Samantha Mobley

In October 2017, to coincide with Black History Month, Samantha and her team launched the Colour Brave campaign. She distributed their message through variety of forums including sharing personal stories, a Colour Brave video, a pledge board and a panel discussion. Ahead of the campaign, Samantha presented the Colour Brave concept to all London office partners and Baker & McKenzie’s Global Chair. As a result, almost half of Baker & McKenzie employees signed the Colour Brave pledge, pledging to become comfortable with the uncomfortable conversations about race. Following the launch of Colour Brave, Samantha has continued to champion the ethnicity agenda through regular participation in Baker & McKenzie’s employee network group, BakerEthnicity. On being appointed to the London Management Committee, Samantha has sought to maximise her increased platform to pursue the agenda with her peers and she has supported the introduction of ethnicity workforce targets and publishing the ethnicity pay gap, alongside statutory gender pay reporting. Through the network, Samantha is not only introducing the concept of intersectionality to diversity discussions, but is also proactively building these conversations into relationship meetings with clients. She is an active participant and supporter of the POWER gender network, and is encouraging debates on race and gender through an intersectional lens. Samantha is also determined to launch a cross sector ethnic minority initiative, which encourages firms across the City to get together in a joint effort to embrace the Colour Brave concept.

Rachel Welch-Phillips

In September 2017, Rachel developed an awareness campaign surrounding the 30th anniversary of Black History Month, creating profiles of minority ethnic legal minds that have shaped the UK and generating conversation internally around the significant impact to the profession made by underrepresented groups. Following that, Rachel founded Embrace, the first BAME network at the firm, which she now chairs. Since launching, the network has hosted internal workshops discussing culture and race in the workplace, held a book signing client event featuring keynote speaker June Sarpong MBE, and hosted an internal screening of “Hidden Figures”. Embrace enjoyed a full house at their Black History Month panel event in October 2018 where they discussed the past, present and future of ethnic minorities in the workplace. The network has run two social media campaigns, with the aim of improving the association of the firm’s brand with open acceptance of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Externally, Rachel dedicates time each week to engaging with those who aspire to law, as well as those who don’t yet know they can, and mentors a law student through the firm’s Bursary Scheme. She is also participates in Legal Experts in Schools, where she focuses on predominantly BAME schools, and is a Professional Ambassador in the Aspiring Solicitors programme. She has served as a panellist at the Brent Council Black History Month, and mentors numerous individuals in their academic and career development.

David Elikwu

As a founding member of Fusion, Mayer Brown’s Black and Ethnic Minority diversity network, David has been an integral part of its steering committee for a number of years. Fusion’s goals include raising issues around diversity and supporting the firm’s wider diversity and inclusion initiatives, one of which is increasing diversity in the workplace. David has networked extensively with schools and universities and helped develop a “See Me Be Me” initiative at the firm which involves Fusion hosting career days for ethnically diverse students from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn more about work opportunities at the firm and how to develop soft skills. He also represents the firm in speaking at schools, universities and other platforms throughout the year. David spearheaded efforts to get the firm to be involved with the Government’s Ethnic Pay Reporting consultation and drafted much of the firm’s response to the consultation. Fusion has been responsible for a raft of events and initiatives all aimed at creating awareness of the various cultures celebrated by Mayer Brown’s employees, and engaging the firm to participate in important cultural celebrations. David has also taken the responsibility in starting a dialogue with the firm’s human resource team regarding how best they can recruit and retain diverse candidates. Externally, David organises a yearly careers conference with Urban Lawyers for almost 300 students from underprivileged backgrounds. He mentors with the Success Looks Like You scheme and on a private basis with BAME students. David is a regular speaker at events focusing on diversity, perspective, and the role of Africa in a global economy. David is also a school governor in Barnet, at one of the borough’s most ethnically diverse schools. He works with the charity Breaking Barriers to help refugees start new lives in the UK, is on the steering committee for the Junior Lawyers Division of the British Nigerian Lawyers Forum, and is working with the Black British City Group to start a crowdfunded community fund which will give hardship and small business grants to young disadvantaged people within the Black community.

