International Women's Day

08 Mar 2020

We asked our colleagues to tell us about their BLM role models and inspiring, caring, encyclopedic knowledge, exceptional lawyer and encouraging are just some of the words they used to describe them.

See below to find out why these women are our BLM role models - not just today, but every day.

Alex Holmes

"Alex always has time for all of her team to offer advice on our specific roles, the legal market and support our individual careers. Alex’s knowledge of learning and development and the emerging talent landscape is invaluable to both the team and the wider firm. Alex is a fantastic people manager and a huge support with any issues both inside and outside of work, and she is the first to praise achievements within the team. She loves to see the people around her grow and achieve – she is a great role model and an inspirational manager."

Alison Siniver

"Alison is a great role model and mentor who really cares about developing her team - she teaches me something new every day. Alison always has time to assist with work and have a laugh with us. We all know that we can turn to her for advice and know that if she can make something happen she will!  As well as being a great lawyer, Alison is fantastic with clients and they clearly appreciate her as much as we do! Alison is also amazing in her home life helping to care for her mum whenever she can."

Catherine Logue

"I have joined BLM quite recently and Catherine has gone above and beyond in helping me settle in. Catherine has not only been answering each and every query I have with a friendly tone, but in doing so has made me aspire to be as knowledgeable and capable as she is. Moreover, Catherine has set the tone in terms of how we should welcome newcomers to BLM."

Clare Garnett

"Clare is extremely knowledgeable within catastrophic injury law and as a Partner, often has a very full caseload. However, since I joined, Clare has ensured that I have settled into my role comfortably and will always take time out of her busy day to support me with any questions I may have. Clare organised for me to have extra training sessions to get up to speed with areas of law that I needed assistance with and even messages me out of work hours to ask how I am. In a world where life moves extremely fast and is difficult at the best of times, I am so grateful to have such a strong, understanding and supportive female role model here in our Southampton office."

Claire Opacic

"Claire’s legal knowledge is encyclopedic, and she has a way of putting things so logically you wonder how you didn’t work it out for yourself. Claire has many people to supervise in addition to her own work and she is constantly bombarded with questions, yet she always finds time for you and always helps, and I admire her self-control. Grumpy? Never!!  I strive to be half as accomplished at my job. She is also genuine and kind and I cannot think of a better role model."

Francesca Jamieson

"Francesca is a great role model for aspiring lawyers to look up to.  She makes people feel very comfortable and is always happy to help. She is excellent at her job even with the pressures of balancing working 9-5 with studying for her LPC and MSc two evenings a week. Alongside work and university she has also taken part in charity work, for example the cycling challenge for Together for Short Lives and volunteering at a local homeless shelter. I admire the effort she puts in to everything she does in order to be successful in her career."

Gonda van Laar

"Gonda is genuine, kind, fair, hardworking and a pleasure to be around. She has empathy in abundance and is the first to help whenever help is needed. She juggles the demanding role of solicitor and team leader with aplomb. She is liked and respected by her team in equal measure. She always has time for you and is selfless in her ability to always be there. She is a role model to so many and in so many ways."

Grainne Fahy

"Grainne is selfless and giving. She has been training and supervising me for over three years now and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her leadership, encouragement and support. She is my source of knowledge and inspiration and I aspire to be as accomplished as her in the future. She is not only a specialist and accredited family lawyer with over 15 years’ experience and Partner (having previously been Equity Partner in our last firm), but an incredible mother to two amazing children, a loving wife, a networking queen and a real friend."

Hayley Dykins

"After everything Hayley has been through in the past 6 months, it hasn’t stopped her putting all of her best into everything that she does. Hayley has a positive attitude and energy and everyone in the team is very grateful to have her as part of the team. We all rely on for help and she is fondly known as the ‘go-to’ person on the floor. Hayley takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to all staff. She discerns quickly the individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction. She often performs above and beyond, and even though it may not have been her specialty of work, she will still do it willingly and cheerfully, having maintained a teachable heart the years that she’s been here."

