THE UK MAGAZINE FOR ALL WOMEN WORKING IN LAW
The changing face of the profession Lubna Shuja
The Good Divorce? LegalWomen | 1
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Contents 5 Foreword
ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey
7 LW Recommends
SALES DIRECTOR Karen Hall STUDIO MANAGER Lee Finney MEDIA No. 1861
PUBLISHED August 2022 © 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 to join our community regardless of sex, race, religion, age or sexual orientation. 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.
13 Smart Working
15 Legal Training
22 International 26 Book Review: MadWoman
COVER INFORMATION Lubna Shuja © Darren Filkins Photography.
20th October 2022
For the November 2022 edition Advertising Anyone wishing to advertise please contact Catherine McCarthy before the copy deadline. 0151 236 4141 firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial To submit editorial, please send to: info@LegalWomen.org.uk Editor-in-Chief: Coral Hill. Features Editor: Molly Bellamy. Sub-editors: Gillian Fielden, Tilly Rubens, Joanne Skolnick. Editorial Assistants: Charity Mafuba, Emma Webb, Enya Hood, Agnes Swiecka, Zia Maxwell (copyright).
11 The Missing Middle 12 Gender Parity
Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified legal advice.
8 The Good Divorce?
31 LW News 33 LW Likes Find us online at: www.LegalWomen.org.uk LegalWomen | 3
Editorial Board We are delighted to receive advice from the distinguished members of our Editorial Board. Full biographies are available on our website. ENGLAND & WALES Christina Blacklaws Past Presdient of The Law Society of England and Wales. Christina is a multi-award winning published author, speaker and frequent media commentator on innovation and diversity and inclusion. Millicent Grant QC (Hon) FCILEx Millicent is a former President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (2017/18) and currently a member of the Institute’s Appointments and Scrutiny Committee. Millicent has worked to tackle diversity and inclusion on the legal profession and judiciary, contributing to the Preapplication Judicial Education (PAJE) Programme. She is the only Chartered Legal Executive to be appointed an Honorary Queens Counsel. She is chair of the Knights Youth Centre, an independent youth work charity. Janem Jones 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. Sally Penni MBE is a barrister at Kenworthy’s Chambers, Manchester, whose practice encompasses Criminal (including Cyber Crime) and Employment Law. Sally is a Bencher at the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, Founder of Women in the Law UK and regular broadcaster of the highly acclaimed podcast. 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. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL). 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 Sub-Committee. She was a partner at Lindsays.
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Volunteer positions at Legal Women Currently, all of us are volunteers to get this publication going. If you would like to be involved in: ■ s ourcing and checking copyright on images ■ working on events and following up funding opportunities ■ writing content for social media, blogs and magazine features Feel free to email info@LegalWomen.org.uk with brief details about yourself. ■
Foreword AUGUST 2022
am one of the many of us sweltering in the heatwaves of 2022, and if you are suffering you can read our latest post it aint half hot (legalwomen.org.uk), but that didn’t deter me from an in-person meeting with the next Law Society President, Lubna Shuja. I only had to take the underground, whereas Lubna had travelled from her home in Birmingham, which she does regularly for Law Society business. Lubna is gearing up for her full-time role and looking forward to meeting many more of us in the profession as well as stakeholders. She represents the changing face of the profession by assuming this role and it is wonderful to see this progression from our current exemplary President, Stephanie Boyce. Stephanie is of course our first black President (sixth woman) followed by our first Asian and first Muslim President (seventh woman), both of whom are fantastic, highly visible role models for us all. Dressing for the heat is a struggle while maintaining a professional look. This edition includes our new section, Smart Working, which here looks at work clothing but in future editions will also include how to perfect your social media photo, increase engagement and other tips on working smarter not harder. It’s great to see the increasing number of universities and college libraries subscribing to the magazine and I am delighted to introduce more articles aimed at students – on this occasion different legal training systems but LW will also look at study techniques, how to get work experience, mentors and much more.
LW magazine is for everyone; lawyers, solicitors, barristers, advocates, judges, legal executives and those working as paralegals, legal secretaries, advisers or recruiters, the list is endless. We welcome the many male champions as readers and contributors.
I want to include articles for all, whatever your career in law and whatever stage you have reached. I have noticed the preponderance of ideas from junior and senior lawyers and so am delighted to publish ‘The Missing Middle’ where Laura Uberoi, a senior associate, suggests how to ensure those in the midst of their careers (and often lives) can stay engaged. Helen Broadbridge’s article also tackles the critical early to mid-career choices on partners, children and work. There are always developments in law, many of which are beyond the mission of this magazine, but we have made an exception for ‘no-fault divorce’. This has been a long-demanded change and Molly Bellamy discusses how it is linked to the changing perceptions in society of the family unit, marriage and blame when a relationship breaks down. The rules differ between the three UK jurisdictions, and this is a clear example of where important changes can be made by using laws already passed in another legal system. On Roe v Wade I simply offer the comments from Michelle Obama in our international pages. ■
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Our mission is to: ■ P rovide clear information on gender parity ■ Inspire practical initiatives to create real change ■ Promote innovation in leadership and practice LegalWomen | 5
12,000 Solicitors ‘spin to win’ at London Legal Walk M
ore than 12,000 legal colleagues got together and picked up the pace to support The London Legal Support Trust at the London Legal Walk on June 28th 2022 and raised more than £550,000 for legal support services. The walk, now in its 18th year, was organised by the London Legal Support Trust and brought together the legal community supporting access to justice. Sponsored by The Solicitors’ Charity, participants were invited to stop at its stand en route to find out more about how it helps solicitors who are going through difficult times. There was also a fun ‘Wheel of Fortune’ on the charity stand – giving walkers the opportunity to win big, which proved a huge hit! It was a brilliant opportunity for The Solicitors' Charity to engage with solicitors from across the UK, and visitors loved taking part in the fun and games on the interactive stand.
Prizes a plenty with the spin to win game 12,000 solicitors out in force to show support for charity The Solicitors’ Charity sponsors event to raise awareness of the support it gives solicitors After crossing the finish line, the walkers celebrated at an evening street party featuring food vendors, fire jugglers and musicians. The Solicitors’ Charity Chief Executive Nick Gallagher said: “This year’s London Legal Walk had a great atmosphere created by all those taking part – including 10 of the charity’s volunteers and staff. A huge amount has been raised to help provide more free and pro bono advice to solicitors in London and the South East. “As a sponsor of The London Legal Walk again this year, we were delighted to chat to participants at our information stand and spread the word about the work we do and how it makes a positive difference to many lives in England and Wales. “The Wheel of Fortune proved popular too – it was lovely to see so many legal professionals having a fantastic time!” Find out more about The Solicitors’ Charity at: https://thesolicitorscharity.org/.
London Legal Walk participants, including The Solicitors’ Charity team led by CEO Nick Gallagher, supporting access to justice.
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LW | Recommends PODCAST
How to be a lawyer in wartime – an interview with Ukrainian lawyer Nazar Chernyavsky The International Bar Association (IBA) Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) has published a new episode. Sara Carnegie, IBA Legal Projects Director, speaks with Nazar Chernyavsky, partner at the Ukrainian law firm Sayenko Kharenko and Vice-Chair of the IBA Technology Law Committee, about how life and work has changed for Ukrainian lawyers since the start of the Russian invasion.
LawCare Conference Wednesday 28th September. The programme has three main tracks:
The invasion forced law firms in Ukraine to adapt their focus, while on a global scale, international law firms have faced ethical choices, with an unprecedented number pulling out of Russia and cutting all ties with clients connected to the Kremlin. The global legal profession must now reckon with how to move forward in this new reality. Nazar discusses the practical challenges forced on Ukrainian firms by the conflict and how, worldwide, the war should alter law firms’ future ESG policies and the strategies by which lawyers can encourage divestment from resources originating in authoritarian regimes. Listen to the Sustainable Law in Action series on Spotify. BOOK A Women’s Game Susan Wrack has had a lifelong love of football. She played at school although realised that others expected her to ‘grow out of it’. She never did and by 2017 she was commissioned to begin the Women’s Football column for The Guardian. In this book she captures some of the history of the game, the British Ladies Football Club that played in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century which led to a fateful game in 1920 attended by 53,000 paying spectators. The response from the Football Association was to declare the game ‘quite unsuitable for females’ and prohibit men’s clubs from allowing women to play on their fields, effectively, a ban.
S tarting out – addressing the particular needs of junior lawyers Innovation – in supervision and management Leading – creating cultures where people feel valued and belong For more information and to book tickets, which cost £100, visit www.lawcare.org.uk/conference. ■ FILM Hidden Figures | Hidden Figures (2016) – IMDb This is an extraordinary story of three African-American women who worked on the space programme at NASA. Despite the discrimination against married women generally and against these women, in particular, they were employed due to the shortage of able mathematicians. The real women Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Miriam Daniel Mann have all been recognised for their contribution and there are lots of articles documenting the period they were working. Hidden Figures: How Nasa hired its first black women ‘computers’ – BBC News. ■ TED TALK Sally Penni MBE: Can Love Conquer Hate? Our editorial board member, Sally Penni MBE and barrister’s TED talk Can love conquer Hate? Can we turn hate into Love? Can we change hate into love? ■
Although most women start sport for enjoyment, Wrack declares ‘the mere act of playing football is unequivocally a feminist one’ as it contradicts all the dictates of society of how women are expected to behave. A Woman’s Game by Suzanne Wrack | Books & Shop | Faber. LegalWomen | 7
The Good Divorce?
The Good Divorce? The Split – the most watched drama of 2020. Albeit a dramatised version of events, The Split anticipates the possibility of ‘a good divorce’. Credit: Tereza Cervenova courtesy of SISTER.
aw changes all the time but the concept of ‘No Fault Divorce’ introduced this year in England and Wales, where no period of separation is required, reflects a seismic change to the notion of blame in relationships. Bhini Phagura and Anna Sutcliffe discuss the changes in England and Wales; Molly Bellamy considers this in the context of changing perceptions, what it means for our society and its significance for the rest of the UK.
No Fault Divorce The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came fully into force on 6th April 2022. Most notably this involved the introduction of the long-anticipated “no-fault divorce” provisions. Many in the family law sector have been campaigning for decades for an end to the previous regime, under which parties were forced to either attribute blame for the breakdown of the relationship or wait a period of 2 years before divorcing. ‘Resolution’, a community of family justice professionals who work to resolve issues in a constructive way, has hailed the changes as the “biggest change to divorce laws in our lifetime”. It is hoped that this new regime will help to encourage a more constructive approach to separation and avoid raising tensions from an early stage. What has changed? The most notable change to the procedure from April 2022 onwards is that the application need only confirm that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It is no longer necessary for the applicant to particularise the reasons for the breakdown by citing adultery, unreasonable behaviour or a particular period of separation as had previously been required. This statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down will be conclusive, meaning that the possibility of disputing/ defending the divorce is removed (except on limited technical grounds such as fraud or coercion). The language of divorce has also been simplified, in the hope that this will make the process more accessible. The key terms are set out below: 8 | LegalWomen
The Petitioner has become the Applicant The Divorce Petition has become the Application Decree Nisi has become a Conditional Order Decree Absolute has become a Divorce Order Defended proceedings are now disputed proceedings (and only available on limited technical grounds in any event). For the first time, couples will be able to submit their application for divorce on a joint basis if they choose to do so, although they will be able to change this to a sole application at a later date if necessary. The application will be filed online and there will be a minimum six-month period between the lodging of an application and the final Divorce Order (20 weeks from application to Conditional Order and a further 6 weeks to the Divorce Order). Why has it taken so long? “No fault” divorce was first proposed as part of the Family Law Act 1996 but was abandoned due to concerns over the workability and complexity of the precise scheme put forward. It is difficult to understand exactly why it has taken so long for new proposals to work their way onto the statute book, particularly given the widespread recognition throughout the family law profession that acrimonious divorces are detrimental to the parties involved and their children. In reality, the Courts have compensated for the previous regime for many years by adopting a light-touch (and some might say intellectually dishonest) approach to reviewing particulars pleaded in support of “unreasonable behaviour”, and parties have been encouraged to file petitions with relatively anodyne particulars in order to avoid inflaming tensions. The issue was brought back into the spotlight in the muchpublicised case of Owens v Owens  UKSC 41. Mrs Owens petitioned for divorce citing particulars of Mr Owen’s unreasonable behaviour. Mr Owens defended her petition, stating that his behaviour had not been unreasonable in the context of their marriage. The case found its way to the Supreme Court, following both the judge at First Instance and the Court of Appeal finding in favour of Mr Owens and denying Mrs Owens the divorce she was seeking. The Supreme Court noted that they were left feeling uneasy by the decision, but recognised
The Good Divorce?