Ademola Bamgbose

Dr. Bamgbose is an international arbitration lawyer, and is admitted to practice in Nigeria, England and Wales. He joined Hogan Lovells after successfully completing the firm’s inaugural Africa LLM Scheme, and has since played an active role in on-going efforts to promote the scheme and more importantly, promote diversity and inclusion at the firm. Ademola mentors Black secondees, trainees and interns at Hogan Lovells, providing them with the guidance and support required to excel as a lawyer in the city. He regularly participates in panel sessions for visiting BAME students and actively supports Hogan Lovells participation in Pathways to Law and RARE initiatives. Ademola is on the Steering Committee of Hogan Lovells Multicultural Network and regularly mentors prospective BAME candidates through the rigorous recruitment process for internships and training contracts at city law firms. Ademola co-founded Africa Arbitration, a platform designed to promote Black arbitration practitioners in the UK, US, Canada and globally. Africa Arbitration features a Rising Star and Personality of the Month series, promoting the profiles of arbitration practitioners, and an “Opportunities for Africans” column where commercial law opportunities from around the world are shared with BAME lawyers and students. As Vice President of the Association of Young Arbitrators in Africa and Chair of the organisation’s Mentorship Committee, Ademola successfully initiated a mentorship programme, by linking young Black practitioners with leading practitioners from around the globe. He is a founding member of the Africa Arbitration Academy, an institution designed to equip arbitration practitioners in Africa, by providing them with free advanced arbitration training at leading commercial law firms in London.

Chinwe Odimba-Chapman

Chinwe co-founded the Clifford Chance Black & Minority Ethnic network in 2015 with the primary aim of making BAME issues a business priority at Clifford Chance. Initially as co-chair and now as partner champion of the Clifford Chance BAME network, she has been instrumental in raising awareness of what is now an active and visible network, both within the firm and externally. She introduced a bespoke three-part coaching programme, aiming to assist Black and minority ethnic employees living in London in their personal and professional development, successfully launched the BAME network reverse mentoring programme and organises regular events, including for Black History Month. Chinwe is a professional ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors, aiming to increase diversity in the legal profession by assisting aspiring solicitors from underrepresented backgrounds. She has been identified as a role model by the Clifford Chance Women’s Network and Legal 500. Chinwe is partner sponsor for the London Black Women’s Project, an organisation focused on addressing violence against women and girls by providing advice, guidance, support, advocacy and accommodation. She mentors on the Black Solicitors Network Creating Pathways Mentoring Scheme and is a regular speaker and panellist at conferences aimed at developing BAME employees.

Nilufer von Bismarck

As a high profile ethnic minority role model, Nilufer acts as a role model and mentor both formally and informally to ethnic minority employees throughout the firm. She is the first woman and Muslim to lead a corporate group at the firm and hopes to serve as an inspiration to others. She supports the firm’s Muslim Network, aiming to provide practical support for Muslims, particularly during Ramadan. Nilufer also works with the firm’s DIVERSE (ethnicity and social mobility) network to discuss a range of workplace challenges and opportunities, including the ethnicity pay gap, which Slaughter and May voluntarily reported on this year. Externally, Nilufer is on the board of trustees of IntoUniversity, leading on hosting workshops for students to introduce them to the legal profession as a career option and supporting events to raise the charity’s profile. She has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list for services to financial services. Career highlights have included advising on the UK Government’s post-crisis bailout and re-privatisation of Lloyds Banking Group. She is listed for M&A in The Legal 500, and as a leading lawyer in the Capital Markets – Equity section of IFLR1000. She has also been profiled in Black Letter Law, a directory that showcases achievement of ethnic minority lawyers, since it began in 2006.

