advantage of all the resources out there (including our Derivatives Lab) to arm yourself with as much information about trading relationships as possible, as jobs in this sector are highly competitive. Derivatives Lab is what I wish I had access to when I first started out in my career trying to get my head around the plethora of industry jargon. It sets out how things work in an uncomplicated style and is an invaluable source of material. Can you tell us anything about your plans for the future of FIT Legal Solutions and your other ventures? Expansion – FIT Legal Solutions and Derivatives Lab is still very much in its infant years of business but I am extremely proud of our growth over the past three years. Our team has expanded, we are collaborating with other consultants globally and soon we will be announcing exciting new partners and ventures. Do you have a particular creed or philosophy that informs your work? I think that now more than ever before, the horizon looks very appealing for women who are determined to succeed and who will show that in a flexible and dynamic working environment, they can achieve great things if they are passionate enough and work hard. It is time for other women to stop holding themselves back by what society has conditioned us to believe that we can or cannot do in our own careers and burst through that society-imposed glass ceiling. How do you measure your success and what does this award mean to you? I feel I have taken success to a completely new level by having won Women in Law’s Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year Award for the second year running. To me success is not about status or quantity; it is about fostering relations and creating a life unique to me. It is a great success to have come from Poland with no real prospects of being able to achieve a Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year “I think that now more than ever before, the horizon looks very appealing forwomenwho are determined to succeed”
Contact Email: email@example.com LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/fitlegal-solutions www.linkedin.com/company/derivativeslab/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/derivativeslab/ www.instagram.com/fitlegalsolutions/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/DerivativesLab/ www.fitlegalsolutions.com | www.derivativeslab.co.uk 13 We also plan to launch master classes as part of DLAB. We are collaborating with highly experienced sector figures to record their own short master classes, where they will be sharing their success stories and how they navigated their careers in banking and finance. This will showcase positive and encouraging aspects about the industry that tends to be referred to as a ‘rat race’ and help all those young aspiring lawyers to have better experiences. What I am trying to demonstrate is that they can have a fulfilling career without having to compromise unduly on their personal lives.
Ellie Shefi is an attorney, advisor, leadership consultant, corporate trainer, keynote speaker, #1 international best-selling and award-winning author, media host, and publisher who helps organisations optimise their culture and individuals expand their influence. With over 30 years of experience in law, business, education, and impassioned human, civil, and constitutional rights advocacy, Ellie has dedicated her life to creating impact through the empowerment of others. As the founder of MTC Consulting, Ellie leverages her unique expertise to help organisations build resilient teams and world-class cultures while developing influential leaders. Serving as a strategic advisor to governments, universities, corporations, entrepreneurs, and NGOs, she has successfully helped organisations mitigate risk, optimise their operations, and align their teams. Dedicated to empowering others to use their voice, Ellie founded Made to Change the World™ Publishing, a full-service independent publishing house, where she guides aspiring best-selling authors through the writing and publishing process and helps leaders amplify their message so they can scale their impact. Ellie Shefi USA E: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ellieshefi.com Made to Change the World™, Inc. MTC Consulting 14
Additionally, Ellie hosts the Free by Design™ television show, You Are Not Your Scars® podcast, and Creating an Impervious Mind® expert YouTube series. She is regularly interviewed in publications and on others’ podcasts and television shows, including NBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo News, the LA Tribune, and TED Ed, to name a few. An outspoken advocate fighting against injustice, Ellie is proud to serve on the leadership councils and advisory boards of nonprofits focused on civil rights, human rights, criminal justice reform, disaster recovery, fighting human trafficking, and ending mass atrocities. Having overcome a lifetime of adversity, including domestic violence, homelessness, and cancer, Ellie has used her experiences to fuel her determination to drive change. From teenage mall employee to trusted advisor to governments, universities, corporations, and NGOs to becoming a member of the United States Supreme Court bar, Ellie has spent decades cultivating the expertise in law, business, education, and advocacy that she now shares with her clients. USA Discrimination&HumanRights Lawyer of theYear How did