We are delighted to announce our IFLR1000 Women Leaders for 2021. This year's guide - the fourth edition - is by far the most comprehensive yet, featuring more than 750 lawyers globally, almost double the number of lawyers we ranked last year. It is a privilege to be able recognise the work of all the outstanding lawyers who appear in our guide.

IFLR1000 Women Leaders are the most prominent female lawyers working in the areas of law we research (financial and corporate transactions and contract, licensing and regulatory project work) within their jurisdictions. This is an elite group of lawyers with outstanding reputations within their markets who either have expertise and experience of working on complex deals, or who have risen to hold leadership roles with their firms or their practices. For some individuals both these things are true.

Research methodology 

The IFLR1000 undertakes annual research into the lawyers and firms working in our areas of research. IFLR1000's research teams in Hong Kong, London, New York and Sofia analyse thousands of research submissions, conduct thousands of interviews with law firm partners, and survey tens of thousands of clients to determine IFLR1000's Women Leaders. We consider all female lawyers working in our areas of research as Women Leaders but firms that participate in our research (see guidelines) can nominate individuals and individual lawyers can nominate themselves by taking our Lawyer Survey.

Women Leaders 2021 content

Below you will find links to: 

  • Women Leaders profiels by region and jurisdiction
  • Online profiles of our featured Women Leaders
  • Analysis pieces covering diversity and inclusion in the legal profession
  • Interviews with high-profile, inspirational female lawyers from across the world focussed around diversity in the legal profession

if you have any questiosn about our research, please contact Ben Naylor: bnaylor@iflr1000.com

If you would like to discuss how we can help you promote you or your firm's achievements, please contact Liam Sharkey: lsharkey@iflr.com


Women Leaders profiles by region 


Featured Women Leaders

Catarina Levy Osorio - ALC Advogados, Angola

Catarina Levy Osorio is both a founder and the managing partner of leading Angolan firm ALC Advogados, which is part of Portguese Morais Leitão’s network. In addition to heading the firm, Levy Osorio leads on a high proportion of the firm’s notable corporate and project deals.


Vivienne Gouthro - Higgs & Johnson, Bahamas

Vivienne Gouthro is an experienced and prominent figure in the Bahamas legal industry. Managing partner of Higgs & Johnson’s Freeport office, she has been practising for more than 25 years in the jurisdiction. A maritime law expert, Gouthro specialises in shipping finance transactions for international lenders.


Christel Sands-Feaste - Higgs & Johnson, Bahamas

Christel Sands-Feaste chairs Higgs & Johnson’s financial services law and regulation and securities and investment funds practice groups. As her titles suggest she had a broad range of expertise and experience. She recently led on an innovative utility securitization which required the legislative framework to be amended and restated.


Ingrid Pierce - Walkers, Cayman Islands

As Global Managing Partner of one of the world’s largest offshore law firms, Ingrid Pierce’s prominence in the legal sector extends well beyond her jurisdiction. Also head of Walkers' Cayman Islands investment funds group, she is considered one the leading lawyers in the industry. She boasts 20 years' experience in funds work, excelling in advising funds on distressed matters.


Yonghong Zhan - Guantao Law Firm, China

Project development specialist at Guantao Law FirmYonghong Zhan has led or co-led a large portion of the firm’s projects mandates of late. She has been involved in a raft of confidential projects spanning the real estate, construction and social infrastructure sectors.


Anna-Sophie Noury - Weil Gotshal & Manges, France

Restructuring and insolvency specialist, Anne-Sophie Noury, is a prominent lawyer within her market and practice area. She co-heads Weil Gotshal & Manges’ Paris restructuring group, previously led the same practice area at domestic firm BDGS and is a member of the Women in Restructuring network. Often instructed on high profile deals, she was recently involved in the restructurings of the Bourbon and Sonia Rykiel.


Jazna Vanessa Oquelí de Riera - García & Bodán, Honduras

García & Bodán’s Honduras managing partner Jazna Vanessa Oquelí de Riera is among the leading female lawyers in the jurisdiction. Her focusses are broad, encompassing banking and finance, corporate transactions and projects, and she has a history of working on innovative deals such as the state’s debut bond sale.

SH Fransisca - Makes & Partners, Indonesia

Head of Makes & Partners' banking and finance practice group, SH Fransisca also plays an integral part in the firm’s corporate and M&A and real estate practices. She has led on several high-profile deals throughout her career, including the high value acquisition of Campbell Soup's international business by KKR and the IDX IPO of DIRE Simas Plaza Indonesia - the first DIRE listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.


Tara Doyle - Matheson, Ireland

Head of Matheson’s asset management and funds group, Tara Doyle is one of Ireland’s most prominent funds specialists. Formerly chair of the Council of Irish Funds, Doyle now heads the working group for Irish Funds ESG policy. She is recognised for her fund formation and regulatory advice and worked on the first European alternative investment fund.


Julie Murphy-O'Connor - Matheson, Ireland

Co-head of Matheson’s litigation practice, Julie Murphy-O'Connor is recognised by clients as one of Ireland’s most impressive insolvency practitioners, especially regarding her enforcement work. She is regularly involved in complex cross border restructuring and insolvency cases.


Rita Martins - DSL Lawyers, Macau

Head of DSL Lawyer’s banking and finance practice, Rita Martins is among the top practitioners in Macau. Focussed on corporate and project finance, Martins has over 20 years of experience and recently advised on the setting up of facial recognition terminals with Macau merchants, and on MGM Macau’s sub-concession extension to 2022.