Even when separation is relatively amicable, the process of apportioning blame can quickly change things. The less conflict that arises from relationship breakdowns, the better it will be for any children concerned, and the easier it will be for parents to have a positive approach to parenting.
Resolution welcomed “biggest change to divorce laws in our lifetime”. Credit: Resolution.
If couples are able to begin the separation process in a positive way, their approach to parenting and reaching an agreement in relation to their finances, is more likely to be harmonious. This, in turn, may have a positive impact on them and importantly on any children involved, who, as a result of the acrimony between parents, suffer much emotional harm during a divorce.
it was not for them to change the law laid down by Parliament. They refused Mrs Owens’ appeal. However, a government consultation soon followed which has ultimately resulted in the long-awaited changes outlined above.
The new divorce laws of England and Wales have only passed into law recently, so time will tell as to whether the changes are successful. However, any process that avoids animosity and confrontation from the outset, is a positive one.
How will the changes benefit couples? The exclusion of fault in divorce proceedings will encourage couples to reach an amicable settlement without needing to allocate blame. This will allow separating couples to focus on the more difficult aspects of divorce, such as their finances and child arrangements. The no-fault divorce will reduce conflict especially where couples have simply drifted apart and want to divorce. Previously, couples were being caught up in the “blame game” instead of focussing on agreements to move forward.
here has been a discernible shift in relation to Divorce, across the three jurisdictions of the UK – albeit unevenly, from blame to support. This shift has been influenced by public perception of divorce, of marriage and what constitutes a family in the 21stst century. Societal changes often take many years to be reflected in the law but a consistent theme in family law is manifest in divorce procedures, including mediation, FDRs, cognisance of pre-nuptials, on-line applications and the interpretation of grounds. The shift is shaped by the language being used to inscribe a new moral ethic that diminishes the taste for public litigation in preference for lower cost low solutions which also protect the family unit albeit in its changed form. This alters the role of family lawyers. There are numerous examples of the blame culture following marital breakdown and traditionally the blame fell on the wife or the mistress, such as the shaming of the Duchess of Argyll or Monika Lewsinsky, and many more. The fall in reputation as a result of divorce or an ill-fated romance meant that many never lived their lives to the full but had to skulk on the edges of society. A shift to a more supportive style of managing divorce is however the emergent message of conversations in circulation. Is it realistic to imagine the possibility of a Good Divorce? I explore this with the help of two senior family lawyers – who note an underlying raft of family-related issues which are completely ignored by some jurisdictions, because they do not fit in to a neat box with ‘marriage’ on the lid.
1 King’s Bench Walk
Bhini Phagura Rayden Solicitors
Karen O Leary, is a senior partner at Caldwell and Robinson, private family law and child firm. She is a tri-jurisdictional qualified lawyer, practising in, England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Karen explained neither NI nor The Republic of Ireland have legislation for a ‘no fault’ divorce. However, in these jurisdictions as in England and Wales there are alternative dispute resolution systems which are encouraged. Karen highlights one of the far-reaching shifts. KOL: So I think from a family law perspective, the most radical change has been the increasing awareness of what domestic violence is, and the different forms that it takes. I think we have so much further to go in educating both practitioners and Judiciary, and whilst I think there are some excellent judges, there are some who are very poor in their understanding and perceptions of what constitutes domestic violence. The other important issue within UK with the exception of Scotland is, what is ‘family’ and where the law is not in keeping – is cohabiting couples. It is dreadful that there is no protection, And you know, we are not talking about a small minority. We are talking about a significant proportion of families who are in that type of unit. There is a significant portion of society for whom marriage is outmoded and has no relevance to their lives. This ranges from the younger to the older generation; the fact that there is no protection for cohabitees is not common knowledge. Karen’s view is that there is no political will to confront the changing notion of family and this affects not only divorce but inheritance, succession and tax. KOL: The political dictate is – you have to be married in order to avail yourself of all those exemptions, or benefits, or whatever... That can’t be right! ▶ LegalWomen | 9
The Good Divorce?
Interestingly, the Republic of Ireland has had cohabitation laws since 2011. If you are cohabiting for a period in excess of two years, then you have protections and entitlements. So what is a family today and how should the law manage a 21st century ‘relationship breakdown’? Is there such a thing as a Good Divorce? The BBC legal Drama, The Split anticipates a happy ending in the final episode, of living happily ever after… not marriage – but divorce; it leaves us with the possibility of a Good Divorce… KOL: And there is such a thing! Yes there absolutely is! It’s about timing being right, and it’s about both parties being in the right frame of mind to be prepared to compromise, to be prepared to leave things that might irritate them aside and to focus on ultimately what they what they want for themselves and their family… And that is where, to be fair, good professionals should be able to assist our clients in getting to that place.
work through things with the one person that you really don’t want to talk to sometimes. However, if you can get through that and get to the other side, you stand a much better chance of being able to move forward as a family in some way, you can still attend your children’s graduation ceremonies and weddings without creating this horrible awkwardness that adult children sometimes feel in these situations. …the motivator is to try and avoid the cost and the risks of litigation as you have no control over the outcome if you go into court! By contrast in mediation or collaborative law, you’re actively working towards an agreement that you are both stakeholders in, you are both party to all those discussions, nothing substantive happens without your presence and you are engaged from start to finish. Nobody makes a decision for you, you make the decision together. …and , I also think there has been a change in people’s willingness to have that fight. You know, I do genuinely believe that more and more people are trying to find a better way to divorce. Far more clients are now coming to me and saying, ‘I really don’t want to go to court. I really don’t think that’s best for the children’. I don’t know how much of that is because I attract that type of client because I’m forever telling people that I don’t think court is the right answer, but I certainly have noticed an increase in those types of inquiries. For Marika, the notion of the modern family includes cohabitants.
The Split. Credit: Courtesy of SISTER. Marika Franceschi, a partner at MacRoberts LLP law firm in Scotland, specialises in family law. I asked her what was distinctive about Scotland’s Divorce laws in comparison to that of England and Wales. MF: I think the range of outcomes is generally not as broad in Scotland as it is England and so it is often not worth the risk of going to court for financial cases. The parameters that you’re working within are relatively narrow, the cost is significant, and we tend to not be awarded expenses in family cases in Scotland, so that really acts as a deterrent to litigation. As in all jurisdictions, cost is a significant factor which needs to be borne in mind. MF: …the reality is that for most people, it is a constant balancing of cost vs benefit. It’s about having regular commercial discussions with clients about their options saying, ‘Okay, these are your options, but it’s likely to cost X . …and the risks are X, Y, Z – and so we have to weigh this up. Is it worth it for you to take that risk? How important is it for you to pursue this particular argument? Or should we focus on these other arguments instead?’ Like Karen, Marika too is a great proponent of ADR. MF: I think with very few exceptions, Court should really be a last resort in family cases. I think very few families ever truly recover from a litigated divorce. …Sometimes, people talk about mediation as a softer easy option. It is not the easy option. In some ways, it’s more difficult because you have to sit down and 10 | LegalWomen
MF: ….cohabitants in Scotland do have some rights, but they’re nothing like as extensive as those of spouses and they are not automatic. They have to be claimed and the options available are more restrictive than the options available to spouses but I think compared with a lot of countries across the world, we’re actually quite good in that (here) at least our cohabitants do have some rights, but it’s certainly something that requires some updating and is currently under review. Our artist-soothsayers, have foretold this discursive shift in their oracle plays on the BBC through some beautifully observed legal dramas. They have also co-constituted it: A Very British Scandal (writer Sarah Phelps) is filmed through a critical 21st century lens of that historical case featuring the shaming of a high profile woman the Duchess of Argyl, in the early 20th century; Impeachment (Sarah Burgess Flora Birnbaum) is a retrospective indictment of the ‘slut shaming’ of a high profile woman Monika Lewinski, in the late 20th century; The Anatomy of Scandal (Sarah Vaughan) is a critical lens of the structural violence that exists in the Justice system today in relation to gender discrimination; The Split (Abi Morgan) – the third most watched drama of 2020, predicts the necessary possibility of A Good Divorce… “And there is such a thing!”.
Features Editor & Academic
The Missing Middle I
’m getting on a bit now. It’s not the usual signs of age making me feel this way but that I’m outnumbered at training and networking events as well as committees and boards I sit on. These are dominated by solicitors at the early or latter stages of their careers but those in the middle of their careers are, well… missing. Senior Associates? Gone. Junior Partners? Disappeared. Those working towards a General Counsel role? Invisible. What’s troubling about this is that the “missing middle” accounts for the majority of solicitors. The fact they are not represented in these arenas can only be to the detriment of our profession, and society. It is therefore important to explore why this silent majority are not participating. The juggle The middle stage of careers typically overlap with other stresses and pressures in life. Advancing your career and solidifying your business case as a senior member of the profession can coincide with juggling a family; undergoing fertility treatment; menopause; caring for elderly parents; not to mention battling the increasing cost of living and running a home, to name but a few. This group is the ‘missing middle’ and, unfortunately, these opportunities during the “middle” years are the very resources that help keep solicitors engaged, grow their business and support their careers towards promotion. We cannot remove the pressures of life, but there are steps to help alleviate strain for those who are juggling and want to participate in “extracurricular activities”: 1. Bring dependents along I was President of Westminster & Holborn Law Society during my first maternity leave and I took my baby with me to meetings – so much so that the European Bar Associations we twinned with dubbed me as the “President with le bébé”! I let the meeting venues know in advance to make sure there was an accessible area available for me to feed and have quiet time with the baby. I was also surprised by the number of people in law society meetings and events who would offer to hold my daughter whilst I was speaking. Very quickly we started to see more parents attending events with their children in tow. 2. Incorporate a creche If an event is planned for outside of working hours, thought should be given to the caring responsibilities of attendees. When organising in person conferences, I try to ensure that there is a creche. A quick search online reveals several wonderful childcare providers who will set up creche services on-site. 3. Build networks of peers experiencing the same pressures One of the best pieces of advice a mentor gave me was to find a way to develop business that you enjoy. After all, the best work relationships are those where you genuinely enjoy each other’s company. If I know that a contact has caring responsibilities, I will offer to meet at a convenient time with the option to bring their dependents along (and I’ll do likewise). You can also set up informal networking events “coffee and cake” groups for contacts with similar responsibilities.
