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As a litigator, Dr Ann Olivarius KC (Hon) OBE has taken on some of the world’s most powerful, financially sophisticated, and legally aggressive institutions – including Fortune 500 companies, the Catholic Church, major law firms, banks, hedge funds and Ivy League universities – and prevailed. She has won multi-million-dollar awards for clients who have suffered discrimination She has also represented prominent individuals, including European royalty, in prenuptial agreements and divorces in the US and UK, and companies in commercial litigation.
McAllister Olivarius’s former sister firm AO Advocates, founded by Ann in 2011 and now fully incorporated into McAllister Olivarius, works to protect survivors of child sexual abuse, many of whom are not able to afford lawyers. Ann invests time and brainpower into devising new approaches to serious problems that the legal system now handles poorly.
In representing Chrissy Chambers, Ann secured a substantial payout of damages by constructing a convincing argument that combined various parts of existing laws even though there was no clear, direct prohibition against distributing nonconsensual intimate images at the time of Chambers’ assault.
The practice area of McAllister Olivarius that was formerly our sister firm, AO Advocates, focuses exclusively on bringing historic sexual abuse cases against institutions like the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, certain sects of Buddhism and Hinduism, Haredi Judaism, child care homes, and prestigious schools that have tolerated or ignored the sexual abuse of children for decades. Through AO Advocates and now McAllister Olivarius, Ann has helped hundreds of low-income survivors, especially through the Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme and similar programs.
Broad Legal Experience
Ann brings to her work today the learning and seasoning that comes from a wide range of legal experience. While a student she drafted arbitration rules that helped London become a leader in alternative dispute resolution. She has advised people as diverse as Bill Gates, Queen Rania of Jordan, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher. As a lawyer representing Mexico in the NAFTA negotiations, she advocated that the agreement particularly seek to advance women and girls in Mexico, an early example of a “feminist foreign policy” that has since been taken up by several countries. She drafted computer software contracts for Perot Systems Corporation that became industry standards, and set up its European structure in a way that encouraged its rapid growth.
Her experience as a feminist has also deepened her skills as an advocate. At university she invented and promoted the term “date rape,” which gave people a way to understand this widespread but undiscussed problem in a new way. She set up the European operations of the philanthropic organization Women Moving Millions, established the Rhodes Project to conduct an extensive study about the lives and career paths of women Rhodes Scholars, and was an early backer of the Women’s Equality Party in Britain. After wrestling with her own memories of being raped as an undergraduate, Ann wrote about it and named her rapist, Dr. Calvin Hirsch, on her law firm’s website, believing that if this practice became common, rape will be deterred. Much of her legal work has focused on helping people who have experienced discrimination, harassment and assault.
In December 2022 she was approved an Honorary King’s Counsel for her “leading role in the fields of women’s rights, sexual harassment and sexual abuse” and was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year’s Honours List in recognition of her services to Justice, Women and Equality.
Victories for Equality
Title IX – Alexander V. Yales
When she was just 21 years old, Ann made American legal history as a plaintiff and organizer of the landmark 1977 case Alexander v. Yale, which for the first time determined that sexual harassment was a form of sex discrimination outlawed by Title IX, meaning schools and universities must have systems to reduce and punish sexual harassment.
The Mills Policy
In 2000, Ann successfully lobbied the Secretary of the US Navy to change its enlistment rules so that non-US citizens would be permitted to join the Navy, and thereby become eligible for American citizenship, if they were fluent in English and had received education in the US. The “Mills Policy” – which allowed many hundreds of immigrants to serve in the US military and thereby gain American citizenship – was named after Ann’s pro bono client.
In April 2015 Ann represented YouTube star Chrissy Chambers, whose ex-partner raped her, filmed the rape without her knowledge, and then distributed the videos to porn sites to destroy her career. The man ultimately apologized to her in court and paid a substantial settlement. This was the first civil case of its kind in Britain. Since then, Ann and her firm have consulted with the UK Law Commission on intimate image abuse and are the go-to firm in Britain for victims.
UK Equality And Human Rights Commission
In 2017, McAllister Olivarius made headlines when representing a British-born couple of Indian origin who were advised by their local adoption agency that they shouldn’t apply as “only white children were available.” The implication was that non-white parents were inherently inferior. The case, which sparked a national conversation on whether racial differences should automatically disqualify prospective adoptive parents, was supported by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission due to its broader importance. In 2020, the court agreed with McAllister Olivarius that the Council’s treatment of Sandeep and Reena Mander was discriminatory and awarded substantial damages. The ruling has caused adoption agencies around the country to improve their treatment of non-white couples.
Safety In Education
Other publicly reported cases brought by the firm include the wrongful suspension of Professor Wendy Purcell, former vice-chancellor of Plymouth University; Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow against UCLA concerning the sexual misconduct of Professor Gabriel Piterberg; Catherine Mayer suing Time Magazine for age and sex discrimination; the University of Miami for mishandling the sexual harassment claims of Monica Morrison against the advances of her research supervisor; and a group of professors and students at the University of Rochester for a hostile work environment and retaliation after reporting misconduct by Professor Florian Jaeger. Two of the plaintiffs in the University of Rochester case, Celeste Kidd and Jessica Cantlon, were named “Persons of the Year” by Time Magazine in its cover story on “Silence Breakers” in 2017. Ann settled that case for almost $10 million.
Title IX for the UK
The UK currently has no law requiring universities to have a system for responding to campus sexual harassment and sexual assaults. After bringing cases involving harassment at Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, and University College London, Ann is now working to introduce a law similar to Title IX into Britain.
Lobegeiger v. Celebrity Cruises
In this 2011 case, Ann represented a woman whose finger was sliced off by a badly designed deck chair on a cruise ship. The shipboard doctor treated it poorly, and then overrode the instructions of expert land-based plastic surgeons, with the result the finger was permanently wasted. The cruise line offered a gift certificate for $1200 towards the client’s next cruise. In general, cruise ships and their doctors are insulated against malpractice claims under Florida law, where the industry is centered. But based on a close reading of recent precedents, Ann’s firm developed arguments that caused the court to extend the liability of cruise ship operators to include some forms of medical malpractice by shipboard doctors, helping hundreds of thousands of passengers each year.
Child Sexual Abuse
McAllister Olivarius and, formerly, AO Advocates, have won substantial sums for many survivors of childhood sexual abuse and, through sympathetic treatment, helped them on their individual paths to recovery. Ann has assisted over 1,000 British survivors of child sexual abuse. She has also brought child abuse cases in the US on behalf of children from Romania, Ireland, China, Saudi Arabia and the US itself.