Holly Miles

"Holly constantly sets an amazing example as a diligent and conscientious lawyer. While she works extremely hard and continues to progress in her own career, she is also very generous with her time and support to help others progress in their careers.  She is kind, nurturing and gives practical advice and constant encouragement for colleagues to be the best they can be and she has personally encouraged and supported me a great deal while working towards becoming qualified."

Jade Cripps

"Jade is a role model as she is a younger solicitor but anyone would think she has been doing this for donkeys’ years!  She manages to deal with the time demands of the Social and CSR committees seamlessly, all while smashing her targets and getting great results for her clients.  She deals with matters calmly and logically and is the perfect example of how we should present ourselves to our colleagues and to clients and deal with complex matters.  She has also got time to help anyone who needs it, despite being busy herself and is just generally a lovely person who the firm are lucky to have."

Judy Gudgeon

"If there was a medal for dealing with the voluminous information and instructions constantly coming from all different offices Judy would win it!  The level of organisation and management she has to look after and support the national disease team is nothing short of incredible, especially dealing with skeleton staff at times.  She will always help with a problem out of her remit and does it all with a smile on her face too and is a great person to have around."

Karis Hedley

"Karis is a brilliant lawyer and an invaluable member of the team, who will go out of her way to help everyone. Karis is always calm, collected and professional no matter how busy she is.  Since I joined the team as a trainee Karis has answered a huge number of my “stupid” questions with a smile! If I am anything like Karis in a few years, I will be very proud!"

Laura Fahey

"Laura started as an Accounts Junior at Pannone LLP around 15 years ago, she moved to BLM and did her AAT and ACCA. She is now the Assistant Director of Finance and owes it to nobody but herself. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who can top her for sheer hard work and determination. On top of this, last year she completed her MBA, what an inspiration! Her attitude towards work and her fellow co-workers is something I strive to have. I am in awe of this lady and I think she deserves some recognition for everything she has achieved."

Liz Wallace

"Liz is one of the most hard working, dedicated and generous people I know. Her technical knowledge and commercial awareness is praised and highly respected by clients and colleagues. She has a very demanding and sometimes difficult personal life but still manages to excel in a high pressure and very demanding job, while raising a young family with very little support. Nothing is ever too much for her and she copes admirably with everything that comes her way. She is an example and inspiration not only to other women, but everyone she meets."

Louise McGrath

"Louise is always extremely professional and courteous. She is also a perfect ambassador for BLM and discharges her role as a receptionist perfectly. She is always smart and projects the image BLM will want to deliver to clients upon their arrival at our office. She is a problem solver and when challenges arise such as with vid conferences and confusion over room booking, she works extremely hard to provide a solution. I have also witnessed the way she works and would describe her as a real team player."

Luisa Lamb

"I’ve worked with strong female and male role models, but Luisa has always stood out for being incredibly supportive and approachable despite her busy role. No matter what query or crazy CSR idea I throw at her, she always has time to listen, advise and instil confidence. I believe Luisa goes out of her way to ensure we have an environment at BLM allowing people to feel supported and have their voice heard. I can honestly say Luisa is a credit to the industry and somebody I consider as a role model for me and for every female lawyer."

Michelle McCullough

"I have found Michelle to be one of the most approachable and knowledgeable women I have met. She not only has a wealth of knowledge about the County Court procedure in NI generally, but she always has an open door policy and plays such a key role in the office in helping and guiding particularly the NQ Solicitors and Trainee Solicitors. There is no question she will not know the answer to or be able to at least guide you to where you might find the answer! She always gives great legal and practical advice about how to deal with clients, insurance companies and Third Party Solicitors. As well as this, Michelle has a key role in the NI Strategy Forum monthly meetings where she continually will point out other Solicitor’s successes in the office, giving them a platform for discussing their own successes."