4. Consider the type and timings of events carefully If you are planning an event, carefully considering the type of event and timings is also key to ensure that the “missing middle” can participate if they wish. Avoid the standard evening drinks event if possible and make non-alcoholic drinks with food readily available. There are lots of ideas for alternative, inclusive and fun work activities in my Healthy Drinking Campaign guidance prepared for the Law Society. 5. Mentors Ideally you should have at least four: one inside your organisation and team, one inside your organisation in a different team, one lawyer outside your organisation and one non-lawyer outside your organisation. This ensures a diversity of viewpoints. People often struggle to find mentors, particularly a mentor outside of their organisation, however, don’t be shy in approaching someone who you have heard give an inspiring lecture or that you know of but have not met in person. The worst that can happen is the person you ask says no! 6. Improve pay conditions Most organisations only offer enhanced parental leave and pay packages if you have been employed for a minimum period (usually 12 months). This is arguably short-sighted as many advance quickly in their careers by moving organisation, usually around senior associate level or equivalent. The availability of enhanced parental leave and pay (i.e. the ability to have a family and make ends meet) means that the “missing middle” can feel obliged to stay with an organisation. In turn, these organisations are not attracting the best talent, as there is a large proportion of the “missing middle” who cannot consider a move to your organisation without enhanced parental leave and pay. Hang on and support us My message to the “missing middle” is hang on in there and, if there is a practical suggestion that would make an event more accessible to you, then make it! My rallying cry to everyone else is to acknowledge the myriad of life’s pressures and support us in stepping forward. Laura Uberoi is a Senior Associate at Macfarlanes, a Board and Council Member of the Law Society and a former President of Westminster & Holborn Law Society.
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Negotiation: at work and at home? Helen Broadbridge reviews the literature on gender parity starting at home – have you picked a suitable partner?
laudia Goldin, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, advises women that, despite being told that they don’t negotiate well with their employers, the most important negotiation they can have is with the person with whom they’re going to spend the rest of their lives.1 But is it true? Do couples need to look within to find routes to a more equal partnership, or does responsibility for gender inequality lie with governments and employers? Business and psychology professors David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson have argued that gender equity starts in the home.2 They observed in mid-2020 that, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many men who found themselves working from home for the first time had their eyes opened as to the sheer volume of caring and domestic work required in their homes. Smith and Johnson hope this front-row seat will bring about a greater appreciation of the challenges of raising a family while in full-time work and the benefits of flexible working arrangements. Their research found that sharing the load of childcare (including transportation for children’s activities, cooking, cleaning and the overall labour of managing everyone’s lives): (1) ensures both parents have a fair capacity for paid work, (2) role-models equal partnership for children, and (3) gets men talking about these experiences at work, helping policymakers see “people issues” not “women’s issues”. Gender scholar Avivah Wittenberg-Cox has argued that equal partnership in the home is so crucial that women may be better off single than with a partner who is unwilling to support their career.3 However, she notes equal partnership is not always in ready supply. She points to the increasing trend of divorces initiated by women in their 50s and 60s as evidence of what can go wrong when women are side-lined in their relationships and resentment grows. Goldin calls this the “dirty truth”. The fact that, despite women thinking they are in an equal partnership before having children, “in heterosexual couples in which there are caregiving responsibilities, generally children, women, at least for a while, step back a bit and do more of the care and the men step forward and have more of the career.”1 Sometimes, as Goldin points out, the short-term financial impact is too persuasive – why both cut down to £50,000 a year, when one of you can lean in and earn £200,000? Couples may find that the price of their commitment to gender equality might not be as high as the salaries on offer. And there are plenty of them; as Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu has noted, white-collar jobs can expand infinitely through the “generation of false necessities”, creating “giant make-work projects” that end up having nothing to do with real economic or social needs.4 Therefore, the lower earner leaving the workplace may not be the right thing, given the lifelong negative impact those decisions can have on life satisfaction and financial independence. After all, it is only from a place of financial independence that individuals can fairly decide whether to continue with their partnership or not – as Wittenberg-Cox puts it, to decide, “whether to grow or whether to go.” So what should couples do? Wittenberg-Cox highlights that family trends are changing faster than workplace policy.5 For example, many workers are living longer, working longer, 12 | LegalWomen
‘the lower earner leaving the workplace may not be the right thing’
marrying later and having fewer children. If employers are still expecting their employees to be from single-career couples with full-time domestic support, or not to take leave if they have children, they may be surprised by the ever-increasing number of dual-career couples, demands for equal parental leave, and older employees. Wittenberg-Cox proposes a new framework, where couples work as teams and use their skills from the workplace to manage their home lives more strategically to avoid resentment and crisis later on. And if not? Wittenberg-Cox highlights the global trend of falling fertility rates.6 If workplaces do not make it easy for women to both work and have children, many of them will choose not to sacrifice their hard-won financial independence for the sake of having a child. And governments and employers? They should do their part, by: (1) giving workers the right to protected time off (to make longer careers more sustainable), (2) giving equal parental leave (to gender neutralise and mitigate the career impact of taking time out for caring responsibilities, and to set a gender-equal precedent for children), and (3) vastly expanding the provision of child care (not just pre-school, but wrap-around care to cover before and after school and school holidays). After all, it need not be a binary choice between women leaving the workplace now (and losing tax payers now), and women not having children (and losing tax payers later). We can create a workplace that is fit-for-purpose.
Helen Broadbridge Public Sector Solicitor
1. People I Mostly Admire with Steve Levitt, Claudia Goldin: What’s “Greedy Work” and Why Is It a Problem?, December 2021 2. Gender Equity Starts in the Home, HBR, David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson, May 2020 3. If You Can’t Find a Spouse Who Supports Your Career, Stay Single, HBR, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, October 2017 4. You Really Don’t Need to Work So Much, The New Yorker, Tim Wu, August 2015 5. Conscious Coupling: Managing Dual Careers, TEDx, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, June 2018 6. Women Are Voting – With Their Wombs, Forbes, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, April 2022
Dressing for a hybrid work environment 3. Inject your personality into your workwear The relaxation of dress codes means that you can bring more of your personality to work. You can use this to positive effect to show confidence and ensure you stand out from the crowd. How do you do this? Look at the elements you like in your weekend wardrobe and see if you can bring them into your work wardrobe in an appropriate way. For instance, if you like colour, can you introduce another colour into your everyday work wear? If you are lacking inspiration, create a mood board of styles and colours that grab your eye. See the picture below. 4. Relaxed does NOT mean casual ‘Relaxed dressing’, ‘dress-for-the-day’ and ‘business casual’’ all come under the smart casual umbrella. The clue is really in the name so if you are in any doubt over what to wear, always veer to the smart side of casual. It’s always better to be overdressed as a lawyer than underdressed!
ork dress codes have changed considerably over the past few years and not least since the pandemic began. ‘Dress for the day’, ‘Zoom dressing’ and ‘hybrid work wardrobe’ were terms we hadn’t heard of back in 2019! Leaving court attire aside, you now require outfits for working from home, days in the office, face to face meetings and even some socialising at the end of the day. On top of this you want to ensure that you look professional and if leading a team, that your outfits project your seniority. You’ll be forgiven for wanting to return to the days of the power suit again! There is never a one size fits all solution and dress codes vary depending on where you work. However, there are ways you can dress in a relaxed work environment to exude confidence without looking overly formal and stuffy. Here are five steps you can take to create your ideal hybrid work wardrobe: 1. Assess your current wardrobe Start by looking at what is in your wardrobe and most importantly, how your clothes make you feel. Do you ‘put on your power’ or do your daily outfit choices leave you feeling off kilter and invisible. It has been scientifically proven that how we dress affects how we feel and act. Ask yourself what message your clothes are projecting and if there is room for improvement? 2. Note what your hybrid working week looks like Take a look at your diary over a monthly period and note the different outfits you need. Think about the activities you do in your role. Do you need outfits for a monthly presentation, client facing meetings, video calls, social occasions? Now assess if you have the right garments for these activities. It’s useful to lay these outfits out and take pictures (see pic for details of a client's wardrobe). It will save you so much time in the long run. I find most people's wardrobes are completely misaligned to their needs and they do not have the right outfits for their working week. Make a note of any gaps you have.
5. Don’t take a relaxed approach to grooming It’s very tempting to overlook this especially when working from home or in a team of casual dressers. I’m not suggesting you need a full face of make-up or salon blow dry every day. You do need, however, to ensure that clothes are clean and crease free, hair and nails are tidy as it shows respect for your role and professionalism. Wearing colour outfits suggestions Trousers: https://uk.theory.com/carrot-trouser/M0204205_E1H. html?lang=en_GB Blouse: https://www.hugoboss.com/uk/open-necklineblouse-in-stretch-silk-with-stand-collar/hbeu50472082_691. html?cgid=11100 Gillet: https://www.essentiel-antwerp.com/uk/women/sweaterscardigans/brittain-cardigan-dw02 Shoes: https://www.russellandbromley.co.uk/boulevard2/240357 Earrings: https://www.wolfandbadger.com/uk/green-amethystearrings-1/?gclid=CjwKCAjwiJqWBhBdEiwAtESPaI4JJNaLYgqg EPfd6fTVmobcgUkx4dMVeQ9o9uYJiaGmrbPTZKDhVhoCFlgQA vD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds. Sally Smy is a personal stylist and founder of Queen Bee Styling. Prior to setting up her business ten years ago, Sally had a successful 18 year career in fashion buying working for leading high street retailers. She now specialises in helping professionals dress with confidence and create a wardrobe that plays to their strengths. She also speaks and hosts workshops for many women’s networks both online and off including several government departments (The Foriegn and Commonwealth Office, department for Digital Culture Media and Sport and the Women In Economics Network). If you would like further information on Sally and her services please drop her a line. You can also sign up for her free monthly style subscription which includes seasonal style tips and discounts offers. Stay in touch with Sally: Instagram, Facebook @queenbeestyling Linkedin Sally Smy Email: email@example.com
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Dress for success D
ressing for success has always been part of my persona. At law school, my tutors would always regale us with this mantra. I follow some basic principles – specifically, comfort, in conjunction with my body shape and cost. Comfort is important as I spend most of my day at work. I do not believe in suffering for fashion. My staple pieces have been sourced from; Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF). Ted Baker has amazing tailoring. Their midi black pencil skirt goes well with any pussybow blouse and peep toes in summer or closed court shoes for any season. Their coats are very versatile. Although quite costly at just over £325, they are an investment, especially for the winter season. Remember that during the sale season, they are reduced by 50%. As a self-confessed avid collector (I have five – in black, camel, burgundy, grey and nude) I can attest to purchasing some of my collection in the sale for half the price. I also have a fuchsia-coloured pencil dress purchased over 10 years ago, which to this day, I miraculously can still fit into. Karen Millen has been one of my favourite designers for many years. Going way back, when Karen Millen owned the label and the shoe boxes were blue and orange. I have about seventy pairs of shoes and over twenty dresses, including cocktail dresses. Her pencil dresses are the epitome of elegance and worthy of the investment. I actually wore one to my recent New York Attorney admission ceremony. Their handbags add a classy touch, and large enough to accommodate a thirteen-inch laptop. Diane Von Furstenberg, well known for her iconic wrap dresses, is another favourite designer of mine. Being a curvy woman, it can be difficult to find comfortable dresses, but suffice to say, I have found a home with her designs (I have seven of her dresses). They are quite costly, but just like my other favourite designers, the sale prices are quite good especially, in New York, where I bought some of them. You might have established by now, that I have relatively expensive taste, but as already alluded to, the sales knock down the price by 50%, thus budget wise it’s a consolation. It is to be noted that the majority of these garments are dry clean only, which should not come as a surprise, given their quality. However, they are an investment which will last many years as mine have. Most importantly, I feel comfortable and my confidence is always boosted in a major way, leaving me feeling that I can conquer the world!
New York Attorney and Counselor-at-Law
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Welcome to Law Students L
egal Women is delighted that law students and universities have enthusiastically subscribed. Many thanks for your comments and please keep sending them to info@LegalWomen.org.uk. We are incredibly conscious of the hurdles for qualifying. LW pages for students will respond to queries on how to study, where to study, gaining work experience, contacting mentors and much more. This edition concentrates on the legal training frameworks (don’t worry the barristers’ path in England and Wales will feature in the future). One thing is clear that perseverance is essential and so our stories will ensure that they remind you that ‘You didn’t come this far to only come this far’! Whether you are studying alone in a library, in peer groups or pairs keep an eye on our tips for your future.
