Features

WILEF Paris inaugural event roars to success

Apr 17, 2019, By Somesha Ferdinand

A buzz of excitement filled the air as women lawyers across Paris assembled for the launch of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) LLC Paris market.  WILEF Paris officially launched on the 11th of April, graciously and chicly hosted by White & Case at its lovely Place Vendome offices. The inaugural event brought together an enthusiastic group of women law firm partners and associates, general counsels and in-house lawyers as well as lawyers from the French financial services regulator (ACPR) and the international intergovernmental organization OECD and last, but not least, a few eager élèves-avocates!  A passionate discussion ensued on the role of ambition as a necessary element of career success.

The panelists, well-established Parisian lawyers, covered the range of legal practices: Mirèze Phiillipe, ArbitralWomen co-founder and Executive Committee Member, Special Counsel – Secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, Sabine Henry, General Counsel Europe and Asia for Bose Corporation, Marie-Aimée de Dampierre, Regional Managing Partner for Continental Europe, Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP; Sophie Perrin, Legal and Corporate Director of Pepsico France. I had the pleasure of moderating.

Melinda Wallman, Partner, Mlegal Group, Inc. and WILEF Deputy Global Chair, International.
L to r: Linda Tamm, in-house counsel SAP, Sophie Perrin, Coporate and Legal Director, Pepsico France, Frédérique de la Chapelle, Partner, Dentons
(L-R) Linda Tamm, in-house counsel SAP, Sophie Perrin, Corporate and Legal Director, Pepsico France, Frédérique de la Chapelle, Partner, Dentons.

Whilst these lawyers debated how to define ambition (some considered themselves not to be ambitious per se) they all agreed that doing one’s best work and being clear and vocal about what one wants, personally and professionally, remains essential to career advancement.  The ladies spoke candidly about how having a life partner who shares and respects one’s career goals makes a critical difference in career development.  Finally, the ladies discussed generational differences: some qualities —integrity, respect for self and respect for others – remain the same regardless of the generation.  At the same time, established lawyers can learn from the younger generations (reverse-mentoring!)  how to prioritize a work/life balance and how to be open to learning new things as a way to stay current.  The key take-aways: take risks, speak up for oneself, and surround oneself with supportive personal circle.  With this group of women discussing the role of ambition in career success, their achievements speak for themselves!

This thrilling talk was followed by a cocktail dinatoire.  The ladies retired to the lovely White& Case inner room with gold moulding and a view of the garden courtyard to sip champagne and plan their next empowering actions.

(L-R) Amy Frey, Partner, King & Spalding, Suzy O’Keefe, Major, Lindsey & Africa, Gandia Robertson, OECD.
(L-R) Sidne Koenigsberg and Jennifer Huang of Skadden, Arps.

Somesha Ferdinand is Senior Managing Consultant, Allen & Overy Peerpoint and WILEF Paris Co-Founder and Co-Vice Chair.