Michelle Penn

"Michelle is a role model as she is constantly working with clients to ensure the best working practices for both them and BLM.  She works so hard and is constantly thinking of new ways to develop the team and the disease practice, as well as managing to supervise everything practically on the same day!  Michelle is an amazing partner who can step back, unravel complex issues and give a view on a case you wouldn’t have thought about.  Additionally she couldn’t support the team more, individually and collectively. We are all so thankful for her!"

Natassia Sharratt

"Natassia is absolutely committed to BLM and is extremely loyal. She agreed to assist in preparing a document for a tender for a corporate client and attended at a presentation for the tender whilst on maternity leave. Her professionalism is exemplary and her performance is excellent. When going on maternity leave 3/4 of the way through the financial year in 2018/19 in December, she was AA hours. She always offers to commit to client training even if travelling a distance and is very flexible on her working days which she changes to suit the business wherever possible. She is a real ambassador for BLM and has completed secondments at corporate and insurance clients."

Nina Hyam

"Nina is our receptionist and is someone we all confide in when we need someone to talk to. Whilst her task is working on reception, she will arrange and set up all the meeting rooms, help us set up for Mental Health events even though she has not been asked, always offers assistance professionally and personally and someone who helps people always look at the bigger picture. She is caring, considerate and a credit to our office and we all admire and respect her so much. She makes the work place a positive and upbeat environment."

Rina Lakhman

"Rina has a can do approach to everything and focuses on successes which encourages the team to feel encouraged and inspired. Rina fosters a positive working environment by appreciating hard work which in turn inspires me to keep working hard towards my goals. Rina is passionate about the vision and mission of our team and shares her passion in a way that enables the team to feel passionate and motivated, too. She goes above and beyond in everything she does. Rina is my role model and I inspire to adapt her work ethics and I cannot think of a better person that deserves this nomination."

Sally Whalley

"Not only is Sally an exceptional lawyer who some clients specifically choose to work for them, but Sally manages to achieve this excellence at work despite extremely challenging personal circumstances. In addition to the usual pressures of working full time and being a single parent, Sally faces additional other stresses outside work yet consistently shows extraordinary resilience and energy in work. She is extremely generous with her time for others, and brings empathy and humour in equal measure. Sally is inspirational and a pleasure to work with."

Sian Owen-Atkins

"Sian has been my manager for the last three years and I couldn’t ask for a better manager at BLM. She is extremely down to earth, attentive and I feel I can approach her to discuss anything whether it be personal or work-related. She is a brilliant (and at times tenacious!) lawyer to learn from and has always sought to push me in terms of progressing my work as well as my personal qualifications/development. I think she is an ideal role model for any of the younger lawyers in my team."

Sue Rogerson

"Sue has many strengths and is a fantastic role model. She has the respect of all who work with her, from the support teams she has managed, the paralegals she has assisted and the lawyers she supports. She is fair, reasoned and always finds solutions to problems. She is not only an asset but one of a kind. She has the patience of a saint and nothing is ever too much trouble, she is the kind of woman who you would want as a colleague and a friend. She is the perfect role model."

Tessa Leonard

"My role model within the business is Tessa Leonard; she’s one of the most intelligent women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside. Over the years working with Tessa I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with her on our development work and have learnt a tremendous amount from her. She's supportive, extremely kind, always there when you need her, whether it's work or personal, never judges and she’s one of the only people I’ve ever worked alongside who values my opinion, always asking for my input and knowledge when working on a transaction together."

Vanessa Latham

"As one of BLM’s well respected partners, Vanessa is always really busy, yet she finds time to help others and always does it with a smile. She is also extremely supportive and encourages others to do well around her. Despite having a high workload, she makes time to plan social events and bring the fun to the London office, and as well as taking her career seriously and being very good at what she does, she still balances her family life. I admire her for all of this."

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Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

Who to contact

For more information about any of our news releases, please contact:

Natalie King
 +44 20 7638 2811
+44 20 7920 0361
Email Natalie

Semi Da-Cocodia
+44 161 236 2002
+44 161 838 6840
Email Semi

Jo Murray
+44 20 7638 2811
+44 20 7865 4849
Email Jo