THE UK MAGAZINE FOR ALL WOMEN WORKING IN LAW
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■ Domestic abuse in lockdown ■ Working through the Pandemic ■ Careers Q&A ■ Gender-sensitive courts in Pakistan 1 | LegalWomen
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MEDIA No. 1817
11 Mentoring is a key
PUBLISHED October 2020 © Legal Women Magazine, Benham Publishing Ltd. LEGAL NOTICE © Benham Publishing. None of the editorial or photographs may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publishers. Benham Publishing would like to point out that all editorial comment and articles are the responsibility of the originators and may or may not reflect the opinions of Benham Publishing. No responsibility can be accepted for any inaccuracies that may occur, correct at time of going to press. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us. DISCLAIMER Legal Women Magazine welcomes all persons eligible for membership regardless of sex, race, religion, age or sexual orientation.
aspect of diversity practice
All views expressed in this publication are the views of the individual writers and not those of Legal Women unless specifically stated to be otherwise. All statements as to the law are for discussion and should not be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law, are of a general nature and do not constitute advice in any particular case or circumstance. Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified legal advice. COVER INFORMATION Photograph of Cherie Blair used with permission.
Copy Deadline 28th January 2021
For the February 2021 edition Advertising & Editorial Anyone wishing to advertise or submit editorial for publication in Legal Women Magazine please contact Karen Hall before the copy deadline. email@example.com 0151 236 4141
4 Welcome 8 CILEx 9 Gender Equality
15 Canswers herie Blair 16 Joint Q for Commissioners 19 Domestic Abuse 27 Diversity and Innovation
28 Sally Penni
discusses the ‘Nightingale Courts’
31 Careers Q&A 34 Peeling a Bitter
Onion – A Project
39 A tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Find us online at: www.LegalWomen.org.uk LegalWomen | 3
Welcome LAUNCH 2020
uild back better has become a mantra with meaning. Now is a critical time for the United Kingdom due to the pandemic and Brexit, whatever side of the debate you are on, this is our time to define to ourselves and women’s agenda for the future. Over half the population are women, we must be involved in the discussion and taking decisions at all levels. Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations agreed to a comprehensive policy and action plan on gender equality. It provides a vision of social justice and human rights, which the whole world is still struggling to achieve. One sector, I would expect to be further ahead than others is the world of law, but that’s not the case. In fact, annual reporting in the UK shows that even large law firms, despite their Diversity & Inclusion policies and departments, are still firmly controlled by men who hold an extraordinary 70 to 80% of the partnership positions. Appointments to QC for female barristers remains stubbornly low, below 20%. Both sets of statistics, feed into the gaping gender pay gap between male and female lawyers. It’s often suggested that the real underlying reasons are women’s life choices but as the centenary round tables showed this is not female lawyers ‘lived experience’. The cultural assumptions about ‘what women really want‘ are often overpowering, sometimes for women as much as for men. These issues do not affect just one branch of our profession but all women working in the law, qualified or not. It’s a critical factor for the whole of society and harnessing the contribution women can make to the workforce, will enhance not only the business of law firms and chambers but aid the overall economic recovery from the pandemic. So Legal Women aims to create a forum for information, inspiration and innovation – to air ideas and evidence for debate on how to build back better.
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Why now? The idea for a magazine developed from communicating with the Law Society of England and Wales about how to keep our institutions relevant and representative – to achieve this inevitably requires regular external appraisal and liaison with stakeholders. Despite the significant success of our 174th President, Christina Blacklaws, in raising the profile of the campaign for gender parity, it still isn’t consistently seen as a central issue by the whole profession. It takes clout to ensure that the importance of gender parity does not recede and this magazine can be a platform for the national voice for women lawyers already involved in excellent groups. Two outstanding Legal Women promoting that voice are Dana Denis-Smith, solicitor and founder of Obelisk, and Sally Penni, barrister and creator of multimedia resources; Dana through the immensely successful First 100 Years project (Next 100 Years) and Sally by setting up Women in Law UK, writing widely and broadcasting. Legal Women’s Communities page lists all the UK groups we know, however small, and I urge you to join one or form a new one. ■
Founder & Editor Launching a magazine takes an army of supporters: enormous thanks to, Charity Marfuba. Bhini Phagura, Gillian Fielden, Tilly Rubens, Alice Jellard, April Parker, Stephanie Anais, Camilla Uppal, Kane McLaughlin, Lily Hood, and all those who have kindly given me snippets of advice and encouragement.
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LW Editorial Board We are delighted to be supported in this new magazine by ambassadors for the legal profession across the UK. ENGLAND & WALES Christina Blacklaws, “Honoured and delighted to be asked to become a member of the editorial board and to welcome the new independent Legal Women magazine.” Christina developed and managed law firms including a virtual law firm and set up the first ABS with the Co-op. More recently, she was Director of Innovation at a top 100 firm. She now runs her own consultancy and holds a range of public appointments including chair of the LawTech UK Panel, chair of the Next Generation Services Advisory Group, part of Innovate UK and member of the Legal Support Advisory Group. Christina was President of the Law Society of England and Wales until July 2019 performing ambassadorial and representative functions domestically and internationally. Christina is a multi-award winning (for innovation and diversity and inclusion) published author, speaker and lecturer and frequent media commentator. Millicent Grant FCILEx QC (Hon); CILEx Past President 2017/18; CILEx Professional Board Member. Millicent, a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) board member and a former CILEx President and first Chartered Legal Executive to be appointed an Honorary Queen’s Counsel. Millicent has worked to tackle diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and the judiciary. She gave evidence to the Constitution Committee regarding the eligibility of Chartered Legal Executives for judicial appointment and contributed to the Pre-Application Judicial Education (PAJE) group and programme. She was awarded the UK Diversity Legal Awards of ‘Black Solicitors Network Lawyer of the Year’ in 2017 and is an ambassador for social mobility and Chair of the Knights Youth Centre. Janem Jones kick-started her successful career as a solicitor after being awarded the Welsh Office Prize and the Cavendish Prize for Criminal Law. She practised for many years as a partner and senior partner in a West Wales firm where she specialised in Family Law, Education Law and Criminal Law. She now works as a consultant for Williams and Bourne as an experienced advocate.
NORTHERN IRELAND Karen O’Leary leads Caldwell & Robinson’s Family Law practice. Qualified to practice in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales, Karen is regularly consulted by government and state agencies on legal matters from other jurisdictions. In 2011, she was invited to be a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), an organisation of leading global family lawyers. She is also a regular speaker on family law matters and has addressed the Four Jurisdictions Family Law Conference on a number of occasions, the European Family Justice Observatory, most recently speaking about the implications of Brexit on family law.
SCOTLAND Alison Atack, Past President of The Law Society of Scotland. Formerly, Alison was a member of the Regulatory Committee and convener of the Client Protection SubCommittee. She was a partner at Lindsays until March 2018 and has detailed knowledge and experience of private client work, including succession planning and agricultural property.
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LW Mission Information | Inspiration | Innovation
Bottom L to R: Nicola Williams, Service Complaints Ombudsman Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces; Rt Hon Lady Arden of Heswell DBE, Supreme Court Judge; Millicent Grant QC (Hon), Past President of CILEx. Top L to R: Christina Blacklaws, Past President Law Society for England and Wales; Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar of England and Wales at General Council, Master Karen Shuman, Master of the Chancery Division Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Steering Group, Lincoln’s Inn. ■ To provide clear information on gender parity ■ To inspire practical initiatives to create real change ■ To promote innovation in leadership and practice LW magazine is for women qualified as lawyers, solicitors, barristers, advocates, judges, legal executives and those working as paralegals, legal secretaries, advisers or recruiters, the list is endless. We also welcome the many male champions as readers and contributors. This inspirational photograph is from one of the highlights of the centenary celebrations for women being able to qualify, when Lincoln’s Inn hosted a discussion with female lawyers representing distinct legal careers: solicitor, CILEx, barrister, in-house counsel and judges. The evening showed how we all shared the same challenges by virtue of being female. One of our regular writers, Helen Broadbridge explains ‘What Legal Women is Not’ Legal Women is a new quarterly publication for everyone interested in equality, diversity and inclusion. But here’s the sticking point: sometimes people see something with the word ‘women’ in the title and think that it is not for them. The writing team here at Legal Women would like to reassure you that this is most certainly not the case.
We hope that Legal Women will become a standard bearer for the benefits of gender balance in the workforce, in leadership and decision-making bodies. That is absolutely a conversation in which everyone should take part. To achieve gender balance will require incremental change and when change is involved no-one should be excluded from the process of data collection, analysis and policy-making. If striving for gender balance remains a conversation between women alone, we will be less likely to reach those male leaders in whose hands the power to create change may lie. Worse, we could risk alienating 50% of the population from the cause. Therefore, we hope to develop the dialogue from a selfhelp conversation between women to an organisation-level conversation about how to understand gender data gaps and make a plan for what to do about them. We want our conversation to be inclusive and persuasive, so please don’t see the word ‘women’ and think that means you are not welcome. Gender balance is not a “women’s” issue, but a business issue, and as far as you are interested in business issues, please read on. ■
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Diversity & Inclusion
CILEx Lynne Squires, Head of Business Development at the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) reflects on its growing contribution.
ith a majority female membership, CILEx has a key role to play in working towards equality.
CILEx has long championed the importance of diversity in the legal profession. Our legal system must reflect the society it serves and is enriched by encompassing the perspectives of those from different backgrounds and experiences. Given that 72% of our members are women, we believe that CILEx has a key role to play in working towards equality. We have one of the most diverse memberships in the legal sector, enabled by the CILEx route into law that gives those from all backgrounds – and particularly non-graduates – the opportunity to build a career in the profession. Since the 1960s, CILEx has been attracting women interested in a progressing a career in the law by providing flexible options for study and qualifications that can be fitted around work and caring responsibilities. Over the years, many women who began in secretarial or legal support roles within law firms as school leavers, and then found themselves increasingly carrying out legal work anyway, have been able to develop into fully qualified and significantly experienced lawyers. But CILEx lawyers come from so many different circumstances – another striking category is those pursuing a second career, while apprenticeships are very much on the rise – and the contrast with the far more homogeneous backgrounds of solicitors and barristers is stark. By offering a different route into the law, we have also been able to welcome and support lawyers from diverse social backgrounds and ethnic communities into the profession. In a society where women still take on the lion’s share of childcare, the ability to study remotely, the flexibility to pause and restart qualifications and to take them at a pace that accommodates the many changes to life circumstances individuals face has proved invaluable to women looking to advance in a legal career. The liberalisation of recent times has also greatly benefitted CILEx lawyers: they can become partners in law firms, they can obtain rights of audience, they can set up their own regulated law firms. Though we continue to battle outdated stereotypes, the reality is that CILEx lawyers can stand shoulder to shoulder with their solicitor and barrister colleagues. So, alongside the Bar Council and the Law Society, our commitment to equality saw us take part in the launch of the Women in Law pledge last year, an initiative aimed at signing up law firms, local law societies, barristers’ chambers and other legal service providers to a commitment to improve gender equality. We are also supporters of the Next 100 Years project, an initiative dedicated to achieving equality for women in law. As part of our lobbying work we seek to push the interests of our female members and to influence legislation aimed at 8 | LegalWomen
Lynne Squires preventing sex discrimination and harassment, responding to consultations in areas such as maternity discrimination. Our members understand these issues – they have, sadly, lived them and driven much of the change. It is clear that many women working in the legal profession and beyond still face these barriers to progress and that the coronavirus pandemic is threatening to turn back the clock, with women taking on more childcare responsibilities and facing considerable financial pressures in the wake of the crisis. CILEx will be consulting its membership on an annual basis to hear differing perspectives from all of our members who face discrimination and prejudice in the workplace. This work will allow us to understand how issues may be disproportionately affecting women and other groups, to measure the impact of these barriers to inclusion and examine how CILEx can take action to address them. We also continue to push for judicial diversity, encouraging our members to consider a career in the judiciary and offering help and support with making applications. Last year saw the appointment CILEx’s first female judge, Elizabeth Johnson, a Chartered Legal Executive who is now a judge of the First-tier Tribunal alongside her work as a personal injury specialist. We want to ensure that change for women in law moves at a far greater pace and that CILEx is not standing still. We continue to look at how our organisation can remove the barriers to progressing in a legal career, at how our qualifications and learning model can be improved and updated, and how the legal profession as a whole can work together to improve progress towards equality. ■
Diversity & Inclusion
Gender Equality must continue Alison Atack, Past President of The Law Society of Scotland, argues that the promotion of equality and diversity is always the right thing to do AND it makes business sense.
he Law Society of Scotland has published its findings from its gender equality roundtables and Alison Atack reflects on the progress so far, the work still to do and tangible ways for individuals to contribute to change.