you first become interested in law and advocacy? And how did your interest evolve? From the time I was three years old, I wanted to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had not become a Supreme Court Justice yet, but I wanted to be her because she was a trailblazing female attorney using her voice as an instrument for change. Listening to her was powerful, profound, and resonant. She was one of the first women attorneys to successfully fight against injustice. Unfortunately, back then, women—especially from ethnic minority backgrounds—did not have a platform or many opportunities to be heard. So Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, to me, even as a young child, a shining example of standing up and speaking up when you see something that is not right. In elementary school, my nickname was Defender— because when I saw something happening that was not okay, I always said something. When I saw someone being bullied, I stepped in and spoke up. When I saw someone being treated differently, I stepped in and spoke up. When the boys wouldn’t let the girls play, I stepped in and spoke up! I knew that I could use my voice to call out injustice. My voice gave me my power. Becoming a lawyer and advocate was a natural fit and a way that I could align my career with my values. As I got deeper into my career, I realised that other people—in particular, women, minorities, and the underrepresented—often felt like they did not have a voice or could not use it. And I decided that instead of just advocating on their behalf, why not help them find, claim, and use their voice?! That led to my parallel roles of coaching, consulting, and corporate training. Every one of us has a voice and can use it to advocate for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our missions. But for many of us, it is not modelled nor encouraged. I use my voice to guide others to use theirs. It’s a ripple effect. 15
Discrimination&HumanRights Lawyer of theYear Tell us more in detail about your legal career and the intersection of your legal background with your other professional roles. Law and advocacy has imbued everything that I have done. After law school, I spent two decades working as a staff attorney for a federal judge. I wrote opinions on civil rights cases, constitutional rights cases, discrimination in employment cases, and prisoner conditions of confinement actions. During that time, I also advised universities regarding their disability services, and nonprofits regarding their operations and their advocacy. And I continued to move deeper into legal academia. I am currently the Dean of the School of Law at California Southern University, and was formerly its Dean of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. During the protests that ensued after George Floyd’s murder, I was the Dean of both the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the School of Law. So I had to navigate a lot of competing perspectives: an entire school of active-duty law enforcement, an advisory council of police chiefs, an entire school of aspiring attorneys (with a faculty that were all practising attorneys), and another advisory council that were judges and partners in law firms. My fundamental passion for human rights and using my voice as a force for good permeated through all of that. I welcomed the opportunity to shape the next generation And, as a capstone on your early legal career, you were sworn in as a member of the United States Supreme Court bar by Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Yes! That was a full-circle moment for me—beyond a dream come true. She was my inspiration as far back as the seventies, and having her actually swear me in as a member of the United States Supreme Court bar was a magical, incredible moment. 16 I knewthat I couldusemy voice to call out injustice.My voice gavememy power.
USA I realised that otherpeople—in particular,women, minorities, and the underrepresented —oftenfelt like theydidnothave a voiceor could notuse it. of law enforcement and attorneys and empower them to think through not only the responsibility they have but the privilege that comes with it. It is incumbent upon both of them to be the foundations of justice and equity, and to be the people’s voice, whether that is allowing them to have their day in court or helping them to resolve a dispute. I was honoured to foster conscious conversations and facilitate meaningful change. Law and advocacy has also influenced my businesses. I now help companies to change their corporate practices to create a more inclusive, diverse, participatory culture that sees each of their employees as a whole person, giving them a voice and a platform. I work with high-achieving women who are tired of the rat race and doing, being, and acting as others expect. I help them reclaim their voice and advocate for themselves and their families. I also have an entire division of my company that consists of two publishing houses plus a speaker’s coaching program and a program that helps experts become a global brand through media exposure. Through these, I offer platforms where everyday people have an opportunity to find their voice, tell their story, and share their message with the world. As I said, this principle has permeated everything. Looking at the many causes that you champion, which would you say you are most passionate about? I am definitely