THE UK MAGAZINE FOR ALL WOMEN WORKING IN LAW
on motivation New challenges: ■ Where to work? ■ How to work? ■ Free childcare? 1 | LegalWomen
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ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey SALES DIRECTOR Karen Hall STUDIO MANAGER Lee Finney MEDIA No. 1818 PUBLISHED February 2021 © Legal Women Magazine, Benham Publishing Ltd. LEGAL NOTICE © Benham Publishing. None of the editorial or photographs may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publishers. Benham Publishing would like to point out that all editorial comment and articles are the responsibility of the originators and may or may not reflect the opinions of Benham Publishing. No responsibility can be accepted for any inaccuracies that may occur, correct at time of going to press. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us. DISCLAIMER Legal Women Magazine welcomes all persons eligible for membership regardless of sex, race, religion, age or sexual orientation.
be prepared to act in cases of domestic abuse
14 Returning to work from maternity leave
Miriam González Durántez
COVER INFORMATION From The Athena Project by Leonora Saunders.
18 Gender-Equality and Economic Recovery
20 Flexible working in law; a tale of two experiences
22 Is the “end of the
office” a “women’s issue”?
30th April 2021
For the May 2021 edition
Editorial To submit editorial, please send to: Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk Editor: Coral Hill. Sub-editors: Gillian Fielden, Alice Jellard, Tilly Rubens. Editorial Assistants: Charity Mafuba, Emma Webb.
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16 Giving thanks for 17 Miriam González
All views expressed in this publication are the views of the individual writers and not those of Legal Women unless specifically stated to be otherwise. All statements as to the law are for discussion and should not be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law, are of a general nature and do not constitute advice in any particular case or circumstance. Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified legal advice.
5 Welcome 8 Lesley Wan 10 Improper Impact 11 Careers Q&A 13 Employers should
Lizzette Robleto de Howarth
24 Dana Denis-Smith 28 Eliminating Violence against Women
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Welcome FEBRUARY 2021
Are we living-at-work or working-from-home?
he pandemic led to an explosion of working from home with many workplaces and employees pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the transfer took place. Some felt free from lengthy commutes and office suits but are now feeling as though we are living at work. It’s clear that far from the fears of workers not pulling their weight, if they are at home, most find it difficult to switch off and being always accessible to work emails may mean excessive hours. Some lawyers are cooped up in house-shares or small flats without any real workspace beyond the bedroom, whilst others, who in usual circumstances love living alone, are finding the isolation difficult. Added to this, families with school-age children, have stress from juggling work and checking children are doing their maths lesson / not tormenting the dog etc. Organisations are acutely aware of the dangers of burn-out and other mental health issues. Some are offering free online yoga, mindfulness, regular online socials, and while this may help some, there are many parents, primarily the mothers, who have opted for furlough in the short-term. What do we want from life, from society to achieve the balance that suits us as individuals? This edition looks at what questions we should be asking ourselves in terms of how the world may develop. Is this even a gender issue? Helen Broadbridge looks at this in her article on our future work life. Where we will be working is as much an issue as how. What type of flexibility or agile working do we want in the workplace and at home? Is it merely repackaging the 40 (or 60) hour week, or do we want more fundamental change? Do men want this too? How do we balance the different objectives or desires in our lives (whether that’s children, care commitments or other passions)? Reflecting on 27 years of working flexibly in Scotland, Dorothy Kellas hopes whatever future normal we have; it will not simply be a return to old work practices. Solicitors at Capsticks, Linklaters and WithersWorldWide share experiences on handling a return to work, giving tips for managers and employees. To what extent is this approach applicable for judges? We are used to the fee-paid judiciary who do have some flexibility but what other arrangements could work?