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LEGAL TRAINING: ENGLAND & WALES
How to survive the SQE game T
he SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) is the new route to becoming a solicitor, being gradually phased in by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). You can find useful, clear guidance and information surrounding the transition to the SQE on the SRA website SQE section as well as the Law Society SQE hub online. This article will not concern the theoretical substance of the SQE but instead will provide some helpful practical tips. As incoming chair (2022-2023) of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society I was faced with a challenge. One of our main goals at the JLD is to provide help and advice for those entering the legal profession and who are in the early stages of their career as a solicitor. And here I was, having completed the traditional route through the LPC and a training contract. It was hard and I could not imagine somebody becoming a solicitor without the fulfilling experience of a training contract. I had an amazing training principal and the experience equipped me with skills and confidence for life, not just my legal career. At the JLD my role is to support those entering the ‘Becoming a solicitor legal profession. We listened a sprint’ to SQE candidates from different backgrounds, such as apprentices, law graduates, lawyers with disability and others and these are the tips they kindly shared: 1. Study Study Study! The common message was that the SQE is a academically challenging exam. SQE 1 takes place over two non-consecutive days and consists of a high volume of multiple-choice questions. The knowledge tested is wide-ranging and “you have to know everything”. One of the participants of the SQE1 said: “this was without a doubt the hardest exam in my life”. So create a study plan and follow it. If you have a study plan, you know exactly what you should be doing each day to stay on track and maximise your studying. 2. Legal experience! The solicitor apprentices state that “experience gives advantage”. One solicitor apprentice commented: “We are still in that headspace, studying, working, learning and testing our legal knowledge every day. This is what allows us to do well for both SQE 1 and SQE 2 sittings”. So never underestimate your legal experience. Every little counts and everything you learn you put under your belt and it can be used in the SQE process. 3. Prepared for uncertainty and be open minded. SQE candidates have reported technical problems, lack of centre locations, need to travel to other locations, issues with reasonable adjustments and unexpectedly “strict” measures 16 | LegalWomen
such as being unable to take water, pens and paper into the sitting. The SQE is at an embryonic stage so unexpected things can happen. Be ready for everything the SQE throws at you and do not let a minor (or major) teething issue demolish your concentration and prevent you from demonstrating your knowledge and skills. 4. Get support. Never underestimate the importance of mentoring. Mentors have gained professional experience and practical skills throughout their careers, and they can share that knowledge with you. They can advise you in areas like time management, interpersonal skills and legal knowledge. Consider asking your mentor to share important lessons from critical decision points in their career or things they wish they had known before significant milestones. SQE is a big milestone and getting support can help you on your career path. 5. Plan in advance. Due to limitations on the test centres, it is advisable to book the SQE exams well in advance and request any reasonable adjustments before you book. You cannot sit the SQE 2 until you have passed your SQE 1 which can create uncertainty is a marathon not with exam timetabling and potentially a delay in qualifying. If you are in that position, do not panic. Speak to your employer, regroup and do your exams as soon as practicably possible. Do not get discouraged by a little delay. 6. Well-Being. Becoming a solicitor is a marathon not a sprint. Make sure that you get plenty of sleep; a tired brain is a slow brain. Eat well, exercise, go for a walk, do something else that gets you away from your screen. Here at JLD we will continue supporting junior lawyers and those entering the profession. Follow us on social media (Junior Lawyers Division on Instagram; Linkedin and Twitter) and check out our free webinars on the Law Society recorded online events section. If you are currently taking the SQE we are very interested to hear about your experience in order to improve the SQE process. We look forward to hearing from you by email at JuniorLawyers@LawSociety.org.uk. Darja Cernobrivec is Vice Chair of the executive committee of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society and a solicitor at GA Solicitors
Glasgow’s Madge Easton Anderson was the first woman lawyer in Scotland. © Public domain.
he UK’s first ever woman lawyer, Madge Easton Anderson, became a Scottish law agent in 1920. Her battle to become a lawyer was not easily won – and women before her, such as Margaret Howie Strang Hall, were unable to qualify. Historically, law was not a profession for women. Yet today we now have a solicitor profession in Scotland where the majority of lawyers are women. In the 100 years since Madge Easton Anderson, herself a Glasgow girl, became the first woman lawyer in the UK, the demographics of the profession at junior levels have changed dramatically. So while women like Margaret and Madge faced great challenges in their path to qualification, what route do aspiring lawyers today have to follow to be admitted? The key stages in any aspiring Scots lawyer’s journey are set out below. From the LLB to Professional Education and Training (PEAT 1 and 2), we’re here to explain how to go about qualifying as a lawyer in Scotland. Step 1: The LLB Those seeking to qualify as a solicitor in Scotland traditionally study for an undergraduate LLB degree. There are 10 law schools in Scotland accredited by the Law Society of Scotland which offer the LLB. During their studies, students generally take certain core subjects which are required by the Law Society of Scotland. While the subjects will vary between institutions, the central themes and learning outcomes will be the same, covering areas from Scots criminal law to the law of succession, to constitutional law. These subjects provide students with an understanding of the areas of law considered central to legal practice. Students must pass these core subjects in order to gain entry to the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Practice. Step 2: The Diploma The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is a one-year postgraduate qualification (if studied full-time) that aspiring solicitors must pass before they can become trainee solicitors. The Diploma prepares students for life as a lawyer and focuses on the more vocational and practical elements of legal study. The Diploma is often referred to as ‘PEAT 1’ – PEAT being the Law Society of Scotland's Professional Education and Training stage. Following the Diploma, students can begin their traineeships. While some students have traineeships lined up before they start studying for their Diploma, many will not and may get a traineeship offer during or after their Diploma studies. It is important to understand that there is an ‘expiration date’ on the validity of the Diploma. This means that Diploma graduates must begin their traineeship within five years from 1 January in the year after they completed their Diploma. There are options to apply to the Law Society to have this period extended, but generally speaking traineeships should begin during this period. If a traineeship has not begun, students may be required to reenrol in the Diploma. Step 3: The Traineeship Part 2 of the Law Society of Scotland's Professional Education and Training programme (PEAT 2) is the Traineeship.
Legal Women – The Path to Qualification in Scotland Traineeships are paid, usually two years long and involve working under the supervision of qualified solicitors. In smaller mixed practice firms, trainees are often involved in a variety of work from the outset of their traineeship, whereas in larger firms it is common to have ‘seat’ rotations every 6 months, where trainees move departments and gain experience in different areas of law. At the end of the training contract, trainees can apply for a practising certificate and begin work as a qualified solicitor in their own right. In 2020/2021 67% of trainees were female, with 33% male. This is in part reflective of the picture in Scottish Law Schools, where the majority of students are women. Becoming an Advocate Some who qualify as a solicitor wish to pursue careers as Advocates. Advocates in Scotland have rights of audience in the highest courts and are members of the Faculty of Advocates. To become an advocate, candidates must generally have completed their Scots Law LLB and Diploma as well as a traineeship. Candidates undertake a 9-month period of training known as ‘devilling’ (similar to pupillage in England and Wales) before being admitted as an Advocate. This period of training is unpaid, although Scholarships are available and have become more extensive in recent years. Often, Advocates will spend a number of years as solicitors before beginning to Devil. Alternative Routes While the above represents the most common path to becoming a solicitor, there are alternatives. For example, graduates of non-law degrees have the option of pursuing the postgraduate Accelerated LLB, which is a 2-year programme. There is also the option of not going to university at all and instead embarking on what is known as a pre-PEAT training contract. This allows individuals to work in a law firm while studying for the Law Society of Scotland exams. Finally, no discussion of legal careers today would be complete without acknowledging the many alternative careers available to LLB graduates. From journalism to public policy, to accountancy, law graduates have long used the skills from their LLB in alternative fields. In fact, the Law Society of Scotland reports that 50% of law students go on to pursue alternative careers after their LLB studies. Today, new opportunities are also opening up for graduates in emerging legal fields. For example, Ashurst Advance in Glasgow recruits graduates as Legal Analysts to take on work traditionally undertaken by trainees, paralegals or junior lawyers. For such roles, you don’t necessarily need to have a Diploma and there is no formalized ‘traineeship’.
LLB (Hons,) LLM, DipLP, PgCAP, FHEA. Lecturer in Law Glasgow School for Business & Society
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LEGAL TRAINING IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Do lawyers in Northern Ireland have an advantage in a post-Brexit world? Route to qualification The route to qualify as either a solicitor or a barrister in Northern Ireland requires applicants to obtain a Diploma in Professional Legal Studies from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), Queen’s University Belfast. The IPLS, was first established in 1977 and provides a unique experience to trainees, as both solicitor and barrister trainees undertake their respective courses together. This is the only method of qualification in Northern Ireland. The IPLS offers both a bar course and a solicitor course. Each year there are 120 places available for those wishing to qualify as solicitors and 20 places available for those who wish to qualify as barristers. Given the restricted numbers, these courses are highly competitive. To gain entry to IPLS, trainees must have a recognised law degree and pass an Admissions Test. Solicitor trainees must also secure a training contract. For prospective solicitors there is also a non-law route for those with a degree in a discipline other than law who attain satisfactory knowledge of core subjects such as constitutional law. In addition, there is an alternative route for solicitor applicants over the age of 30 with special qualifications or experience. Qualifying as a Solicitor Solicitor trainees complete a two-year apprenticeship. This comprises a period of in-office training, September – December, attendance at IPLS, January – December, a further period of inoffice training January – September. Trainees are also expected to attend offices during vacation periods. To commence solicitor training, the applicants obtain a Master and register with the Law Society of Northern Ireland. A Master must be a solicitor currently in practice within Northern Ireland with the requisite amount of experience. Upon completion of the two-year apprenticeship, newly qualified solicitors gain a restricted practising certificate, meaning that they cannot practise on their own account or in partnership for at least two more years. While there is no requirement in Northern Ireland for solicitor trainees to undertake certain seats, most firms where possible try to provide trainees a varied workload across departments to enhance their legal training. Qualifying as a Barrister Bar trainees attend the course at IPLS full time for one academic year. For admission to IPLS Bar trainees are also required to be admitted as a student of the Inn of Court.
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Upon completion of the Diploma at IPLS, Bar trainees are called to the Bar usually in September. They then complete a 12-month period of pupillage with a Master. The Master will be a barrister currently in professional practice who is willing to guide their pupil as they embark on their legal career. Pupil barristers undergoing pupillage can accept limited work once they have completed at least 6 months pupillage. Benefits of legal training in Nothern Ireland One of the main benefits of the system of legal training in Northern Ireland is that the professional bodies and IPLS work closely together to ensure that each of the modules on the course reflect the current requirements for practice. Throughout the course at IPLS trainees are taught by IPLS academic staff, all of whom are professionally qualified and practitioners who are subject specialists. There is a strong emphasis on tutorial work and small group teaching. The entry requirements for IPLS ensure that job opportunities for newly qualified professionals are plentiful, and that the market does not become saturated. Northern Ireland is a unique and attractive place to gain a professional qualification. Compared to other jurisdictions, the Northern Irish legal community is relatively small, enabling a strong support network amongst members and ample opportunities to network with the most accomplished in the profession. Solicitors and barristers who qualify in Northern Ireland often have the advantage of exposure to Irish law as part of their training. Although solicitors in England and Wales also have the benefit of a relatively simple route to practising in the Republic of Ireland, they are unlikely to have as much opportunity for hands on, practical experience. Solicitor firms in Northern Ireland often have an office in the Republic of Ireland, and some firms undertake at least 50% of their work in that jurisdiction. Given the recent changes in the political and legal landscape between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the simple route to dual qualification and exposure to multi-jurisdictional issues gives legal professionals in Northern Ireland a real advantage in our post-Brexit world.