most passionate about fighting injustice in all its forms, and particularly in the realms of discrimination, human rights, and human trafficking. For me, it really boils down to closing the divide—it is about fostering systemic change and ending disparate access in the fundamental areas of life—education, medical care, nutrition, clean water, housing, transportation, representation, economic opportunities, and more. Disparate access to basic human needs is absolutely pervasive all around the world, and it is getting worse. There is definitely a greater divide between haves and have-nots on a global scale. My focus is on empowering governments and NGOs to address this. Right now I am working with one government to revise their prison system, and after that we are going to revise their criminal justice system and their constitution. This is real systemic change. I help NGOs all around the world that have boots on the ground negotiate with governments and tribal leaders to foster change. I work with organisations that create educational and economic opportunities for women. I work with organisations that work to end mass atrocities. And I work with organisations that rescue human trafficking victims and get them the care they need, while also working with local governments and law enforcement to prosecute the traffickers. I do a lot of this advising and advocacy behind the scenes. This is part of why this award is so important to me. If you look me up, you do not see much of this in my accolades, and that is because this work is not about me. My work in this realm is about creating systemic change and improving quality of life and equity throughout the world, not about any individual player in that. It is a big mission, and we have to work together to get there. 17
2 Discrimination&HumanRights Lawyer of theYear Speaking of access to basic needs on a global scale, how have the aftermath of COVID-19 and the ongoing Great Resignation affected the work that you are doing at the moment? They are both integral to my current work. COVID-19 caused a tremendous and disproportionate burden on women, minorities, and impoverished persons. It made my work with governments and civil rights, human rights, and disaster recovery NGOs all that much more immediate and urgent. The shuttering of the hospitality and service industries took away the paycheck from many people who already barely survived paycheck to paycheck. People needed food, water, shelter, medical care, and mental health support services. With unprecedented need, organisations had to step up. I am grateful to be able to help them do so. And with children not physically at school and not all workplaces going remote, people who already couldn’t afford childcare had to leave their jobs, exacerbating their economic hardship. Scores of women, in particular, left the workforce. For those who were able to pivot to remote work, the need to school their young children simultaneously while working—compounded with tight living spaces and often dysfunctional if not entirely absent internet connections—ultimately drove them out. The pandemic starkly revealed the utter lack of social safety and security for the working poor, most especially women and minorities, in times of disaster. It made clear that it’s time to strengthen the support for these groups, lest their fundamental rights continue to be violated through lack of attention and neglect. It is time to reexamine old paradigms and create comprehensive new systems through a holistic lens. The pandemic and its weight on workers also made it undeniably clear that organisations had to change. The way the majority of organisations are run leaves no room—no alternative—for people who have to completely upend and rearrange their lives. Business cannot continue as it has in the past. We are at the intersection of a changing workforce, a changing workplace, and a changing world. Moreover, the rising workforce consists predominantly of Millennials and GenZers. The Great Resignation, Great Reset, and Quiet Quitting phenomena represent their change in corporate philosophy—a philosophy that is very different from that of the Baby Boomers. It is a shift in priorities and values solidified by the disproportionate burden they carried due to the pandemic. Now this rising workforce has a need to align with their organisation’s mission and values, and a need
USA to feel that their role makes a real, impactful difference before they’re fully invested. They need to feel seen, heard, and valued, and they are demanding that their organisation exhibits some type of social responsibility. If it does, they become much more engaged and involved. Because of my expertise and experience in education, business, law, and advocacy, I am uniquely qualified to advise organisations from a legal, HR, employment, business, resilience, and social perspective so they can optimise their operations and their impact. I offer corporate HR departments and C-suite executives, as well as governments, universities, and NGOs, my expertise to holistically modernise company culture, mitigate risk, optimise operations, and strengthen their bottom line by truly developing their people. This not only facilitates innovation and economic opportunity, but it fosters the development of human potential as well. It’s a role that I really love because it allows me to bring all my expertise together. Looking at