Judges job-sharing in even the highest courts should be possible by allocation of cases/hearings and would promote retention of some of the leading lawyers who would also like more time for other parts of their lives. Barristers report particular difficulties over combining flexibility and ambition; those in private chambers feel a need to be constantly available, especially in the early part of their careers and many depart for in-house positions. Miriam González Durántez emphasizes that the pandemic has highlighted that society is unable to function without the enormous amount of unpaid work (generally by women) which goes on in the home, childcare and care for the elderly. Society needs to address these issues for people to be economically productive, so what solution do we want to adopt? It’s estimated 30 000 childcare places in the UK have been lost and many parents will struggle to find replacements, with the outcome that one parent will need to give up work, at least temporarily, if they have pre-school children. Economist Vicky Pryce argues on pages 18-19 that free childcare for under-fives would pay for itself by allowing parents to work and, in turn, this would aid our post-pandemic recovery. This approach is also endorsed by the Women’s Budget Group which states: Urgent action is required to overhaul the childcare system … In the longer-term, we argue for a universal and free system, in recognition of childcare as a public service on equal footing as school education. Childcare, Gender and COVID-19 – Womens Budget Group (wbg.org.uk). Let’s reflect on these challenges and make our voices heard by policymakers. I would be delighted to hear readers’ views. ■
Founder & Editor
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LW Editorial Board We are delighted to be supported in this new magazine by ambassadors for the legal profession across the UK. ENGLAND & WALES Christina Blacklaws, “Honoured and delighted to be asked to become a member of the editorial board and to welcome the new independent Legal Women magazine.” Christina developed and managed law firms including a virtual law firm and set up the first ABS with the Co-op. More recently, she was Director of Innovation at a top 100 firm. She now runs her own consultancy and holds a range of public appointments including chair of the LawTech UK Panel, chair of the Next Generation Services Advisory Group, part of Innovate UK and member of the Legal Support Advisory Group. Christina was President of the Law Society of England and Wales until July 2019 performing ambassadorial and representative functions domestically and internationally. Christina is a multi-award winning (for innovation and diversity and inclusion) published author, speaker and lecturer and frequent media commentator. Millicent Grant FCILEx QC (Hon); CILEx Past President 2017/18; CILEx Professional Board Member. Millicent, a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) board member and a former CILEx President and first Chartered Legal Executive to be appointed an Honorary Queen’s Counsel. Millicent has worked to tackle diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and the judiciary. She gave evidence to the Constitution Committee regarding the eligibility of Chartered Legal Executives for judicial appointment and contributed to the Pre-Application Judicial Education (PAJE) group and programme. She was awarded the UK Diversity Legal Awards of ‘Black Solicitors Network Lawyer of the Year’ in 2017 and is an ambassador for social mobility and Chair of the Knights Youth Centre. Janem Jones kick-started her successful career as a solicitor after being awarded the Welsh Office Prize and the Cavendish Prize for Criminal Law. She practised for many years as a partner and senior partner in a West Wales firm where she specialised in Family Law, Education Law and Criminal Law. She now works as a consultant for Williams and Bourne as an experienced advocate.
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 series ‘Talking Law’ with over 44 thousand listeners.
NORTHERN IRELAND Karen O’Leary leads Caldwell & Robinson’s Family Law practice. Qualified to practice in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales, Karen is regularly consulted by government and state agencies on legal matters from other jurisdictions. In 2011, she was invited to be a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), an organisation of leading global family lawyers. She is also a regular speaker on family law matters and has addressed the Four Jurisdictions Family Law Conference on a number of occasions, the European Family Justice Observatory, most recently speaking about the implications of Brexit on family law.
SCOTLAND Alison Atack, Past President of The Law Society of Scotland. Formerly, Alison was a member of the Regulatory Committee and convener of the Client Protection Sub-Committee. She was a partner at Lindsays until March 2018 and has detailed knowledge and experience of private client work, including succession planning and agricultural property.
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LW Mission Information | Inspiration | Innovation
Bottom L to R: Nicola Williams, Service Complaints Ombudsman Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces; Rt Hon Lady Arden of Heswell DBE, Supreme Court Judge; Millicent Grant QC (Hon), Past President of CILEx. Top L to R: Christina Blacklaws, Past President Law Society for England and Wales; Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar of England and Wales at General Council, Master Karen Shuman, Master of the Chancery Division Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Steering Group, Lincoln’s Inn.
