Lifetime Stories: Annette Byron – Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

It is clear that the ethos of Withington stays with many Old Girls in their lives beyond the School. Withington, through its Bursary Programme, encourages and enables girls from all backgrounds to attend the School, irrespective of financial and social backgrounds, and that is exactly what Annette Byron draws upon in her role as Partner and Social Mobility Champion at the prestigious commercial law firm: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Annette is responsible for trying to get people from less traditional backgrounds into law and into ‘magic circle’ firms such as Freshfields. Annette admits that “I often think about my experience at Withington in terms of what I’m trying to do here at Freshfields.”Annette attended Withington from the ages of 11 to 18, before reading Law at the University of Cambridge. She went on to do a Master’s degree in Law at the London School of Economics, and completed her solicitor’s training at a central London firm, ultimately working and specialising in the property department. In 1996 Annette was hired by Freshfields, and was made a Partner just four years later.

Annette currently works on large mandates, a recent highlight was working on the Shard of Glass Project which has reinvented London’s skyline. Annette had worked on the site since it was “just a hole in the ground”, working with investors from around the world to make the project possible.

What really challenges Annette though is her role as Social Mobility Champion at the Firm: “I think the enormity of the task and the importance of it is one that weighs quite heavily.” Annette is passionately committed to change the stereotype of the legal working environment, making it a better place for women to work so that they can sustain their careers in the law whilst still meeting their family commitments.