Harry Matovu QC and Robert O'Donoghue QC are amongst 18 barristers who feature in this year's Lawyer Hot 100.
“Black underrepresentation had no hiding place in 2020,” says Brick Court silk Harry Matovu QC, who seized the opportunity created by the Black Lives Matter movement to launch the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions in October.
The creation of the Charter was a personal highlight for Matovu in 2020 and one which he hopes will gain further momentum this year. That a senior Black silk was willing to speak up on the dire lack of diversity at the Bar last year did much to keep the issue in the spotlight. For many aspiring lawyers, Matovu is an inspiration who is helping to break down barriers to entry and career progression.
Though the charter launched just under four months ago, Matovu has already persuaded Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills, accountancy giants KMPG and PwC as well as Brick Court and 4 Pump Court to sign up to the Charter. In doing so, they have committed to using measurable data to recruit, retain and promote Black talent.
Outside his diversity work, Matovu is an in-demand arbitrator as well as acting for sovereign states in the London courts. Last month, for instance, he appeared in the Supreme Court for the state of Libya in a case concerning the enforcement of arbitral awards.
Robert O’Donoghue QC is not one of the new breed of barrister who doesn’t relish the courtroom. He remains fascinated by “the dark arts of trying to gain marginal advantages” in front of a judge. Fortunately, he has plenty of opportunity.
One of the star names in the world of competition law, O’Donoghue has become the go-to silk when it comes to taking on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Last year he was in (virtual) court on multiple occasions in cases including Ping v CMA, Pfizer v CMA and FP McCann v CMA, as well as the dispute between Facebook and the CMA over the blocking of Facebook’s acquisition of GIPHY.
But this is not his only line of work: he has been in the High Court on a Covid-related pricing dispute, Preventx v Royal Mail, and is instructed by Fieldfisher for one of the claimants in the second wave of claims in the Trucks litigation. He is also acting, so far pro bono, for the fans of Newcastle United in respect of a possible action against the Premier League over the failed takeover by a consortium involving Saudi Arabia of the football club.
O’Donoghue spent 10 years working for international law firms in Brussels and Washington DC, and says the contacts he made overseas helped immensely when he returned to the Bar in 2006. He now has a practice that involves plenty of non-London work. That time within firms also helped him better understand what qualities solicitors want from counsel, chief among them being a team-player mentality. No divas here; this is an accessible superstar.
The full list is here.