■ To provide clear information on gender parity ■ To inspire practical initiatives to create real change ■ To promote innovation in leadership and practice LW magazine is for women qualified as lawyers, solicitors, barristers, advocates, judges, legal executives and those working as paralegals, legal secretaries, advisers or recruiters, the list is endless. We also welcome the many male champions as readers and contributors. This inspirational photograph is from one of the highlights of
the centenary celebrations for women being able to qualify, when Lincoln’s Inn hosted a discussion with female lawyers representing distinct legal careers: solicitor, CILEx, barrister, in-house counsel and judges. The evening showed how we all shared the same challenges by virtue of being female. However, we want our conversation to be inclusive and persuasive, so please don’t see the word ‘women’ and think that means you are not welcome. Gender balance is not a “women’s” issue, but a business issue, and as far as you are interested in business issues, please read on. ■ LegalWomen | 7
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Charity Mafuba gains insight to Lesley Wan’s motivation L
esley Wan is General Counsel at FBN Bank, founder of Through the Looking Glass Charity for young people and the Eagle Club for women in senior leadership.
You are very active in philanthropy and ‘giving back’, with organisations such as Through the Looking Glass Charity, which you founded on the premise of enabling gifted underprivileged children access to work experience in the City that will spearhead their future careers. What inspired you to do this?
Growing up in New Zealand, my mum always encouraged us to help other people whenever we could and so “giving back” is second nature to me. However, it was only after I saw the heroic effort of a close friend, Paul Alan Smith, who raised US$100,000 in aid of the Boxing Day tsunami disaster in 2004, that I realised I must make a more significant and sustainable contribution to help those less fortunate than me. This guy was a successful and talented Hollywood agent working all hours, but he always found time to do the right thing. It was eye-opening and inspiring to watch someone selflessly and humbly help strangers in need. He showed me just how simple it can be to make a real difference in someone else’s life, and so, I now honour him for giving me the courage to set up this charity – www.lookingglassuk.com. I am still in touch with many of our young alumni and am so proud to see them go onto successful roles in the City and beyond. One of our former students is regularly featured in Forbes magazine for his exciting tech start up; another secured a US$50,000 basketball scholarship to study in Maine and later plans to read law. Another was the first in her family to go to University and graduate with a 2:1 in History from Cambridge; and one of our kids who was destined to become a mechanic changed his mind after work experience at EY and went on to do exceptionally well, graduating with a 2:1 in Finance from Southampton University. He is now a role model in his community for other young people! There are so many more wonderful stories I would love to share but I do want to acknowledge that their successes would not have been realised without the support of our incredible teachers who facilitate this opportunity and our progressive corporates who provide our students with work experience. I am so grateful to them all. This is cool and what makes the huge amount of personal time I invest in the charity so worthwhile.
You studied law and qualified as a lawyer in New Zealand. What made you decide to practice law in the United Kingdom? As a junior lawyer I was always very entrepreneurial and persuaded my partners and a large Australasian corporation, BIL, to fly me to Laos as their legal advisor to assess the legal and commercial risks of investing in a US$100M forestry plantation project, followed by supporting the same in connection with a significant infrastructure project in Vietnam. After this exciting 3-month stint in the Golden Triangle, I pondered my next career steps. The CEO suggested I speak to his then general counsel, Dame Patsy Reddy (who is now Governor-General of New Zealand) for advice. Dame Patsy was incredibly supportive; shared her insights and encouraged me to head to London, to enhance my life experience and gain international finance experience. This advice from such an impressive senior female executive changed the course of my life in such a positive way, and so I try to do the same and pay it forward. In a world where gender inequality has been a major impediment to women’s career progression, how has the Eagle Club, of which you are both Founder and President enabled women to achieve their well-deserved success? I love the Eagle Club. Together, we have built a powerful, diverse and dynamic female network of trusted friends and peers whose primary objective is to support and empower each other to reach our potential and overcome impediments to progression. Excitingly, we are now going international. One of the key factors identified among junior women in business in my former role, was a lack of confidence which held them back from progressing in their careers. Simply put, many women did not believe they had the right attributes to progress into new/more senior roles, or the courage to ask for remuneration that reflected their worth. Interestingly, I discovered during my research and discussions with senior women across industries that