Valerie Bisasur - BLC Robert & Associates, Mauritius

BLC Robert & Associates partner Valerie Bisasur is a banking and finance specialist with an impressive recent track record advising lenders including Standard Chartered Bank, The Mauritius Commercial Bank, and Agence Française de Développement on innovative high-profile loan transactions.


Seyi Bella - Banwo & Ighodalo, Nigeria

A partner in the banking practice of top tier Nigerian firm Banwo & Ighodalo, Seyi Bella has only been a partner since 2018 but has built an impressive track record of secured finance experience and, through it, and an excellent reputation in the market.


Azeezah Muse-Sadiq - Banwo & Ighodalo, Nigeria

Banwo & Ighodalo partner Azeezah Muse-Sadiq has an impressive recent record of leading on high profile deals. The highlights include advising the lenders financing the acquisition of an oil mining lease, working for Ecobank Nigeria on a $400 million refinancing and advising the issuer on the largest corporate bond ever sold by a Nigerian Bank.


Olayemi Anyanechi - Sefton Fross, Nigeria

Managing partner and one the founders of Sefton Fross, Olayemi Anyanechi has an excellent reputation and more than two decades experience. Prior to launching her own firm, she was manging partner at leading Nigerian firm Templars and general counsel at one the country’s largest conglomerates, Sahara Group.


Monia Dobrescu - Muşat & Asociaţii, Romania

A partner at Muşat & Asociaţii for almost a decade, Monia Dobrescu has a broad focus but is especially recognised for her finance advice and real estate work. Her recent experience includes cross border lender-side financing mandates and regulatory work for China Development Bank, PPF banka and EBRD.


Jelena Gazivoda - JPM Janković Popović Mitić, Serbia

A senior partner at Janković Popović Mitić, one of Serbia’s leading firms, Jelena Gazivoda is among the most experienced lawyers in the jurisdiction. Her expertise lies in energy and natural resources project work (she heads the firm’s mining and energy department) and she has worked on some of the most important strategic projects in the region, including TurkStream.


Rachel Eng - Eng and Co, Singapore

Founding partner and managing director of Eng and Co in SingaporeRachel Eng has won numerous accolades in her nearly three decades of experience as a corporate and commercial lawyer. Known for her corporate and M&A, funds and capital markets work, she recently advised Credit Bureau Asia on its IPO on the SGX.


Maja Žgajnar - CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz, Slovenia

CMS partner Maja Žgajnar is a well-known banking and finance and capital markets specialist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has a focus on distressed banking deals and lender side work, and experience advising on loan portfolio sales and real estate and acquisition financing. Her recent work highlights include representing EIB on a cross border financing to Slovenia’s largest telecoms operator.


Annie Eunah Lee - Bae Kim & Lee, South Korea

Annie Eunah Lee is a partner in Bae Kim & Lee’s banking and capital markets team. The New York-qualified lawyer often leads transactions in debt capital markets and banking and recently acted in the Korean government’s issuance of $1.5 billion foreign exchange equalisation bonds, and in Affinity Equity Partners' $504 million financing for the investment in Shinhan Financial Group.


Passawan Navanithikul - Somboon Rittichai Panuwat Passawan, Thailand

Partner at newly founded Somboon Rittichai Panuwat Passawan in Thailand, Passawan Navanithikul is one of Thailand’s leading banking and finance specialists. She has more than 20 years of experience and previously led the banking and finance practices of Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners and Clifford Chance in Thailand.


Natthida Pranutnorapal - Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners, Thailand

Head of the restructuring and insolvency practice at Weerawong Chinnavat & PartnersNatthida Pranutnorapal has experience leading on major restructuring mandates across a variety of sectors. Her recent high-profile work includes advising on the rehabilitation of Sahaviriya Steel Industries and the business restructuring of Saha Farms and Golden Line Business.

Veeranuch Thammavaranucupt - Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners, Thailand

Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners senior partner, Veeranuch Thammavaranucupt, helms the firm’s capital markets and corporate governance practices. She has experience in advising on high profile and landmark mandates across the region, including advising Oil and Retail Business Public Company on its IPO on the SET – the second largest IPO of a Thai company to date.


Itir Ciftci - Ciftci Attorney Partnership, Turkey

Itir Ciftci leads the corporate practice at Ciftci Attorney Partnership, Clifford Chance’s local partner in Turkey. One of the most prominent M&A lawyers in the market, she has more than 25 years’ experience and a track record of working on complex cross border transactions.


Samantha Hutchinson - Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, United Kingdom

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft partner Samantha Hutchinson has built a reputation for her fund finance expertise. She has advised on a number of high-value subscription and leveraged deals and has been fairly prolific in the volume of transactions she has helped close.


Sanja Udovicic - Shearman & Sterling, United Kingdom

Shearman & Sterling London partner Sanja Udovicic boasts almost 25 years’ experience with the firm. A project finance specialist, she has expertise advising lenders on energy and natural resources projects. Her recent work highlights feature deals in Africa, Asia-Pacific and South America, advising lenders in relation to the Temane IPP in Mozambique, the Subic Bay Port project in Philippines, and the Acu LNG project in Brazil.


Articles and interviews


  • Women Empowering Change: getting more women into leadership roles with American Bar Association, ISDA, Bank for International Settlements – BIS, The Women's Foundation Association of Corporate Counsel, Baker McKenzie, and Hogan Lovells



United States



Hong Kong



New Zealand


Europe, Middle East and Africa 

Channel Islands: Jersey









United Kingdom


Earlier editions of Women Leaders