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Gautam always finds the time to represent ethnic minority lawyers and welcome the future generation of lawyers to Reed Smith, where he sits on the firm’s global board. He actively mentors and encourages the firm’s young and aspiring lawyers, and regularly takes part in panel discussions at Reed Smith, sharing his experiences as a diverse senior lawyer. He also regularly meets students at open day events where he provides advice and insight to those wanting to enter the profession, offering work placements wherever possible. Additionally, he actively champions the firm’s London Multicultural Network whose objective is to provide all Reed Smith employees with the opportunity to experience and celebrate their differences and raise awareness of issues that are pertinent to ethnic minority legal professionals. Externally, Gautam regularly takes part in panel discussions at diversity events to discuss the importance of ethnic minority inclusion. In March 2018, he was awarded the leading international lawyer award for work for Indian clients at the Legal Era Awards in Mumbai. He is also highly ranked in the Chambers & Partners Global Rankings, Legal 500 and Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Experts in Commercial Arbitration.

Vidisha Joshi

Vidisha was recently involved with the review of her firm’s equality, diversity and inclusion training, in which she identified a need to include social mobility, hidden disabilities and unconscious bias. In her experience, awareness and education are the only ways to bring about positive change. As well as this the firm have launched their LGBTQ employee network this year to not only support their own employees, but also those outside the organisation. Having noticed a need to overhaul trainee recruitment for the purposes of diversity, Vidisha introduced a totally blind recruitment process, removing name, education and background, and leading to a wider range of candidates being judged on the criteria that matter. Vidisha regularly speaks at large external events on the topic of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and particularly the legal industry, including the Legal Futures 2018 Conference, the Women in Law committee, the Legal Practice Management Association and the Society of Asian Lawyers’ International Women’s Day panel. She has judged on legal awards panels in a bid to champion women and people of colour and is an active member of networks such as Asian Women of Achievement. Vidisha is a Women of the Future ambassador and mentors young women.

Annette Byron

Annette is the driving force behind Freshfields’ Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, aiming to address the disproportionate underrepresentation of Black and Black mixed-race men from less privileged backgrounds in large commercial law firms and other City institutions. The scheme brings together Freshfields, big business and universities in a unique initiative, which is run by volunteers from Freshfields and its clients, with more than 130 members contributing to the scheme’s recruitment, development programme and mentoring. Learnings from the scheme have influenced other areas of the firm, including enhanced awareness around unconscious biases, and diversity and inclusion best practices. Beyond the scheme, Annette co-leads Freshfields’ Black Affinity Network, mentors BAME colleagues at the firm and beyond, facilitates discussions with senior leadership, hosts events and is a driver for frank discussions on issues such as reporting on and closing the ethnicity pay gap. Externally, Annette sits on the board of PRIME, the legal sector charity which forms an alliance among law firms committed to improving access to those from less socially mobile backgrounds to the legal profession through work experience. She and the Scheme have been widely cited in the press as innovative and inspiring. Annette supports by charitable donation arts projects that bring on new theatre writing and productions by BAME artists.

Habib Motani

Habib was one of the first ethnic minority partners at a magic circle law firm, and has always seen it as important for young lawyers in the firm to be able to look to him as a role model. He is on the steering committee of the Clifford Chance BAME Network, of which he is a champion. Through this role, he has mentored young lawyers and is currently working with Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and HSBC to mutually support the BAME agenda internally. He championed Clifford Chance’s support for London Black Women’s Project, and liaises between Clifford Chance’s Muslim Network and the Canary Wharf Chaplaincy Multifaith Steering Committee. He supports the Society of Asian Lawyers and has held a number of senior positions within the Ismaili Muslim community, such as chair of the International Conciliation and Arbitration Board. Habib is a member of the Canary Wharf Chaplaincy Multifaith Steering Group, a trustee of Bow Arts Trust, and actively supports the work of Patchwork Foundation. He has been recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers UK.