Ethnic Solicitors Network committee members
Dr Sam De Silva (chair)
Dr Sam De Silva is a partner at CMS, specialising in complex and strategic IT, outsourcing and telecommunication projects and regularly advises on data protection, privacy and cybersecurity issues.
Sam is the Law Society’s representative on the EU Commission’s Expert Group on Cloud Computing Contracts and the IT Law Committee of the Bars and Law Societies of Europe.
Sam is recognised as a leading individual for IT in the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners directories.
Sam is also a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia, having worked at leading law firms in New Zealand and Australia for five years.
Sam is passionate about Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) issues and is one of the BAME partner champions at CMS.
Akilah Jeffers (vice chair)
Akilah Jeffers is an associate at Keller Lenkner, a specialist class action and group litigation firm, where she specialises in investment fraud and miss-selling in the London office.
Passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion, Akilah established, and currently chairs her firm’s BAME committee.
Akilah trained at the magic circle firm Clifford Chance, and has since specialised in white collar crime, insolvency, and risk and compliance.
A former secondary school teacher, Akilah is also a mentor, school governor, and a trustee of an arts and education charity. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, horse riding and dancing.
Maiko Adachi is a corporate lawyer at Aviva, specialising in M&A, joint ventures and venture capital investments.
Before moving in-house, she trained and worked at Clifford Chance including a secondment to their Tokyo office.
Maiko is heavily involved in DEI initiatives within Aviva, including co-chairing Aviva’s cultural diversity employee resource group which covers culture, faith, race, ethnicity and social mobility.
She is an active member of the legal function DEI working group, where she co-founded the legal function’s parent network.
John Benjamin is a partner in the London office of Duane Morris, a global law firm headquartered in Philadelphia.
John is a member of the firm's governing partners board. He co-chairs the firm’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, which consists of over 150 lawyers located in offices across the world.
John focuses his own practice on intellectual property, technology and privacy law dealing with both transactional matters and litigation.
His client base includes leading technology, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, financial and insurance institutions. A number of these are constituent members of the FTSE 100 or Fortune 500.
He is regularly called upon by his clients to advise on complex cross-border matters and the legal challenges involved with the development and roll out of the latest technologies.
He is a regular contributor on these topics to professional journals, legal resources and to the main stream press such as the Financial Times.
Rebecca Burford is a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP who specialises in mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and growth capital investments.
Rebecca is also chair of the Race Action Group at Charles Russell Speechlys and the firm’s diversity and inclusion partner for ethnicity, religion and belief.
Rebecca was recognised in the Lawyer’s prestigious Hot 100 List, is ranked in the recent edition Legal 500 directory as Next Generation Partner and ranked in the Chambers and Partners directory as Up and Coming.
Rebecca has also been shortlisted on a number of occasions as Corporate Lawyer of the Year at the South East Insider Deal Maker Awards.
Rebecca is passionate about improving diversity in the legal profession and creating more inclusive workplaces in the legal sector. She joined our committee in 2021.
Sujata Das is a solicitor with a commercial and regulatory background, has worked in-house at various organisations including HP, Shell, the Financial Conduct Authority and JP Morgan, and is a consultant legal counsel.
She has also been involved in writing and editorial work, and has written legal articles and reports for the Financial Times.
Sujata has a strong interest in equality, fairness and progressiveness in the workplace.
Jacqueline P. Devonish
Jacqueline Devonish has general private practice, prosecution, regulatory and governance experience – having been a principal of her own firm in London, a member of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for 14 years, and now a full-time coroner.
She works passionately at everything she undertakes and has joined the committee to share her skills in influencing change to promote equality and inclusion across the legal profession and wider community.
Shivani Jobanputra is a trainee solicitor. She graduated at the University of Sheffield and studied law for one year at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland.
Shivani has a strong passion for the promoting equality and diversity in the legal field and hopes to provide useful insight from a paralegal perspective to assist the Law Society in tacking inequality.
Shivani sits on the committee as an elected committee observer.
Tess Saunders is a solicitor specialising in litigation. She works in-house for Reed, a large recruitment business, having previously been in private practice at a City firm.
Tess values diversity in all its forms and is committed to this value in all aspects of her life.
She mentors aspiring lawyers from traditionally under-represented backgrounds looking to enter the profession.
In her spare time, Tess is a big sport and exercise enthusiast. She plays county-level badminton, has a daily yoga practice and watches matches whenever she can.
Eunice Shang-Simpson is a member of the Ghana Bar, a solicitor-advocate qualified to practice in England and Wales, an international arbitrator and an ADR group accredited civil and commercial mediator.
She is a lecturer/practitioner in law and the faculty strategic lead for equity and inclusion at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.
Eunice is a former specialist crown prosecutor and seconded national expert to the UK Desk at Eurojust in the Hague.
She is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a frequent arbitrator at the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna.
She is a trustee of the Law Society Charity and is chair of our International Committee. Until recently, Eunice was the Law Society Council member for the Croydon and North Kent constituency.
She is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Africa Commission representing Ghana and has also been appointed as a member to the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR.
Passionate about helping women and girls reach their full potential, she is an alumni mentor of the Cherie Blair Foundation mentoring women in business programme, a trustee of the Arbitration Fund for African Students (AFAS) and a director of Golden Age International School in Ghana.
She is also currently a PhD researcher, focusing on international investment negotiations and investor-state dispute resolution.
Victoria is an associate solicitor specialising in family law, based at Laurus in Central London.
Victoria is passionate about diversity, inclusion and raising awareness of the issues facing ethnic minority lawyers in the profession.
Throughout her studies and career, she has assisted various pro bono organisations to provide legal advice and representation to vulnerable clients and those in need who cannot access legal services.
In her spare time, Victoria enjoys travelling abroad, road trips and scuba diving.
Olivia is a data protection lawyer based in London where she advises clients across all sectors and industries on a range of data protection and privacy matters.
Olivia is passionate about diversity and inclusion in all facets of life and has regularly contributed to discussions on the topic whether that be through published articles or speaking at roundtables and panel discussions.
Olivia has been an ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors, an awardee of the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme and a mentor in both formal and informal capacities.
Throughout her career, Olivia has been an active participant in pro bono activities including law clinics, advising charities and other publicly funded organisations.
Clive is a capital markets associate at Latham & Watkins, based in London.
He graduated with a LLB degree from the University of Birmingham, followed by a LLM degree from the University of Cambridge.
He qualified as a solicitor of England and Wales and as an attorney of the State of New York, USA, both in 2020.
He is passionate about diversity issues and is an active member of the pro bono practice of his firm, having been involved in various pro bono projects ranging from asylum applications to legal clinics.
Cindy Yip is senior legal counsel at Google and is based in the London office.
Prior to joining Google, she trained and qualified in the City at Simmons & Simmons.
She has a strong interest in supporting ethnic minority students and lawyers in the legal profession and is passionate about progressing social mobility.
In her spare time, Cindy loves to read and discuss books that she's enjoyed, as well as go on long countryside walks.