a lack of confidence is also a primary theme which comes up time and again, so it was important to me to create a safe environment to encourage women to be vulnerable and talk about this concept of “selfworth”. We have created an environment where women can contribute their thoughts and experiences and move forward. This has worked well and helped members to bond and build new friendships. Confidence boosting in this way has really made a resoundingly positive impact on our members, with one General Counsel recently sharing on a virtual call, that she loved the Eagle Club because it not only helped her to build a strong female network which she never had before but being in the club had given her the confidence to enter the legal awards where she and her legal team were subsequently shortlisted for 8 awards (many of which they won)! Prior to being a member of the Eagle Club, she would not have entertained entering the awards. To me this is what success looks like – I have the best seat in the house and delight in watching friends and peers blossom. ■ LegalWomen | 9
Diversity & Inclusion
Improper Impact onboard? Instead of thinking ‘this doesn't affect me’ we must step outside of our immediate sphere and listen to the experiences of those who find the system doesn’t work for them – or worse, actively tries to keep them out. This is where Improper steps in. Founded by four women who want to make things better, Improper creates campaigns that provide a platform for people to be heard… and seen. From powerful portrait campaigns that raise up diverse voices to thoughtful strategies that push for behavioral change, Improper produces content that forces people to think. Improper has direct experience of working within the legal profession on creating these campaigns with founders Leonora Saunders and Kathryn Nawrockyi having worked across the sector on the representation of women and other minoritised groups.
Rachel Akohonae, shot for the BNP Paribas Americas International Women’s Week campaign 2019, © Improper.
acism, sexism and misogyny are shockingly prevalent in our society and professional lives – including within the legal sector. Although much good work is being done to raise awareness of inequalities within the legal profession through localised initiatives and public facing campaigns, how far have we actually come? Can we truly feel comfortable about the speed of progress?
On average women make up just 1 in 4 partners at top firms in the UK. Women are still significantly underrepresented in senior legal positions with a mean bonus gap of 12.8%.1 Over 50% of female lawyers have witnessed sexual harassment according to a 2019 survey with numerous examples of inappropriate behaviour reported.2 And only 3% of the workforce are black, with structural barriers and attitudes blocking people of colour who are still facing overt discrimination. Recently barrister Alexandra Wilson, a black woman, was mistaken for a defendant three times in one day at court.3 All members of the profession – particularly those who hold power and privilege – need to face up to their complicity in maintaining the status quo, and actively engage in changing the system for the benefit of all. But how do you get everyone 10 | LegalWomen
Leonora Saunders created The Athena Project, sponsored by and in collaboration with CMS Cameron McKenna, which celebrates women leaders in the legal profession, business and politics. She also worked with the Law Society over three years to create the Social Mobility Ambassador Campaign and is a champion of the First 100 Years project, working towards a strong and equal future for all women in the legal profession. Kathryn Nawrockyi, former Director of Gender Equality at Business in the Community, led research into women’s experiences in the workplace with Project 28-40, including a deep dive legal sector project. Since 2017 she has worked with Hogan Lovells to design and deliver Project Respect, a groundbreaking anti-bullying and harassment project. Understanding the challenges posed by bias and structural inequality, Improper brings creativity, visuals and powerful aesthetics to facilitate conversations and make progress. Improper has an interest in working with legal sector clients who are concerned about the representation of women, people of colour, and other marginalised groups within their organisations, who want to try new and creative ways to tell the stories of those who are underrepresented and who are committed to identifying and tackling problematic behaviours amongst employees. For an Improper conversation contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ 1. Law.com International diversity survey 2. https://www.law.com/international-edition/2019/09/11/ most-female-lawyers-have-experienced-or-seenworkplace-sexual-harassment/ 3. https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/equality-diversity/key-findings diverse-legal-profession/
Careers Q&A Navigating redundancies, and your return-towork post-lockdown or furlough