the large organisations that approach you—in many cases because they are failing to engage their workforces—what are the most common stumbling blocks that you are called upon to solve? I see two main problems right now. The first is rising costs due to a combination of factors: supply chain restrictions, increased costs of goods and services, inflation, etc. Organisations are haemorrhaging money and are looking for inefficiencies to iron out. Second: a lot of organisations are also haemorrhaging people. As noted above, many were forced to leave during the pandemic because the organisations failed to accommodate them—whether wittingly or unwittingly. This en masse loss of the workforce revealed that, to their roots, traditional organisations were not truly built to value and celebrate their people. This turnover has finally hurt their bottom line, as they have open positions that they are not able to fill, resulting in organisational gaps that hamper production, innovation, and results, and necessitating ongoing expenditure on recruitment and training. Furthermore, if they do not have an enticing company culture, people who have options often leave as fast as new employees are hired. Forward-thinking organisations, on the other hand, understand that they need more than a stop-gap. They need to build the company culture first. Such organisations Whenyou are told that you might notmake it through the night, you suddenly become very clear onwhat matters and what your vision andmission and purpose are. 19
will create an environment where their employees love to be, where they can innovate and participate, and feel like their voice is heard. These employees become engaged, and they drive the business forward. Consequently, these organisations will attract more aligned people who will continue that mission. Among the factors that lead to a more engaged workforce, do diversity and inclusion feature prominently? Oh yes. I view a workplace as a living and breathing entity that needs to reflect the community it serves, its ideal client base, and the world-at-large. If your company culture is completely homogenous, you are not going to attract new talent. Nor will you hear new ideas that come from people with different backgrounds and perspectives. Not only is it closed-minded toward others, it’s short-sighted for the organisation. Think of all the perspectives, experience, and approaches that a non-diverse, non-inclusive organisation cheats itself out of. It’s a loss for everyone really. Having a workplace be a microcosm reflecting the greater public is both just and wise. You went from working for the federal government and doing a lot of “behind the scenes” advocacy to becoming a tremendously visible leader in the consulting and coaching worlds. Was there a particular impetus for the change? I have spent the better part of twenty years in and out of hospitals. For me, that is where the sense of urgency comes from; when you are told that you might not make it through the night, you suddenly become very clear on what matters and what your vision and mission and purpose are. While I had battled various health issues for decades, in 2019, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and something inside me shifted. When the doctor called to tell me it was cancer, time stopped, and all I could think about in that moment was that I had been playing small. I had done all of these incredible things in my life, but I had been doing them behind the scenes. That was the moment where I said: “No more playing small. I am going to step out from the shadows, use my voice, and step into the full embodiment of who I am meant to be.” That’s really when I began writing my books, speaking on stages, and being more of a media presence. It’s when I created my publishing houses and my programs. It’s when I stepped up my advising and consulting, and when I doubled-down on my determination to empower others. You see, the single most valuable thing that each of us has is our voice. It is up to us how we use it and whether we use it as a force for good in the world. I know tomorrow is not promised, but so long as I have breath in my body, I am going to use my voice to advocate for others and for change. Discrimination&HumanRights Lawyer of theYear USA 20
We are at the intersection of a changing workforce, a changing workplace, and a changing world. What would be your most crucial piece of advice for those looking to follow in your footsteps and use their voices in this way? Get really clear on your values and the causes that move your soul. What is the fire in your belly? Then get clear on the message that you want to share. Imagine you were told that you have one hour left to live. What is the message that you cannot die without sharing? That message is powerful and it matters. Your story matters. Your voice matters. Remember that somebody in the world is waiting for you to show up as you, to speak your truth, and to share your story. Your voice and your story can save someone’s life. Not only do you have an opportunity to make a difference, you have the privilege of being alive and therefore have a responsibility and an obligation to get out there and make a difference. You cannot wait for someone else to speak up. Use your voice; share your story; show up in the world as you. And remember that no matter what, you were made to change the world. And you can—so do it.