The publication of the output of our gender equality roundtables is an important moment for the profession. I was President of the Society when the Profile of the Profession was launched and also as work began on roundtables, which took place across the profession. Before I demit office as Past President, I thought some reflection may be helpful. We have seen considerable work across the profession to try and promote gender equality in recent years. Last year, as we marked 100 years of women in law, there were major events hosted by the ourselves, the Scottish Government, the Faculty of Advocates, the University of Glasgow and many others. I know so many gained inspiration from hearing Lady Hale at Glasgow, Dame Eilish Angiolini QC at the Faculty, and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC here at the Society. More than this, it was fantastic to see so many members engaging positively with this vital area of work. A personal highlight was the First 100 Years photography project, which so many women across the Scottish legal sector took part in. Another milestone has been the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970 – a landmark piece of legislation. There is no doubt that we have made significant steps since the passing of that Act, but there are, in the profession and across the wider economy, still a number of steps to make on our journey. Our own work continued with our team meeting with over 900 solicitors last year to discuss the Profile of the Profession report. Numerous organisations went further, hosting roundtables to discuss in a structured way gender equality in the profession focusing on important matters, such as bias, the pay gap, bullying, and flexible working. The output of these roundtables has been brought together and published today. They bring together the experience of many of our members and shine a light on areas where progress is still needed. At points, they may be difficult reading. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the roundtables for speaking with such candour and helping define what we as a Society, and as a profession, should do next. I’d also like to thank the Society’s team for pulling the roundtable reports from different organisations into these four documents. Over the next few weeks and months, we will look at the suggestions that were made to the
Society and return to the profession with a plan of action. Of course, our thoughts right now are dominated by how we respond to the impact of Covid-19. That shouldn’t mean we forget about other important matters and it certainly shouldn’t mean we let our progress towards equality in the profession slip. Already, we are seeing reports from the excellent First 100 Years project that there are signs Covid-19 is exacerbating inequality in the profession. It would shame us all if the hard-won progress on equality in the profession was lost. The promotion of equality and diversity is always the right thing to do and, happily, it also makes business sense. Coming out of the roundtables, there were many suggestions about what individual solicitors could do to help make the profession a better place to work. It is understandable when confronted with large, complex issues that individuals may struggle to see how they can make a difference. Let me assure you that you can. There’s no denying that some of the remaining matters we need to grapple with in terms of gender equality are huge. How do we battle the perniciousness of unconscious bias? How do we end once and for all bullying and harassment in the profession? How do we make sure flexible working works for everyone and allows for a proper work-life balance? How do we ensure fairness around pay and progression? Some of that may be answered by the Society, some by organisations and some by individuals changing their behaviours. And it is individuals that I would like to focus on, because I have such huge faith in the ability, the collegiality, the kindness, and the wisdom of our members. There are thousands of people within the profession: solicitors, paralegals, secretaries, professionals from other backgrounds (HR, accountancy, IT, marketing) and many more. Imagine if every person made just one small change to help the cause of gender equality. We might worry that our own action would not make a huge difference. However, all of those small changes would add up to tens of thousands of positive acts. A trickle would turn to a torrent and then a flood. And if we all then made a second small change? We can all be the change we wish to see in the world, even in these difficult times. Continued on next page LegalWomen | 9
Diversity & Inclusion
What can you do to help? Here are a few tangible, easy things: 1. Take the Harvard Implict Bias Test. It is free and easy to do. You might be surprised by the results. It will help you understand your own biases – an important first step. 2. Take the time to mentor junior solicitors. You will find it a rewarding experience and you will positively influence someone’s career. 3. If you are a client yourself, consider the requests you are making of legal service providers. Take a look at the Mindful Business Charter. 4. If your organisation publishes its gender pay gap annually – read the report, attend launch events and be prepared to answer questions on it from your colleagues. 5. If you are asked to take part in an all-male panel, note that you are honoured to be asked, but gracefully refuse. And tell the organiser why. 6. If you are involved in childcare – and are a leader of your
business – lead by example. Model the behaviour that you’d like to see. Similarly, if you are senior and work flexibly then model the positive behaviours you would like to see in others. 7. Be supportive of flexible working and visibly so. Call out your colleagues who are resistant to it. The recent switch to homeworking shows that many of us can work from home perfectly well, if given the support and resources to do so. 8. Do not accept bullying in any way, shape or form. Speak out against bullying and harassment and support others who speak out. Gender equality is not a zero-sum game. It isn’t women win and therefore men lose. Everyone is better off. Ultimately, equality exists for no one until it exists for everyone. We’ve made huge strides in the recent past. Let’s not allow that to slip. ■ Thanks to the Law Society of Scotland for permission to publish this article.
Carrie Morrison portrait C
arrie Morrison is famously the first ever female solicitor although she was admitted along with Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes, and Maud Crofts in 1922. The Law Society of England and Wales has honoured her by renaming one of the major public rooms, The Old BookStore, importantly ensuring that women are visible in its building’s history. Currently, there are portraits of Past Presidents although most date from the time when the President’s portrait was painted and it was then donated to The Law Society. LW would like to see an adjustment of the internal décor to reflect the modern profession which requires portraits, of an appropriate style although not necessarily paintings, of Presidents through the twentieth and twenty-first century. This will enable The Law Society to achieve the sense of inclusion it desires and needs, commendably initiated by Robert Bourns with the social mobility ambassadors’ portraits. A great start would be to use the portrait of Carrie Morrison currently being designed by Rocco Fezzari. The version shown gives a flavour of the style. ■
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Carrie Morrison. Thanks to First 100 Years.
Diversity & Inclusion
Mentoring is a key aspect of diversity practice Salma Maqsood
here was a concern when lockdown started that diversity and inclusion initiatives would be negatively impacted. However, the Black Lives Matter movement thrust diversity and equality to the forefront. There has recently been a shift in focus to encourage those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to enter and advance within the legal profession. Law firms holding career events targeted at BAME students are a great way to inspire and encourage those wanting to join the legal profession. Depending on the structure of the event, students may be given the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of solicitors sharing their personal experiences and varied routes into law. Such events can provide valuable insight into the legal profession and the culture of a firm. Recent developments have led me to consider what would have helped when I ventured into a career in law. As a Pakistani, first generation British female living in the South West, a mentor with whom I could identify would have been invaluable. For a student, a mentor may be able to provide an insight into the legal profession, providing guidance and discussion on personal experiences, routes into the legal profession, traditional/non-traditional, assistance with training contract applications and the importance of networking. Similarly, as a newly qualified solicitor (NQ), a more experienced mentor may be able to provide guidance regarding progression within the legal sector. There are universities which run mentoring schemes aimed at BAME students and students should be encouraged to seek these out. One such programme run by The University West of England has received positive feedback from participants. In addition, The Law Society runs a Diversity Access Scheme. This scheme awards scholarships each year which includes mentoring support, work experience and a bursary to fund the Legal Practice Course.
Network. This is a non-exhaustive list and many other organisations and law firms offer mentoring schemes which offer equal opportunities to employees to build on their skills. One such firm is Barcan+Kirby LLP, winner of the business award for Gender at the Bristol Diversity Awards 2019, offers mentoring and development opportunities to all employees ranging from support staff to partner level. Following the BLM movement, The Law Society issued a very clear statement of support committing to continue to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and stand against injustice. Many law firms have since openly issued statements of support. Bristol has been a key player with the much-debated removal of the Colston statue which has sparked name changes and removal of statues across the country. The Bristol Law Society has set up an Equality Diversity & Inclusion Committee which deals with issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, both in Bristol Law Society itself and in the legal profession more widely. By providing information, advice and support, the Committee helps progress initiatives that promote equality for all members of the profession, regardless of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information please contact S.Maqsood@barcankirby.co.uk. For me, the mother of two daughters, it is now more important than ever before to help others from a BAME background to succeed. For those that have achieved success, please do reach out and help others. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work together to increase diversity in the legal profession and continue to bring positive change! â&#x2013;
Salma Maqsood Senior Associate Barcan+Kirby LLP
Mentoring schemes for BAME solicitors at different stages in their career are available from the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division, Society of Asian Lawyers and Black Solicitorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; LegalWomen | 11
Diversity & Inclusion
Mary Young Partner, Kingsley Napley LLP
ary is a partner at Kingsley Napley. She has worked in commercial litigation since qualifying but also has a particular interest in crypto-currencies. Mary is a member of Kingsley Napley’s Diversity & Inclusion group and the LGBT+ and allies network and has written several articles on Kingsley Napley’s LGBTQ blog series. Mary has used her position to speak up for minority groups and strongly encourages those around her to do the same. Who is your role model? Why? Oh I have so many: ■ My first trainee supervisor, who is not only a kick ass lawyer, she’s also trained in horticulture, built an eco-home in her spare time, raised two amazing kids and still has the time and energy to be fun, funny and one of the most caring people I know. She has unknowingly inspired a generation of female lawyers to be better people. ■ My mum who is the kindest person in the world, and who reassures me that I don’t always have to be ‘on’. Her capacity for general knowledge will forever put me to shame and is something I aspire to. ■ My partner who reminds me that I don’t have to answer every question, particularly the rhetorical ones, and that jokes should not be approached with logic or they stop being funny. He makes sure that my non-working life is fun and that I don’t take myself too seriously. He also makes sure I don’t have food on my face when I leave the house. ■ And all my friends. No woman is an island. I think I’ve taken something from everyone I know, whether that’s how to use blusher to disguise the pallor of a late night/early morning or an introduction to yoga. Do you believe that the glass ceiling still exists for women in the legal profession? I’m going to mention my privilege a few times here – I’m a woman but I’m also white, middle class and work at a firm which has a track record of actively supporting and promoting women: more than 50% of our partners are women. I genuinely did not feel that there were any limits imposed on me because of my gender. However, I’m aware that not everyone is in the same position as me and as a profession I do think there is more to be done. There is parity at entry level in the legal profession, but the top echelons are still occupied by men. And usually white men. Until we, as a society, stop treating women as the primary care givers (not just to children, but also to partners and parents), and until men take on an equal amount of the emotional labour of running a household (with or without children) (I should probably add #notallmen) it’s going to continue to be hard for women to juggle work and home life. If I have to remember to pick up toothpaste because it’s about to run out, when I’ve been in the office until 2am for the third day running, and come home to a pile of washing to be done and no food in the house, and that gets repeated every week ad infinitum then something will eventually give. Likewise, until law firms get over the idea that you have to be in the office to be working, everyone is going to suffer. We need to stop putting air-quotes around the phrase working from home and accept that people work in different ways and whilst I might
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Mary Young get more done sitting at my desk with minimal distractions, my colleague who has family commitments is most effective if he can start work before the rest of his family wakes up, break off for school runs, work during the school day and then pick things up again in the evening. The rest of the world demands flexibility and the law is going to need to catch up. And until we re-train our brains to think of women in prominent roles and get over the unconscious bias which comes from not seeing as many female partners, CEOs and judges and leads to us automatically assuming that a judge must be a man (and the majority of them are men), there is going to be work to be done. It’s a fact of human nature that we are drawn to people we recognise: who look and sound like us. And that can cause huge problems with recruitment and promotion if the people doing the recruiting and promoting are selecting candidates in their own image. We also look at organisations to see whether we can see ourselves in the people who are successful there. You want to see whether the people at the top look like you, so that you can see yourself getting there. When the people at the top are white, CIS, able bodied, straight men, there’s a whole swathe of the population who look at them and don’t recognise themselves and therefore cannot see themselves in that position. To what extent does the culture of firms have an impact on the likelihood of women making it to partnership? The culture of the firm has an enormous impact. I’m privileged enough to work for a firm with a proven history of supporting women at all levels, including the very top. When I joined KN the managing and senior partners were both women. That has now changed as the senior partner role is for a fixed term, but our male senior partner has made it the focus of his tenure to increase diversity within the firm, so in many ways the ethos remains. How would you describe the culture at Kingsley Napley? There was a report in The Lawyer last week that only three UK top 100 firms had partnerships where women outnumbered men. Kingsley Napley is one of those firms. Our partnership is around 55% female. I became partner this year, along with one other person who happened to be an extremely well deserving man. He’s truly excellent at his job and leads a team of costs lawyers. I was so pleased to be made up along with him, and that the gender split was 50/50. Kingsley Napley genuinely feels like a meritocracy, and a place where people are encouraged and talent is nurtured. That includes considering people’s needs, be it standing desks, agile working or part time/flexible working hours. The firm seems to recognise that people don’t all come in one package and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. That doesn’t make us perfect, but it makes for a really great place to work. I know I sound like I drank the Kool Aid on this one, but I believe it. What advice would you give to women aiming to make partnership? ■ Be brave – going for partnership means sticking your head above the parapet. You’re going to be questioned on your work, your ability to bring in work, your management style
Diversity & Inclusion
and every aspect of your working life. ■ You will also have to make decisions in your career along the way which are terrifying. The first time you move firms is always the hardest. The first time a client complains about fees, or the outcome of a case it will always feel personal. ■ And no one else has all the answers. We’re all learning, that’s what makes the job so interesting, so don’t beat yourself up about not knowing it all. ■ Believe in yourself. It’s a clique for a reason. If you don’t think you can do it, no one else will either. ■ Build your network. Fill it with brilliant people you can learn from and work with. They could be colleagues who will support you and vouch for your when it’s time to apply for promotion, friends who listen to you when you’ve had a bad day, and then proof read your partnership paper, or clients for whom you’ve done a great job. Value them and let them know they’re valued.
Mary is a partner at Kingsley Napley. She has worked in commercial litigation since qualifying but also has a particular interest in crypto-currencies. Mary is a member of Kingsley Napley’s Diversity & Inclusion group and the LGBT+ and allies network and has written several articles on Kingsley Napley’s LGBTQ blog series which can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/insights/blogs/diversity-matters/ lgbtq-pride. Mary has used her position to speak up for minority groups and strongly encourages those around her to do the same. Many thanks April Parker, founder of According to a Law Student who conducted this interview for her website: https://accordingtoalawstudent.com/
Oh, and everyone has imposter syndrome. ■
LW blogs Careers in the pandemic Glynis Wright on steering her own firm and the Leicestershire legal community through lockdown when President of the local law society. www.legalwomen.org.uk/glyniswright.html Jackie Mulryne, partner at Arnold & Porter, who was on maternity leave during lockdown. www.legalwomen.org.uk/JackieMulryne.html Melinda Giles, Partner at Giles Wilson LLP, as a private client specialist, a key worker and dealing with often vulnerable clients. www.legalwomen.org.uk/melindagiles.html Charity Marfuba who had to delay her New York Bar exams. www.legalwomen.org.uk/charitymafuba.html Camilla Uppal, Aysel Akhundova and Eirian Whitehead who all were offered employment despite the pandemic and explain the ups and downs of Zoom interviews. www.legalwomen.org.uk/blogs.html
e publish blogs throughout the year so please contact us with ideas. Below are some experiences of working through the pandemic and lawyers who have changed track to completely different careers. We are now concentrating on career planning blogs so whatever your area of law please consider writing.
