Breaking the glass ceiling

As every year in March Iberian Lawyer recognise the invaluable contributions and triumphs of women within the legal profession. This issue shines a spotlight on the groundbreaking achievements of women with our annual feature, “Inspiralaw”. This compelling showcase, profiles 50 exceptional role models for aspiring female lawyers in Spain and Portugal. It’s a testament to their resilience, brilliance, and unwavering commitment to excellence in a field where gender parity remains an ongoing journey.

by Ilaria Iaquinta

Their stories represent a mosaic of narratives showcasing women who have shattered glass ceilings, dismantled stereotypes, and redefined success on their own terms. From trailblazing litigators to visionary corporate counsel, each profile is a testament to the transformative power of female leadership. But the recognition of their work does not stop there. We delve deeper into the challenges and triumphs of women in law, exploring the strategies they’ve employed to navigate a profession historically dominated by men. From mentorship initiatives to advocacy for equal representation in leadership roles, these women are not just making waves; they are charting new courses for the generations that will follow.

As we celebrate the strides made by women in law, we’re also mindful of the work ahead. Gender parity remains an elusive goal in many corners of the legal world, and the journey towards equity is far from over. The leaders are not lacking, as evidenced by the list of 50 women… but in most cases, they are significantly fewer in number than the overall population of business lawyers and legal leaders who matter. Despite the efforts of law firms (data collected by Iberian Lawyer showed that in 2023 in Portugal 52% and in Spain 40% of the appointments were women) and companies, gender equality is still far off in the legal profession. More than half of law students are women, and more than half of lawyers are women. Yet, focusing on business law firms, the representation of women in these organizations narrows progressively as seniority increases. While women are numerous among associates, they are still few among partners.

One key to improving diversity could be embracing flexible work. Clearly, this alone is not enough; it requires reviewing policies and processes, from hiring to promotions, from compensation to assignment of roles, and from team composition. But I believe it requires a change in mindset first and foremost, and this truly demands the contribution of everyone, not just those at the top. We should ask ourselves, if we’re not already doing so, whether what we do every day at work marginalizes someone. When we realize that disparities, of all kinds, stem from a cultural problem and that we are the ones who shape culture, perhaps we will understand that each of our actions can make a difference. This is because the problem of gender diversity is everyone’s problem, not just women’s.

The legal profession continues to change, both in the ways it is conducted, through technology, and in the timing of work, which is becoming increasingly tight. In this context, finding and retaining talent will be increasingly central, and giving up on women means halving the chance of finding and retaining them. It means saying “No” to the economic growth of a law firm or company. Yet, hopefully we will inch closer to a future where talent knows no gender and opportunity is truly equal.

In this edition, alongside the celebration of women’s achievements, we delve into other compelling topics shaping the legal realm. Notably, we feature an insightful interview with Jacobo Martínez, the newly appointed vice president of Eversheds Sutherland for Europe. Martínez shares his vision for the future of legal practice amidst evolving global dynamics. Furthermore, we explore the strategic expansion of Legálitas through the acquisition of KMPG Impulsa, underscoring the firm’s commitment to multidisciplinary excellence. Luis del Pozo, the driving force behind this transformative move, provides insights into the firm’s growth trajectory. Additionally, we sit down with Jordi Casas, co-managing partner of Osborne Clarke in Spain, as he reflects on the past year’s achievements and outlines strategic objectives for the future. The legal market’s energy sector takes center stage with an exclusive interview featuring Vicente Lopez-Ibor Mayor, offering expert perspectives on industry trends and sustainability. As sustainability emerges as a cross-cutting theme across business communities, we delve into its implications for the legal landscape, highlighted through an event hosted by Iberian Lawyer in Madrid. From discussions on energy transformation to insights into restructuring and class actions, this issue offers a comprehensive exploration of the legal profession’s evolving dynamics. Additionally, we delve into the intriguing world of ambient fragrances in law firms and provide a window into the latest developments in in-house, finance, and international markets.


Julia Gil