Trainee Solicitor Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors
Legal Training: A perspective from the USA Charity Mafuba reflects on her journey to qualify as a lawyer at the New York bar
n my first year of Law School at BPP University in London in 2015 that I decided I would study for the New York Bar to qualify as an attorney. Following my graduation in 2018, I attended a couple of taster sessions for the New York Bar Course held by a law course provider called Barbri and I was immediately hooked on the idea. I was eligible to sit for the New York Bar exams without the need to complete a US LLM as I had already completed a three-year full-time Law Degree in England. There are a number of advantages to taking the New York bar exams compared to qualifying as a lawyer in England and Wales. One is that the cost is substantially less (about $6000 dollars) than the cost of the LPC or BPTC in the UK which is about three times that amount. You are required to pay half the cost of the course up front and the rest of the balance in six equal monthly instalments.
There is then a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) which can be transferred across states that have UBE jurisdiction, a further multiplechoice test which makes up 50% of the overall grade and a paper involving six essays (which are akin to problem solving questions) which makes up 30% of the grade. The final part of the bar exams is called the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and is designed to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental legal skills in a realistic real-life scenario for a newly qualified lawyer. The student can only make use of the material provided in the exam (e.g. factual data, cases and other reference material) to answer the two questions in the exam and this makes up the remaining 20% of the overall score. Completion of 50 hours of Pro Bono is also a pre-admission requirement. However another positive aspect of passing the New York Bar is that no pupillage or training contract is required. You are immediately able to start practising once admitted and licensed.
The course is administered and run online which is another advantage as most students are either working full time or You are likely to find work quicker in the US but interestingly here in the UK, US firms and banks (and more recently some UK have other commitments. This means that you can more easily law firms) are increasingly becoming amenable to hiring New balance and schedule in advance other commitments in your life. There is an option to study either on a six or ten month plan York Bar qualified attorneys who may not yet have qualified in and I chose the latter. I found it reassuring to know that if you England or Wales. fail the first time, the provider I chose offers a flexible same Unlike in England and Wales where once qualified as State course repeat within ‘You are immediately able to start 12 months of receiving your a lawyer you can practise practising once admitted and licensed’ anywhere, in the US you are results at no extra cost. only able to practise in the Completion of my first degree State that you are admitted in England was an advantage, as it is a common law jurisdiction, to. However depending on an applicant’s score, there is then the content of the syllabus was about 70% similar to the US. scope to transfer to another state and practise there pending Consequently, I found studying and preparing for the New York satisfactory compliance with additional requirements. Bar a far less arduous task than anticipated. The 30% difference in legal content includes subjects like Secured Transactions, Undertaking the New York Bar Course and being admitted to the New York Bar is one of the most worthwhile career investments Federal Civil and Criminal Procedure. Some of the legal that I could have made. I look forward to seeing where it takes terminology was also different to that used in England and Wales such as they will use Plaintiff rather than Claimant. me career-wise. It takes a lot of determination but with the increase in cross-border transactions, the qualification certainly The exam itself, for the New York Bar, was a multiple-choice serves as a resourceful asset. format of 50 questions which is completed online and the pass rate is 30 out of 50. There is also an Ethics exam (the MPRE) which requires a pass score of 85 although interestingly, neither Charity Mafuba the results of these exams contribute to the overall score which New York Attorney and determines whether you have passed the exams. Counselor-at-Law
LegalWomen | 19
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20 | LegalWomen
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My Journey to Legal Consultancy
andy Kaur talks about becoming a partner within a top 60 UK Law firm, joining Consultancy and balancing her personal life alongside supervising her Private Client team. Sandy has a variety of experience in the Private Client field having been a Partner at a law firm and has helped thousands of families with Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Estate Planning matters. Sandy is qualified with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and her service covers all of Leicestershire, Kibworth, Market Harborough, Northampton, Corby and Kettering. Sandy’s team also cover Loughborough, Peterborough, Bristol and Horsham. Remote video appointments in all other UK regions are provided. A brief history I was privileged to study for my Law Degree at the prestigious University of Leicester, which was one of the top 10 Law Schools in the UK at the time, not to mention Sir David Attenborough’s special family connection with the university and the discovery of DNA fingerprinting! I achieved a Gifted and Talented Award for cognitive memory skills and was one of the top 5 Law Students of the Year at College. I was fortunate to have obtained a training contract in a wellregarded commercial law firm acting on behalf of major property developers and I also gained experience in Private Client matters acting on behalf of high-net-worth clients. It was the year of the recession and crash in the property market when I qualified as a solicitor. As a result the training contract firm were unable to offer me a permanent position. However, I was keen to develop my interest in the Private Client world and secured a position in a well-known law firm and further developed my experience and knowledge in this field. I soon became Associate Solicitor to Head of Department supervising a team of Private Client solicitors and eventually taking Partnership in my 20’s and early career. When I gave birth to my daughter, it meant flexibility and adjustments were required in my career whilst juggling a senior management position at a law firm combined with an existing caseload. This pushed me to consider an alternative route due to the challenges of managing a team retaining partnership status whilst also having the time to devote to my family and young daughter at the time. I wished to further develop my career, knowledge and experience whilst also raising a happy family, so I decided to consider a better career route. Consultancy with Taylor Rose MW was the perfect fit, allowing me to spend quality time with my family whilst continuing to progress as a senior Private Client solicitor and providing my clients with an exceptional level of service.
Becoming a Consultant Solicitor Taylor Rose MW offered me a self-employed consultancy role based on a fee-sharing split. This gave me the ability to grow my career as I head up a small team of Private Client fee earners now, rather than taking a career break completely or trying to work reduced hours with a full caseload. Being a Consultant Solicitor means that you are able to enjoy a better work-life balance and a happier, more flexible and fulfilled lifestyle. I was able to choose the hours I wanted to work around my family commitments, i.e. I was able to attend my daughter’s sports day at school and catch up with client matters in the evening. I have an increased sense of wellbeing and reduced stress levels because I do not have to meet extortionate billing targets or deal with excessive caseloads, and I can choose to take on as much work as I wish to. Most employed solicitors receive a lower percentage of what they bill through their wages. However as a consultant, I am rewarded fairly for my hardwork, knowledge and expertise taking home a larger percentage of my billing. What do you like to do in your spare time to honour your flexible working? The management of my own hours means I am able to enjoy my free time as and when I choose to take it. I love walking in nature, cycling, swimming, travelling, and I have a library in which I enjoy reading books of self-development, inspiration, motivation and scientific books. Most importantly, I am able to be highly involved in my daughter’s life and having fun with her is the best part! What are your top 3 tips to becoming a successful woman in law? 1. Determination – never give up! 2. Hardwork – it always pays off. 3. Values and Integrity – being true to good values and ethics can never be underestimated. What’s next? I would like to grow and strengthen my Private Client practice team with Taylor Rose MW’s support, which delivers a first class, personal, compassionate and high-quality service to those who have lost loved ones and are going through challenging times. My aim is to make the whole wills, trusts, probate and estate planning service as efficient and proactive as possible, implementing innovative software and processes to enable us to achieve this objective.
The pandemic certainly impacted upon meeting client expectations whilst home-schooling, and I know I wasn’t the only one! Thankfully, Taylor Rose MW’s IT infrastructure was well equipped for the changes so adapting wasn’t too difficult as I had been used to remote working before the pandemic.
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ICAB (the Barcelona Lawyers Bar Association) and The Law Society of England and Wales, working together for the international development of Gender Equality in the Legal Profession
n 21st April 2022, the Barcelona Lawyers Bar (ICAB) presented its first research project (and the first report of its kind) on the experiences, challenges, and possible solutions for Catalonian women lawyers with the aim of advancing gender equality in the practice of law.
gender equality”. One of the key challenges highlighted by the report is the lack of data (qualitative and quantitative) on the experiences of women lawyers in the profession. making Law Society therefore initiated a series of research projects in various jurisdictions, with the support from a range of local stakeholders including bar associations, law firms and women lawyers working in institutions. This project is a collaboration between the Law Society and the Comissió de Dones Advocades of the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB) and consisted of the following components:
The event was introduced by the vice-president of The Law Society of England and Wales, Mrs. Lubna Shuja, (who attended online) and the President of the Barcelona Lawyer’s Bar (ICAB), Mr. Jesús Sánchez García. The project was developed between Lizzette Robleto de Howarth (International Programmes Manager at the Law Society) who led the research, and Andrea Accuosto who wrote the final report. Andrea Accuosto, a lawyer and member of the Committee of Women Lawyers of ICAB, personally took on the responsibility for implementing the research activities of the project in Catalonia. The project also received significant support from members of the Comissión de Dones Advocades.
Lizzette Robleto de Howarth (L) Andrea Accuosto (R)
22 | LegalWomen
Origins of the Project In June 2019, the Law Society published its global report “Advocating for change: Transforming the future of the legal profession through
1. A first phase conducted from February to March 2021 which consisted of a survey in Catalonia that obtained 305 responses. 2. A second phase consisting of four roundtables, organised between September and October 2021, with 35 women lawyers from the private, public, NGO, and civil society sectors. The roundtable discussions were implemented under Chatham House rules, to encourage the free expression of all participants. The roundtables discussed the survey findings and explored specific questions to identify creative solutions in a safe and non-judgmental environment. 3. A third final phase consisting of a final report containing recommendations. Project Objectives The project focuses on field research work, carried out in two phases. The first phase consisted of a survey completed by 297 women lawyers from all over Catalonia. The second phase consisted of 4 face-to-face roundtables where 35 women lawyers focused on discussing their experiences and their needs in the legal profession. The main objective was to identify and understand the inequalities and difficulties faced by women lawyers, think of possible solutions or changes and bring about improvements for the future of the profession. Solutions and Proposals The report explains the main factors that motivated this research. These were (1) Create a more inclusive profession that benefits new generations; (2) Make visible the differences in treatment between men and women in the profession; (3) Provide evidence that gender inequality in the legal sector exists; (4) Explore the negative impact of the lack of work-life
balance; (5) Explore the imbalance of the value system within the profession; and (6) The lack of networking and support among women lawyers and the legal sector in general. The report also explores three aspects identified as obstacles to gender equality in the profession in Catalonia which were firstly conscious and unconscious bias, secondly the lack of flexible working and thirdly, the pay gap. Among the most common proposals were the need to give women lawyers a voice and create forums for them to talk about themselves and their experiences so as to improve their situation in professional practice. It also highlights the need to implement advocacy or mediation mechanisms and to promote coaching, mentoring, and other forms of intergenerational support among women lawyers. Special emphasis was placed on promoting women's association, and the participation and mobilisation of women lawyers as a model of women's empowerment. Finally, it is essential to include men in the equality debate, and to involve them in changing the social model.
Poetry Corner Working women Setting goals Looking for a life That make us feel whole Steady does it You set the pace You’re the only one Who can find Your place So let it be When things don’t Come automatically In time there will be Space to find All that makes you Shine By Serena Reynell
Conclusions The report presents a series of solutions which range from interventions in education, legislative changes, awarenessraising campaigns, and social movement that seek changes to our mindset. The main aim is to open a new space for debate and action, with commitment and conviction, despite the inherent challenge of resistance to change. There is an imperative for gender equality as it leads to a more diverse, inclusive, and successful profession for all its members.
