Chapter Spotlight

Welcome to the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA) blog post series profiling its diverse, talented membership. A global group of 3,500+ accomplished women attorneys and other professionals, members are from 49 chapters who specialize in the representation of clients facing criminal or civil enforcement, regulatory, and administrative actions, and in need of internal investigations and compliance counselling.

WWCDA spotlights the WWCDA London Chapter and Leaders, Claire Halstead and Rita Mitchell, who share their inspirational journeys as WWCDA Leaders and the importance of global WWCDA Chapter collaboration.

Claire Halstead

Claire Halstead, London Chapter Leader

Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC

Rita Mitchell

Rita Mitchell, London Chapter Leader

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Can you tell us the story of your path to becoming a leader of the WWCDA London Chapter and how it has helped your career?
Claire: Rita and I first met in the summer of 2019 when we were members of the same panel at the GIR Women in Investigations conference, sharing our perspectives on the impact of technology on the future of investigations. We were also joined on the panel by Elizabeth Robertson, the founding Chair of the London Chapter of WWCDA. The three of us stayed connected and the seed of an idea developed - for me and Rita to pick up the baton from Elizabeth and take the leadership of London Chapter into its next phase.

Being co-chair over the last three years has been a real privilege. My connectivity with such an inspiring group of women working in the white collar defence arena has increased significantly and given me a fantastic network of support.

Rita: Every once in a while, the universe conspires in your favour. I felt that way when, after serving as co-panelists at the 2019 GIR Women in Investigations conference, Claire, Elizabeth Robertson, and I decided to go for dinner to discuss whether Claire and I might be keen to take over the leadership of the London Chapter from Elizabeth. We continued to plot and plan and Claire and I took over the leadership in January 2020 (see photo from our first leadership meeting!). It is such a treat and a privilege to share the co-leadership with Claire and to be involved with this incredible network of women—one of the things I’ve enjoyed most in my entire career.

Being one of the largest WWCDA Chapters, how do you maintain such a high level of involvement from your members?  
We are very aware that, with over 250 members, we need a range of different events throughout the year to give everyone the opportunity to get involved in a way that works for them. Just over the last twelve months these events have varied from small group dinners for members to get to know each other better, hosting large global events such as the WWCDA Global Enforcement & Compliance Series and London Summer Reception and the WWCDA Lunch in connection with the ABA White Collar Institute, historical walking tours and knowledge sharing breakfasts. We’ve found that providing a diverse array of ways and means for our group to come together—combining both personal and professional interests—leads to feeling more connected.

As odd as it might sound, COVID and the London lockdowns really allowed us to cement a feeling of camaraderie, support, and enthusiasm amongst our members which has allowed us to continue to grow and expand with the support of a dedicated core group who regularly attend events, get stuck in, and help expand the network.

We really value the feedback and suggestions from our members to help shape our annual programme of events and for the generous sponsorship and support from their firms, without which it wouldn’t be possible.

WWCDA’s 25th Anniversary is this year, as we celebrate being ’25 Years Strong’, how does WWCDA inspire you?
Claire: I can honestly say that WWCDA has been transformational in making me feel part of a community of positive, supportive and likeminded women. I find it inspirational to think that there are similar WWCDA communities all around the globe that are instrumental in the professional advancement of women in our field.

Rita: I am constantly inspired by the support, friendship, and camaraderie amongst this incredible group of women, both in the London Chapter and globally. The WWCDA has become a trusted network for me for referrals, bouncing ideas, expanding my skill set, and most of all, building lifetime friendships.

Tell us a little about yourself and your practice.
Claire: As a Chartered Accountant in PwC’s Forensic Services practice, I am one of WWCDA’s Consultant Members. I specialise in investigations into fraud and broader economic crime across a range of criminal, civil and regulatory matters. I frequently work with clients and their legal advisors to establish appropriate and efficient approaches to analysis of complex data sets within investigatory and compliance environments.

Rita: I am a dual qualified U.S. and UK lawyer, having moved to London in July 2011 on what was ostensibly a 2 year secondment. My practice covers all aspects of financial crime advisory, investigations, and enforcement work from a UK and US perspective, including anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, sanctions, human/business rights, fraud, anti-tax evasion, and the like.

What are your favorite activities to do outside of the office (hobbies, interests)?
Claire: I live in Southeast London with my husband and two children who are 12 and 10. When I’m not taxiing the children between various activities, I like to stay healthy by running and doing Pilates. I am also fanatical about keeping up my Duolingo streak, but I’ve still got a very long way to go before I’m fluent in Spanish!

Rita: I am a west Londoner and (as London Chapter members know) am a bit golf mad, so whatever free time I can find is often spend playing at my home course Royal Mid-Surrey or on a golf trip with friends somewhere in the UK or Ireland. I also love everything to do with English history (hence the inspiration for our London historical walking tours!).

Sunflowers Art Night

London Leadership Team

London Summer Reception 2023

Claire & Rita

London Walking Tour

Expand Your Reach

WWCDA Chapters provide an array of activities, initiatives and programming. Members' visibility and strength are elevated by the regular opportunities to build valuable relationships and broaden their network of professional contacts regionally as well as globally helping to further diversity across the practice.

Learn More

See Past Chapter Spotlights

2022 WWCDA Gala

Brazil Chapter

See Past Chapter Spotlights

2022 WWCDA Gala

Chicago Chapter