his year has been incredibly challenging for so many, and whilst the impact of COVID-19 is far from over, it is important that employees are cognisant of their rights. 1. My work says my role is redundant but in fact they are simply distributing my work amongst the colleagues they are keeping. Can I argue that it is not a true redundancy? Can my work colleagues refuse to take on the extra work? They are already under great pressure. If a Company has decided to restructure which leads to a redundancy situation, this is included in the definition of what constitutes a genuine redundancy in terms of section 139 of the Employment Rights Act. This includes whole business or workplace-specific closures or where the requirements for employees to perform a certain kind of work within the business has ceased or diminished. This can be achieved through consolidation of roles. This has been confirmed in a recent EAT decision of Berkeley Catering v Jackson, where it was held that a genuine redundancy situation did exist where the Company’s owner decided he was going to take over the duties of the Managing Director, and named himself CEO. As a result, the need for the Managing Director to perform that particular kind of work diminished. If it is the case that you and your colleagues all do similar work, and the Company’s intention is to achieve a headcount reduction, then there ought to be a fair pooling and selection process whereby you and your colleagues are all pooled together and assessed on objective selection criteria to determine who should be selected for redundancy. Colleagues who are left to absorb additional work after team members are made redundant may be able to refuse to take it on. This will depend on whether the additional tasks fall within the scope of their job role and whether the employer’s instruction is reasonable. In any event, where a worker has opted out of the maximum 48-hour week, they are entitled to notify their employer that they wish to opt back in – this will place a cap on the number of hours they can work per week.
2. I am suffering from anxiety at the moment due to the lockdown and have a number of additional family commitments. I have requested a reduction in hours to accommodate this for six months. Work are arguing that this will make my anxiety worse because of the demands of the job and instead suggest I do a different role which they say will be less taxing. I’m upset and feel that they are side-lining me rather than valuing the many years of work. What are my options? The best thing to do is try and reach an amicable agreement with your employer. Your employer cannot force you to accept a different role but bear in mind that this may have been offered to you with their best intentions. If you have not done so, you could make a statutory flexible working request, wherein you request that your hours are reduced for a specified period of time (i.e. six months). An employee is entitled to make one flexible working request in a 12-month period, and your employer is required to deal with such request in a reasonable manner. Depending on what your family commitments are, you have statutory rights to take time off for example, there are options to take parental leave or unpaid time off to assist your dependants. Your employer may have a policy regarding the same, and you should ask to see a copy so that you better understand what the position is concerning such types of leave and what your options are. Another option would be to ask your employer to furlough you on a flexible basis. This would allow you to work on a part-time basis (on any arrangement) and be furloughed for the remainder of the time. However, note that the furlough scheme is due to close on 30 April 2021. If your anxiety has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more, then you may be disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. If so, the employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments may be engaged and this could extend to reducing your working hours. Continued on next page
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Continued from previous page Alternatively, if you have been booked off sick for a period of time, it may be helpful to speak with your Company’s occupational health provider, and perhaps a phased return would be more suitable to allow you to return to work gradually. 3. I think I have been selected for redundancy because I have a disability (dyslexia). Previously, my employer was very supportive, and I had assistance from a PA. This has been difficult whilst working from home and probably has slowed down my rate of work. Do I have a case for objecting? In a redundancy situation, and to avoid discrimination, the selection criteria used to determine which employees are selected for redundancy must be objective and fair. Therefore, if your rate of work has slowed down and you are concerned that this may or has detrimentally affected your scoring in the redundancy selection process, you should certainly point this out to your employer. As part of the redundancy consultation process, you ought to ask questions such as, who made the decision to select you for redundancy and when, has there been a selection process, what criteria were used, and ask to see your scores. If the answers lead you to believe that your employer has been unfair and your disability or performance as a result of working from home is a factor in the decision, you may consider raising a grievance about your unfair selection and that this is linked to your disability. If the only reason you have been selected or have scored lower than your colleagues is because of your disability, or the effect of the selection criteria is that you have been treated unfairly, your employer should arguably take into account the period before you were working from home as part of your assessment to avoid being either directly or indirectly discriminatory. Even though the selection criteria applied on the face of it may be fair, if they are unfairly applied, any dismissal as a result would be unfair.
