LAWYER OF THE YEAR | The Shortlist

OUR list of lawyers reflects the breadth of legal work in the City, from the head of a firm that has recently merged, to one who advised the government on the banking bailout, the chief of the financial regulator and a pace-setting female head of a flourishing boutique firm. Hard to compare? Yes, but they show that the law is flourishing. Don’t miss the City event of the year – get online now and book your table for the City A.M. Awards on Thursday 28 October 2010 at Grange St Paul’s Hotel, London EC4.

Long a star of the City’s legal scene, she was one of the lawyers called in to advise the government on the nationalisations of RBS and Lloyds. This year she stayed in the limelight by advising the Pru on its rights issue, and advised Standard Chartered on both its Indian listing and its $500m investment in Agricultural Bank of China. She is currently advising Tomkins on the £3bn bid by Onex and CPP. A class act.

The biggest coup of the year in the City’s legal circles was Freshfields pinching BP from Linklaters. As head of the worldwide corporate practice group, Braham was one of the men behind the audacious victory. He has long been a leading light ­– he acted for CVC on its acquisition of majority ownership of Formula One, and Anheuser Busch's bid for Harbin Brewery in China – but it’s for pulling off the BP deal that he makes our shortlist.

A partner at White & Case, Cole joined the FSA in 2005 as Director of Enforcement. She has been behind its new, tougher stance of providing “credible deterrence” over the past year. Her influence is being felt. The regulator has imposed £60m in enforcement fines in the financial year so far, tightened its anti money-laundering regime and cracked down on mortgage fraud. As a nominee says: “She has had a very good year”.

There was no greater sign that London’s law firms are still global players than the merger of City firm Lovells with Washington-based Hogan & Hartson earlier this year, a deal masterminded by managing partner David Harris. The newly formed firm looks truly modern, adding Lovells’ global reach – it is big in Asia – with Hogan’s American focus. At a time when many City law firms are still feeling the pinch, and shedding staff or worse, Harris showed that he had the sheer chutzpah to take his firm to the next level.

She became the first woman partner at Allen & Overy in the mid-80s, and last year she spun off the private client arm into boutique firm Maurice Turnor Gardner – “a brave move in the middle of a recession”, says a nominee, especially after 33 years at A&O. It has been a great success, though. Despite the unpromising timing, in its first year the firm won over 100 new clients, an increase of a third. Those who have worked with her say clients respect her judgment as well as her legal skills and call her “inspiring”.