Career changes: as we all now work for longer many of us consider second and even third careers either connected to the law or using those skills. Ann Crighton on how to shift your work path from solicitor to direct access barrister. www.legalwomen.org.uk/AnnCrighton.html Courtney Plank who moved from childcare law to a tourist guide. www.legalwomen.org.uk/courtneyplank.html Jennifer Ison who had run her own firm but then set up her own clothing company for petite professional women. www.legalwomen.org.uk/JenniferIson.html
You can find all the blogs on the website www.legalwomen.org.uk/blogs.html
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Diversity & Inclusion
Profile: Amanda Millar T
he Law Society of Scotland’s current president, Amanda Millar, who took up her post in June this year, has never sought to fit a particular mould, remaining true to her values of empathy, inclusion and robust challenge. She has committed her legal career to ensuring that voices of the under-represented are heard and as the Society’s President, wants to recognise the importance of listening to and encouraging a diverse range of voices both within the profession and in the public they serve. Amanda was the first solicitor in Scotland accredited by the Law Society in both Mental Health Law and Incapacity & Mental Disability Law and has remained the only solicitor with this dual accreditation to practice outwith Glasgow and Edinburgh. When first seeking election as Law Society President, it was impossible to predict that the role would be defined by a global pandemic. However, her ambition to make a difference and to give something back to the profession during this exceptionally challenging time remains. The legal profession’s challenges have multiplied as a result of Covid-19. Adding to economic challenges faced by the profession, particularly around legal aid, and ongoing constitutional issues, many solicitors and of course their clients, have been hard hit by the effects of Coronavirus. However, despite the enormous challenges the pandemic has brought, one benefit has been the ability to engage with many more solicitors around the country and listen to their concerns via a series of online events in the early months of her presidency. Much of what she is hearing reflects the difficulties caused by the closure of the courts and drop of income many firms have experienced. As President, Amanda has been a strong advocate for the profession, playing an active role in discussions on restarting the courts following lockdown and dealing with the current backlog of cases. She is continuing the dialogue with government on the importance of legal aid in ensuring that anyone has the ability to uphold their legal rights – and making sure that there is a solid network of lawyers who can continue to afford to carry out this critical work. Most recently she has condemned inflammatory language used by government ministers about lawyers, saying that “Lawyers dedicate their skills, experience and professionalism to protect and uphold people’s legal and human rights, ensuring those rights apply equally to all. In doing so, they are upholding the rule of law, a cornerstone of our society and democracy. They must be able to carry out this fundamental role without fear of intimidation or restrictions to their independence or impartiality. Every person in a position of power should reflect carefully on the language they use and respect the role of the legal profession in maintaining a democratic and civil society.” She believes having a sustainable and viable legal profession that’s robust, well-regulated and upholds the independence 14 | LegalWomen
Amanda Millar of the rule of law, is a fundamental pillar of civil society. This includes thinking about diversity and inclusion and the wellbeing of those within the profession to help secure its long-term sustainability. In addition to improving gender equality, she supports ongoing work towards removing financial barriers facing young people from less advantaged backgrounds through the Lawscot Foundation charity. While admitting that there is still more to be done regarding diversity within the profession, significant progress has been made and Amanda takes a unique role to play in encouraging people from different backgrounds to consider a career in law. As a gay woman who in her early career, could not find a visible role model who embodied her own experiences or ambitions, Amanda is embracing the challenge to be the inclusive change she wants to see and provide that visibility and voice for others. Amanda was first elected to the Law Society Council in 2010 and has served on several its committees including the Client Protection Committee, Audit Committee, Professional Practice and Mental Health and Disability Sub-Committee. She was Convener of the Society’s Rules, Waivers and Guidance Sub-Committee until taking up the role of President. She remains a member of the LawscotTech Advisory Board. Amanda sits on the expert advisory group for the Centre for Mental Health and Incapacity Law Rights and Policy at Edinburgh Napier University. Outwith her legal practice, Amanda has been a past SCVO Policy Committee Member and previous board member then Chair of Mindspace Ltd, using her skills and experience to support organisations and policy discussions in the third sector. She was also the first non-executive Chair of Changing the Chemistry, which aims to increase diversity on all types of Boards, holding that post until September 2019. Amanda lives in Perthshire, with her wife Joyce and their dog Darcy, and when not leading the charge for the legal profession she enjoys cooking, eating and supporting Liverpool FC. ■
Cherie Blair answers
herie Booth QC (aka Cherie Blair CBE) has campaigned for support for domestic abuse victims for years and has had a long-standing involvement with the charity Refuge. She explains its importance and highlights the welcome changes the Domestic Abuse Bill could bring. You are a patron of Refuge, what is the function of this charity and how important is it? I’m proud to be a patron of Refuge. My support of Refuge began in 1995 when I first became a board member and then became a patron in 2004. The services Refuge provides are lifesaving and life-changing. Every day the charity supports over 6,500 survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence in its network of specialist refuges and communitybased services. The charity also works tirelessly to change attitudes around domestic abuse and campaign for the law and policy change needed to better protect survivors. How has the pandemic affected domestic violence? In today’s world the work of Refuge has never been more needed. The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it’s been extremely dangerous for survivors of abuse, who during lockdown have endured months at home with abusive partners, and with reduced options to get away from the perpetrator and seek help. Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw a large increase in demand during lockdown, which has been sustained as restrictions have been eased and tightened again. The charity has kept all of its refuges open during the pandemic, but unsurprisingly its services have been very full as there are not enough refuges in this country to meet demand. Fortunately the Domestic Abuse Bill is shortly due to return to the House of Lords for its second reading and could become law by the end of the year, so there is a real opportunity to make the legal changes needed to prevent abuse and ensure women and children get the support they need. Do you think the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 will help? That the Domestic Abuse Bill has finally reached the last stage of its passage through parliament is something to celebrate in itself. This Bill has been held up by two general elections and the unprecedented prorogation of Parliament and the Covid-19 pandemic. On its long journey it has been amended and strengthened. What was initially a fairly narrow criminal-justice focused Bill now has the first legal duty for local authorities to provide safe accommodation (including refuges) for survivors of abuse, greater protections for survivors in the family courts and priority need for housing for all survivors. However, the aim of the Bill is to transform the response to domestic abuse, but without further changes and significant funding for services, it will not achieve that. The legal duty to fund refuges could be ground-breaking, but only if the money needed to increase the number of specialist refuges is provided
Cherie Blair alongside it. Another huge gap is the lack of protection for migrant survivors with no recourse to public funds who are too often left in the desperate situation of staying with an abuser or facing destitution. What is the impact on children and how might that be helped by the current Bill in Parliament? The Bill will include the first statutory definition of domestic abuse, and after campaigns by a variety of charities, the definition will include economic abuse and name children as victims in their own right. This is welcome, but simply defining problems will not solve them. Refuge and others are calling for changes to be made to the benefits system, particularly Universal Credit, so that it helps survivors’ access financial support from the state when they need it and for services for child survivors of domestic abuse to be properly funded. Several changes to the criminal justice system will be made in the Bill, most notably the creation of a new type of order – Domestic Abuse Protection Orders – which will be able to be applied in both the criminal and civil courts and the outlawing of the so-called ‘rough sex’ defence. But there is more to be done in regard to criminal justice too. Refuge is also campaigning for the threat to share intimate images without consent to be made a criminal offence in the Bill. This would bring England and Wales in line with Scotland in criminalising this horrific form of abuse. One in seven young women have experienced a ‘revenge porn’ threat, but too often they are told by the police to wait until the perpetrator has shared the photo or video, as only then is it a crime. The Bill provides an opportunity to close this gap in the law. Covid-19 has arguably brought more attention to domestic abuse and the needs of survivors than ever before. There is much to welcome in the Domestic Abuse Bill, but many more changes are needed before this long-awaited piece of legislation can be described and truly transformative. ■ LegalWomen | 15
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims Commissioner
Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner
Joint Q for Commissioners N
icole Jacobs and Dame Vera Baird QC sent a joint letter to the Lord Chancellor, Home Secretary and Attorney General concerned that “…despite increasing volumes of domestic abuse cases being reported to and recorded by the police, the numbers of perpetrators being convicted for their crimes has fallen.” Both Commissioners request a “rapid investigation” into the reasons.
The Commissioners explain their expectations for such an investigation: The sudden drop in charging cases flagged as domestic abuse, against a backdrop of a rising number of cases being reported has set alarm bells ringing. This worrying trend appears to mirror what we have seen happening in rape cases over the last 2 years, with reports going up but charges now the lowest on record. The investigation into why this has come about needs to be a priority, not least because it undermines all the good work being done to give reassurance to victims of domestic abuse that if they report, they will be supported and their perpetrators will be held to account. The investigations must look at the whole process, from complaint right through to outcome in court or a decision not to charge, so that the reasons for the sharp fall in charges can be properly understood and addressed. The investigation needs to be carried out by an independent body so that everyone has confidence in the rigour of the process and any subsequent findings.
Bhini Phagura, former solicitor, asks each of the Commissioners about their work, first, Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner. As a newly appointed Commissioner could you describe your remit and Bhini Phagura plans for your first 12 months? Our remit, as set out in the Domestic Abuse Bill, is to monitor and oversee the provision of domestic abuse services, encourage good practice in the identification and response to domestic abuse, and to hold both local and national Government to account. Over the first 12 months, key priorities have been to engage with sector partners, to learn about their priorities for the role of the DA Commissioner, as well as to build key relationships with Ministers and officials across Government. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have pivoted to supporting joint working across the sector, escalating issues identified by partners on the front-line to national Government, and providing quick-time advice to Government Departments as they seek to respond to the surge in demand for domestic abuse services as a result of the pandemic. We have also begun work to map domestic abuse services across England & Wales, to build our understanding of what currently exists and help to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of provision across the country. As we start to come out of the pandemic, we are focusing on
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growing our small team and developing a longer-term strategic plan for the next few years and will be engaging across the sector and with victims and survivors to do just that.
Equally, Local Authorities and their partners will better recognise the importance of ensuring child victims have access to the support that they need.
What is the progress on enhancing The Domestic Abuse Bill (“the Bill”) and what are your primary concerns at this stage? Some progress has been made in enhancing the Domestic Abuse Bill. We really welcome the inclusion of children within the statutory definition of domestic abuse and the amendment to explicitly outlaw the so-called ‘rough sex defence’.
How soon could we see the conviction rates for perpetrators of DA reflect the changes you seek? This will always be difficult to assess – but as data is published by the CPS with a (nearly) 6-month time-lag, we would not expect to see the impact of any changes that are made now until data is published in March 2021. Given that Government and criminal justice agencies are still seeking to understand why the criminal justice outcomes have dropped, it is unlikely that actions will be taken immediately, and the impact of Covid-19 will also skew the monitoring of outcomes through the criminal justice system. We will nevertheless be monitoring the publication of the CPS quarterly criminal justice outcomes data as it is published.
However, we still have concerns and the Bill should go much further to meet the Government’s own ambition that this becomes a truly ‘landmark’ Bill. We would like to see: ■ Greater protections for migrant victims, including allowing those with No Recourse to Public Funds to access services, and introducing a clear ‘firewall’ between the police and immigration enforcement, to allow victims to safely disclose; ■ A broadening of the statutory duty, so that it encompasses the breadth of services available in the community as well as accommodation-based services; ■ The creation of a specific offence of ‘Non-Fatal Strangulation’ in recognition that the law does not currently reflect the seriousness of the offence; ■ The creation of a specific offence of threatening to share intimate images; ■ To extend the controlling and coercive behaviour offence to include post-separation abuse; ■ To create a statutory defence for victims of domestic abuse who offend as a result of their abuse; ■ The establishment of statutory paid leave and guidance for employers for victims of domestic abuse; ■ Recommendations from the Family Courts Harm Panel Review to be incorporated into the Bill, including reversing the ‘exceptionality’ requirement for a barring order, and provision to allow any changes to the presumption in favour of parental contact to be introduced following the Government’s review into this. Part of the DA Commissioner’s role is to give recommendations to the Government and local bodies on how provisions could be improved. Are you able to share any of these? We have not yet published any specific recommendations as part of our statutory powers. Instead, we have been writing to Secretaries of State across Government and working closely with officials to provide advice on specific issues as they have arisen. For example, we wrote to the Chancellor calling for emergency funding to support the sector (which was provided), calling for flexibility with funding streams, and to call for an end to the means test for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse. A “victim of domestic abuse” now includes a child who meets the relevant test. Why is the treatment of children as victims, as opposed to merely witnesses, important and beneficial? This is so important because it places children clearly within the remit of the legislation and demonstrates the understanding that children are victims in their own right, and not simply ‘witnesses’. The impact of domestic abuse on children is so severe it is vital that they are recognised as victims, which the Bill now does. Practically, the inclusion of children within the definition will also lead to a greater understanding by public authorities and frontline practitioners like the police and social workers, which means that they’ll be encouraged to recognise and respond more effectively to children experiencing domestic abuse.
Dame Vera Baird QC is the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales. Bhini Phagura poses questions on the Domestic Abuse Bill. Your ‘2019/20 Annual Report’ sets out your ‘Victims’ Commissioner’s plans for 2020/21’ – how confident are you in achieving those aims within the intended timeframe and what difficulties might you encounter? I have a small team and an ambitious programme of work, but I am confident we can deliver everything we have set out in my Annual Report. For example, we are soon to publish the findings of our survey of rape survivors’ experiences of the criminal justice system and we are making good progress on our review of the Special Measures allowed to enable vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence. We are planning to publish detailed proposals for inclusion in the long-awaited Victims’ Law and are scoping out our plans for reviewing the support being given to victims of fraud. I am heavily involved with the work on reopening the courts and engaging with the Probation Service on reforming the Victim Contact Scheme. These are just some of the many issues we are working on at the moment. Like the rest of the country, the biggest obstacles for us are the restrictions arising from social distancing and remote working, although I feel we are overcoming these and are adapting to the “new normal”. A significant challenge is making sure we maintain high levels of engagement with victims and the charities who support them, something I am personally very committed to. The DA Bill intends to end cross-examination of domestic violence victims by perpetrators – what will be the positive impact of this provision? It is well understood that in order for victims to be able to give their best evidence, it is imperative that they are questioned by an independent person and certainly not by the person they say they have been abused by. Defendants in the criminal courts have been prohibited from cross-examining their ‘victims’ in domestic abuse cases since 1999. It is utterly perverse that in the Family Courts, they have still been permitted to do so. Preventing this from happening can only be a positive step and will lead to victims having a far less traumatic time at court. It will enable victims to give their best evidence to the court and prevent perpetrators of abuse intentionally using the Family Court process as a mechanism to further abuse and intimidate. Continued on next page
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Continued from previous page What is risk that your progress could be delayed due to pressures on other stakeholders, particularly given the current pandemic? Of course, the Covid pandemic has meant that many organisations are in crisis. Organisations have understandably been focused on the pandemic and providing services in ways which they were unable to anticipate and which they were not adequately funded for. We are working with these stakeholders to ensure their views and needs are met. We have consulted and listened, we have made the case for greater funding and based our expectations in realism. We have pressed for the processing of emergency funding to be expedited; for government agencies to work more collaboratively to prevent delay and duplication; for Government deadlines on consultations to be pushed back and worked with stakeholders to ensure they have the space to reflect and consider. We also need to be better at anticipating future pinch points, for example, when children went back to school, it was inevitable there would a surge for help from victims of abuse of all forms, which would have a knock-on effect on third sector stakeholders as they tried to meet demand. This will continue as the pandemic continues and we are already anticipating the longer-term effects. BAME and migrant women have been identified as disproportionately affected by domestic violence V1] Is there any more immediate action to support these groups? Covid has demonstrated the vulnerability of the sector, and this has been particularly acute for specialist and BAME services, who have been consistently under-funded over many years. Access to remote working has been very difficult, and they are not resourced to respond to any surge in demand for their services. It has also increased the vulnerability of the most vulnerable in our society. Victims of DA with no recourse to public funds continue to struggle to access services, and we still lack a clear ‘firewall’ between police and immigration enforcement, creating often insurmountable barriers for victims to disclose. As Commissioners, we continue to press government to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure all victims and survivors – including migrant victims – have full access to protection and support under the law. We are also particularly concerned about disabled victims of DA, who may well still be shielding at home, and who have limited access to support or avenues for disclosure. While we welcome the flexibility that Government have now provided for funding beyond 31st October, the ‘long tail’ of Covid will be felt for some time to come. This is especially so for disabled victims, who will be living in ‘lockdown’ long after restrictions for the rest of the population ease. What would you say to victims of DV who have no confidence (or question whether) they will get justice? The drop in prosecutions must inevitably impact upon public confidence. It is a real concern, but we are doing all we can to work with criminal justice agencies and the government to address the drops in criminal justice outcomes. We need a justice system which functions effectively for all victims of crime. I would like to see the following from Government and Statutory bodies: 18 | LegalWomen
■ Frequent and better use of conditional pre charge bail and other protective measures and for breaches to be acted upon appropriately. I have called for breaches of a non-contact condition in pre-charge bail to be a criminal offence and for pre-charge bail to be applied in all suspected domestic abuse cases. ■ Victims being treated appropriately and sensitively by police and referred to support; ■ Police maintaining regular contact with victims throughout their investigations; ■ Effective processes for identifying vulnerable and intimidated victims so that they have access to special measures; ■ I have called for a review of funding for victim services as part of the government’s current spending review; ■ Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (‘IDVA’) support including at court for every complainant who wishes it; ■ Proper and effective safeguarding for victims of these offences so that they and their families are safe and protected; ■ More refuge provision; ■ A ‘firewall’ between police and immigration enforcement giving migrant victims the confidence to come forward and report; ■ Transparent and high-quality decision making on charging and prosecuting by specialist CPS. We note that during the Covid lockdown there were some police forces who were able to do some more innovative work on domestic abuse and prioritised this within their forces. We have worked with police on projects which include new ways to report, better signposting to services and new ways of assessing risk. ■ 1. See 2019/20 Annual Report, page 11 for statistics.