on how to rebuild my confidence? Firstly, know that you are not alone. There are so many employees who have found themselves in similar situations this year. If your previous employer has provided you with services such as outplacement support, you should take full advantage as this can assist you greatly with putting yourself back into the market and rebuilding your confidence. Remember that potential employers are acutely aware of the motivation behind most redundancies, a global pandemic. Whilst it is not always easy, try and look at this positively and see this as an opportunity to forge a new path for yourself. For many, the lockdown period has led to exciting career developments, or even a career change. This is an uncertain time, and many of us are finding ourselves in unique situations, regarding legal issues which are new and unchartered. In all of the instances above, a great deal will turn on the facts and the chronology of events. As such, it is advisable to seek legal advice early to ensure that the correct steps can be taken at the right time. ■
Associate | BDBF | Employment Law We cannot respond to individual queries but if you have a careers question you would like discussed in our next edition, please send these to Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk. The questions are all published anonymously.
Employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace. It seems that these were in place before you started working from home, and such adjustments should extend to your homeworking, as arguably this has become your “workplace” during lockdown. 4. I am being made redundant at 3 years PQE. It’s been decided on hours/income produced and my score is low. This is because, during the first lockdown, I took furlough voluntarily as I had two young children to look after who could not go to school. This is a similar situation to the previous question, where an employer has arguably looked at the wrong performance period when applying its selection criteria. If performance over a specific period is going to form part of the selection criteria, the employer should choose a performance period which places all employees in that selection pool in the same position and on an equal footing, i.e. where external factors, such as furlough were not at play, and you were working your full hours. In addition, it seems that there could be an element of discrimination at play as well given that the reason you took furlough voluntarily was to care for your children. 5. I feel completely demoralised after months of furlough and now I have been made redundant. Any suggestions 12 | LegalWomen
Monday 8 March 2021
on’t forget to participate in International Women’s Day by joining the IWD 2021 #ChoosetoChallenge campaign and put your photo with a raised hand on social media and tag @LegalWomen. ■
Employers should be prepared to act in cases of domestic abuse L
orraine O’Brien is the CEO of The Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) which is calling on employers to increase their role in protection of those experiencing domestic abuse. As increasing numbers are working from home, this has become a high-profile issue.
The legal sector is playing a powerful role in tackling all forms of domestic abuse. Lorraine O’Brien Demonstrated in part by the vibrant legal contingent among our membership, ranging from The Supreme Court and global practices such as Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, to practices in all corners of the country and membership bodies, such as the International Bar Association (IBA). The action they are taking is both welcome, and sadly, necessary. The Covid-19 crisis has thrown the issue of domestic abuse into sharp focus, as the shift to working from home removed the workplace as a safe reprieve for those experiencing domestic abuse. To put this challenge into context, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, and visits to its website have risen exponentially during the crisis – up 50% on last year within a few weeks of the first lockdown. This alarming rise in calls for help is mirrored around the world. In Hubei province, China, domestic violence reports more than tripled in one month. In Spain, calls to a Catalan government helpline rose by 20% in the first few days of the confinement period; in Cyprus, calls to a similar hotline rose 30% in one week after its first confirmed case of coronavirus. Legal action The action being taken is varied in form and aim, proving that there are numerous ways in which employers can play their part. Linklaters LLP announced their new policy and package of support for employees experiencing domestic abuse. Innovation at this level from a sector global leader is powerful.
