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  • WHY HAS THERE NEVER BEEN A FEMALE LEADER OF A MAGIC CIRCLE LAW FIRM?

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    It’s more than 20 years since Lesley MacDonagh did it. Glass ceiling shattered – the first woman to become managing partner of a top 10 City firm, ran the Law Society Gazette headline. Celebrating her appointment, Legal Business followed up with a suitably stylish cover.

    Over the next decade, MacDonagh excelled. As managing partner of Lovell White Durrant (the UK predecessor of transatlantic powerhouse Hogan Lovells), she held the position uncontested for three terms: overseeing the firm’s growth, doubling its lawyer headcount to more than 1600, completing several mergers, and taking the total number of offices to 27 worldwide.

    In the wake of MacDonagh’s success, others soon followed, not least employment law guru Janet Gaymer, now Dame Janet, who became senior partner at Simmons & Simmons. Today, there are several outstanding female managing partners in top firms on both sides of the Atlantic. It has become the new normal.

    But not among the five London-based law firms that comprise the magic circle: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May.