wil comp

The judging panel (before and after ROF stuck its beak in)

The Senior Partner of CMS has won an award at an event where she was also presented as a judge. 

CMS said that Penelope Warne was incorrectly listed as a judge of the Women in Law Awards 2020, where she was crowned 'Law Firm Leader of the Year'.

Warne trained at Slaughter and May before blazing a trail at CMS as Scotland's first female oil and gas lawyer, and she punched through the glass ceiling when she was appointed its Senior Partner in 2013. So accolades were surely deserved. However, a source intrigued by CMS's social media posts celebrating her victory last week spotted that she was one of its 23 judges.

"I don't wish to be a cynic", they said, "but...conflict of interest?"

Warne was furnished with a full judge's profile on the Women In Law website comprising a headshot and biography. But the listing was a mistake, said the firm. "Penelope was not a judge for these awards, so if she was on their website it will have been an error", a CMS spokesperson told RollOnFriday.

Regular readers will be familiar with the sloppy mistakes occasionally made by purveyors of legal awards.

Incisive Media, the company which runs the WIL awards, does flog the obligatory "winner's package" granting a licence to use a victory logo and a 600 word interview puff piece, all for just £1995.00 (plus VAT). But it is a more legitimate outfit than some awards conveyer belts. The company used to own Legal Week, and unlike other prize factories it actually identifies its judges, many of whom are illustrious figures in UK law. It also held a real ceremony where winners collected their prizes (by video), and it raised money for Women's Aid.

Incisive Media did not respond to a request for comment, but Warne's profile was subsequently removed from the judges' page.

Be a judge who awards your own firm a prize (or the Golden Turd) and take the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 Survey.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 20 November 20 09:45

Hah! Seriously, are they really suggesting that Incisive put up an entirely fake profile? Pull the other one.

Anonymous 20 November 20 09:50

A spokesperson for Incisive Media denied any wrongdoing "There's no conflict of interest here, it's just a humdrum administrative error" said Head of PR, Penelope Warne.

It stinks 20 November 20 09:55

The legal awards system is corrupt and arguably falls foul of the Bribery Act.  Those who sponsor the awards or give donations often/usually win.

The legal awards system stinks. 

Anon 20 November 20 10:26

I’m a PR at a City firm and can say, hand on heart, that the awards processes at the recognised brands (FT, Lawyer, Legal Week, Legal Business) are more robust than you’d think. I know this in-part because we have won plenty without ever having a commercial relationship with those brands. What does stink, though, is the increasing multitude of awards offered by nobodies cashing in on woke virtue signalling by law firms. They cheapen the causes they claim to celebrate immeasurably (for instance diversity) and firms like CMS need to stop taking the bait.

Anonymous 20 November 20 10:39

The only rank she’s not bestowed upon herself in an email signature is Rear Admiral but it’s only a matter of time.

Anonymous 20 November 20 10:41

Hey, screw you 10:26!

I won my Best Black LGBT Woman in Aviation Transport Finance Award (South East Region, Rising Stars) fair and square. My CV was far superior to the other applicant.


But seriously though, you are making a fair point - the incredible proliferation of "Top Power 100 [Identity Characteristic 1] [Identity Characteristic 2] in Legal Sector Whatever" awards is becoming a bit of a joke.

It's reaching a point where I'm a bit suspicious of any female lawyer who has actually managed to avoid winning one.


Anonymous 20 November 20 14:20

Empress of Scotland? It’s all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland now. If you believe the hype the firm puts out she’s one of the most famous lawyers in London. The time she took herself to Davos and made out that being in the same town as Bill Gates for a couple of days was basically a sign of having made it in the world of ‘bizniss leadership’ was hilarious. The self-delusion of many people at the top of large law firms as to their own importance is remarkable. 

Does not chance the back roads home 20 November 20 19:43

As a high street Solicitor, the best award is a smile from an elderly client you have helped over the years 

19.43 High Street solicitor 21 November 20 07:11

I too love it when an elderly client smiles as they sign their will which names me as the main beneficiary.  We smile and laugh together.  It’s a lovely thing.  

Davos2021 21 November 20 15:52

The legal 500 and chambers rankings also appear to be a little bit unreliable. If you are not dining the judges you will find yourself lower ranked than those who act opposite the same matters as you....!

Related News