Chrissie Cuming Walters is a dual-qualified solicitor and US attorney who specialises in family law. She also has extensive expertise in the financial issues arising from relationship breakdowns, and worked in the offices of the general counsel in a multinational brokerage house and a securities regulation think tank prior to embarking on her career in family law. In addition to spouses and partners, Chrissie also regularly acts for cohabitees on relationship breakdown, especially in cases that involve property interests. She is often called to advise on the application of the ToLATA in cases where a partner’s ownership or rights in a property has not been recorded. Chrissie and has dealt with the courts at all levels, including the UK supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. She regularly deals injunctions with cases involving domestic abuse. Where appropriate, Chrissie is able to guide clients through the alternative dispute resolution process and provide assistance in negotiations. If unavoidable, she can call upon a wealth of experience as a trained litigator and advocate. ChrissieCuming Walters UnitedKingdom FamilyLaw, Financial Settlements Lawyer of theYear Partner at Keystone Law My career in lawwill soon span two decades, two countries and four states. 23
FamilyLaw, Financial Settlements Lawyer of theYear what may need to move where in order to achieve a fair outcome, an equality of income, or indeed meet the needs of any minor children, as may be the case. It is quite often the emotion which makes reaching a financial settlement more complex, rather than the financial structures or mechanisms themselves. What key steps do you turn to help these clients ensure their divorce proceeds smoothly? I try to approach each client as an individual and look at their individual needs, which can also include maintaining their mental health or recognising their emotional needs as they reach the different stages of their divorce or separation process. Maintaining emotional and mental health through a divorce is important for everyone, but it can be particularly important where you are the less financially secure party. Overall, I take a holistic approach in relation to any other professionals who may need to be drawn into the process, such as counsellors or coaches and independent financial advisers, depending on the circumstances of the case and again the needs of the particular client. I endeavour at all times to enable my clients to feel informed and empowered throughout the process, which I think, in turn, makes it somewhat easier for them. They understand the strategy, they understand why we are doing what we are doing, and they understand what it is that I am trying to achieve for them. Please tell us a little about your career as a lawyer. I have always been a lawyer, despite a few short career breaks for personal reasons and a few changes to my areas of practice. My career in law will soon span two decades, two countries and four states. I originally practised corporate and commercial law, including white collar crime, and later moved into pharmaceutical defence litigation. However, after I represented myself in my own no-fault divorce, I knew I had found the area in which I wanted to practice and where I could truly make a difference. When I came to this jurisdiction from the US, I qualified as a solicitor here and have since only practised family law. I’ve never looked back. How do you help your clients to navigate complex financial settlements? The easiest way to navigate complex financial settlements is often, in fact, the most difficult. It comes with helping the client to be able to look at what can be a highly charged and emotional time as more of a business transaction. This is because when one can look at it as a balance sheet exercise and remove the myriad of emotions surrounding those figures, then it can become a lot clearer as to 24
United Kingdom “It’s never too late to be what youmight have been” –George Eliott. Do you have a criteria in which you judge your success in your work? I think I probably did when I was a younger lawyer. I have to be honest and say no. I do feel that, overall, I am successful in my career, but I cannot say that there’s been any sort of identifiable measurement by which I have reached that conclusion. It is not an attainment of status. It is not an attainment of awards. It is not in attainment of monetary reward. But it is more of a feeling of contentment in myself, which has come over time and become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Is there a particular creed or philosophy that informs your practise as a lawyer? “It’s never too late to be what you might have been” – George Eliott. If you select a career achievement that you are most proud of having reached, what would it be? I do not think that there is one clear achievement. I have been successful in the Supreme Court; I have been successful in the Court of Appeal. I think that maybe that is what most people would consider as being an achievement to be most proud of, like being in the directories and what have you. But for me personally, it is when the client says thank you. It is when we have reached the end of the process, whether through court or otherwise, and there is true gratitude towards what I have helped them accomplish and the future that they can now see and look forward to – which I have been a part of helping them create for themselves and their children. I am proud of that. What does this award mean to you? For me, this award is more meaningful because it is for women in law. Women continue to be highly underrepresented in most professions and in leadership roles and, indeed, it is generally women who end up having to fight that bit harder and be that bit stronger in order to achieve what they need through the divorce or separation. Even though my client base tends to be 50% men and 50% women, in my experience, it is the women who come out the other side as someone different than when they went into the process – hopefully stronger, more confident, and independent. For me, being a recipient of this award demonstrates not only that women can and do achieve but also what we are all doing to try to help create and recognise real equality not only in the legal profession but also in this jurisdiction. Chrissie Cuming Walters Partner, Keystone Law 48 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1JF, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 3319 3700 Mob: +44 (0)7703 625058 www.keystonelaw.com 25
