Global Advisory Board
Our global advisory board is composed of legal experts who have dedicated themselves to furthering the advancement of diversity in the legal profession through professional and community work. Our advisory board members are also on the judging panel for the Diversity Champions List 2017 and share their input into research and event ideas.
Ruby Asturias - Central America
Partner, Pacheco Coto
With over 21 years of experience, Ruby's expertise is in the areas of Corporate and Labour Law, Transactional Tax Law, Foreign Investment, Mergers & Acquisitions, Franchising, Licensing and Joint Ventures.
Prior to joining Pacheco Coto, Mrs Asturias was one of the founders, Partner and President of the Board of Directors of ACZALAW Abogados Centro Americanos,a regional firm with presence in Central America, and which she co-founded in 2000, with 55% of female partners; having representation of women leaders in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Ruby is an active supporter of diversity in the legal profession and works closely with the Vance Centre and the Latin American Council of the NYSBA.
Susan Belgrave - UK
Barrister, 7 Bedford Row
Susan Belgrave was called to the Bar in 1989 at Inner Temple after an initial career in the Barbados foreign service. Her early years of practice were spent in Brussels at the European law firm of Stanbrook and Hooper. She holds a Masters in European Law from Universite Libre de Bruxelles. Susan moved to London in 1992 and she worked initially in the area of housing and local government law and moved into employment as an area where European law is the cornerstone of much legislation and case law.
Susan is recognized as a leading practitioner in her field in Legal 500 and has appeared in a number of high profile discrimination cases. As a mother of two she is passionate about education. Her work in the field of discrimination gives her special insight into the role of women in the legal profession and the difficulties they face.
Roberta Liebenberg - USA
Partner, Fine, Kaplan & Black R.P.C. and Founder of Direct Women
Roberta (“Bobbi”) D. Liebenberg is a partner at Fine, Kaplan and Black in Philadelphia, where she focuses her practice on class actions, antitrust and complex commercial litigation, and white collar criminal defense. In 2015, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Bar Association Retirement Funds, which has over $5.6 billion in assets and serves over 3,700 participating plans. In 2016, she was appointed to the Board of the American Antitrust Institute.
In recognition of her longstanding efforts to help women advance and succeed, Ms. Liebenberg has received a number of honors and awards. In 2016, she was named as a recipient of the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award by the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, which is the highest award bestowed on a woman attorney by the ABA. In May, 2015, she was honored with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Legal Intelligencer in recognition of her "exemplary career" and "significant impact on the profession." In April 2014, she was the recipient of the inaugural Chambers Women in Law "Lifetime Achievement Award." In January 2014, she was named the recipient of the inaugural “Sharing Her Passion” Award by the Ms. JD organization, which is given to a woman "who is inspiring younger women lawyers through sponsorship, mentorship, and sharing her passion for the practice." In January 2013, she was the recipient of the inaugural Chambers Women in Law Award for “Outstanding Contributions to Gender Diversity and Equality.”
Dr Leslie Thomas QC - UK
QC, Garden Court Chambers
Dr Leslie Thomas QC, LLB (Hons); LLD (honoris causa), human rights/civil liberties barrister of Garden Court Chambers. He has been described as a 'voice for the dead'.
He is of African-Caribbean heritage, and from a working class background. He has first hand experience of the impact of diversity and cultural issues both in his personal and professional life. The diversity in his personal history/life is reflected in his practice. He chose Garden Court Chambers as a place to work because it is one of the most diverse Barristers Chambers in the UK.
For 25 years Leslie has represented the victims and families of those who have suffered or died in state custody including, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg, Anthony Grainger, Hillsborough families, Christopher Alder, and Arsema Dawit.
Leslie is featured in the radical and controversial cinema documentary Injustice (2001) and Who Polices the Police (2012) by Ken Fero which looks at various families journeys when their loves ones were died in police custody. More recently he was commissioned as legal advised on the BBC drama Undercover.
He Co-Authored 'Inquests a Practitioner Guide': Legal Action Group (2014), an authoritative textbook on inquests and coroners court.
In 2012 he was awarded the honour of Legal Aid Barrister of the Year. Louise Christian of Christian Khan solicitors stated “Leslie has done more for the families of those who die in custody or at the hands of the police than any other single lawyer. This is extremely difficult and not well funded work which requires extraordinary dedication and persistence and Leslie has all these things as well as enormous empathy with clients.”
In 2013, Leslie secured an unlawful killing verdict against a police firearms officer in the public inquiry in the death of Azelle Rodney. Also that year Kingston University awarded him Honorary Doctorate for services for civil rights.
In 2014, Leslie received 'The Lawyer' (Magazine) Top 100 Award in the field of campaigners. In the same year he was also awarded the title of Queen's (Senior) Counsel.
In 2015 his successful case against the Hertfordshire Police was made the subject of the book 'Fit Up: Fighting to Clear My Husband's Name' by Faith Clifford. Further he successfully represented the family of Christi and Bobby Shepherd who tragically died from carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on a Thomas Cook holiday on the Greek Island of Corfu. The jury found that the children had been unlawfully killed and that Thomas Cook had breached its duty of care towards them. Sharon Wood, the mother, said "Huge thanks to our QC Leslie Thomas for his faith in our case and supporting us, the underdog, in our fight against a corporate giant."
Most recently, Leslie has been instructed in a number of Northern Irish high profile cases representing families who have suffered bereavements arising out of the ‘Troubles’ in the 70s and 80s. Many of these legacy murders involve some of the most serious allegations of misconduct by state agents against individuals.
In 2016, Leslie received a further LALY (Legal Aid Lawyers) award, this time for being part of the successful Hillsborough team who secured an unlawful killing verdict on behalf of the families who lost loved ones. He also represented the mother and father of Zane Gbangbola in their search for answers relating to the death of their 7 year old son who died from noxious fumes which entered the family home.
More recently, in the summer of 2016, Leslie has been working alongside the Antigua and Barbuda Government re-drafting their Arbitration legislation.
Leslie regularly mentors students and young practitioners who wish to enter the legal profession. It is important for him that opportunities afforded to him are passed onto and shared with the next generation of future lawyers from all backgrounds, and especially women, and those from minority backgrounds, who may have suffered disadvantage in what is traditionally thought as a white male dominated profession.