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IFLR1000 women leaders

10 Jun 2022 / People Print

Amongst women

Legal directory IFLR1000’s latest list of global women leaders includes 33 from Ireland. Andrew Fanning reports.

Thirty-three Irish lawyers were recently named in a list of women leaders compiled by the legal directory IFLR1000. The fifth edition of the ‘women leaders’ list featured around 1,000 lawyers from across the world – a 33% increase over the number recognised last year.

A&L Goodbody and Arthur Cox each have seven lawyers on the list, while McCann FitzGerald has six. Those honoured also include five lawyers from Matheson, and two each from Maples Group, Walkers, and William Fry. Dentons and Simmons & Simmons each have one representative.

IFLR1000 ranks law firms and lawyers on the basis of their work on financial and corporate deals. It describes those placed on the list as “an exclusive 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”.

The directory’s teams in Hong Kong, London, New York, and Sofia compile the list after analysing research submissions, conducting interviews with law-firm partners, and surveying “tens of thousands” of clients. Here are this year’s Irish leaders.

A&L Goodbody

Laura Butler – a partner in A&L Goodbody’s asset-management and investment-funds group, whose areas of expertise are the formation, authorisation and operation of regulated investment funds. She has advised a broad range of clients in a number of high-profile transactions. She was awarded the Investment Funds Rising Star award in 2020.

Marsha Coghlan – a partner in two of the firm’s departments (litigation and dispute-resolution, and restructuring and insolvency), she has wide experience in general commercial litigation, including financial-services litigation, litigation involving directors, and regulatory investigations. She has advised companies such as Ladbrokes and Homebase on their successful restructuring through examinership.

Sheena Doggett – a partner in A&L’s corporate and M&A practice, she heads the practice’s team in London, splitting her time between there and Dublin. She advised the Irish Government on the sale of Bord Gáis Energy, and Investec Bank on its disposal of Start Mortgages and Nua Mortgages.

Catherine Duffy – served as chairman of A&L Goodbody from 2016 to 2019 and is a consultant in the firm’s finance department. She was recognised as one of Ireland’s most influential and successful businesswomen at the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) 2017 Awards.

Sinéad Lynch – a partner in A&L’s corporate and M&A practice, who specialises in insurance. She has been involved in a large number of domestic and cross-border deals in the sector – including advising Friends First on the combination of its two Irish life assurance operations, and advising Aviva on the sale of its health insurer, Aviva Health, to Irish Life.

Laura Mulleady – another of the firm’s insurance specialists and a partner in its corporate and M&A practice, she has been involved recently in business transfers and amalgamations involving insurers and reinsurers, and in advising on Brexit-related projects. Her experience includes advising Carlyle Cardinal on its acquisition of AA Ireland Limited and subsidiaries from AA Corporation Limited.

Marie O’Brien – a partner in A&L’s finance department, she is the firm’s head of aviation and transport finance. She also heads the firm’s China Business Group and was listed in the 2020 Top 100 Elite Lawyers in Foreign Firms by China Business Law Journal.

Arthur Cox

Sarah Cunniff – a partner in the firm, Cunniff has extensive experience in asset management and investment funds. She set up the first exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Dublin in 1998, and has chaired the Irish Funds Legal and Regulatory Committee, as well as serving on a number of other industry committees.

Laura Cunningham – a partner in the firm’s aviation group, she specialises mainly in aircraft finance and leasing. She has represented leasing companies, international financial institutions, equity investors, and airlines in a broad range of cross-border transactions, and advised AirAsia Group on the sale of its leasing unit to entities managed by BBAM.

Caroline Devlin – a senior partner in Arthur Cox’s tax practice, as well as co-chair of its aviation group. She also leads the firm’s Asia-Pacific team and has among her experience advising Paddy Power’s parent company Flutter Entertainment on the Irish-tax aspects of its accelerated acquisition of US company, FanDuel.

Grainne Hennessy – a partner in the firm’s banking-and-finance team, she is currently the only banking-and-finance lawyer in Ireland to be ranked as a ‘star individual’ by Chambers and Partners. Hennessy has advised a number of large Irish and international companies, such as Greencore, property-investment firm Kennedy Wilson, Bank of Ireland, and Wells Fargo.

Maura McLaughlin – a partner at Arthur Cox since 2007, working in the corporate and M&A sector. She has been involved in many significant deals involving international and domestic companies – including the flotations of Permanent TSB and Aer Lingus, and Paddy Power’s acquisition of Betfair. She won the ‘Best in Capital Markets: Equity’ award at the Women in Business Law Awards Europe 2020.

Orla O’Connor – chair of the firm, O’Connor is also a partner in its finance group and a member of its financial-regulation practice. She advises banks on reorganisations and on a wide range of regulatory issues linked to payments, anti-money-laundering, mortgage arrears, and consumer credit. O’Connor has also been involved in advising Irish and international banks on the sale of assets.

Niav O’Higgins – a partner who heads the firm’s construction-and-engineering group. She is also a member of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel and has advised the DAA on infrastructure projects and Center Parcs on the construction aspects of its development of a holiday village in Co Longford.

Tara O’Reilly – a partner in the practice that deals with asset management and investment funds. She has extensive experience in advising global and domestic clients and is a regular contributor to international journals and publications. She has a particular expertise in ETFs and is a leadership member of the Irish chapter of Women in ETFs.


Eavan Saunders – the managing partner of Dentons’ Dublin office, joining the world’s largest law firm when it opened its Irish business in 2020. She has more than 20 years of experience working as a top-flight lawyer in the City of London and in Dublin, and is one of Ireland’s leading private-equity lawyers.