Kim Simmonds, CEO and founder of Law 365, started the firm in 2014 after her first child was born. Why? Because she did not see any good examples around her of female lawyers who had a good balance of career and family life – and she knew that could change. Her mission was to create a law firm that made legal advice affordable to technology companies by introducing Legal-as-a Service (LaaS) and also supported employees who wanted balance in their lives. “I am big advocate for change in the workplace for parents, and especially for women,“ says Kim. “My legal teams are currently all female-led, mainly because I have created an environment that attracts incredible senior, experienced female lawyers. Law 365 gives them the right balance in their lives; it works for them. I give my team the tools they need to succeed in and out of the workplace. We have experts come in and give talks about a variety of topics (menopause, suicide, testicular cancer, and financial planning for the future) because I do not believe these topics are someone else’s problem. It is a privilege to lead and I try do everything I can to support my team with the tools they need in their lives.” Kim turned 40 this year and has over 27 members of staff with a projected turnover of over £2 million for 2022. Law 365 is a multi-award-winning firm that has been listed for two years in a row by Great Places to Work, scoring an incredible 100% for satisfaction. Kim Simmonds Commercial Lawyer and IT Lawyer of the Year CEOand Founder of Law365
United Kingdom “Sometimes it is the compound effect of many small, positive changes that disrupts the status quo.” Could you describe your vision for Law365? Sometimes it is the compound effect of many small, positive changes that disrupts the status quo. Law 365 is not your typical law firm – in actual fact, though we are lawyers, we know the legal industry can be old-fashioned, expensive and laden with legal jargon. It needs a shake-up. So we set ourselves a challenge to be better than the rest, in small but significant ways. How? • We support technology businesses with outsourced legal support on a “Legal-as-a-Service” subscription basis. This makes legal costs predictable, which is especially useful for young businesses that need to be able to forecast cash flow. We charge clients for outcomes of deals instead of billing by the minute. It completely transforms the way businesses interact with lawyers. Paying a fixed price every month for a certain number of outcomes allows our clients to predict their legal spend and builds a long-lasting relationship based on trust. • We have developed a clever AI tool. LawyerBot 365, that can read your NDA contracts and give you instant advice without breaking the bank. • We offer HAPPY 365, that combines the best of employment services, executive coaching and people development to help you grow a happy workplace. It’s a virtuous circle – happy people make happy clients, and happy clients make your business more successful and profitable. Now that’s something to smile about! We are also a multi-award-winning company. We have been recognised as gamechangers in this industry as well as leaders in wellbeing practices and the legal experience we provide. One in 100 VAT registered companies in the UK is a Microsoft Partner – typically small IT companies that grow rapidly and create millions of jobs in the UK. Only 10% use a lawyer regularly, citing expense and ‘slowing down sales processes’ with too much legalese. Law 365 is the only law firm in the world to specialise in providing legal services to this portion of technology sector – just Microsoft Partners. It is a huge market and affects every business in the world (they all need these partners to implement the Microsoft products, migrate data to the cloud and support IT) so the work we do is vital for the UK economy. What services is Legal 365 offering to shake up the sector? Legal-as-a-Service – Outsource your legal work (for a flat fee) In the first stage of our evolution, we made legal services affordable for small businesses by offering ‘Legal-asa-Service’ (LaaS). Our subscription service allows our Microsoft Partner clients to pay an affordable monthly fee that covers all their legal requirements – typically for their two most important issues: sales contracts and HR issues. Business owners love having predictable legal costs so they can forecast for the year, and we give them time to focus on what they do best, growing their business. That is a that’s a breath of fresh air for this old-fashioned industry. LawyerBot 365™ – AI for NDAs Second, we have created our LawyerBot 365™, using machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to provide 27