Making #YouAreNotAlone work in the workplace Suzanne Todd and Jemma Thomas, from WithersWorldwide, review the definition of domestic abuse and how society including employers must raise its awareness of the problem.
iving through a global pandemic inevitably invites questions about the society in which we live: who do we protect, who do we prioritise, who do we respect and who gets forgotten or overlooked? Those experiencing domestic abuse need support. Refuge (which provides specialist domestic abuse services) reported that calls and contacts to their Helpline experienced a weekly average increase of 66% and visits to their website had a 950% rise compared to pre-pandemic times. As a family team at Withers, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of cases with police intervention; in part due to the increased number of incidents but also due to the increased focus on the importance of intervention in cases of abuse. The government were clear that they wanted to offer protection and support: launching their #YouAreNotAlone campaign and encouraging people to put pictures of a handprint embossed with a heart to show solidarity. An important part of the message was that we need to take collective responsibility â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to look out for those who might be unable to seek help. One of the ways in which employers can help, is to be aware of what others might be going through and offer support.
What is domestic abuse? The government definition of domestic abuse has widened over time; it includes emotional, psychological and financial abuse as well as physical and sexual abuse. Importantly in 2012 it was extended to include a 'pattern of behaviour' to acknowledge that it is not just one-off incidents that are relevant. It was also extended to include 16-18 year olds due to pressure from the police, local authorities and voluntary organisations to protect young adults. Since 2015 controlling or coercive behaviour has become a criminal offence; this includes humiliation and intimidation used to harm, punish, or frighten, and behaviour designed to make a person dependent by isolating them, and by regulating their everyday behaviour. These broad definitions show an understanding of the multitude of ways in which abuse can take place. The new Domestic Abuse Bill would create for the first time, a cross-government statutory definition of domestic abuse, to ensure that domestic abuse is 'properly understood'. This consistent approach should improve society's understanding of what abuse is and what protection is available. Continued on next page LegalWomen | 19
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Partner, Head of Family & Trust, Estate and Inheritance teams, Regional Divisional Leader Dispute Resolution (Europe) – Withersworldwide
The court's response The family court has made changes to its procedure and guidance to ensure that those alleging abuse are properly protected within the court system. On 25 June 2020, the Family Court announced an overhaul of the court process to provide a better service in domestic abuse cases: separate building entrances and waiting rooms and protective screens to shield those alleging abuse; prevention measures to stop partners from bringing repeated cases as a way of continuing domestic abuse; and piloting family and criminal matters in parallel to provide greater consistencies. These measures indicate a better understanding of the intrinsic difficulties in court proceedings for those who have been controlled or abused by the other party.
Professional Support Lawyer, Family Department Withersworldwide
If the Domestic Abuse Bill becomes law it would protect those alleging abuse from being cross-examined by their alleged abuser. An enormously important development in allowing survivors of abuse true access to justice. The Court's response is a helpful insight into the need to provide particular measures of protection for those in abusive relationships. But what measures are appropriate in the work place? What can you do? Raising awareness that domestic abuse affects people regardless of status, class, income bracket or educational background helps to ensure that employers are not making assumptions as to who might need support. Abuse can take place within any relationship and men also experience domestic abuse (ONS statistics showed that in 2018 695,000 men and 1,300,000 women suffered domestic abuse in England Wales). Senior staff may need training as to what to look out for, how to conduct sensitive conversations, and their responsibilities in terms of a duty of care. Encouraging open and understanding conversations can allow people to share their concerns. Also having good signposting as to where to seek help (both in the office but also externally for example helplines) It is important to make domestic abuse a part of the conversation, to remove any stigma and encourage collective responsibility. Examples of what to look out for are: changes in behaviour; in terms of attendance and performance but also a willingness to talk openly. It is not so much bumps and bruises as a change in demeanour. Often the start of abuse involves isolation and instilling a reluctance to involve other people so it is important to tread carefully and not be judgmental. All these measures are especially important in the current environment when so many more people are working from home. Where can you get help? The government has issued guidance on the support available (here) and has launched a public awareness campaign to highlight the help available, for example 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number – 0808 2000 247 – run by Refuge, and www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk. There is much to be learned about what domestic abuse can look like; increasing education, awareness and understanding are crucial to offering the right support in the right way. ■
ybercare has focused on victims of cyber abuse and intends to extend its support through its charitable structure. Interest from lawyers to prepare documentation to register with the Charity Commission, on a pro bono basis, are welcome. There are also roles available as trustee. For more information please contact Maureen@cybercare.org.uk www.cybercare.org.uk ■
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Sara Carnegie, Director of Legal Projects at the International Bar Association discusses Domestic Abuse – why should your employer take action?
he home is not a safe place for everyone. The requirement to work from home has led to a worldwide increase in reports of domestic abuse. A global pandemic of a different kind, often shunted inaccurately under the broader remit of gender-based violence, has developed exponentially during 2020. The number of calls to the UK National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge, increased by 66% during the crisis.1 The increase in those seeking support is not limited to victims. A helpline for those trying to change their behaviour has received 25% more calls since lockdown began. 2
The workplace can be a refuge and escape route, and its recent enforced absence sorely felt. Provision of support varies enormously between jurisdictions and organisations in both the public and private sector, but Covid 19 has created a unique set of circumstances that necessitate greater proactivity in our efforts to address the issue. Is it foreseeable that we might see litigation brought about by an employer’s failure to address health and safety where the workplace is home and the safety pertains to domestic abuse? No one is expecting an employer to solve the problem, but raising awareness and providing meaningful and visible support structures can create a lifeline.
Domestic abuse does not respect race, class or gender. Nor is it a question of intelligence. It can occur between couples, or within the wider family unit and the damage is not always physically evident. In addition to physical violence, it includes, ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour…. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.’3
The International Bar Association brought together global experts to discuss what the workplace should do and why, in a recent webinar.4 Our panellists discussed in-house, private and public sector legal workplaces around the world, addressing cultural and legislative barriers to proactive support, in addition to positive initiatives rolled out within their organisation. Elizabeth Filkin, chair of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) presented the rationale for employers to engage; in addition to the primary concern of humanity and ethics, the cost to UK business is estimated at £1.9bn due to decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages and sick pay.5
The chances are high that you are working in an organisation where someone is suffering or boiling over. However, what does this have to do with employers – after all, domestic issues are private, aren’t they?
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Continued from previous page EIDA is a business network with over 400 members, including law firms, government departments, the Law Society and Crown Prosecution Service. It works to raise awareness and enable employers to take positive action by providing online resources, networking hubs and best practice guidance. It highlights employers who have been innovative in offering further support to employees during the lockdown. For example, Lloyds Banking Group will arrange hotel accommodation and help staff to move, in addition to partnering with the charity, Surviving Economic Abuse.6 Global law firm, Linklaters, has worked with Safe Lives to create a new policy and support package providing emergency accommodation and up to 10 days’ paid leave. In September, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, launched a new guide to help organisations to support staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse. The new guide sets out key recommendations for employers, including developing a policy or framework, creating open work cultures where individuals feel safe to disclose, and offering flexibility for people to attend counselling, legal and finance appointments or access support from professional bodies.7 From April 2019, legislation in New Zealand has enabled those affected by domestic violence up to ten days per year additional paid annual leave, thereby helping victims to remain in paid employment and empower them to act. Those affected also have a statutory right to request short-term variation of their working arrangements to deal with the effects of domestic violence and provide express protections against “adverse treatment” by their employer over working conditions, dismissal, etc. This protection covers both those actually affected by domestic violence and people who an employer suspects, assumes, or believes to be affected.8 Under current UK legislation, there is no requirement for employers to support people affected by domestic abuse. The Government is currently looking at the role of employers and in June 2020, announced a review of the support provided within their workforce.9 It will explore examples of best practice from UK employers and evidence from other countries and how they approach domestic abuse, to see how the UK’s current employment framework could be enhanced. Let us hope that the increasing awareness brought about by the pandemic will encourage employers to do more to protect their workforce, regardless of whether the law obliges them to. To reference the 2011 Australian Law Reform Commission, ‘Family violence is not simply a private or individual issue, but rather a
Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA)
systematic one arising from wider social, economic and cultural factors. Accordingly, effective measures to address family violence need to operate in both the private and public spheres. This is particularly so in the context of employment…’10 ■
Director Legal Projects at the International Bar Association
1. Slack, T. & Newbery, A. (2020) ‘Coronavirus: Domestic abuse website visits up 10-fold, charity says.’ Available from: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-52755109 [accessed 29/09/2020] 2. Townsend, M. (2020) ‘Revealed: surge in domestic violence during Covid-19 crisis.’ Available from: www.theguardian. com/society/2020/apr/12/domestic-violence-surgesseven-hundred-per-cent-uk-coronavirus [accessed 29/09/2020] 3. S.76 Serious Crime Act 2015 4. w ww.ibanet.org/Domestic-violence-law-firms.aspx 5. w ww.eida.org.uk [accessed 20/09/2020] 6. Lloyds Banking Group (2020) ‘Supporting victims of domestic and financial abuse.’ Available from: www. lloydsbankinggroup.com/our-purpose/helping-people/ supporting-victims-of-domestic-and-financial-abuse/ [accessed 29/09/2020] 7. w ww.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/CIPD-EHRC-launchguide-support-employees-experiencing-domestic-abuse [accessed 30/09/2020] 8. w ww.penningtonslaw.com/news-publications/latestnews/2018/domestic-violence-and-the-workplacehow-england-and-new-zealand-compare [accessed 30/09/2020] 9. UK Government (2020) ‘Government to review support in the workplace for survivors of domestic abuse.’ Available from: www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-reviewsupport-in-the-workplace-for-survivors-of-domesticabuse [accessed 29/09/2020] 10. Australia Law Reform Commission, Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws – Improving Legal Frameworks (ALRC Report 117, November 2011).