Maples Group

Elizabeth Bradley – a partner in Maples and Calder (Ireland) LLP’s banking-and-finance team in Dublin. She acts for Irish and global financial institutions across a wide range of domestic and cross-border deals – including property financing, acquisitions, project finance, and fund financing. Bradley was ranked as a ‘leading individual’ in The Legal 500’s 2020 and 2021 guides.

Sarah Francis – also a partner in the firm’s banking-and-finance team in Dublin, she has extensive experience advising on domestic and cross-border banking deals. Her main focus is on advising lenders and borrowers on corporate-debt facilities, acquisition financing, property financing, fund financing, and debt restructurings. The Legal 500 2021 named her as a ‘next-generation partner’.


Tara Doyle – last year, became the first woman to be appointed chair of Matheson, having been a partner since 2002. She heads the department that advises on asset management and investment funds and has advised leading UK investment managers on their Brexit planning. Doyle is a member of the Council of the Law Society, having been elected in November 2020.

Rhona Henry – a partner in the firm, heading its construction-and-engineering team, with over 19 years’ experience in the sector. She advises on complex capital projects – including data centres, commercial offices, corporate headquarters, and major infrastructural projects. She was named a ‘leading individual’ in the European Legal 500 in 2020.

Yvonne McWeeney – appointed a partner in 2019, McWeeney works in Matheson’s finance-and-capital-markets department, advising on all aspects of aviation, shipping, and rail, as well as the financing, trading and leasing of other assets. In addition, McWeeney lectures and tutors on the Law Society’s diploma and certificate courses in aviation leasing and finance.

Julie Murphy-O’Connor – a partner in the department responsible for commercial litigation and dispute resolution. Murphy-O’Connor’s practice includes complex Commercial Court disputes involving international companies and financial institutions. She is co-author of the Commercial Litigation Association of Ireland’s Practitioner’s Handbook for the Commercial Court and of the Law Society’s textbook on insolvency law.

Michelle Ridge – a Matheson partner dealing with asset management and investment funds, specialising in Irish financial-services law. She was the International Law Office Client Choice Awards 2017 winner for the ‘banking law in Ireland’ category. She was also listed as one of the ‘50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds 2019’ by The Hedge Fund Journal.

McCann FitzGerald

Catherine Deane – the firm’s chair and a partner specialising in aircraft transactions, Deane advises a wide range of aircraft lessors on the reorganisation of substantial parts of their businesses and fleets, and on the registering, operation and establishment of aircraft facilities in Ireland. Deane advised SAS on setting up a platform in Ireland for the management of its fleet.

Judith Lawless – a partner specialising in advising banks, investment funds, insurance companies, and other buyers and sellers of financial instruments. She also works with clearing houses, exchanges, and other participants in financial markets on issues linked to trading, clearing, settlement, and custody. Lawless has advised the Central Bank on issues like the introduction of Ireland’s special liquidation regime.

Gill Lohan – a partner specialising in IPOs and equity issues by public companies, she advised pharmaceutical giant AbbVie on its acquisition of Allergan, which was named the European ‘M&A Deal of the Year’ at the IFLR Europe Awards 2021. Lohan also advised Allied Irish Banks on its IPO, and has also been involved in a number of significant deals in the hotels sector.

Hilary Marren – a partner in the firm’s finance group specialising in asset-finance and leasing transactions. She has acted for many of the leading operating lessors, financiers and export-credit agencies in the aviation industry, and has extensive experience of international aviation deals. Marren has advised Dublin-based aircraft-leasing giant AerCap on a number of transactions.

Georgina O’Riordan – a partner heading the firm’s finance group, focusing on banking and asset-finance deals. She advises leading aircraft lessors, lenders and arrangers on all aspects of aircraft-financing and leasing. O’Riordan advised a number of aircraft lessors in connection with the Irish examinership of Norwegian Air Shuttle and some of its Irish-incorporated affiliates.

Lisa Smyth – a partner, Smyth specialises in restructuring, examinership, receivership, liquidation, and contentious work for insolvency practitioners, companies and state agencies. Smyth’s experience also includes acting for the Charities Regulator in its presentation of a petition to wind up the Inner City Helping Homeless charity, and advising shopping-centre owner Hammerson on a number of disputes.

Simmons & Simmons

Rachel Stanton – a finance partner at Simmons & Simmons, Stanton has 20 years’ experience advising on all aspects of corporate lending and financing transactions. She has advised Irish banks, financial institutions, funds and corporates, as well as international financial institutions, private-equity firms, and funds operating within the Irish market.


Sarah Maguire – a partner in the group that advises on asset management and investment funds. Maguire has extensive experience in advising on the establishment, authorisation and operation of all types of Irish investment funds. A member of the Irish Funds’ legal and regulatory working group, Maguire is also a lecturer on the Law Society’s Finance Law Diploma programme.

Noeleen Ruddy – a partner and co-head of the team responsible for finance and capital markets. She advises international financial institutions, investment banks, private equity, and hedge funds on a wide range of deals involving structured-finance products. Named as a ‘leading individual’ in the 2022 Legal 500, she lectures in the Law Society on the principles of securitisation.

William Fry

Myra Garrett – a former managing partner at William Fry and now a partner in the firm’s corporate team, specialising in mergers and acquisitions, public takeovers, initial public offerings, and capital-market transactions. A council member of the International Bar Association, Garrett also advises companies and boards of directors on corporate governance.

Elaine Hanly – a former senior partner and now a consultant on banking and financial services at William Fry, providing advice on a wide range of financial transactions. She has been providing ongoing advice to packaging giant Ardagh Group on its debt issuances, while she has also advised Eirgrid on a proposed 700MW Celtic Interconnector submarine power cable between Ireland and France. 

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Andrew Fanning
Andrew Fanning is a freelance journalist