Chief Solanke SAN awarded 2012 IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award

The International Bar Association (IBA) Women Lawyer’s Interest Group has awarded Chief Olufolake Solanke, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the 2012 IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award.  

The Award, given in recognition of Chief Solanke’s professional excellence and her on-going contribution to the advancement of women within the legal profession, was presented at the IBA’s 5th World Women Lawyers’ Conference in London. The announcement was met with rapturous applause and the recipient was encircled by delegates attending the event.

A delighted Chief Solanke commented, ‘Thank you. It is a pleasure to be recognised by such a distinguished group, and I am honoured to be the recipient of the IBA’s Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award. In my professional life since 1963, I have laboured to have a positive impact on younger Lawyers. I emphasise professional responsibility to uphold high professional standards, to reject mediocrity and aspire to reach the very top of the profession.’ Click here for a photograph of Chief ’Folake Solanke.

Among the many achievements of a remarkable career in law, begun just under 50 years ago in 1963, Chief Solanke was appointed as the first female Commissioner in the Western region of Nigeria (1972); became the first female SAN (1981); was appointed Life Patron of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Ibadan branch (1986) and was honoured as a Fellow of The Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2009. 

Throughout her career Chief Solanke has been widely recognised for her dedication to human rights, particularly with respect to the rights of women and children. She has contributed significantly to this area through the FIDA to confront societal evils such as sexual assault against women and girls. Furthermore, in 1994, Chief Solanke was elected as President of Zonta International, an international organisation of business executive and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide. During her tenure, she implemented the ‘Zonta Agenda for Action: Women’s Health, Human Rights and World Harmony’ – widely known as the ‘Triple “H” Concept’. This action plan led to numerous Zonta service projects designed to improve the quality of life for women and their communities globally.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, Chair of the IBA Women Lawyers’ Interest Group (WLIG), commented, ‘I am honoured and excited to be co-chairing the 5th IBA World Women Lawyers’ Conference and to present Chief Solanke with the 2012 IBA Outstanding International Women Lawyer of the Year Award. Given the high calibre of all the nominees it was a very tough call.’ She added,‘Chief Solanke’s career has been long, industrious, filled with achievement and an inspiration to many. Her unswerving commitment to advancing women in the legal profession is admirable and I wholeheartedly congratulate her on receiving this award.’

Maria Wolleh, Senior Vice-Chair of the IBA WLIG said, ‘Chief Solanke is truly deserving of the IBA’s 5th Outstanding International Women Lawyer of the Year award. She has distinguished herself from an extraordinarily strong field of contenders by her professional accomplishments and I am delighted that at an event where leaders in the legal profession have assembled to network, exchange experiences, and discuss topics of global significance to women practitioners such a legal luminary should be recognised.’

Recipients for the Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award are selected based on professional excellence and their contribution to advancing women within the legal profession. The award, sponsored by LexisNexis, includes a gift of a charitable donation of US$5,000 in the name of the honouree to an organisation of her choice.

Ian McDougall, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, said ‘LexisNexis is honoured to be part of this award to recognise the commitment and outstanding achievements of Chief Olufolake Solanke, a woman who has worked tirelessly to inspire countless women lawyers in breaking through the “glass ceiling”. We are proud to be associated with this award and congratulate Chief Olufolake Solanke.’

The IBA’s 5th World Women Lawyers’ Conference attracted almost 200 lawyers from across the globe and was held in London on 26–27 April 2012. Session topics included: women in warzones, corporate governance, women in the judiciary, important of corporate counsel and women, recent trends in international arbitration, cross-border negotiations of a joint venture and how to make gender diversity plans works.

In addition to the Conference, a live discussion took place on women in the law, via the internet, with an expert panel of four lawyers at the top of the profession: Elizabeth Barrett, Slaughter and May partner and former head of litigation; Margaret Cole, former managing director of the UK Financial Services Authority’s Conduct Business Unit; Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society and former director of the British Institute of Human Rights; and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, leading barrister and human rights expert. The discussion was chaired by the BBC broadcaster Fi Glover.

The filmed footage of the webcast will be available shortly on the IBAwebsite at


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