Commercial Lawyer and IT Lawyer of the Year “To service technology clients, itmade sense to heavily invest inAI tools to offer fast and cost efficient accessible legal advice, especially for start-ups. employees. Our next team outing is a forest bathing activity to celebrate being voted a “Great Place to Work” for the second year in a row. We rank in the top ten in the country because we got a score of 100%. We close the office twice a year for mental health awareness and do a team building activity. There are of course socials every month too! How has Law 365 grown since its founding in 2014? We grew from 4 people in Jan 2020 to now an amazing 27 + team. We also grew from 4 subscription clients in 2020 a fast and affordable alternative to humans. To service technology clients, it made sense to heavily invest in AI tools to offer fast and cost-efficient, accessible legal advice. LawyerBot 365™ has been a great success in this regard and is going to be developed to help support larger contracts in the future. LawyerBot 365’s benefits include: • Speed – the contract is returned fully marked up within minutes. • Simplicity – email the contract and there is no need to talk to a lawyer. • 24-hour support – LawyerBot 365™ never sleeps, so business owners can get help at any hour of the night, or the weekend. • Affordability – the solution is provided for one tenth of the price for a normal lawyer. • Accessibility – the comments are very helpful and designed so that the business owner could edit the contract directly or forward it back to the other side for review and amendment. • Accurate – Lawyerbot365™ checks other details, e.g. is the registered company number and address correct? • Secure – LawyerBot 365™ is bound by the same confidentiality requirements as a human lawyer Over time, Lawyerbot365™’s AI will improve and will be tuned to work with many other contract types. But it is our human lawyers who make the AI what it is and support Microsoft Partners with excellent client care. We have a consistent Net Promoter Score of 90/100, so we know the clients absolutely love us. HAPPY 365 We realise that the best policies in the world will not help you if you have systemic problems in your workforce, so we have brought a product to market called HAPPY 365, which couples the best of performance coaching with cutting-edge policies (think unlimited holiday, menopause, LGBTQ+) so that our clients can attract and retain the best people. What would you say sets Law 365 apart from its competitors? With meditation, yoga, volunteering, flexible working and one-to-one performance coaching as well as team coaching, Law 365 raises the bar for how to treat 28
United Kingdom to over 26 today. We have over 100 clients on the books for ad hoc work. That is considerable growth in a short space of time. We grew more during the Covid pandemic as the demand for technology was at an all-time high which accelerated our clients growth too. UK Microsoft Partners could contribute an additional £6.74b (Microsoft,2021) to the UK economy if supported to be more competitive – a key way to achieve this is to help with fairer contracts, plus save them time and money to help them grow. Law 365’s product will save these SME’s 3-5 hours and £2,000-£8,000 on every contract review. This impact could be especially felt by North/NorthEast SMEs, who are on the Government’s Help-to-Grow initiative. Law 365’s product has positive social impact. It supports businesses, making contracts more equitable between companies. It will democratise the legal system, aligning with SRA goal of providing better access to legal services through technology and innovation, making legal fairer (Solicitors Regulation Authority, 2020). How does Law 365 engage with the wider community? Every member of the team is engaged in making a contribution to our local community and wider society. • We have participated in the Legal Walk 10K for the last three years. Team Law 365 has raised almost £10,000 for Citizens Advice Tunbridge Wells & District, which provides invaluable free legal advice to those who cannot afford it. • Twice a year we have a day out of the office to volunteer. This May, our team of Wombles picked litter on Tunbridge Wells Common. • Staff voted for the charity the company would support at Christmas time and agreed that the Law 365 donation of £1,000 would go to our local homeless charity, called Porchlight. • One employee was allowed to move to a four-day week so she could volunteer one day a week as a project manager for the launch of National Hygiene Week, the first awareness raising campaign for work of The Hygiene Bank. • Kim has been incubating a plan for a new charity called Be-Amazing to create opportunities for young people to find internships and create a matching mentoring apprenticeship program for young adults between 14-24. • This summer we are welcoming four teens for work experience with a varied programme to teach them about the law and the marketing of the business.. What do you feel that your success with Law365 has proved? I think I have proved that: 1. You can have it all! You can be a woman, a lawyer, a mother and lead a successful business. I am running a thriving business and juggling two young kids. All of our partners at Law 365 are women with families. 2. You can put staff wellbeing before profits and create a successful, great place to work. 3. You can disrupt one of the oldest industries. How have you seen attitudes towards technology and wellbeing in the legal profession change during the course of your career? Some law firms may not have changed their attitudes as willingly as others, but thankfully they are getting there, because that’s what their clients demand and expect. That said, I think Law 365 still surprises people by how far we’ve embraced tech. We have Azure qualified lawyers, we have our own in-house development team working on legal AI solutions, we’re paperless…We live and breathe Microsoft and we practice what we preach. Tech firms really paved the way for happy workplaces – they introduced the bean bag chairs, pool tables, and flexible schedules to make work a more enjoyable environment. The legal profession has always been less nimble, and less willing, to adopt change. But I think that 29