CMS senior partner Penelope Warne (right) receives her award from Legal Week editor-in-chief Georgina Stanley

The Editor’s Award for Law Firm Leader of the Year went to one of only a handful of women at the helm of a top 50 UK law firm – CMS senior partner Penelope Warne.

Warne took home the award after a year which has seen her steer her firm through its groundbreaking three-way merger with Olswang and Nabarro.

As a trainee, she was the only female in an intake of more than 100, and since joining CMS 25 years ago, she has gone from being the sole lawyer in an Aberdeen outpost to her 2014 appointment as senior partner of a firm that now has more than 1,000 partners.

The Editor’s Award is the only award selected by Legal Week’s editorial team, rather than the independent judging panel that decides the rest of the winners.

Awards judge and former Lloyds Banking Group lawyer Lesley Wan said the award was “a wonderful acknowledgement of a truly formidable lawyer, who is bringing about positive change to the legal profession as a true champion of gender diversity”.

World Bank Group general counsel Sandie Okoro concurred, saying: “Penelope is a role model to us all and has been a champion of diversity way before it was ‘fashionable’ to be a champion.”