Andrea Accuosto Suárez
Abogada/Advocada/Lawyer/Avvocatessa email@example.com www.snabogados.com
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Protect your law firm: Tips, tricks and traps in legal cashiering
uill recently ran a well-attended, and well-received, webinar hosted by The Law Society and in association with the ILFM covering all aspects of legal cashiering which you can view at your leisure here. Some of the key takeaways around why legal cashiering is so important within law firms are covered in this article. When we talk about protecting our law firms, it’s usually from external threats – fraud, copyright, theft, the list goes on. However, when it comes to legal cashiering specifically, often the real enemy comes from within, with internal financial complacency representing the real Achilles heel in your business. The legal industry is built upon trust. You wouldn’t hand over your money to someone you don’t believe to be absolutely reliable, and legal cashiering is no different. That’s why it’s your duty to get to grips with all the tips, tricks and traps that will ensure you’re always on the right side of the law, and never let your law firm’s reputation take a hit. Why is legal cashiering so important? The key thing to remember is that legal cashiering is a specialised discipline, and as such must not be overlooked. The process of legal cashiering ensures that law firms are managed with legal standards in mind from top to bottom, and prevents firms from finding themselves on the wrong side of the law due to avoidable negligence. Many firms don’t understand how important it is to get this right, and that’s down to some common industry myths which need to be understood for exactly what they are – myths. Busting the myths of legal cashiering Myth 1: Legal cashiering is the same as any other bookkeeping. Anyone can do it! If you believe this, then you’ll always fall short of the mark. Legal cashiering is a complex and meticulous process requiring specialised, expert knowledge to perform properly. You wouldn’t hand over any other department to someone with only limited experience, so why would your cashiering be any different? Don’t let someone who doesn’t have the full range of qualifications handle your legal cashiering, or you’ll encounter inevitable (and avoidable) problems down the line. Myth 2: Getting it wrong can’t be that bad, can it? Small mistakes can have big consequences. What might seem like some minor administrative bother that can be swept under the rug could lead to some pretty major impacts to you and your law firm. And when hefty fines come your way, can you afford to take the hit? Even with money aside, how will your reputation of trust ever recover after being investigated for financial misconduct? An 24 | LegalWomen
HMRC investigation might feel like a case of ‘this only happens to other people’, but that feeling will quickly dissolve when you get a knock at the door. How bad can things get? It’s important to understand what the risks of insufficient legal cashiering are to fully understand why you need to do it properly. So here are some of the main consequences of getting things wrong. Incorrect records If your record keeping isn’t up to scratch, then not only can this lead to legal implications, it will also cause internal disorganisation throughout your business, resulting in endless logistical headaches. Investigations If you miss a few deadlines or your numbers aren’t adding up, then people will soon notice. This can lead to HMRC and other similar bodies opening an investigation into your firm which, as you can imagine, is the start of a very slippery slope. Fines The SRA recently announced that they are increasing fines from £2,000 to £25,000 for firms that don’t reach the expected level of professional standards. Do you want to be one of them? Loss of trust Fines can be paid and investigations can be passed, but rebuilding trust following either of those things is a much harder task. In such a trust-based industry, the last thing you need is for your law firm’s reputation to be stained forever over insufficient bookkeeping. Theft Lose control of your records, and you lose control of your money. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to theft from clients and employees alike. Tight and efficient legal cashiering ensures everything is logged and accounted for, protecting both you and your clients. Closure The ultimate fear of any law firm is closure, and rightly so. Whilst this is often the last resort, closure can happen, and all it takes is a gradually snowballing administrative problem in your finances.
Quill’s ultimate guide to legal cashiering
Discover the importance of getting your legal cashiering right
The quickest way to get shut down is trying to do your own legal cashiering. Still considering it? Think again. Don’t risk it A qualified legal cashier is the only proven way to ensure that your firm operates in a legal, responsible manner. There are endless examples of times where law firms have disregarded legal cashiering as something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously. Every time, those examples have ended in serious legal repercussions. Quill’s ‘Protect your law firm: Tips, tricks and traps in legal cashiering’ is adapted from its ‘The ultimate guide to legal cashiering’ e-book. Get your copy at www.quill.co.uk/resources/theultimate-guide-to-legal-cashiering/.
Learn more: www.quill.co.uk/ resources/the-ultimate-guideto-legal-cashiering
© Gage Skidmore. CC-BY-SA-2.0
Roe v Wade 1973 / Dobbs v Jackson 2022 Michelle Obama
he landmark 1973 judgment from the Supreme Court of the United States has been overturned in 2022. Many excellent commentaries have been issued but LW wanted to share the heartfelt message that Michelle Obama issued. Here it is in full.
weaving it, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The more we allow pessimism to push us further into helplessness, the less we will be empowered to help create the kind of country we want to live in.
I am heartbroken today.
This horrifying decision will have devastating consequences, and it must be a wake-up call, especially to the young people who will bear its burden. I know this is not the future you chose for your generation – but if you give up now, you will inherit a country that does not resemble you or and the values you believe in.
I am heartbroken for people around this country who just lost the fundamental right to make informed decisions about their own bodies.
This moment is difficult, but our story does not end here. It may not feel like we are able to do much right now, but we can. And we must.
I am heartbroken that we may now be destined to learn the painful lessons of a time before Roe was made law of the land – a time when women risked losing their lives getting illegal abortions. A time when the government denied women control over their own reproductive functions, forced them to move forward with pregnancies they didn't want, and then abandoned them once their babies were born.
If you're like me and you want to get started right now, I encourage you to channel your frustration and anger into action by getting involved. Organizations like Planned Parenthood and The United State of Women, among many others, have resources you can look to if you want to help others or if you need help yourself.
That is what our mothers and grandmothers and greatgrandmothers lived through, and now here we are again.
Our hearts may be broken today, but tomorrow, we've got to get up and find the courage to keep working towards creating the more just America we all deserve. We have so much left to push for, to rally for, to speak for – and I know we can do this together.
So yes, I am heartbroken – for the teenage girl, full of zest and promise, who won't be able to finish school or live the life she wants because her state controls her reproductive decisions; for the mother of a non-viable pregnancy who is now forced to bring that pregnancy to term; for the parents watching their child's future evaporate before their very eyes; for the health care workers who can no longer help them without risking jail time.
Planned Parenthood Access care, learn more, and get involved: plannedparenthood.org
When we don't understand our history, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In this country, our futures are tied together in a delicate tapestry that we each have a hand in making. Too often, cynicism or indifference make us feel like we don't have a say in
The United State of Women Reproductive Justice Hub Access care, volunteer, and donate to abortion funds: usow.org/repro/
LegalWomen | 25
his is a fascinating account of the pioneering American journalist, Nellie Bly. The title MadWoman is a reference to her faked insanity to gain admission to an asylum in the nineteenth century and expose its shameful practices. MadWoman is Louisa Treger’s third novel, a compelling but harrowing read, quite unlike her previous books Dragon Lady and The Lodger.
It is the story of Nellie Bly who has a difficult childhood, after her beloved father dies leaving Nellie’s mother, bereft and almost penniless. A further marriage takes place where the stepfather is violent towards Nellie’s mother. Despite the social shame attached to divorce in the nineteenth century, Nellie’s mother divorces her husband resulting in greater penury but physical safety for the family. Nellie decides to pursue a career in journalism and has some success writing for the Pittsburg Dispatch. Emboldened by this, she moves to New York in 1897 and tries to obtain employment on a major newspaper The New York World. This is not easy given the prejudice against female journalists, especially those tackling subjects other than fashion and beauty. After encountering difficulties in finding employment, she conceives an
audacious plan to expose the treatment of women in an asylum on Blackwell’s Island, New York. Incredibly, she manages to convince sufficient people that she is suffering from mental illness to be committed to the asylum. She does this under the auspices of Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of The New York World. The plan is for Nellie’s release to be secured by Pulitzer after seven days of incarceration. Horrifically things do not work out as planned. I could not put the book down once Nellie was in the asylum. Nellie is a woman ahead of her time with empathy for the poor and badly treated. What is especially shocking is that many of the inmates were there because their husbands had tired of them! Many patients would have had no recognisable mental illness. This is a fascinating account of a pioneering journalist. Bly’s exposé published in The New York World brought about a largescale investigation of the asylum. The investigation resulted in significant changes in the overseeing institution; more funds, additional physicians to supervise the nurses and staff, regulations to protect against overcrowding and fire hazards. Nellie Bly is an intriguing character. After her incarceration on Blackwell’s Island, she decided to try to beat Jules Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg’s record of traveling around the world in less than 80 days. Travelling by ship, horse, rickshaw sampan burro and other vehicles. She achieved the feat in just over 72 days.
Membership Secretary Association of Women Solicitors, London
How to go paperless in your law firm S
eeking to go paperless in your office? These three steps can get you started today.
storage system, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, can be used for storage. Alternatively, consider a practice management software (such as Clio’s which has in-built cloud storage) to store all client details where it can be accessed in just a few clicks.
1. Onboard clients digitally The simplest way to reduce your paper use is to stop creating new paper files and documentation. One way to achieve that is to move from a paper-based client system to a digital one.
Be sure to shred documents that are no longer required and take your time to clear the back log—it should be a marathon and not a sprint.
With technology, you can reduce a lot of paper from the intake and onboarding process: client details can be stored in a spreadsheet or in an online folder. Documents can be emailed and sent for e-signature. Moving to a client relationship management (CRM) platform for lawyers, such as Clio Grow, can offer even more paperless benefits. CRMs and practice management software allow you to set up paperless agreements, intake forms, billing, and e-signatures, for example. 2. Convert your existing files Unless you are a brand-new law firm, chances are good that you have at least some (or many) paper files and documents stored in your office or in use now. This is where a quality digital scanner will come in handy. Start with the documents you need immediately and work backwards when digitising. A cloud-based 26 | LegalWomen
3. Adopt clear processes If you want a paperless system to stick, it is imperative that you outline that system in writing. This should answer questions, such as: W hat should be done with paper files dropped off by clients? How are files named and organised on your cloud storage server? Who is responsible for making sure this all gets done? Going paperless can help your law firm to lower overheads, collaborate more easily with colleagues and clients, and positively impact the environment. For more details on how your firm can go paperless—included detailed steps for organising your digital files, dealing with your existing paper files, and staff training—check out Clio’s free guide. Download “The Green Law Firm: A Lawyer’s Guide to a Paperless Office” at clio.com/uk/greenwomen.
Leap appoints Gareth Walker as UK CEO – Gareth discusses the opportunities and challenges involved in his first six months, leading Leap UK
eap, the largest independent provider of software to law firms worldwide, has recently appointed Gareth Walker as CEO of Leap in the UK and Ireland. Previously Chief Operating Officer of Leap for five years, Gareth has extensive experience of the Leap business and the industry. He has worked in legal software for over 15 years and has been with Leap since they opened their first office in Twickenham, London. He has seen the business grow from the inside and has experienced firsthand the market changes over the years. Gareth’s first months as CEO have come at a turbulent time for the profession. Law firms are juggling the challenges of hybrid working and retaining and attracting talent in a competitive recruitment market. All this whilst maintaining an affordable yet profitable service. Gareth is, however, very positive about the future for the law firms Leap serves. Gareth comments: “The current business challenges faced by law firms, such as the scarcity of talent in the market, the rise in global costs and the need to adapt successfully to hybrid working are very much supported by Leap solutions. By automating daily tasks, improving cash flow and mitigating risk, Leap enables law firms to be more profitable and productive without the need for more staff or impacting customer standards. Using the right technology partner will support law firms to future-proof their practice, counter the effects of inflation and help to grow the business.” He adds, “Law firms are incredibly resilient through tough times. When things are tough, law firms need to embrace software even more. This enables them to continue delivering the same level of services with lower overheads as well as using less people. For us this means driving innovation in everything we do. We are passionate about how we do that.” In terms of the business landscape, the market and the importance of technology, Gareth has seen some key changes in his time at Leap and notes important constants. “I’ve been with Leap since we arrived in the UK in December 2013 and it has been an incredible journey. There have been many changes.” Gareth shares the following thoughts and observations as CEO:On the business landscape, the market and the importance of technology and of constantly innovating: In terms of the business landscape, we are faced with global political, economic and societal challenges caused by the war in Ukraine and Covid, however we’re continuing to grow rapidly. Law firms are resilient in tough times and turn to software to provide solutions to business challenges. There is an understanding that you’ve got to continue to drive and improve to survive and thrive in a challenging business climate.
