Inspirational Women – International Women’s Day, #IWD2017


In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017, over this week, some of the GL team will be sharing which women have been inspirational to them and what moments they have treasured from their own careers. Follow the conversation on Twitter @GardnerLeader and with Gardner Leader LLP on LinkedIn.

Women number eight of the firm’s 15 partners, and two of the three support team Directors. As well as that, women make up a large number across all teams of the firm and have contributed to the firm’s continued success and growth. We are proud to be a supportive and forward thinking employer of Women.



Litigation Partner Michelle Di Gioia’s GL and career highlight is “my Swynson case and spending 4 days at the Supreme Court last November (the week before the Brexit hearing) before 5 phenomenal legal brains Lords Neuberger, Mance, Sumption, Clarke and Hodge that was indeed an experience. As for my inspirational women, alongside my mum who taught me that I could achieve anything, the Iron Lady ‘Margaret Thatcher’ was my inspiration growing up. She broke the glass ceiling and showed the world that being a women was no barrier.”

Corporate Commercial Partner Diane Yarrow’s GL highlight is being asked to join the trustee board of the Prince Philip Trust Fund alongside HRH the Earl of Wessex and being asked to join the Executive Committee for Henley Women’s Regatta (now a GL client) alongside Olympic medallist Miriam Luke. Diane’s inspirational woman is “My mother. Ma has taught me so many things, including the importance of hard work, compassion and pushing myself to try new things/gaining different experiences.”

Litigation Senior Associate Tara McInnes’s GL highlight is “having one of my cases reported and then sitting in seminars hearing people discuss it. My inspirational woman is Paula Radcliffe – an amazing long distance runner and world record holder in the marathon, who has inspired many women and girls to run and compete.”

Employment Senior Associate Michelle Morgan’s highlight is “speaking at the annual CIPD conference in front of 300 + HR professionals on a number of employment law topics” and her inspirational woman is “my mum – who worked a number of jobs whilst looking after my sister and I, as well as caring for her parents. She is still an inspiration; now looking after the elderly in a care home.”

Employment Senior Associate Julie Taylor’s highlights include the increasing complexity & value of employment cases handled and the success of the HR Exchange.  “I think Lindsey Vonn is a great inspirational woman. She is one of the most successful (and the most successful American) ski racers of all time winning 20 World cup titles and 77 world cup races. She has come back from serious injury and just keeps on competing at the highest level. Just amazing!  And I also have to mention Margaret Thatcher as she had a huge impact and consequently many girls grew up without considering that being female imposed limits.”

Inheritance Protection Assistant, Caroline Solomides says her inspiring woman is “adventurer Rickie Cotter – a 5′-nothing Welsh lady who is an inspirational cyclist. Attended a Women in Cycling event in Oxford at the weekend with my daughter who has also achieved in the field of cycling and adventure.”

Marketing Executive Zoe Forster’s GL career highlight was “graduating from my apprenticeship and getting into Marketing and Events at Gardner Leader. More recently being promoted to Marketing Executive. My inspirational Woman is Baroness Karen Brady also known as the ‘First Lady of Football’ while not being an avid fan of football myself, I admire her for breaking into (at the time) an extremely male led industry.”

Marketing Director Fiona Curnow’s GL career highlight is being a part of winning the LawNet Law Firm of the Year Award and Halsbury Award for Business Development in 2016. “My inspirational woman is Margaret Thatcher. That a woman was in such a position of leadership when I was young enabled me to simply assume that education, employment and leadership is for everyone regardless of gender. I am fortunate to have grown up in a place where this is the case, yet sadly for many it is still not and that’s one of the reasons why International Women’s Day is so important.”

Senior Associate Judith Rountree said “I think Michelle Di Gioia is a pretty inspirational solicitor and I aspire to become more like her! (And no she hasn’t promised me a bonus to say this!). Michelle is not only amazing at her job and has recently been in the Supreme Court with the UK’s top legal minds, but is also a great support to everyone. She is very knowledgeable always happy to chat over a problem or to give me a second opinion on tricky topics such as tactics or strategy to win over an opponent. On a personal level she is also really understanding and approachable and I really value having her within our team!  I feel my highlights are yet to come, as we are really starting to gain some momentum within the Property Litigation Team and I hope that this year the Team will be able to dazzle with new interesting work, with a (hopeful!) ranking in the Legal 500 and with the help of some other inspirational women – Joanna Bullard and Suki Hardy“.

Trainee Legal Executive Joanna Hemsley’s Gardner Leader highlight is “definitely having the opportunity to change my role to a fee earning one. Despite being a mum of three children and being a very mature student, it’s well worth the juggling! I’ve been very fortunate and have assisted on some interesting claims in the High Court and been involved on several mediations. Growing up, my inspiring female, with hindsight, was my grandmother. She was a caring, but strong, lady who was full of love for her family. Like thousands of ladies of her generation, she showed iron grit and determination. Having got married just after the outbreak of WWII, she was pregnant with my aunt when my grandfather was posted to Palestine and she did not see him for 5 years. She returned to work as an office manager, only weeks after having my aunt, was born two months early.

Finance Director Catherine Wilson shared that “Over 20 years ago I heard a speaker from Womankind Worldwide . I don’t know her name but she inspired me to support this charity even since. What I like is the way that Womankind Worldwide help women their communities on what seems a very small scale basis but has a huge effect on the whole community. For example they might provide hand tools for women which helps them grow some crops. The women then put the benefit of selling these crops into the health and education of the children in the village so all the community is helped.” Catherine is “proud to have recruited a couple of great new people and we have made lots of improvements (and continue to do so). A bit like Evolve it is the continual aim to move from good to great that I am pleased with!!”

Finance Manager Rebecca Lewis is proud of her achievements since starting at Gardner Leader and said her highlight has been “To have been given the opportunity to progress in my career. Working with a team of lovely people, that work hard and are very knowledgeable in what they do. We are able to share knowledge to help the Finance team and Firm grow and make processes in house more streamline and work better. I haven’t been at GL for long and hoping my personal main highlights are yet to come, however I am proud of one particular piece of work. When I first started it was year-end and I compiled and completed the workings for the Auditors Year end accounts packs, reviewing the years accounts and ensure the P&L and Balance sheets were accurate. This was the first time I had produced an end to end set of accounts, not just a small proportion of them.” Rebecca added “My inspirational women is my Auntie. She has successfully built, run and grown a local Car Garage for 22 years. Winning numerous awards and also becoming one of the Top 20 car garages in the South East and also one of the top 50 Garages of the Year voted for by customers. Being in an industry where it is mainly male dominated, she has not let this hinder her, and she has shown that you can achieve your goals no matter what the circumstances. She became the sole owner soon after setting up the business, being a single mum, and dealing with her own personal life. She has achieved an enormous amount of success, her true determination, hard work and desire to succeed has always been something to aspire to for me.”

With empowering women and the 2017 campaign #BeBoldForChange in mind, it’s interesting to note that a number of us mentioned Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. Now we have a second and we’d like to share this photograph from the Maidenhead Chamber Annual Dinner last weekend attended by Prime Minister and local MP, Theresa May. We told her a little about the growth of Gardner Leader in the town and recent move to new offices.

Theresa May with Fiona Tighe and Derek Rodgers



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