n our next edition, we will look at the work of EIDA which promotes greater awareness of domestic abuse amongst employers. With millions of people working from home this has become a significant challenge to providing a safe working environment. EIDA shares best practice to contribute to a change in the way domestic abuse is regarded and handled in the UK. www.eida.org.uk ■
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Winter is coming ... As further pandemic restrictions loom, Helen Broadbridge considers how a crisis can be a catalyst for change
ockdown has made working life harder for millions of people. However, unprecedented times can also bring about unprecedented change as the disruption itself sets a precedent for trying something new. This article will look at three positive changes we could all embrace by the end of 2020. 1. Ask for what you need Lockdown is opening up conversations that may have felt less socially acceptable before. For some, asking for flexibility outside the status quo can feel like a risk of being perceived as less committed. But now that it has been proven beyond doubt that entire organisations can work remotely, workers should be able to broach the subject of flexible hours or avoiding the commute without having to stretch their manager’s imagination. (Note, that I call it “remote working” rather than “working from home” because in my view the latter conjures up images of pyjamas and baking cookies in a way that unfairly detracts from the “work” part.) At last, some key hurdles have been lifted: organisations have invested in remote access, supervisors are learning to adapt to supervising without being in the same room and the less tech-savvy have had the chance to figure out the new systems. The unthinkable is now not only thinkable but mundane.1 It is not only the workplace that people may benefit from thinking about. At home, the crisis is suddenly making visible the invisible work that many have been doing for years. Research has shown that women tend to do more domestic labour than men.2,3 Now, if not for the first time then for the first prolonged period, many are getting a front row seat to the challenges of integrating work, housekeeping and childcare. This should encourage reflection, especially as research suggests that what it means to be a “family” in times of crisis is often reduced to emphasise a male breadwinner and a female carer, which is a family make-up that is no longer relevant to many. Moreover, studies of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath have shown that even when the male partner is unemployed for a prolonged period, and the female partner continues to work full-time, families do not readily change the division of paid and unpaid work. Correspondingly, if women are unemployed, they feel an almost moral obligation to contribute more unpaid work, alongside looking for paid work. I hope that today many families
have resisted this trend during the lockdown and have found that a re-division of tasks or turn-taking is worth carrying forward into the future.4 Lastly, an additional benefit of couples enacting equal partnership in the home is that it helps to adjust gender norms in the workplace. If men start asking for flexibility at work, this normalises the uptake of flexible working policies for the entire workforce.5 If such policies are only used by women, research has shown that the use of such policies can carry a career penalty.6,7,8 In addition, equal domestic partnership in families with children sets an example for the next generation, positively shaping the expectations of the future workforce.9,10 2. Hold yourself to less exhausting standards Additional demands during lockdown have been challenging for many. In extreme cases, some workers may have been pushed to the point of exhaustion.11 According to one recent survey, 14% of women and 11% of men have considered quitting their jobs during lockdown.12 This seemingly endless pressure should encourage workers to stop and reflect. Management academics have established the concept of the “ideal worker fallacy”.13 The theory is that the “ideal worker” of yesteryear – someone who enters the workforce in early adulthood and works full-time, with a full-time homemaker to support them – no longer exists in the majority of cases. Nevertheless, the mentality of the ideal worker can be seductive, so workers may wish to ask themselves whether they are holding themselves to sustainable standards to minimise the risk of burnout.14 If workers find that their standards have slipped from ‘high’ to ‘ideal’, it may be time to re-prioritise. It can help to decide, strategically and at times ruthlessly, which activities we can do less of – not because they are not important per se, but because they are not the closest-aligned to our best and highest goals. Are you volunteering for tasks that do not lead to promotions? Could you get more done by delegating more to support staff? Continued on next page LegalWomen | 23
Continued from previous page Do you spend time on the 7th proof-read before sending a draft to your manager? It is hard to resist the attraction of selfsufficiency, but, ultimately, there comes a point of diminishing returns – especially if you consider that progress at work is more a function of strategic relationships and self-promotion than of beavering away on your own.15 This relaxation should also extend to self-care. People have an amazing ability to talk themselves out of something because they overestimate the amount of time that it will take for that activity to have a meaningful impact on their lives. Instead of taking an activity to the extreme, why not set a much lower target: Instead of having to train five times a week, wouldn’t taking a half-hour walk over lunch once a week also be worthwhile? Instead of meditating for an hour every day, wouldn’t a breathing exercise for two minutes while you brush your teeth still be worth doing? Research suggests that small habits that stick can have a huge impact on physical and mental health over the years – far more than the habits that never materialise at all because we quit before even starting them.16 3. Be more authentic at work Some journalists have written about the comfort of the artificiality that comes with office life, arguing that the subterfuge of business dress, formality and unwritten rules are an opportunity to leave our messy home lives at the door and present a better, more together version of ourselves.17 However, research suggests that we tire faster if we are adjusting our behaviour much of the time.18 As sharing phone calls with children who are too young to respect a closed door is leading many to admit, it may no longer be realistic to clinically separate the work and non-work sides of our lives. We therefore find ourselves with a golden opportunity to erode this expectation of appearing perfect and available at all times, especially if leaders are willing to buy into this narrative too. In conclusion, one positive that comes from unprecedented circumstances is the opportunity to initiate unprecedented conversations. Now could be the perfect time to discuss the topics handled in this article – whether that is workers engaging their managers or managers engaging their teams. Such changes could hold untold benefits for organisations. ■
Member of the Westminster and Holborn Law Society Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and tax solicitor
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1. Williams, J. C, 2020, ‘The Pandemic Has Exposed the Fallacy of the “Ideal Worker”’, Harvard Business Review. 2. Hess, C et al., 2020, ‘Providing Unpaid Household and Care Work: Uncovering Inequality’, Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 3. Bianchi, S. M., 2014, ‘Housework: Who Did, Does or Will Do It, and How Much Does It Matter?’, US National Library of Medicine. 4. Bernstein, A & Gallo, A, featuring Hamid Rao, A, 2020, ‘We’re Beyond Stretched’, The Women At Work Podcast. 5. Padavic, I. et al., 2019, ‘Explaining the Persistence of Gender Inequality: The Work-family Narrative as a Social Defence against the 24/7 Work Culture’, Administrative Science Quarterly. 6. Burkus, D, 2017, ‘Everyone Likes Flex Time, but We Punish Women Who Use It’, Harvard Business Review. 7. Ely, R. J. & Padavic, I,, 2020, ‘What’s Really Holding Women Back?’, Harvard Business Review. 8. Correll, S. J. & Benard, S, 2007, ‘Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty?’, American Journal of Sociology. 9. Smith, D. G & Johnson, B. W, 2020, ‘Gender Equity Starts in the Home’, Harvard Business Review; Croft, A et al., 2014, ‘The Second Shift Reflected in the Second Generation: Do Parents’ Gender Roles at Home Predict Children’s Aspirations?’, Psychological Science. 10. Croft, A et al., 2014, ‘The Second Shift Reflected in the Second Generation’, Psychological Science. 11. Markuson, D, (NordVPN Team), 2020, ‘U.S. Employees Working More Hours During Covid-19 Pandemic’, Business Facilities. 12. Hinchliffe, E, 2020 ‘14% of women considered quitting their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic’, Fortune Magazine. 13. Williams, J. C, 2020, ‘The Pandemic Has Exposed the Fallacy of the “Ideal Worker”’, Harvard Business Review. 14. Maslach, C & Leiter, M. P., 2016, ‘Understanding the burnout experience’, World Psychiatry. 15. Bernstein, A & Gallo, A, featuring Dufu, T, 2018, ‘The Advice We Get and Give’, The Women At Work Podcast. 16. Bernstein, A & Gallo, A, featuring Whillans, A. V, 2020, ‘Making the Most of this Mess’, The Women At Work Podcast. 17. Kellaway, L, 2020, ‘We will miss the office if it dies’, Financial Times. 18. Edmondson, A, 2019, ‘The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace’’, Wiley.
Fiona Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Radcliffe Chambers, discusses the impact of the pandemic I
remember the 2008 financial crisis only too well. I was a partner in a law firm where a good proportion of work was property-related. We did what every sensible business did: hold onto our cash, chased hard for outstanding debts and reduced our overheads. Unfortunately, on that occasion, reducing overheads also involved making some very difficult decisions and reducing staff. Forward to twelve years later and Covid-19. We were lucky in that we were relatively well-prepared. In 2019, law firm leaders and directors of barristers’ chambers were primarily worried about information security, so I had decided to bring in an external consultant to look at all our IT. We worked out a plan of action which included moving all staff and members over to Office 365 which, of course, included Microsoft Teams. We were also due to test our disaster recovery plan in December 2019. We used the scenario of a building collapsing in Lincoln’s Inn and worked our way through the actions we would take. We found a couple of areas of weakness and so spent January 2020 ensuring we were as ready as we could be for some faceless disaster to hit. Little did we know that it wouldn’t involve 19th century buildings, but a disease without a vaccine or a cure. It was a much more far-reaching and devastating situation. In that fateful week in March, we pushed to get staff and members working from home as most other legal services providers did. Luckily, our new IT system was such that everyone, but our most junior clerks could work from home. At this point, we did not have Teams up and running on all computers, but we managed to do so within the week. Indeed, chambers held its first remote AGM via Teams just a week after lockdown. My initial focus was on modelling worst case and mid case financial scenarios, making sure everyone was safe, well and able to work, and ensuring that our external and internal communications were as clear and supportive as possible. I spent time with both clients and members reassuring them we could continue to work seamlessly, despite the unprecedented challenges. Those first few months of lockdown were extremely hard work, but my team and I were determined that something positive should come out of the situation. Disruption leads to opportunities and we wanted to make sure that we came out of the crisis stronger than before. We finished a lot of projects that had been on our to do list, including building a new intranet, improving team communications, overhauling our social media and video marketing strategies and launching a YouTube channel. We adapted much more quickly than we would normally, and other professional services firms adapted alongside us. Clients were asking us to collaborate on innovative routes to market, and new services and products. In many of our practice areas we actually grew our business. So, there was lots of opportunity. From the very beginning, I knew my team would rise to the challenge, but I was still amazed by the way they just got on with things. Everyone pulled together. The hours were long and I was certainly in danger of being in my study from the moment I rose
to last thing at night. I quickly realised I needed to have some sort of work/life balance. An early morning walk helped, as well as taking proper time out for meals. It became obvious early on that those with caring responsibilities did not have it so easy. In the first two weeks I took the time to speak to every member of chambers and every staff member. Home-schooling was difficult and trying to balance childcare with work was a real struggle for some, especially those with young children. A couple of our members had to take a month or two off from taking new work and slogged through early mornings and late nights to complete their work when children were in bed. Our very junior juniors were also affected by working from home. For them, chambers is a learning environment. One of our senior silks said to me the other day that during lockdown he had not received one email or call from a junior barrister asking for advice on a case. Prior to lockdown he would have at least three or four conversations a week. Our juniors had to adapt quickly to get into a routine and figure out where they could add value. Towards the beginning of their careers, many barristers are used to being in court most days, travelling all over the country; that country court work stopped almost immediately and is only now restarting. Many of the county courts were in full lockdown and trying to figure out how they were going to keep our justice system going. Luckily in our areas of work the Commercial Courts and the Rolls building continued to function relatively well. We are now in a hybrid situation with a good proportion of barristers and staff back in chambers, some full-time and some part-time. While full home-working has been successful some of the issues we are still grappling with are the future of working remotely, communicating with our clients, winning new clients, ensuring that none of our people feel isolated and making sure that those of us who are learning have full opportunities to learn. To overcome these barriers, we are working on expanding our mentoring and buddy systems, talking to our clients about their issues and continuing to be extensions of their teams just in a different way. ■ Fiona Fitzgerald is Chief Executive of Radcliffe Chambers a barristers’ chambers based in Lincoln’s Inn specialising in private client, property, insolvency, commercial, pensions, banking and finance and professional negligence.
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A Pandemic perspective The Senior Partner and Newly Qualified’s Perspective from Rachael Heenan, Senior Partner, and Charlotte Lewczynski, Solicitor, both at Capsticks Solicitors LLP. Leadership during a pandemic Well this wasn’t in the job description, went through my mind as we watched the first Covid-19 press conference and decided immediately to move the whole firm to working from home. I wish I could tell you that my years of experience gave me a clear vision through what we should do, but like everyone else (no matter what they tell you) we were making it up as we went along, but with a tight knit SMT we knew we would be ok. Our strategy has always been to put our teams first and this was the forefront of our minds – in return we asked for support, flexibility and kindness to each other – something that comes in abundance at Capsticks. We have also not been afraid to be human ourselves – the last year has been tough on everyone and by acknowledging that internally I know it has helped others. We have always asked people to bring their whole selves to work but now we have the children, housemates and pets. Special mention to Ginger Rogers (feline) who steals the show at every firm meeting. Anyone dealing with personal issues, as most of us are (whether it be teenagers, elderly parents or just life), will need even more dedicated support at a time when people are feeling socially isolated and vulnerable about the future ahead. Like everyone we have had to be creative, daily emails (which people said replaced the PM’s press conferences), virtual client engagement, the dreaded zoom quizzes and get togethers, 121 time with people through different mediums whether it be whilst walking the dog, canoeing (yes) or a socially distanced coffee. We have also started Capsticks Connected where we get an interesting speaker to talk to the whole firm once a month so there is a sense of belonging and participating together. Speakers include I. Stephanie Boyce, Vice President of the Law Society and her brilliant story, Pat Sowa talking about the loss of her son and suicide awareness, clinicians talking about their roles during the pandemic, Dr Nicola Rollock for Black History Month and many more planned – the more varied the better. I think we have all now accepted that this way of working is going to be the future for a long time so our thoughts have to turn to our longer term career development and succession planning for the firm, particularly around our diversity and inclusion agenda where we still have a way to go. I’ve always been proud to work at Capsticks but even more so after this year. Every single person has played a huge part in helping clients and colleagues during the pandemic. What do they say: “You’re a product of your environment, surround yourself with the best.” Qualifying during a pandemic Since my first taste of work experience in a solicitor’s office, at age 15, I have dreamt about the day my name would appear on the roll of solicitors of England and Wales. I had pictured a day in the office, celebrating with the partners and team, lunching with my fellow NQs to raise a glass to our career milestone, and dinner with my family to celebrate the years of hard work that had led to this day. But, when it came around, it was certainly a lot different than planned! 26 | LegalWomen
On Monday 16 March 2020 I had worked from home, as I often did on a Monday, not knowing that by that evening the firm would announce that with immediate effect everyone should permanently work from home until further notice. Congratulatory flowers sent by my parents to the office were re-directed to my house, soon followed by my ergonomic office chair, laptop and monitor all provided by the firm, to complete my new home office at the former dining table. The planned meal out with my family and friends that evening was limited to only a few attendees due to my father being taken ill with Covid-19 and the government announcing the closing of restaurants from Thursday 19 March. The journey to qualification has been shared with my family and friends, and to not be able to celebrate properly with all of them, due to something so alien and beyond our control, made the occasion extremely surreal. Luckily, almost five months to the day, we returned to the same restaurant with my parents and enjoyed a delayed, but equally joyous, celebration. Qualifying during Covid-19 has brought both professional and personal challenges. Every NQ has felt the excited nervousness that qualification brings, however the standard challenges I had prepared myself for felt more daunting due to the overarching newness of the pandemic environment. I do feel fortunate to work for such a forward-thinking firm which contributed to a seamless transition to working from home full-time, meaning this was one less adaptation to feel overwhelmed by during this new phase of my career. Nonetheless, just as how going into Tesco and finding that an empty pasta shelf felt unsettling, the feeling of being given my first matter with no one sat either side to discuss queries with felt incredibly challenging. These worries were alleviated somewhat by the daily emails received from the firm’s management team, which included breakdowns of the government guidelines as well as tips on navigating the lockdown and little pick-me-up anecdotes for those more difficult days. I am also extremely lucky to work at a firm where I feel comfortable picking up the phone to my supervisors and colleagues to ask for help with a query, even though it feels a lot more invasive to call someone and potentially disturb them for something that, in person, would have been no more than a 30 second conversation. In addition, I have really appreciated the calls and emails I have been receiving from partners and colleagues, checking in on how I am getting on and offering their advice and support whenever I need it. A real challenge has been taking on new projects without the opportunity to meet the client directly, or sit with my colleagues, to discuss the structure and objectives, and I have had to throw myself into some aspects of my career that I would ordinarily have taken more steadily. I am, however, appreciative that Covid-19 has given me the opportunity work more independently, build my confidence and find more time in my day to research points of law which are new to me. I do believe that I have become and will continue to be a better lawyer for having overcome these extraordinary challenges. ■
Diversity and Innovation: the impact of everyone adapting to technology
echnology has enabled many within the legal industry to transition to remote working practically overnight in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Much of this technology is not new, but out of necessity, everyone was forced to learn to use it to ensure business continuity. This has resulted in increased confidence and acceptance of technology solutions such as videoconferencing, and specific legal tech tools such as collaboration platforms and e-signature tools. This is promising - as an industry, legal tech will continue to evolve and grow beyond COVID-19, making the delivery of legal services more efficient and remote-friendly. There is a risk, however, that the pandemic might exacerbate existing gender inequality in legal tech1 and the broader legal industry. This could happen in two ways: Firstly, the pandemic could have a disproportionately negative effect on women in the workforce overall, including women in law and legal tech. In a recent study, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and UCL 2 found that during the lockdown, mothers were more likely than fathers to have been furloughed or laid off, and even if they were still working, only did a third of the uninterrupted paidwork hours that fathers did, often due to childcare demands. The result of this, according to the researchers, could be “a further increase in the gender wage gap”. This is echoed by the findings of a survey conducted by Next 100 Years3 on the impact of the pandemic on women working in the legal profession specifically. They found that, of 870 respondents, 65% were concerned that lockdown was exaggerating existing inequalities between men and women. Secondly, diversity initiatives could be side-lined as companies face increased financial pressures. The public health crisis has triggered an economic crisis, causing law firms and legal tech companies to furlough staff, impose hiring freezes and focus on surviving the pandemic. With companies in cost-cutting mode, diversity and inclusion efforts are likely to slip further down the priorities list. Indeed, over 50% of respondents to the Next 100 Years survey voiced concerns that diversity initiatives will fall by the wayside as a result of COVID-19. COVID-19 aside, we have been going through a period of immense change across the legal industry, with alternative delivery models and new technology being explored and applied to legal services delivery. We need a diverse workforce to help us deliver true innovation and continue the good work we’ve done so far; companies need to avoid inadvertently letting the pandemic undo the progress we’ve made on gender diversity.
