There has recently been a substantial amount of social media coverage that only 1 in 3 women are partners in law firms despite making up almost half of all lawyers. The SRA held a “Women in Law” event yesterday in London to discuss the issue of what law firms can do to go against the norm. It was encouraging to see this issue being discussed openly, with the achievements that women have made as solicitors being celebrated.
In accordance with the data analysis published by the SRA, women currently make up just 33% of partners. This is a very slight increase from 31% when the last survey was published. In accordance with the data analysis, the gap is greater in larger firms where there are 50+ partners, with women making up just 27% of female partners.
As a female lawyer, and from my time as a student trying to gain employment in the legal profession, I have faced challenges in being considered for job opportunities over and above my male contemporaries. Whilst of course, it is only correct that the best candidate is chosen for any particular role regardless of gender, it is difficult for there not to be consideration to there being an element of gender inequality based on the most recent published statistics. It is therefore very promising that the SRA wishes to gather information about the motivations and experiences that have helped shape a person’s career in the hope that they will share the findings in their work to encourage firms to develop a more diverse workplace.
The benefit of a diverse workplace from my experience, is the different opinions and knowledge base available to utilise on a particular matter. We have a mix of male and female lawyers in our firm (albeit a higher rate of females), and it is always most useful to be able to bounce ideas around with other colleagues who will more than likely have a very different approach to a matter than I may have. If we were all to be of the same background, whether that is social, gender, culture etc. the breadth and depth of our expertise could become limited.
I am fortunate in that I have been part of the team at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice since 2011. I started my career as a Paralegal in 2011, recently becoming an Associate in the start of 2017. Thankfully, we appear to be against the current trend. We have three female Owner/Directors and one male Director. Progression as a female at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice is very much encouraged and supported.
Melanie Hamer is one of the founding partners of the business with Thea Hughes and Sarah Wyburn now her counterparts. As a young and enthusiastic female lawyer, it is very motivating to be employed by three very strong and diverse individuals who have not only balanced work life and family life in an extraordinary way, but have, and continue to achieve significant work place milestones.
Written by: Rebecca Knight
Rebecca is an Associate with vast experience in all areas of Family Law including high net work cases.
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