As David Martin, Linklaters’ Global Diversity, and Inclusion Partner, put only too well, “Domestic abuse is a workplace issue.” No matter how big or wieldy a company might be, there is room to act. From another large firm, we are delighted that Hogan Lovells has signed up as one of our founder Beacons – pledging to go above and beyond by acting as a mentor to other businesses who want to act against abuse and providing pro-bono support to the EIDA and our partners. One live project is the Hogan Lovells’ team working with us and employment tribunals to prepare for the arrival of the Domestic Abuse Bill. And in an example of how organisations supporting the sector can also have a commanding impact, The International Bar Association has hosted two successful webinars to engage their members and stakeholders on the issue of an employers’ role in tackling domestic abuse. They are committed for the long-term by commissioning a collaborative research project examining specific action being taken by the legal sector around the world. The fact that we can point to such impactful, varied, and generous activity, is one small slither of light in this incredibly tough time. Providing support and protection for employees for whom home is not a safe place has been a challenge met head on by our members across the legal community. Although protection and support of employees is the driving motivation for all employers acting, it is worth noting that the cost of domestic abuse to business is estimated at £1.9bn – in the form of decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages, and sick pay. There is not just a moral imperative to act. There is a bottom-line argument to be made for tackling domestic abuse through the workplace too. Beyond Covid-19 The Employers Initiative for Domestic Abuse (EIDA) was founded on the premise that employers have a unique vantage point and can provide a private source of support for employees who may be experiencing abuse; as well as to deliver training and education to staff on how to spot signs of abuse. We are pleased that our message and aim is having an impact in the legal profession. But of course, there is always more to do. We are committed to continuing to provide targeted toolkits and signposting for our membership, as well as facilitating exchanges of best practice, successful initiatives, and policies through virtual networking meetings. With various parts of the UK currently affected by local lockdowns, however efficient the rollout of potential vaccines, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic will be with us for some time to come. In many cases, the changes that businesses have made in response to the pandemic will become permanent, with more employees working from home than ever before. We are calling on more legal firms to take practical steps to support their employees - you would be in good company. Whether you work in the legal sphere or beyond, domestic abuse is all our business. The EIDA is free for employers to join. ■ LegalWomen | 13
Returning to work from maternity leave: tips for employees and employers
Amanda Bell is a Senior Associate in the Family Law team at WithersWorldWide. She has three children, twins aged 3 and a 1 year old. Clare Baker is Counsel in the Investment Funds team of Linklaters. She has two children aged 3 and 1.
aving done it before, both Amanda Bell and Clare Baker felt confident and positive about the prospect of returning to work after a second period of maternity leave. When their return dates coincided with the spring lockdown of 2020 it became apparent that their experience second time around wouldn't be the same as before. Now as the rollout of a vaccine makes the prospect of a return to normal more of a reality, Clare and Amanda reflect on their experience of being a maternity returner during a global pandemic and what it has taught us about the way in which we can improve the returner experience as we move forward into what is being framed as the “new normal”. Crossing the threshold In 2020, maternity returners had a quite different experience with businesses shifting to remote and connected working, overnight. The benefits and drawbacks of working from home have been analysed in detail already; and it is widely acknowledged that whilst flexibility and the lack of commute are positives, many (regardless of whether they have children) also find it difficult to work from home on a full time basis. There is little separation between home and work, and the time gained from the commute isn't necessarily replaced with additional downtime but just a seamless move into 'home'. Without the decompression time of a commute, the day can feel intense. Maternity returners have also faced the challenge re-integrating into the team remotely after an extended period away, getting to grips with new covid work procedures (such as remote hearings), and the occasional shrieks of young children elsewhere in the home during the working day. It has been a steep learning curve. Re-connecting from the kitchen table A big loss of the new remote working environment for maternity returners has been the ability to catch up with colleagues organically. It became quickly evident that it would be important to work out how to replicate this in the virtual world and technology provides some helpful options. Lots of firms instituted whole team Zoom meetings as a way of keeping connected during lockdown. A great way to see everyone in one go and weekly meetings come around quickly. There are also