more women to remain in the workforce as it becomes easier to balance home and work life. Helpfully for women, flexible working is not just a women’s issue; lockdown has also given more men a taste of the benefits, which is likely to result in a quicker and more sustained shift in attitudes as agile practices are championed by men and women alike. Another outcome of remote working is that men and women are forced to operate on a level playing field: remotely. The pandemic has, at least temporarily, meant that women are not missing out on work-related activities, such as social gatherings and business travel, that they would normally find difficult to participate in while juggling primary carer responsibilities. These obstacles have historically held back women advancement in the workplace, but at least in the interim, the barriers have been removed. The pandemic will have permanent and far-reaching effects on legal tech and the broader legal industry. Digital transformation will continue, and even accelerate, and technology will play a vital role in the delivery of legal services. To continue delivering innovative products, services and business practices, we need a diverse and inclusive workforce. As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to continue our efforts to build this, particularly given the potentially negative effects of the pandemic on women in the legal industry. Failure to account for diversity issues as we navigate through the crisis will lead to a less inclusive, dynamic and resilient future for us all. ■
Product Manager Thomson Reuters and creator of the Legal Geek Mentorship Programme www.legalgeek.co/ mentorship/
1. https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/ analysis-legal-techs-gender-diversity-problem 2. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/may/parents-especiallymothers-paying-heavy-price-lockdown 3. https://next100years.org.uk/survey/
Nevertheless, there is a silver lining. Through the crisis, we are seeing flexible and remote working practices legitimised; managers are realising that you can be out of the office and be doing good work at the same time. This shift in attitude in favour of remote working is likely to persist and will have a positive effect on women in the legal industry in the long run. Women disproportionately carry family responsibilities, but the rise of flexible working, which has been facilitated in our industry particularly by legal tech solutions, will hopefully encourage LegalWomen | 27
Sally Penni MBE, Barrister & Founder of Women in the Law UK discusses the ‘Nightingale Courts’ and their impact on women
OVID-19 working practices threaten further impact on the attrition of women from the Bar. In this article, I highlight these risks and recommend practical steps to minimise them. The Nightingale Courts involve a proposal that the court sitting hours will be from 9 am until 6 pm. It is intended that the longer sitting hours will help reduce the backlog of cases in the criminal justice system, indeed all the courts. Two years ago, there was an attempt to introduce similar extended hours courts but they were rejected by the Bar. Pre COVID-19 the difficulty of balancing work and family commitments was a factor for all practitioners but clearly is more problematic for those who have childcare responsibilities. In surveys conducted by the Western Circuit Forum, the responses showed that it was overwhelmingly female practitioners who had primary responsibility for caring and arranging childcare. The concern is that following the disruption of lockdown, these extended hours will be introduced without consultation to all courts nationally, despite objections from those who have caring responsibilities. Such a change will augment the attrition rate of women leaving the Bar. This is already of great concern and if there is a failure to recognise the disproportionate impact of the extended courts on those responsible for childcare (currently largely women) it appears discriminatory. Initially, COVID-19 restrictions meant a dramatic loss of commercial and gratuitous childcare as well as the usual mix of after-school clubs etc. Many practitioners had to combine childcare and home-schooling responsibilities while also trying to meet professional commitments and maintain some income. Barristers are classed as ‘key workers’ and, as such, they are more exposed to the possibility of infection and requirements for self-isolation which may occur unpredictably and at short notice. Combining this with current court hours can be a struggle but will become an impossibility for many if the hours are extended.
Sally Penni the hearings may not commence at the appointed time and/ or conclude in the time estimate and must make themselves available well beyond the time allotted to allow for such contingencies which may include technical difficulties or cases running over. Legal representatives are reminded that it will not be appropriate for them to expect to be able to conduct multiple hearings in proximity of time as a consequence of these matters and costs orders may be made against them if they are unable to attend as required.’ There is a helpful recommendation from the Western Circuit Women Forum’s to the Judiciary and HMCTS to ‘Consider the Carers’. It states as follows: ‘When issuing guidance on new court processes, or ways of working, nationally or locally, take into account the practical difficulties faced by primary carers and people shielding, and consider the impact of the guidance on their income. All guidance should include a requirement that judges invite advocates (and other parties to the proceedings) to notify the court in advance whether they have any childcare or other caring issues relevant to the hearing. At the start of any hearing, advocates and parties should be invited to indicate if there are issues that might impact during a lengthy hearing and on future timetabling of a case’. This information should be used to ‘triage’ and decide whether reasonable adjustments can be put in place to ensure a fair hearing, for example: ■ aim to set clear boundaries regarding the time allocated to each case to enable carers to make arrangements suitable to those fixed times; ■ if a court hearing is moved, ensure sufficient notice is given to allow the carer to put other arrangements in place; ■ aim to ensure that counsel’s availability for future hearings is taken into account where possible.
Remote hearings may assist but there are also concerns here and I highlight that initial guidance issued by the Judiciary appeared to compound the problem. I refer to the Guidance for the Conduct of Remote Costs Hearings  which failed to recognise the practical problems and threatened adverse costs:
There should be no suggestion (either expressly in guidance, or implicitly in the way the court hears cases), that unavailability due to reasons of care-giving or shielding could be considered improper, unreasonable or negligent such as to expose a practitioner to a costs order.
‘In all remote hearing cases the parties must recognise that
As a guide to good practice, the Western Circuit Forum
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commends paras 5 and 6 of the Commercial Bar Guidance Note on Remote Hearings: ‘5. It is appreciated, of course, that the pandemic will have differing impacts on individual hearing participants, in particular those with caring responsibilities and/or without access to a sufficiently quiet or neutral location in which to participate in the hearing. 6. If you or your client are affected by these issues and they are likely to interfere with your ability (or the ability of other hearing participants) to participate in the hearing, you should raise them as soon as practicable. In the case of an interlocutory matter that is listed for hearing, the issues should be raised straightaway by contacting Commercial Court Listing … giving precise details of the case and the hearing date. Listing will then put the matter before a Judge at the earliest opportunity. In the case of a trial, please do the same. If there is a forthcoming pre-trial review, the Judge may decide to deal with the matter then. COMBAR is confident that the Judges of the Commercial Court appreciate the need for these matters to be treated with sensitivity.’ The future holds a significant risk over a prolonged period to the practices of those with shielding and caring responsibilities who are unable to attend court. In my view, this risk can be minimised by clear judicial leadership and guidance as to the listing and conduct of cases, and the Western Circuits’ recommendation to continue to ‘Consider the Carers’ and ‘Consider the Shielders’ at the point of clerking, listing, interim and full hearings.
The financial impact of the pandemic on women is disproportionate and introducing extended hours will also impact them detrimentally. We must continue to build a diverse profession and not lose the great gains we have made through the various associations and initiatives to support women at the Bar. The proposed Nightingale Courts will inflict enormous damage on these developments; instead allow women to be Florence Nightingales by carrying out their work as barristers but with the essential flexibility needed. ■
Sally Penni MBE
Barrister & Founder of Women in the Law UK Women in the Law UK is intended to inspire, support and connect. It addresses issues of retention, wellbeing and career progression and advancement through professional development education and training. You can refer to the website for over 109 webinars and workshops during COVID 19 empowering lawyers and young women. www.womeninthelawuk.com Congratulations to Sally Penni MBE who was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to diversity in the workplace, social mobility and law.
We have partnered with the Scottish Department of Justice to offer two of our cinemas as temporary courtrooms during the week, to help ease their current backlog of cases. This means that ODEON Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird will operate on reduced hours from 21st September and ODEON Braehead from 5th October.
The Scottish Solution to COVID-19 Jury Trials
e’ve all been longing to see new films but the latest venture by Odeon cinemas is hosting juries for the back-log of Scottish trials with social distancing. The fifteen person jury required in Scotland is chosen in the original court location but then moved to cinema auditoriums with technology to enable them to see the trial from a safe distance, in the comfort of a cinema seat. Different screens ensure views of the judge, defendant, prosecuting and defending counsel. So far two cinemas only have been used, but the Scots government has earmarked a significant sum of money for the implementation of this innovation, which it expects
to widen to other areas, to ensure that trials carry on without the risks of close contact in normal courts. Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, chairs the Restarting Solemn Trials Working Group which developed this innovative solution of using cinemas and has also identified changes required to legislation and to rules of procedure to allow the appropriate use of digital solutions. Could this indicate a new use for the cinemas in England and Wales which have been closing? ■ LegalWomen | 29
Stephanie Boyce, Vice President of The Law Society of England and Wales reflects on the impact of Covid-19 on legal aid firms and in turn some of the least represented groups in society
ur society is built on the law and legal rights – whether seeking protection from domestic abuse, being made homeless or being accused of a crime. Legal aid offers a much-needed lifeline to society’s most vulnerable – including those with protected characteristics, on low income or in volatile home situations – who all rely on the legal aid system to help them enforce their rights. The government’s 2012 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) had a devastating impact on people’s ability to access justice. Hundreds of thousands of people suddenly became ineligible for legal aid overnight – forcing them to navigate the legal system unrepresented. Now our legal aid system faces another threat to its survival. Many legal aid firms were on the brink before the Covid-19 pandemic but it is now quite clear that there is a serious risk of sectoral collapse if they do not receive more support. Even before the pandemic, firms were facing growing overheads and legal aid fees which haven’t increased in years – making it all the more difficult to stay afloat. Due to Covid-19, they are now facing a loss of business as well. Firms are doing what they can with the funding available to them – the furlough scheme, the rates relief for small businesses, the Business Interruption Loan scheme and others. Once the furlough scheme ends however, many firms – crime specialists in particular – will find themselves having to pay salaries to staff without sufficient work for them to do, as the courts are far from running at full capacity. The alternative is to make staff redundant; a choice that I know will be a very difficult one to take. The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has also made amendments to its provisions for hardship payments and payment on account within the legal aid scheme but this simply isn’t enough to save firms from collapse. According to the LAA’s most recent civil legal aid statistics, women comprise 60% of clients in civil representation cases – which includes matters such as family and housing law – and 94% of clients in domestic violence cases. The proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic clients and clients with disabilities in legal help cases is also higher than in the general population. The LAA statistics show that across civil legal aid, the number of legal aid provider offices completing work has fallen by a quarter over the past five years. If firms specialising in civil legal aid were to close due to the pandemic, people with these protected characteristics would be disproportionately affected. It is already incredibly difficult for people to access legal aid and in some areas, there are growing legal aid deserts – making it difficult for people to access the advice they need. According to data analysed by the Law Society in 2019, 37% of the population live in a local authority area with no housing legal aid providers. Without legal aid firms, many more will be 30 | LegalWomen
forced to navigate the justice system alone – slowing down court proceedings and adding strain on the public purse. The criminal legal aid system has also been badly affected. Government figures show that there are now 10% fewer criminal legal aid firms than in 2010. Figures from July 2020 show that 125 criminal legal aid firms have closed since 2019. Considering that these solicitors are expected to cover every police station and court in the country, this could mean those accused of crimes having to represent themselves. Legal aid is a public service and the government has an obligation to ensure a supply of legal aid lawyers. Early in the pandemic, the Law Society had numerous discussions with the Ministry of Justice and highlighted the risk that large numbers of legal aid suppliers might disappear if the government does not act. We also called for further help with cashflow via the Standard Monthly Payment scheme, relief from business rates and the reversal of some previous legal aid cuts. We welcome the resumption of work on the reviews aimed at making criminal and civil legal aid work more sustainable, including the means test review. Many firms need reassurance to believe that there is a better future worth struggling on for. There are different government schemes in place and some being discussed but this is fast-changing. Many firms are now facing a stark choice between an orderly closure now, and a disorderly closure in the future. ■ Stephanie Boyce Vice President The Law Society of England & Wales
Careers Q&A T
hanks to everyone who sent in fantastic careers questions. The majority fell into two areas, one on making job applications and the second on issues related to working from home. We turned to two experienced Legal Women to cover these queries – Nicolina Andall and Paula Chan. Nicolina Andall, a Senior Corporate Commercial Solicitor and named in the Cranfield 100 Women to Watch 2020 List reminds us all of five tips for writing persuasive personal statements – for whatever role you seek.
1. Solid due diligence on the role and organisation pays dividends The more you know about the role and the organisation, the better you will be able to tailor your application to exactly what they are looking for. Really work at getting into their psyche. Tick their boxes - make it a no brainer that they will want to see you for interview. Write your application from an informed perspective. A side benefit is that it helps you do the sanity check that you’re SURE you want the role.
