The future of women in the legal profession is bright judging by the high quality of finalists for the Jacinta Fish Legal Mentor Award at this year’s Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards.
Gina Cass-Gottlieb, a partner at Gilbert + Tobin, admitted that she is excited to be recognised in the Legal Mentor Award category. “The Award gives an emphasis to a role that I think is very important,” she said. As a senior partner in G+T’s competition & regulation (C&R) practice, Gina has both mentored and sponsored numerous female lawyers through to partnership. Jennifer Barron is one lawyer at the firm that Gina supported in her promotion to special counsel. Barron described Gina as “an inspiring role model, not only as a brilliant lawyer but also as a person of integrity and humanity”.
Since being appointed chair of Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s Diversity Council, Annette Hughes (pictured above) has made a compelling case for a range of new diversity initiatives at the firm. She sees mentoring as a critical part of increasing the number of female lawyers in leadership positions beyond the senior associate level, where statistics show many women’s careers stall. A part-time partner, Annette finds time to mentor a number of female lawyers, both within and outside the firm. She described mentoring as “one of the most rewarding things one can do, full stop.”
Mary-Anne Ireland from Salvos Legal mentors newly admitted solicitors who aspire to careers in the areas of commercial and property law. She has also been responsible for developing and implementing improvements to the firm’s training, supervising and mentoring practices. A recent achievement was adding an in-house Supervision and Mentoring Skills Workshop to Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian’s internal Continuing Professional Development program.
Kristen Lopes (pictured left), a partner at Colin Biggers & Paisley, is an active member of the firm’s mentoring committee and a mentor herself. As well as having five CBP mentees, Kristen also mentors a law student at the University of Technology Sydney. One of her mentees described her as an “inspirational mentor who encourages people to take on new challenges and acknowledges their achievements”. Another said Kristen takes a genuine interest in the careers of those she mentors and is dedicated to seeing them succeed.
For more than 10 years, Patricia Matthews has been an active member of King & Wood Mallesons’ recruitment committee, interviewing and supervising more than 100 seasonal clerks and graduate lawyers. She has also been a long-term participant in the firm’s formal mentoring program, demonstrating “a passionate commitment and dedication to the education and development of our junior lawyers,” according to Caroline Coops, managing partner, people and talent, at KWM. “Patricia has made a significant and enduring contribution to the mentoring, development and retention of legal talent at King & Wood Mallesons and, in particular, female talent.”
Claire Rogers (pictured right) is King & Wood Mallesons’ second awards finalist in this category. Claire has mentored senior associates, junior lawyers and undergraduates for several years. Six months ago, she instigated a program for lawyers in the firm’s banking & finance group to develop their understanding of the firm, from an operational perspective, and their commercial skills. Recently appointed to the partnership, Claire also sits on the firm’s graduate recruitment committee and helps to develop KWM’s program for identifying, training and retaining talent.