It’s well known in the industry that we invest every year in the innovation of what is already the most widely used product in the market. There are always opportunities, and these will come from continuing to drive development. We drive innovation in terms of investing in our products and innovation in our services, thinking about new ways that we can help our clients. Our customer success team constantly questions how we can improve. On the changes, opportunities and challenges facing law firms and the importance of a partnership approach: Law firms’ adoption of technology has developed significantly in the last 15 years. The firms have a lot more knowledge when they go out to market now. The options are numerous, but law firms know there is more guidance available. Many years ago law firms would reluctantly accept the use of technology, now they want to embrace it. That’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve seen. This makes the onboarding process easier, however customers are quite rightly more demanding of their technology partners. The relationship is not just as a supplier but as a partner now and therefore the role of our Leap Practice Productivity Advisors is so crucial. The Leap partnership approach and the development and evolution of Leap Practice Productivity Advisors is critical to ongoing success. If we understand our law firms and their business processes and what they’re trying to achieve, then we can train their people in the right way. Once trained, we help them manage their staff training and processes. Our customer service plays a key role in this. It’s not just training individuals, it’s working with a law firm, top down, to help them embed those processes and skills and being able to do that in a remote working setting. We proactively want to spend time with our customers to see how they are using the software and suggest how to adapt business processes for maximum effect. We are a very proactive business. Ultimately, it’s about supporting law firms to use technology to mitigate challenges and achieve business success. On the Leap innovation ethos and future proofing for ongoing success: Innovation for us is a state of mind. We really have an evolution ethos here. We continually strive to be the best. The moment you stand still and you stop, you fall behind. And for us, it is about continually driving improvement in every single area of the business and every single aspect of what we do. We have a day one mentality. Today is day one. What do we know today? And what do we do to move forward? That’s something we drive a lot, and our business structures are fully designed around making sure that we do that. Gareth is confident of the continued success of Leap and of the law firms that Leap serves.
Effective use of cloud-based technology provides solutions to current business challenges, facilitating vital remote and hybrid working practices for law firms and reducing the headcount needs, overcoming the current skills gap caused by a scarcity of talent.
“We will survive and thrive because of our problem-solving approach. Our focus on technology development and our partnership approach to working with law firms helps future proof Leap and the businesses we serve, ensuring continued evolution, relevance and value in an ever-changing world.”
We have seen amazing advancements in the technology available in the market, and Leap has been a clear driver in that. The technology now available to law firms is just incredible. There are new players and innovations emerging constantly.
About Leap Leap Legal Software has been helping small to mid-sized law firms to become more efficient and profitable globally for more than 25 years. www.Leap.co.uk LegalWomen | 27
n the May issue, I spoke to 5 women who reflected on their personal experience in relation to the protected categories they identified with as set out in s 14 of the Equality Act, 2010; protected categories such as age disability, gender, reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Here, I invite reflection from four legal women on the reach of Intersectionality as policy and practice across the jurisdictions of the UK. As a legal concept, Kimberley Crenshaw conceived intersectionality as a way of improving anti-discrimination law for Black women 30 years ago. She argued that feminist theory and anti-racist theory had failed to recognise the ways in which multiple forms of disadvantage sometimes compound themselves and create obstacles that cannot be understood within the conventional ways of thinking about feminism and anti-racism. She argued against a single-axis framework in the courts for thinking about dis/advantage in terms of race or gender, as people’s lives are complex and shaped by many axes which influence each other. She and other black feminists, academics, and legal professionals today, propose ‘Intersectionality’ as a lens on the way these multiple social identities or various forms of inequality intersect within systems of power that breed discrimination. Intersectionality is not then, about adding these categories together, as a list of harms, but about the overlap of these categories as they are acted upon by systems of power. Put simply, Crenshaw says “it is about how certain aspects of who you are will increase your access to the good things or your exposure to the bad things in life”. Sally Brett, is head of Diversity and Inclusion at the Law Society of England. She gives a trajectory of the way in which she sees the key notion of inequity, that informs the intersectionality discourse, has been received by the profession: SB: So, I think (with) law firms, like many organizations, their work on diversity and inclusion has often begun with a focus on a single characteristic or a number of single characteristic groups. I think typically for example, we’ve seen organizations begin, a number of years ago, with concerns about gender equality …and how they could retain and progress those skilled professional women (when) they realized that there were systemic barriers or practices that made it hard for women to participate and progress in the way men had.
28 | LegalWomen
Then organizations often began to look at race or ethnicity, then moved on to look at LGBT, religion or belief. In the last couple of decades, as discrimination law expanded and more characteristics were added, and we got the equality act to bring it all together, so people tended to develop an approach that covered all of the protected characteristics, but in separate ways. Large organizations, in particular would set up networks, for example, for different groups based on those single characteristics and programmes of work, to try and ensure that they were addressing the systemic barriers linked to those characteristics. As time has gone on, and particularly in recent years, people have talked more and more about intersectionality, And I think that’s really helped deepen people’s understanding, or develop a more nuanced understanding of systemic disadvantage, discrimination issues and how we build greater inclusivity. In this sense, Sally understands intersectionality as a kind of analytic tool to argue for a set of standards for equality diversity and inclusion. As a concept and practice, however, the reception of Intersectionality is contested in academia by activists and in the legal profession. Part of the contestation in circulation, is to do with the way in which it relies on identity categories, that appear to serve as a means of designating people to categories according to aspects of their physical, sexual or social attributes; a kind of sorting mechanism. This ‘sorting mechanism’ notion is perceived in turn as a human resource tool for managing ‘diversity’, another much contested term, after ‘BAME’. Such terms can serve to place people into whole groups in ways that effectively cover over their differences rather than signify them; a form of governance. In this sense, there is an increasing scepticism towards terms such as ‘intersectionality’, ‘diversity’ and ‘BAME’. Also contested, is the idea that, by focusing on one group’s, any group’s disadvantage in comparison to another’s, it can divert attention away from a wider baseline approach to social provision, or away from a broader conversation about social issues that can be addressed through a minimum standard of provision applied across society so as to ensure greater inclusivity. Here, the feeling is, that what gets lost with an intersectionality focus on social or cultural identity categories may be “the breadth of conversation” that would address a wider “level of equity”. Amanda Millar, who was the first LGTBQ+ President of Scotland’s Law Society, identifies a shift in the traditional priorities that law firms are being obliged to consider in response to these discussions, AM: Some of the thought processes in relation to targets is hopefully changing, because the bigger organizations are looking at the advantages of inclusivity, work/ life balance, all of those kind of things. Some big businesses, I know have
Credit: David Smith
been involved in setting up the good business and mindfulness charter, and various other things. And helping people understand that this perpetual drive for target driving in the long run will ultimately become unsustainable…but it does bring its own challenges, and I do think we are, generationally, people are becoming more focused on, ‘well, I don’t necessarily want to become a partner, I’m quite happy, earning reasonably well as an associate thanks very much. Because that allows me to get home to my kids or go to yoga at six o’clock or, you know, whatever that might be’. Brigid Napier, is President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland and she took the opportunity to reflect on the data from the Society’s recently commissioned equality and diversity survey. BN: One of the interesting findings from our survey is the change in terms of gender and age. Our survey results reveal that that there are more women coming into the solicitor profession in Northern Ireland than ever before. However, our survey data also indicates that whilst more are coming into the profession more women solicitors over the age of 30 are choosing to leave the profession. The survey results indicate that some of the reasons cited include a lack of maternity and equal pay or career progression with only three out of every ten partners are women. Our response has been to be introduce a series of initiatives to support women within the solicitor profession in Northern Ireland. This includes a new Senior Leadership and Mentoring programme which will address the issues of inequality and diversity as well as equal pay. Brigid’s conversation with the many small firms that characterises Northern Ireland as well as the large firms is about their joint need to comply with the new ethos of equity that intersectionality inscribes. In practice, or in terms of the tangibility of law reform, there is as yet little reform discernible, notes Blair Wassman, Senior Associate at Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP. Blair reflects, that where the nuance of Intersectionality may most visibly be playing out, is in relation to high profile cases of senior executives working in the city, who want to argue discrimination in relation to dismissal claims. One senior woman she has worked with claimed on both grounds of sex, and race discrimination, and was therefore able to give more substance to her case, by showing a complex discriminatory attitude so that the Judge could have better insight into the kind of behaviour that was being complained about.
Blair signposts another recent high-profile case of sex discrimination at an employment tribunal with BNP Paribas, as key to raising awareness about the gender pay gap. BW: I think that’s what is making employers be a little more thoughtful about what they are doing. We certainly find that when these types of issues are raised, employer clients come to us a lot sooner to try to get them resolved before things get really ugly. However, she emphasizes, in employment law, it remains difficult for people with intersecting experiences of systemic discrimination to demonstrate their case, given the single axis tradition of our legal system, where race discrimination and sex discrimination tend to be treated differently, and not as combined categories. Where intersectionality may have more impact, might be in Immigration and Refugee Law, as claimants are asked to demonstrate fear of persecution in relation to some of the protected categories that section 14 of the Equality Act 2010, identifies. Similarly, Human Rights law is an area where the conceptual language of intersectional identities, and the privileges and dis-privileges attached to them, may be more familiar to the courts. One such case, is that of JD and A v UK (2019) that concerns the austerity measures of the housing benefits of women who had been victims of domestic violence. The judgement concluded that the UK had been in breach of art 14 ECHR in its deducting of these benefits. The Court recognised “overlapping” forms of disadvantage in the claimant’s status as a survivor of domestic violence and dependent on benefits. The case highlights how intersecting forms of structural inequalities rendered the claimant vulnerable in the context of a “group vulnerability”. In terms of substantial legal reform, it must be noted, that the combined discrimination provisions of Section 14 of the UK Equality Act 2010 have not yet been brought into effect, as the necessary ministerial authorization has still not been given. What is clear from the conversation above however, is that the legal profession is increasingly aware of the complexity of discrimination. It manifests a desire to incorporate intersectionality into its work, not only to folding the protected characteristics into its policy statements, but also ‘embedding it’ as Sally says, into its structures and practice.
‘I think an understanding of intersectionality should just be seen as deepening our understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion’ – Sally Brett
Features Editor & Academic
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Lubna Shuja L
ubna Shuja will succeed as the President of The Law Society of England and Wales in October this year and demonstrates the continued changing face of the profession – first Asian, first Muslim and seventh women to hold this prestigious position. Lubna’s enthusiasm and passion for law, its role in public life and the importance of a body representing and promoting solicitors is infectious. After a mere 45 minutes talking to her, I felt taller and prouder of my own profession as a solicitor. The Law Society appoints social mobility ambassadors to inspire others to study for the profession and their portraits surround the hall and waiting room. Lubna herself embodies this aspiration: born and educated in Bradford, no family links to the law but nevertheless took the plunge to study it as a degree. This was after being encouraged by a friend to “give it a go” although Lubna says she honestly thought ‘law is not for somebody like me’. Less familiar for many graduates today, is the straight line to qualifying Lubna achieved, a year doing the solicitors’ course followed by two years training (articles). She then worked in a traditional high street practice in Bradford before a move to Birmingham and setting up her own practice. Lubna relished the challenge of being a sole practitioner but warned it is not for everyone. The hours can be punishing due to the responsibility for everything; it can offer more flexibility but also be isolating. Lubna joined the Solicitor Sole Practitioners Group (SPG) which was invaluable as a source of advice and support from likeminded individuals. She became the Chair of SPG in 2012 and soon after was elected to be the Law Society Council Member representing the interests of sole practitioners. Lubna’s special interest is in professional regulation, and she participates in Disciplinary and Fitness to Practise Committees. “My role is to ensure the public is protected, that professional standards are maintained and to act in the public interest.” After this level of involvement, Lubna simply thought why not stand for election. She was partly intrigued to see what would happen: ‘I didn’t actually think we would ever have an Asian president – when I came on council it was majority male and white’. Main Aims for Presidential Year Acknowledging the frustrating negative press about lawyers and sometimes even the statements from government, one message Lubna is keen to promote is the understanding that lawyers do what the law says, and they protect vulnerable people. She wants to raise the profession’s profile in a positive way and the value to wider society. Lubna explains she wants to raise public understanding of why we need solicitors and what is distinctive about the responsibility solicitors have to their clients, highlighting the indemnity insurance and the code of ethics which binds them. Lubna wants the profession to be respected as of the utmost integrity. Diversity is important to all the officers and Lubna is delighted that already her presence is felt with individuals reacting in a positive way to her role, continuing the change in the perception of the profession. Lubna is keen to ensure that TLS is not stuffy and loves the admissions ceremonies and welcoming new entrants to their London home. She wants all solicitors to feel “I belong here” and for that to be reflected around the building. 30 | LegalWomen
“I didn’t actually think we would ever have an Asian president – when I came on council it was majority male and white”.