2. Open with a powerful statement that states why you are the perfect candidate Tailor it precisely to what they are looking for. Be specific about the qualities YOU have don’t just list a load of generic points. For example “I am a 19 year Qualified Solicitor with experience of making senior level appointments through being an Independent Panel Member with the Ministry of Justice”. Now is not the time to hide your achievements! I haven’t been recognised by the Queen, nor do I have an MBE (one day?)… But you might! Use what YOU have got in your toolkit to make you stand out from the crowd so you can survive the sift and make it to interview. 3. Clearly address how you fulfil the criteria for the role Boards are looking to fill a specific skills gap. Take each criteria in turn and clearly articulate how you satisfy it. Don’t make people hunt for the information. Generic applications will definitely not cut it. As Delroy Beverley shared in a NedOnBoard interview “Keep it short, relevant and succinct. Think elevator model - I want to know everything about you in 3 minutes”. Wise words. 4. Consider using the STAR technique for crisp succinct answers Situation, Task Action, Result. This helps keep you on track and on point. It also demonstrates that you are able to be concise, relevant and succinctly to the point: key skills for senior level roles. Continued on next page LegalWomen | 31
Continued from previous page 5. Get someone you trust to review it for you and provide constructive feedback I’m going to break it to you gently that you really can’t see your own mistakes. A second pair of eyes will help you deal with any grammar issues, typos and maybe even help you choose better STAR examples. Humbling experience... but worth it! I know this takes a long time - but imagine the excitement you will feel when you find out you’ve survived the sift, got an interview and you’re halfway to your dream role!
Paula Chan, Partner and employment law specialist at Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP looks at some new employment issues arising from so many of us working from home:
Zoom, Teams and now Big Brother With many employees working from home for the foreseeable future, there has been an increase in interest from employers wishing to monitor employees more closely in their private homes. Less tech savvy employers might be less focused on software and more focused on getting employees back to the office. Can they really do that? Can my employer monitor me at home? Check your contractual terms covering the monitoring of company emails and web browsers, as well as your employer’s Data Protection and IT Policies. They usually set out the details of how employee activity will be monitored by the employer, including the methods used, the information that would be collected and how that information might be processed. Whilst most won’t have been drafted with widespread home working arrangements in mind they likely permit some form of monitoring. Monitoring must be proportionate and lawful in order to comply with General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018. As we settle into home working for the winter, some employers are adopting more intrusive means to monitor employees at home, including rolling out software which records keyboard and mouse activity or takes web cam photographs of employees at regular intervals. Employers would be well advised to be transparent with staff about what they are doing. Whilst the lines between the public sphere of the workplace and private depths of the home might be blurring, covertly monitor employees in their private homes, without their knowledge, could well be a breach of their Article 8 rights. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. There has to be a balance struck between the employee’s right to privacy and the employer’s interest in ensuring the smooth running of the company. An explanation by the employer of what they’re trying to achieve, whether the intrusion in question is necessary, and the safeguards and notifications in place will need to be examined. The greater the intrusion, the more likely it is that the right to privacy will have been infringed. Aside from this balancing act, any monitoring should be applied equally and fairly to all employees, without targeting specific individuals. For example, singling employees out as “home shirkers” and the subject of monitoring may be discriminatory if 32 | LegalWomen
they are being scrutinised because they have small children at home and are perceived as slacking. Can an employer check in on me at home? A request from an employer to check-in with a home worker during work hours is, on the face of it, reasonable. However, insisting on meetings outside of the employee’s usual working hours, or requesting excessive check-ins throughout the working day, is likely to be both unacceptable and invasive. As a guide for both employees and employers, one could ask whether you would be having check-ins as regularly or at the times requested if you were in the office. If the answer is yes, it’s likely to be a request they should comply with, but this will of course depend on the circumstances. If the request is not reasonable, employees are in safer territory if they refuse. They should explain the reason for their refusal and request an alternative time or check-in arrangement. Do employees have to go into the office if asked? Current government guidance for office workers asks employees to work from home over the winter if they can do so effectively. Flexible language has been used, indicating that those who can work from home “should” rather than they “must”. A request to return to work may be reasonable depending on what an employee’s normal duties are and how effectively these can be performed at home. You may want to ask your employer to explain why they require you to return if you feel you can do your job from home. If you cannot work from home, but have concerns about returning to the office, these should be raised with your employer to explore ways of ensuring your safety upon your return. Your employer should consult with you about returning to the office to determine whether it is necessary for you to be in the office; and to provide you with the opportunity to discuss safety factors such as your journey into the office, caring responsibilities and such. What can employees do if their employer asks them to go in if they feel it’s unfair? They should consider raising their concerns about returning to the office with their employer. If employees are being pressured to return to the office, their reasons for refusal should be considered by the employer. These may include that they are high risk, or perhaps returning to work would have a negative effect on their mental well-being. If employees have such grounds to refuse such request, and the employer forces them to return by giving an ultimatum that non-compliance which would lead to disciplinary action and/or dismissal, the employee may to consider more formal action. Concerned employees should seek legal advice as soon as possible to discuss their options, such as raising a grievance or bringing a claim. In addition, it is helpful to keep a written record of any discussions with your employer to support any subsequent complaint. ■ Please send any career questions to Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk and we’ll include them in the next issue.
In honour of Black History Month our top recommendations are: Dame Linda Dobbs
Dame Linda Dobbs
https://first100years.org.uk/dame-lindadobbs-biography/ Wanipa Ndhlovu videos for Crafty Counsel
Victoria Scott @Toryscott A very nice lady just called from Microsoft to tell me that my computer had been hacked. I told her her call was fortuitous, as I'd heard she'd had an accident that wasn't her fault, and I was able to help her for a small fee. She sounded baffled TBH. 30% Club Women-led companies historically perform 226% better than the S&P 500 and a great way to support #WomenInLeadership is to actively invest in them! Mother in Law @Mother__in__law My kids have been leading us in a “one hour challenge” lately where we all have to stay in separate rooms for an hour. It is the most welcome and unexpected twist of parenthood yet. Lauren Thornton One day short of six months since I was last in the office, and I've: ■ Spent 130 days wfh ■ Saved £3k+ on train fare ■ Gained 390 hours (16+ days) not commuting
So pleased to be back with my team twice a week, and I hope work-life balance is at least one thing we can get better at in the future.
https://craftycounsel.co.uk/boxset/blackhistory-month-a-special-box-set LegalWomen | 33
Peeling a Bitter Onion – A Project By Irum Ahsan Irum Ahsan
is the Radiance of God; She is not your beloved. She is the creator not created.” These words of the Great Islamic thinker, philosopher, and scholar, Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, formed the basis of the project that we designed for Afghanistan and Pakistan, two Islamic countries in South Asia.
First, the legal framework of Islamic countries allows justice sector decision-makers to draw from Sharia law, i.e., religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. This in principle should have prompted improved justice outcomes as Islam strongly promotes the dignity of women and girls. The underlying message in the Quran is “live with them on a footing of kindness and equity”.3
Background It all started when an 80 year-old woman kissed her lawyer’s forehead for rescuing her from her so called home (read prison). This woman was given as a compensation, at the age of 9, by male members of her family, to the family of the boy that they had murdered. We, a team of lawyers filed a petition in the Supreme court of Pakistan against this custom of giving girls as compensation (commonly known as customs of Swara, baad or Vani). We managed to rescue a few Swara women and she was one of them. She cherished her freedom even after 71 years. This was when I decided in my heart that I need to do more than corporate law. Some colleagues and I then decided to start a legal literacy for women project. This was as part of the Law and Policy Reform Programme for the Asian Development Bank (‘ADB’) where I worked.
Second, unconscious biases rooted in centuries of patriarchal customary norms are widely prevalent in these countries. Women are perceived as property and bearers of family honour. This spills over to the legal domain, for example, a woman who wears tight clothes and make-up is “asking for” sexual assault, and a woman or girl who does not immediately report an alleged assault must be lying.
We decided to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan because more than 80% of women in these countries have suffered at least one form of violence. Gender-based violence is endemic and pervasive across class, religion, ethnicity, and the urban and rural divide. The United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index reveals Afghanistan ranked 153rd, and Pakistan ranked 133rd, of 154 countries.1 A survey of global experts has revealed that Afghanistan is the second most dangerous country in the world for women, while Pakistan is ranked sixth.2
The project The project started in 2016 and targets both male and female justice sector stakeholders. The project seeks to redress issues affecting gender equality, such as GBV. It aims to bridge significant gaps among institutions by strengthening the capacity of investigating, prosecuting, and decision-making bodies together with an awareness building of the communities. The project followed a two-pronged approach: (i) Top-Down: increased access to justice for women through capacity development of legal service providers like judges, prosecutors, magistrates, and religious scholars in responding to clients on gender issues; and (ii) Bottom-Up: increased awareness of communities on social and legal rights through grass-roots community level training and a positive media campaign.
Despite several pro-women laws and policies in place, we delved into the reasons for increasing numbers of heinous crimes against women, ranging from physical and verbal domestic abuse to burning alive and in between these two, lie incidents of Swara; orders of informal courts (panchayats) to gang rape women for the crime committed by their male family members and so on. While conducting a needs assessment, in these two countries, we realized that we are peeling an onion with each layer more bitter than the previous one. This process was not just intellectually challenging but also emotionally tough - this onion left us all teary. Needs Assessment Survey and context The needs assessment surveys, showed that “90%” of the rape cases brought to the courts were “false” claims. The surveys also said that ‘genuine rape’ cases rarely come before the courts. In addition, some judges stated that witnesses resile in most gender based violence (‘GBV’) cases due to threats and pressure or by payment of money, (bribery). Three elements identified were: 34 | LegalWomen
Third, women and girls rarely turn to the formal justice system even in cases of the most shocking assaults. The court environment is perceived as unwelcoming; women and girls do not know their rights under the law and are forced by social and family pressures to settle disputes through informal means (such as a tribal council of local men known as panchayat, shura, jirga).
Top-Down Approach Legal literacy for women is not a new concept but our approach is innovative in several ways. We worked directly with the Chief Justices because in countries with weak enforcement institutions, judiciaries are often seen as the best option for effective relief. Chief Justices, if motivated, could bring change with just one directive, without the need for legislative reforms. To address the training needs of the judiciary ranging from mindset shift to understanding laws, customs, religion and international best practices, we assembled a multi-skilled team, including (i) a gender and development law expert (ii) a former Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, (iii) a human rights expert and Islamic scholar from Malaysia, (iv) an awardwinning development anthropologist and filmmaker, and (v) local experts on domestic laws and customs from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Customized training manuals for judges and prosecutors in Pakistan and Afghanistan This team prepared comprehensive needs-based training manuals and delivered the training to more than 600 judges and prosecutors using several interactive techniques - role plays, quizzes, breakout group discussions, etc. These trainings covered wide-ranging topics, such as, the basics of gender sensitization; national, international, religious, and customary gender laws; gender-sensitized judicial and investigative conduct; GBV against women and transgender people; attrition and compromise; and children as witnesses. For the sustainability of the reforms, we also trained a cohort of judges and prosecutors as trainers together with designing courses to be taught at the judicial academies.
Training Visual tool: Multiple unacknowledged roles of women
This training focused particularly on outcomes which can change not only attitudes but also strengthen judicial and prosecutorial responses. In both countries, the interactive workshops began by drawing to the forefront, unconscious biases that people may have regarding gender roles in society.
Seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to the training in Pakistan, the then Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court requested our assistance in establishing a model GBV court in Lahore. This court is aimed at enhancing access to justice for marginalized genders. Victims of gender-based violence are mainly women (and girls) and they often do not report violence against them for fear of retribution, humiliation, shame, social stigma and loss of honor. Victims are also fearful of giving evidence because the court processes are intimidating, and they feel re-victimized. The GBV Court is a response to these issues.
For instance, most participants associated “brave”, “toy cars”, and “strategic thinking” with men, and “washing”, “cooking”, and “sympathy” with women. However the trainers highlighted that the gendered perception of these words is not intrinsic but a social construct – after all, women can be brave as men can be sympathetic. In addition, central to the trainings is the concept of ‘oneness’ – that Islamic law, constitution and laws, and international human rights law all promote the dignity of women and girls and there is no conflict in application of these laws.
Training visual tool: what is equality? Training sessions
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Continued from previous page A few features of this GBV court are: (i) presided over by the trained judge, prosecutor and staff; (ii) special infrastructure such as (a) larger courtrooms so the distance between the victim, lawyers, and audience is increased; (b) e-court facilities so that women can give evidence through video transmission, should they so choose; (c) screens alongside the witness box so that women who are victims of violence are not forced to see the offenders when giving evidence; and (d) provision of female support officers who will escort the victim to a protected place, settle the victim, and remain with the victim while the victim gives evidence; and
(iii) special court procedures based on international best practices and human rights norms; formal procedures in case the victim or the witnesses resile; and Practice Notes on evidence and other court matters. The judicial training, coupled with the new GBV court, have strengthened access to justice by resulting in a streamlined complaint process, sensitized judges, and provision of support to the victims. They have also challenged widespread negative perceptions that women lie when they complain of violence. As per the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, prior to establishment of this court in 2016, the conviction rate in rape cases was 2-4%; . As per the data collected from the GBV Court, the conviction rate increased to 20% in 2019. Bottom-up: grassroots approach To supplement the top-down approach, we also decided to work with the community level stakeholders. Customised training was delivered to women in their communities, members of the youth, non-governmental organizations, paralegals, religious leaders (imams), and informal mediators (jirga members). Topics ranged from practical life skills and selfconfidence for women, to religious matters such as womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights in Islam, and to legal and remedial matters, for example, referral mechanisms, effective mediation methodology, and family law. For mass coverage and to create a ripple effect, we used traditional and non-traditional media campaigns. The positive media advocacy campaign provided information and education with an approach that empowers women to know how to exercise their rights, and to inspire men to support women and girls. This included short documentaries, live radio shows where lawyers and other legal professionals raised awareness on
Inauguration of the GBV Court by then Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Hon. Syed Mansoor Ali Shah
The GBV court, with trained personnel and physical infrastructure that is compliant with human rights norms. 36 | LegalWomen
Community level trainings
Trainer Samar Minallah Khan in a live radio show My daughter, you are the light in my eyes. You are my ticket to paradise
A live radio show where a lawyer is answering calls regarding legal disputes involving women and girls gender-based violence and rights of women under the law. Non-traditional media initiatives involved culturally sensitive use of art, music, and film. For example, trucks in Pakistan have traditionally been painted with floral, ethnic designs carrying funny messages like “don’t come near, you might fall in love”. We worked with the heads of the Truck Associations and the community level artists to repaint these trucks with empowering visuals and messages to be used as moving billboards but ensuring that the messages and visuals are culturally sensitized. We also produced puppet shows and street theatre with positive messages which retained the traditional look, so that the rural
Truck with a message “My father will give me my share in his property. Will you also give your daughter her Islamic and legal right to inheritance?”
Puppet show set-up, with banners on either side identifying the legal and religious aspects of the right communities in which they were shown could identify with them. The puppet shows highlighted the legal and religious basis of the specific right discussed, with banners identifying the law and religious text on both sides of the Theatre set-up. The media was an awareness-raising tool and highlighted positive messages to motivate women, girls, and men supporting them. This truck art and theatre shows made the artists and community level business owners more sensitive to these issues.
