Cristina Pagni, Partner, Simmons & Simmons
How long have you been working for your current company?
Approximately one year.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I’ve built my career practicing as a litigator in a top-tier domestic and international law firms in Milan. Before joining Simmons & Simmons, I was a partner at the firms, Norton Rose and Hogan Lovells.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
I am proud that I was asked to head the Litigation and Arbitration practice at Simmons & Simmons, which was the result of the reputation I had gained on the market after many years of hard work.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Keeping the market position of my practice is key in the current economical downturn. To do that I focus on providing high quality work and the profile of my team.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
At times it can admittedly be difficult but I try not to let the focus on relationships slip (with family, friends and colleagues) from being a top priority.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
During the early years of my career, a senior lawyer Prof. Mario Casella in the domestic law firm where I used to work was my professional mentor. I learnt a lot from such an expert and brilliant lawyer including how to have fun while working.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Corporate diversity initiatives can undoubtedly help but the general approach in both politics and business still needs to change a lot, at least as far as Italy is concerned.
Personally, it is helpful that my law firm is actively pursuing “gender balance” as a main target and value. An example of this is the firm’s international women’s network, which supports the development and retention of talented women in all business areas. The aim of the women’s network is to develop the skills of women and help provide a context to build new business relationships and opportunities.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
I would say that sometimes I have been at an advantage.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
The number of women having access to the legal market has hugely increased in the past few years even though the percentage of women in senior positions (be it partners or upper management in firms) is distinctly lower.
Cristina is a ranked lawyer in the Chambers Europe Guide.