Fatema Orjela

Fatema is a private equity partner at Sidley Austin LLP. She was previously a partner at Kirkland & Ellis International LLP, having trained and qualified at Lovells LLP (now Hogan Lovells International LLP). She has experience on all areas of corporate law, in particular the structuring of private equity deals and leveraged buyouts, strategic mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, joint ventures, equity growth investments, equity and debt restructurings, and management equity plans, as well as related advisory work. Fatema is a co-founder of Women in Law London (WILL), an active network with over 1,600 members from 350 different law firms and companies across London. WILL aims to promote and engage the next generation of women leaders in law. It does so in a variety of ways, including providing members with networking opportunities and talks/ workshops and through engaging with law firm management on issues facing women in the profession. WILL has gained support from high profile speakers such as the Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf and Shami Chakrabati. It has also secured a research partnership with Kings College London, through which it was able to conduct a large survey of its members who reported their experiences of the profession and their career aspirations. In connection with her work with Kirkland & Ellis and with WILL, Fatema has spoken at diversity conferences and events including Oxford University and LSE. In addition, Fatema is an avid member of various other women’s networks, such as Oxford Women in Law (OWL) and 85 Broads (having co-founded the Oxford chapter).

Why First 100 Years is important

The fact that 100 years’ ago there were no women formally involved in law or the legal system is astonishing, yet also inspiring. In 2005, I sat my law examinations at Oxford University, mind racing with academic commentary as opposed to whether or not I would be entitled to be awarded my degree. This is far removed from the story of Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to read law at Oxford University (and likely sitting in the same exam hall in 1892) who had to wait 30 years to receive the recognition she deserved. Brave pioneers such as Cornelia started a wave with their impressive journeys. The First 100 Years Project will serve as a powerful reminder that, in a relatively short time period of time, there has been real progress and we can each play a part to ensure that the wave continues to amplify.