We used culturally sensitive puppets and design Continued on next page LegalWomen | 37
Continued from previous page Now, the community level truck artist has become a celebrity in Pakistan for continuing to replace frivolous messages with pro-women messages on trucks. Local puppeteers and singers are replicating the shows on their own. Wall artists and mobile theatre groups are also independently planning more shows and art displays. Community participation in the puppet shows
The mobile theatre shows were seen by more than 3,000 people, collectively The result After seeing the impressive impact of just one GBV court, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, through the relevant National Committee, requested help in establishing these courts in all Districts (around 100+ districts). These courts with trained judges and prosecutors are reported to be functioning in Pakistan. Despite all the security threats due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, we managed to train jirga members (informal court judges), religious leaders, youth boys and girls, and paralegal teams in several provinces. We trained judges and prosecutors nationwide, including the remotest areas. We had to bring female judges chaperoned by male family members. The training addressed highly sensitive and culturally shocking issues like two-fingers virginity testing but the judges were prepared to preside over specialized courts dealing with GBV cases. The Project attracted local and international media attention due to its innovative approach. It won the 2018 Financial Times Most Innovative In-House Legal Team Award and the Innovation in Rule of Law and Access to Justice Award together with ADB’s 2019 Governance Award for Outstanding Knowledge Sharing and Collaborative Initiatives; and 2017 ADB’s Vice President Award for Exceptional Contributions to the Law and Policy Reform Work. ■ Irum Ahsan is an Advisor at the Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank (ADB). As part of the Bank’s Law and Policy Reform programme Irum worked on a project to create change in relation to as gender-based violence (GBV). The Project won several awards including the 2018 Financial Times Most Innovative In-House Legal Team Award and Innovation in Rule of Law and Access to Justice Award. 1. See Gender Inequality Index at http://hdr.undp.org/en/ composite/GII, last retrieved on 24 February 2019. 2. Experts’ survey by Thomson Reuters Foundation. See www. reuters.com/article/us-women-dangerous-poll-factbox/ factbox-which-are-the-worlds-10-most-dangerouscountries-for-women-idUSKBN1JM01Z, last retrieved on 24 February 2019. 3. Abstract from Surah 4:19 of the Quran. Local artists staged mobile theatre shows with pro-women messages 38 | LegalWomen
© John Mathew Smith | CC BY-SA 2.0
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Monica Feria-Tinta pays tribute to #RBG and reflects on meeting her in 2007
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
n 18 September, the Supreme Court of United States lost, in its words, ‘a justice of historic stature’. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the Court’s most prominent member, before passing away at the age of 87. She served for 27 years at the highest court of the United States, becoming one of the most influential legal figures of our times and a cultural icon. ‘A Brooklynite, born and bred’ and a first-generation American on her father’s side, she was taught to love learning and to care about people since early childhood by her parents. Neither of her parents had the means to attend college themselves. She was one of only nine women in a class of over 500 men at Harvard Law School and became top of the class, making it to the Harvard Law Review the following year. Yet, in her own words, when she graduated from law school in 1959, ‘not a law firm in the entire city of New York would employ [her].’ ‘I became a lawyer in days when women were not wanted by most members of the legal profession’ – she said. The barriers women faced in her lifetime made her realise as she put it, that ‘being a woman was an impediment.’
She started to build transformative case-law before the US Supreme Court as a litigator in Frontiero v Richardson 411 U.S. 677 (1973). From that moment on, throughout the 1970s, she continued challenging discriminatory laws taking cases that would make good law before the Supreme Court, effectively using the law as a vehicle of change: step by step, in an incremental fashion.
One of the best legal brains the US (and indeed, the world) has produced, a champion of gender equality and foremost defender of Constitutional rights for all, she will be forever an inspiration for generations to come. ■
© FiHow | CC BY-SA 3.0
Her response to the challenges of her time set her out on a journey of her own. For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. She became a formidable advocate for equal rights of women and men and the architect of a legal landscape that fundamentally changed ‘the way the world was for American women’.
her office, at the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., it seemed perfectly normal to be discussing law with her, amongst her books, in the quietness. In retrospect, I now realised how privileged I was. In awe, I saw her in action that day in Medellín v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491, as her guest. The majority on the Bench found that an International Court of Justice judgment which had found the United States in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations with a bearing on individual rights on capital cases, was not directly enforceable as domestic law in state courts in the United States. She was a dissenting voice in that case.
Monica Feria-Tinta Barrister
I had the privilege of meeting her in 2007. She chaired the ceremony in which I was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize for leading a ground-breaking case that initiated the feminization of human rights law in Latin America. Petite and fragile in appearance, Justice Ginsburg’s apparent vulnerability contrasted with the fearlessness of her views in her judgments and separate opinions and her laser-sharp precision. We discussed her work at the US Supreme Court, including those cases which raised issues of international law. Sitting down in LegalWomen | 39
Software swap guide: four tips to protecting your data – By Julian Bryan, Managing Director, Quill
he COVID-19 lockdown has forced all of us to be more reliant on technology and embrace working from home.
But this is particularly difficult when parents are managing home-schooling or caring for relatives, while still juggling heavy workloads. To add to this, many legacy IT infrastructures are ill-suited or too outdated to handle all the demands of remote working. And the fact is – it’s not going away. To add to these difficulties, many legacy IT infrastructures are ill-suited or too outdated to handle all the demands of remote working. And the fact is – it’s not going away. As a business manager, it’s more important than ever that your employees have the right tools in their easy grasp to tackle cases as fast, efficiently and flexibly as possible – or risk burn out or high employee churn. A web-based software solution is one way for your employees to work anytime and anywhere – but there are four important considerations before making that important switch. If you’re looking to set your practice up for success, here’s my advice: 1. Getting your data back – it’s your right Lots of variables should be considered before you commit to upgrading or swapping software. Not least your data; of which you store vast quantities. Your law practice stores a plethora of important documentation such as contact, identity, matter and financial – all of which must be handled carefully. Unfortunately, some providers make it as difficult as possible for clients to migrate their data. And yet, this data is not theirs to hold - it belongs to you. This is unethical as well as being the worst type of client retention strategy there is! You don’t want this to happen to you, especially if you discover the truth about locked data at the time you wish to leave. You shouldn’t be denied access to your own property and your supplier has a duty to act as the custodian, not owner, of your data. Enquire about assistance with data extraction upfront. It’s not unreasonable to pay a fee for the service of delivering your data but it should be timely. Additionally, once the migration has taken place, your supplier should delete your data from their stores otherwise both parties (you and your supplier) will fall foul of data protection rules; the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR amongst them. 2. Rigorously safeguard your data With the onset of stricter data protection rules and existing regulatory obligations comes more onerous duties. Heavier too are the fines imposed for non-compliance - both parties could be blamed for any data breach. Glance at legal news headlines and you’ll see that leaked data can and does happen. 40 | LegalWomen
Your software supplier must follow the right procedures in safeguarding your valuable data. Check for accreditations which evidence sufficient cyber security standards; primarily ISO and Cyber Essentials certification. Reputable organisations undergo rigorous annual re-certification processes in order to gain these quality marks, so make sure your new supplier carries these endorsements. As standard, your supplier’s security protocol should include at least the following measures: ■ password access ■ SSL encryption ■ firewalls ■ penetration testing ■ system monitoring ■ replication ■ physical security measures ■ other industrial-strength security protocols ■ robust BCDR plans for further reinforcement 3. Negotiate the best possible contract terms We’ve already covered data export but what about your overall exit strategy? Don’t be rushed into signing contracts without poring over this legally binding agreement. It’s the small print that often causes problems. If your supplier is forcefully requesting your signature and you feel pressured to commit against your will, alarm bells should be ringing. See 8 things to consider before signing a contract on the opposite page. 4. Ensure Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) membership The LSSA is the UK body for legal software developers and vendors whose aim is to set and maintain professional standards within the sector. The LSSA’s sets out recommendations relating to data conversion such as extracting data in an industry-standard format within a reasonable timeframe, exporting associated case-related documents, generating reports on current data, supporting trial conversions through mutual supplier cooperation, transforming data to accommodate subtle differences between databases and checking data integrity once converted with any requisite correctional activity. LSSA membership is confirmation that you’ll be well looked after at all stages of the customer lifecycle from acquisition to termination. Suppliers not adhering to the LSSA’s standards stand to lose their LSSA accreditation completely. You should apply extreme caution when dealing with companies whose reputation is questionable.
Summary: Hopefully our tips will help you easily and painlessly switch to another supplier. Remember that you are responsible for safeguarding your data and the best way to do this is to find a reputable and trustworthy software vendor right at the outset. Use this guide as a starting point, supplement with other pressing questions of your own and you should be well on your way to putting into place your optimal IT set up to cope with COVID challenges and into the future. ■ Julian Bryan is the Managing Director of Quill, which helps law firms streamline and run their practice better by providing simple and easy to use legal accounting and case management software, as well as outsourced legal cashiering services. Julian has been an advocate for quality software standards and served as the Chair of the Legal Software Suppliers Association from 2016 to 2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vanguard Law’s success story Family solicitor and entrepreneur, Hannah Paddock, who branched out as a sole practitioner four years ago and has since grown to an eight-strong company, advocates outsourcing as a business model for success. “When I first established Vanguard Law, I looked at other law firms to analyse their set up,” comments Hannah. “My research unequivocally showed that those using outsourced support had the best back up and were more successful as a result.”
“With outsourcing, you have access to the most skilled people who are experts in their field, but at lower cost and at times when you need them. It’s much cheaper than standard recruitment and employment costs, because even when your workload is quieter and your employees have less to do, you still have salaries to pay at the end of the month. I don’t have to worry about cover for holidays or sickness or extra help at busy times. We have the support we need, when we need it.” “You only pay outsourced service providers for what you use. Not only does it save thousands of pounds of year it also provided better support for our team then a traditional in house set up. Which business owner wouldn’t want to do that?”
Vanguard Law offices
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Why ClientCentred Law Firms Succeed – Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio
lients know a better experience is possible, and they expect it everywhere. They use Google, instant messaging apps, and online credit card payments every day, which means they notice when a law firm hasn’t bothered to adopt these technologies. People used to be willing to play phone tag, but now – with options like texting and online scheduling tools – clients are more discerning about such inconveniences. The myriad of tiny interactions that happen before, during, and after a consumer buys a product might seem inconsequential individually, but collectively they can make or break a business. Through the market of natural selection, firms that evolve in a way that meets client needs are the ones that will earn better reviews, more referrals, and more returning clients. This doesn’t need to come at the expense of the firm itself – far from it. Clientcentred firms know that providing good client experiences and
running an efficient, profitable law firm aren’t opposing ideas. With the right approach, they drive each other. These are the trends that we’re seeing in the legal industry, and across all professional services, and I want to ensure lawyers have the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in their evolution. That’s why I've written The Client-Centered Law Firm, which is both a rallying call for a tectonic shift in the legal industry and a handbook for becoming a client-centred law firm. Divided into three parts, covering the what, why, and how of running a client-centred practice, it features numerous examples from forward-thinking legal professionals who are already putting client-centred practices into action. The opportunity for law firms today is tremendous. Learn how to create a more client-centered law firm by visiting clientcentredlawfirm.com. ■
LW Social Media Content Writers
egal Women is active on three sites, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. To produce good quality content and schedule posts is very much full-time work so we would welcome extra assistance to share the burden. We are very fortunate to have Charity Marfuba doing fantastic work on building our Instagram site and more recently Alice Jellard has assisted with Twitter content. This is a great way to keep up to date with the latest developments, build contacts and exercise social media as a business tool. If anyone has an interest in this please contact Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk. ■
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The Moments that Matter The key life events that can leave women at a financial disadvantage, and the steps you can take to become more financially independent. By Samantha Kaye, Chartered Financial Planner and Adviser at Wellesley Wealth Advisory Money can still be a taboo subject for many women, despite us facing a number of challenges when it comes to building up a comfortable amount of retirement savings.
6 ‘Moments that Matter’ in the lives of young British women
The positive news is that more and more organisations are championing change. For example, a recent report from the Insuring Women’s Futures programme, ‘Securing the financial future of the next generation’, is a call to action for every woman and girl to take steps to discuss and make long-term financial plans. The programme identified six key moments in life that disproportionately impact women when compared to men generally. I’m sure at least one of these ‘moments’ will ring true for female readers!
Growing up, studying and re-qualifying
Entering and re-entering the workplace
Relationships: making up and breaking up
Motherhood and becoming a carer
Later life, planning and entering retirement
Ill health, infirmity and dying
I would strongly recommend that you read the report, and use the information to help you plan the financial future you desire: www.insuringwomensfutures.co.uk/resources
Starting the conversation It’s up to women to feel empowered to discuss their finances and long-term plans. A professional financial adviser can help equip you with the information you need to make informed decisions that will impact your financial independence and resilience. As an adviser with Wellesley Wealth Advisory, a practice with over £600 million funds under management, I am here to help you plan for the future, while taking into account key life events, such as those six ‘Moments that Matter’ – and beyond!
To find out more, please contact me using the details below.
Mind the gaps •
Only 37% of females aged 18-24 years feel very confident managing their money.
On average, men under 35 receive £217 a year more in employer contributions towards retirement than their female counterparts.
The average pension pot of a 65-year-old woman in the UK is £35,800, 1/5th of the average 65-year-old man’s*.
Wellesley Wealth Advisory Wellesley House, 50 Victoria Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 9LH 01444 849809 | email@example.com | www.wellesleywa.co.uk/samantha-kaye
‘Mind the gaps’ statistics quoted from Insuring Women’s Futures: ‘Securing the financial future of the next generation’. *Pension pot defined as total wealth in current (defined benefit and defined contribution) pension schemes. St. James’s Place guarantees the suitability of advice offered by Wellesley Wealth Advisory when recommending any of the services and products available from companies in the Group. More details of the Guarantee are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products. Wellesley Wealth Advisory is a trading name of Wellesley Investment Management Ltd. The Partner Practice is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website. The ‘St. James’s Place partnership’ and the titles ‘Partner’ and ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives. Wellesley Investment Management Ltd: Registered Office: 44 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England TN2 5TN. Registered in England & Wales, Company No. 06530147.
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Manage your firm from anywhere —even at home. Can you work remotely?
Learn how you can access your work from anywhere with Clio—the UK’s case management leader. Visit clio.com/uk or call +44-800-433-2546.
44 | LegalWomen