The building has seen changes in the public rooms including the Carrie Morrison room which now includes a magnificent portrait donated by First/Next 100 Years. As the centenary of the admission of the first female solicitors in England and Wales draws close, Lubna confirms it will be marked appropriately but that it will not stop there. She wants to ensure the progress so far continues. One priority will be the women in Law Pledge and talking to firms about its significance.
The Law Society hangs the Next 100 Years mosaic of Carrie Morrison.
I left The Law Society feeling invigorated by Lubna’s passion for the law and work of solicitors. She will be an outstanding advocate for the profession.
Criminal Law: Why we are striking S
eema Dosaj, managing partner at Berris Law LLP explains the background to the strike action – as well as ensuring barristers are paid appropriately it is to protect the future of the justice system. Independent advocacy is essential in supporting the rule of law.
The legal system in the UK was once considered to be the benchmark of the world. Many countries adopted our system, but now due to a lack of funding and lack of recruitment this special system is broken. Being represented in court and ensuring that everyone be entitled to a fair trial, was a tenet promised by the Magna Carta. It was a right that everyone had, and sadly, this happens to no longer be the case. Barristers are self-employed and independent; they deliver a very high standard of advocacy. Their historic commitment to supporting individuals and upholding the premises such as the right to a fair trial is something that should not be forgotten. However, we now find ourselves in a situation where no funding has been invested in the court buildings, court staff, or in barristers’ and advocates’ fees. Barristers have experienced a continued financial precariousness, partly due to rates of pay and the way in which they are paid – the reason for the walkouts that we currently face. Those of us working in the criminal justice system do not take these Low pay impacts the rule of steps lightly – barristers began law and barristers’ livelihoods. with a two-day strike in the week of June 27th this year. These protests are due to continue for an extra day each week until reaching a five-day strike in the week of July 18. There are numerous issues with the current payment system. Today, barristers are paid a fee for each case instruction. This instruction fee fluctuates depending on the seriousness of the offence followed by a daily rate for trial. Though each case may call for similar amounts of preparation, the work is worth a disproportionate amount less if the client pleads guilty as there is no additional trial fee. Other issues faced by barristers include not being paid for work done for a specific trial that they cannot attend due to other cases clashing. With the backlog of cases currently flooding the system, these clashes will no doubt become far more prevalent. Not forgetting that payment is also only made to barristers once their case is finished will again only be exacerbated due to the backlog and long delays. This makes the economics of practice difficult, especially for those starting out in their careers.
It has been widely reported that many barristers earn less than the minimum wage for the work that they do. The chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Jo Sidhu QC, claimed barristers had suffered an average decrease in real earnings of 28% since 2006 – and that those in the first three years of practice earn a median income of only £12,200. In 2021, Sir Christopher Bellamy QC chaired the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid which found that significant numbers of barristers undertaking criminal legal aid work were paid around £12,000 in the early years of their career. Even in the higher income brackets identified in the report, criminal barristers’ incomes were significantly below those in commercial or tax work, or solicitors working in elite firms. Bellamy also found that there was a high rate of attrition at the criminal bar, with the loss of ethnic minorities and women in particular, and an increasingly “aged” profile. While he was hesitant to blame pay alone, Bellamy recommended a general increase in the fees paid for criminal work by £35 million (15%) for both barristers and solicitor advocates. The justice secretary Dominic Raab proposed a 15% pay rise, or around £7,000 for a “typical barrister”. But this would not apply to the current huge backlog of cases created by the pandemic, of which many cases may take years to resolve. These would neither address the loss of barristers who cannot afford to live on their current wage packet or entice new entrants to the system. As a result of poor pay and the poor working conditions that barristers face, many have now left the profession. The profession is seeing no new recruits, with law students preferring to pursue more lucrative and better working conditions. The strike action is as much about ensuring that barristers are paid correctly, then it is about protecting the future of the justice system which is quite frankly at breaking point. The current backload of cases, and lack of barristers, means that the public is no longer being served the justice that they are entitled to. Independent advocacy is essential in supporting the rule of law. This current chaos in our system will also mean that barristers from less-privileged economic backgrounds, women, and ethnic minorities, will be forced out over low pay. The bar will soon become a profession for the privileged few, those who may not be able to entirely relate to those that they represent. This will have a significant impact in the recruitment of the Judiciary who will then be chosen from a pool of the privileged few, reflecting white males who may have little understanding and little lived-life experience of those who appear before them. The impact of the low pay is not all about lining the pockets of those who are “perceived” to be the elite. It is about upholding the rule of the law. It is about ensuring that we are all represented equally by men and women who reflect our demographic, and not just by the elite class in this country.
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GCS – Customer Service That Shines G
uaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) is a market-leading provider of legal indemnity insurance for ‘Residential’ and ‘Commercial’ properties and ‘Developments’. All our policies are comprehensively worded, and premiums are competitively priced. So, what makes us ‘a cut above the rest’? GCS boasts one of the most experienced and knowledgeable underwriting teams in the industry. Our friendly underwriters are always on hand to help provide simple solutions no matter how complex the risk. Each has an average of 16 years’ experience. Also, in most cases, we can respond immediately to enquiries. If the issue is complex in nature, we generally respond within 3 hours! In a recent survey, we received a 100% customer satisfaction rating – here are just a few comments we received about our service: “Always helpful. As soon as the details are passed to GCS I am assured that the issue is being dealt with and I can move onto other matters. There is no need to chase as quotes are always received expediently.” “Pack and bespoke arrangements always come back quickly and will provide reply within hours to enable matters to be dealt with efficiently.”
“Underwriters are always really helpful and quick to respond to any queries that I have – great service. Wouldn’t use anyone else!” It’s no wonder we’re trusted by over 20,000 conveyancing professionals across the country. Being the pioneers of ‘Instant Issue’ (meaning conveyancers can issue policies immediately, without the need for referral), GCS have worked hard to perfect quick and easy solutions that make solicitors and conveyancers jobs a lot easier. Our speedy GCS ‘Online’ system provides quotes in seconds and policies that can be issued in minutes. Our insurance ‘Pack’ is just as easy to use, but instead policies come in paper format. Our underwriters are always on hand to discuss all your clients’ needs if you require a ‘Bespoke’ quote, and to issue policies ‘Direct’ from our office, if you wish. There is no service charge, simply the premium. You have the freedom of choosing to issue policies using any or all of the methods listed above. Visit our website for more information (www.gcs-title.co.uk).
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Emerging Writers Programme
ongratulations to Tilly Rubens, a writer and subeditor for Legal Women, who has been chosen as one of the ten writers in the non-fiction category for the Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers’ Programme. Emerging Writers Selected For Genesis Jewish Book Week Programme – Genesis Foundation. Tilly’s project will be to research and write about the lives and legacies of four young legal graduates who took on the establishment to allow women to become lawyers in the early 20th Century in the landmark case of The Law Society v Bebb (1913). Gwyneth Bebb, Karin Costello, Maud Croft and Lucy Nettlefold were four pioneering women whose bravery in taking this case promoted great publicity and eventually led to legislation allowing women to become lawyers. They are sometimes referred to as the Bebb Quartet. Bebb Quartet | legalwomen.org.uk. Tilly has written extensively on promoting diversity in the legal profession, access to justice and the history of the early women lawyers. This programme’s support includes a bursary, mentorship from a leading writer and peer support sessions over the duration of the ten-month programme. Tilly will be mentored by Anne Sebba, a leading historian who has written significant biographies about women, including her most recent best-seller: Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy by Anne Sebba | Goodreads.
Legal Women @LegalWomenUK Legally Blonde is officially 21! Premiered 21 years ago today – here’s to 21 more years of ‘bend and snap’! ■
Claire Madison Mitchell QC | @madisonmitchel1 If I see another drama with a pencil thin, very intense, humourless female lawyer. Why can’t we have some reasonably relaxed, size 12 plus folk, who can’t be bothered ironing silky shirts? We also do the law. ■ Legal Women | @LegalWomenUK
We wish Tilly every success with the programme and future publication. ■
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. Many thanks to our team Charity Mafuba, Agnes Swiecka and Emma Webb. 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: info@LegalWomen.org.uk. ■ Credit: Emma Webb
Claire O’Hagan | @claireohagan19 Court dramas can be unrealistic but the most unrealistic part of “Anatomy of A Scandal” has to be a criminal case (never mind that it involves a solemn case) having a trial fixed within 3 months of the accused’s first appearance. ■
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Poppy’s second chance at love P
oppy’s owner first contacted her local rehoming centre and said she needed to hand Poppy, a four year old Chihuahua cross, over to us as she had sadly recently been given a diagnosis that she had a terminal illness. She was advised to apply for a free Canine Care Card and nominate a Dog Guardian; someone she trusts to sign over the care of Poppy to Dogs Trust should she need it. She’d then be able to spend the most time possible with Poppy and feel reassured that she’d be given the best possible care at Dogs Trust when they could no longer be together. When Poppy’s Dog Guardian contacted us to advise that her owner was now receiving palliative care and that they needed to activate her Canine Care Card, Poppy was collected by Dogs Trust the very next day. After a vet and behavioural assessment we decided the best place for Poppy would be a loving foster home. We were able to advise the foster carers of all the information we’d been given by Poppy’s owner regarding her life, diet and routine to enable us to make this transitional period as stress-free as possible for Poppy. Within almost no time, we were able to find very affectionate Poppy a lovely new home for her second chance at love. Poppy’s story is one of many we come across at Dogs Trust.
Many owners are growing increasingly worried about gradually losing their independence or their health deteriorating. Dogs Trust want to offer owners peace of mind that we will be there at this difficult time to care for and rehome their four legged friends should the worst happen. Therefore we’re pleased to announce that we have extended our Canine Care Card service. Dogs Trust will care for your dog should you move into a care home, become seriously ill or pass away. For more information on our Canine Care Card service and how to register your dog please type in this link www.dogstrust.org.uk/ccc where you will find our online application form and more information on our free service. If you have any queries regarding the Canine Care Card please email CCC@dogstrust.org.uk or call 020 7837 0006 and we will be happy to help.
Who’ll keep her happy when your client’s gone? We will – as long as your client has a Canine Care Card. It’s a FREE service from Dogs Trust that guarantees their dog a second chance a life. At Dogs Trust, we never put down a healthy dog. We’ll care for them at one of our 21 rehoming centres, located around the UK. One in every four of your clients has a canine companion. Naturally they’ll want to make provision for their faithful friend. And now you can help them at absolutely no cost. So contact us today for your FREE pack of Canine Care Card leaflets – and make a dog-lover happy.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Or call 020 7837 0006
Or write to: FREEPOST DOGSTRUSTL (No stamp required) Please quote “334975” All information will be treated as strictly confidential. Service only available for residents of the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.
A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®
Registered charity numbers: 227523 & SC037843
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© Dogs Trust 2021
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