by Curlan Campbell
- Awarded in Senior Leader Category by BBB Awards
- First black partner at Hogan Lovells since 1904
- Once received UN’s Global 500 Award for advocacy on environmental issues
UK-based lawyer and daughter of the soil Akima Paul Lambert is on a mission. She recently moved back to Hogan Lovells International LLP, the firm where she trained, and quickly became involved in bringing justice to Windrush claimants. She feels a strong sense of inequity as she recounts the stories: Caribbean workers came to the UK legally, and the Government lost or made it difficult for them to prove their entitlement to stay. Many of them lost income, their jobs and were even detained or deported as a result.
She notes that ”If I could leave one mark on the legal fraternity, it is to make justice more just. As a lawyer, I sometimes witness great inequities, particularly in relation to access to justice. Every individual should have access to justice, regardless of wealth, relationship or affiliation.”
She is also particularly pleased with her contribution towards mentoring young, up-and-coming black lawyers in the UK. “The contribution that I have made that is most meaningful is the mentoring work that I do. I am the co-founder of Creating Pathways, a mentoring programme that supports black associates to continue to progress within the law. Mentoring is so important so that we create a legacy of excellent black lawyers in the UK.”
“I was inspired to do so as I felt that there was significant attrition and something needed to be done to support our next generation of young black lawyers. So far, we have supported more than 100 lawyers,” she continued.
Paul Lambert’s outstanding contribution towards the legal profession in the UK has not gone unnoticed by her peers. This year, she was awarded in the Senior Leader Category by the Black British Business Awards (BBB Awards), the UK’s most prestigious awards for black lawyers. The BBB Awards recognises and celebrates the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black professionals and business owners in the UK.
“It is an achievement in and of itself to be recognised and an honour to win in the Senior Leader Category. It affords me an additional platform to do some more of the work I do in the UK,” she said.
Paul Lambert was recently promoted as the first black partner at Hogan Lovells, a position that a person of colour has not held since 1904. She is constantly reminded that many people of colour, especially females, will not be able to advance to the highest levels within the corporate world because of their minority status. This reality holds true particularly within the legal profession as minority lawyers hold a small fraction of leadership positions despite firms touting diversity and inclusiveness in their boardrooms.
“I see it as a privilege. I have the privilege of being a role model to young black lawyers coming up through the ranks. I also hope to inspire persons from other non-traditional backgrounds- if I can do it, so can you.
Corporate law is not an easy area to break into and excel in and it is difficult for all. I have faced challenges in the workplace- it is not at all easy to progress as a young, black, immigrant woman in a very traditional and conservative environment. The biggest challenge I faced was having to prove myself over and over again at all stages of my career: I never benefited from a presumption of competence even as a University of Cambridge and LSE alumnus,” Paul Lambert said.
Being a young black female occupying such a position at Hogan Lovells comes with responsibility and personal expectations for furthering her career.
“I intend to grow and expand my litigation practice significantly. I would like to win a lot more work in the Caribbean and to be instructed for more Caribbean clients. I have always had a passion for ESG (environmental, social and governance) work and I intend to do more to help my clients improve in this space. Hogan Lovells has a huge pro bono practice and I am working on a number of interesting instructions including for Windrush claimants. I also have a big focus on inclusion and diversity and would like to do some more work to make the legal profession more equitable,” Paul Lambert said.
Meanwhile, with the staging of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) on the horizon, Paul Lambert who once received the UN’s Global 500 Award for advocacy on environmental issues, has high expectations regarding the outcome, particularly for Small Island Developing States like Grenada.
“I would like to see developed countries take tangible action on reaching the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Emissions reduction must be a priority with strong commitments to action from day one.
More importantly, I would like to see more significant climate change adaptation and mitigation funds released for developing countries like Grenada so that the real work on adaptation and mitigation can commence in earnest.”