Ana Reyes, 2017 Woman Lawyer of the Year

Ana Reyes, Partner and Co-chair of the International Litigation Practice Group at Williams & Connolly LLP, is the 2017 WBA Woman Lawyer of the Year. She will be recognized at the organization’s Annual Dinner on May 17, 2017, in Washington, DC. The Woman Lawyer of the Year Award recognizes a leader who has championed change in the profession by leading by example, advocating for justice, and promoting the advancement of women in the profession.

In its Centennial year, the WBA is “Looking Back, and Moving Forward,” and Ms. Reyes’ personal and professional trajectory embodies that theme. Born in Uruguay, at the age of five, she emigrated from Spain to the United States. Her family’s experience influences her work helping persecuted persons, especially women, find refuge in the United States. Ms. Reyes also prioritizes mentoring women to advance in their careers. These efforts are in addition to her successful international litigation practice.  

Ms. Reyes focuses her practice on complex litigation and international arbitration. She has handled matters for foreign governments, foreign officials, multi-national corporations, and international organizations, representing clients conducting business throughout North and South America, Europe and Africa. She also devotes a substantial portion of her practice to pro bono work, representing refugee organizations and refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Ms. Reyes co-chairs the Harvard Law School’s Women Alliance of DC, a group dedicated to promoting women lawyers and creating networking opportunities for them. Also the chair of Williams & Connolly’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and a member of the firm’s Women’s Initiative, Ms. Reyes is an advocate for women, minority, gay, and lesbian lawyers. 

Ms. Reyes has successfully represented numerous individuals seeking asylum in the United States pro bono, focusing on women fleeing gender-based persecution. She has also served as pro bono appellate counsel for the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings (CGRS) for over a decade. Karen Musalo, the Director of CGRS notes, “Ana represents the very best of the legal profession: an accomplished and skilled litigator who provides the same high quality zealous advocacy whether she is representing an international corporation, a foreign government, or a refugee child.” 

Ms. Reyes’ work with CGRS led her to be retained, also in a pro bono capacity, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the organization entrusted by the United Nations General Assembly with responsibility for providing international protection to refugees. Shelly Pitterman, head of the United States UNHCR office, credits Ms. Reyes for improving the office’s intervention efforts in United States courts. He stated, “Ms. Reyes’ keen strategic understanding of when and where to pursue interventions effectively was instrumental as UNHCR stepped in to assert international legal arguments against detention of asylum-seeking families, including single mothers. Her collaboration with us has been nothing short of game-changing, shifting our strategic approach to using litigation to protect refugees.” 

Ms. Reyes serves on the Boards of Calvary Women’s Services in D.C., which offers housing, health, education, and employment programs to empower homeless women, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women.  

Ms. Reyes received the 2016 Legacy Award from Unlikely Heroes, a nonprofit that protects girls from sex-trafficking. In 2015, she was named to The National Law Journal’s Outstanding Women Lawyers list, which recognized “the 75 most accomplished female attorneys working in the legal profession today.” She has also been named by The National Law Journal as one of “DC’s Rising Stars” (2014), and one of the top 40 minority lawyers under 40 in the country (2011). In 2009, Legal Times selected Ms. Reyes as a “Champion” in its Champions, Visionaries & Pioneers special section.

Ms. Reyes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Transylvania University, a Masters of International Public Policy, with distinction, from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. She clerked for the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.