Pembroke Alumna Carves out Career in Competition Law


Pembroke alumna Rona Bar-Isaac (1991, BA Mathematics and Philosophy) is currently co-head of the retail and consumer sector at City law firm Addleshaw Goddard. She began her career in law as soon as she graduated from Oxford, having obtained a training contract during her third year at Pembroke.     

We asked Rona to tell us about the value of cross-disciplinary degrees and how her studies at Pembroke still influence her work in the City today. She noted how it was the interaction between her background in maths and her ability to sustain a formal argument, developed in her philosophy studies, which led her to competition law. In particular, she found that the formal logic which she studied at Pembroke helps her structure her work even today. Her quantitative background helped differentiate her from others in the field who have a more humanities-based outlook as economics became more central. As the legal profession becomes more and more involved in issues such as data science, STEM expertise will become increasingly necessary for young lawyers looking to make their mark. 

Rona explained how the legal sector has changed significantly since she joined. At first, she was told not to wear trouser suits and at dinners would often find herself as the only woman at a table full of male lawyers. Gradually, the legal world is waking up to questions of inclusivity and is genuinely more welcoming to diverse backgrounds. Whilst there are still obstacles to overcome, the sector is in a better position to create spaces for people with different needs.

Rona described her experience at Pembroke as an intense and rich time. She would advise current students to be curious and creative about their career choices. Above all, she would advise them not become fixated on a particular path, but be open to lots of different options and anything that might catch their attention.

Rona’s advice for young lawyers can be found here: From Undergraduate to Partner: A City Lawyer's Reflections of University | International

Headshot of Alumna Rona Bar-Isac