Three Russell McVeagh leaders have been recognised in this year's NZ Lawyer Elite Women list, including Partnership Chair Polly Pope and CEO Jo Avenell who are named for a second consecutive year, and Corporate Advisory partner Mei Fern Johnson who is recognised for the first time.
"Congratulations to Polly, Jo and Mei Fern for their selection on this year's list," says Russell McVeagh Board Chair Allison Arthur-Young. "This selection reflects their hard work and commitment to continuing to make positive change and pave the way for women and leaders in the profession."
Polly is a partner in the firm's litigation team and one of New Zealand's leading commercial disputes and restructuring and insolvency lawyers. Her practice spans class actions, financial regulatory disputes and investigations, and construction disputes. Polly has been an advocate for gender equality in arbitral appointments, and is a Fellow of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She was appointed this year to AMINZ's Arbitration Appeals Tribunal and to the reserve arbitration panel for the prestigious Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
Russell McVeagh CEO Jo Avenell is known for delivering significant culture change, improving organisational performance and transforming commercial results. Jo actively champions diversity and inclusion and has done so throughout her career. She currently sits on the governance group for 'Champions for Change', and was a Global Women Board member for 9 years.
Mei Fern Johnson
Mei Fern is a partner in the firm's Corporate Advisory practice with more than 20 years' experience advising on complex commercial contracting and on mergers and acquisitions, with particular expertise in sectors that are traditionally male dominated including infrastructure, technology, transport and energy (including oil and gas) projects, and joint ventures and collaborative contracting. She was appointed a director of Crown Infrastructure Partners Limited (an investor of approximately $2.3 billion across a diverse range of infrastructure programmes around New Zealand), and is an independent member of the Capital and Infrastructure Board Committee for Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (established in 2022 to run New Zealand's health system, and merge the functions of the 20 District Health Boards around the country).
Elite Women celebrates Aotearoa New Zealand's top legal talent, recognising leaders who are changing the status quo and have 'demonstrated standout professional achievements over the past year, along with their contributions to diversity and inclusion in the industry and how they’ve given back through volunteer roles and charity work.'
Congratulations to all of the inspirational women recognised on this year's list.