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other useful tools – live status updates on instant messaging apps such as Skype give an indication of when someone is potentially available and it's possible to use those messages in a more relaxed way than email to 'drop-in' on someone for a catch up. However good the technology, maternity returners should be encouraged to pro-actively diarise individual catch-up meetings, not just with managers but also with wider members of the team and firm who they perhaps wouldn't otherwise speak with on a regular basis. Just as in the office, colleagues are invariably delighted to re-connect. Getting back up to speed The overnight move to remote working has encouraged a flood of live and on-demand webinars which are a gift to maternity returners. Research has again and again emphasised that the return to work from maternity leave is a key career transition point for women, in part because of a dip in confidence. Supporting women to feel up to speed with developments in their area of the law on return from maternity leave can really help with self-confidence in the first few months back at work. Making the most of agile working The pandemic has forced an involuntary experiment in widespread working from home and instead of increasing the differences between colleagues, there seems to be an increased understanding of the uniqueness of everyone's personal circumstances. The reality of lockdown for many, especially those with caring responsibilities, has been the need to work flexibility. Over the last few months, it has been proven that the legal profession can work in a flexible, agile way yet still be really effective. Indeed Linklaters and Withers have already introduced long term agile working policies reflecting the reality that working from home can be very effective. On an individual level, one of the regrets that many maternity returners highlight, especially if they have a long commute and very young children, is that they may have to miss bedtimes. Flexible working has been shown to work for employers and it can also work for maternity returners, enabling them to dip into important parts of the family routine. A very young child's routine changes frequently and flexibly working patterns can be a really good way to be present in both areas of your life. It should go without saying that the establishment and maintenance of boundaries is really important, and flexibility works both ways. This may mean working longer hours in some periods but also prioritising tea time with the children when it is possible to do so. Top tips for returning parents 1. Whilst on maternity leave, women have the right to take paid 'keeping in touch' days. Using these days to stage a slower return is a positive plan, not only to test the home office set up and childcare arrangements, but also to take advantage of webinars and schedule some virtual catch-ups for the first couple of weeks back at work. 2. Think about how you are going to be able to manage your work and home responsibilities most effectively and, if you have a partner at home, talk with one another about your expectations.
If you are working from home, are you able to have touch points with your children during the day (like eating dinner together) and pick up work once your children are in bed? Have an open dialogue with your manager about this. 3. Schedule one to one catch ups with members of your team, including those who you would have otherwise organically caught up with over making a cup of tea in the office. 4. Seek out a maternity mentor within your organisation. Find out what has worked for her, and what hasn't worked – whether in terms of juggling responsibilities at home, childcare arrangements or business development strategies. These conversations are invaluable. 5. Get involved with parenting groups at work - and if there aren't any, set one up. It is so helpful to speak to likeminded people facing similar challenges. 6. Pick up where you left off with your career and step up to new opportunities presented by the remote working environment, whether that be participating in a virtual panel discussion or attending evening networking events virtually after putting the children to bed. 7. Seek support if you need it. Organisations are becoming increasingly aware that if they want to meet their gender diversity targets, women may need extra support around maternity leave and returning to work. If the support is being offered, take it.
LW recommends Podcast: Lady Hale talks to Sally Penni, barrister and founder of Women in Law UK ■ Talking Law with Sally Penni: Lady Hale (libsyn.com) Baroness Hale of Richmond’s illustrious career includes becoming Britain’s first female Law Lord, the first woman to serve on the UK Supreme Court and its first woman President. In this episode of Talking Law Lady Hale discusses the very high-profile case of the Proroguing of Parliament in 2019, how it feels to be an icon, and even her trademark spider broaches.
Top tips for employers and managers 1. Build a culture that perceives maternity leave as a 'brief interlude' in a woman's career, as opposed to a 'major disruption'.1 2. Don’t make assumptions about what returners can or can't do. Foster an ongoing dialogue between the returner and the manager which begins before leave (for example discussing how the organisation will keep in touch during leave) and continues for several months following her return. 3. Have a clear 'on boarding' plan for returners; including thinking about what work they can get involved with upon their return (both client facing and any roles that naturally integrate returners to the activities of the team), supporting them to get up to speed with developments in their practice area and having open discussions about career development. 4. Acknowledge the skills your employees have gained whilst on maternity leave; great perspective, time management skills and life experience. 5. Be open-minded about the ways in which agile working, or a flexible working arrangement could prove beneficial for both your organisation and the returner. If 2020 has shown us anything, it is that these arrangements can be incredibly effective with significant benefits for both sides. 6. Many organisations do not have the budget but consider putting in place maternity coaching for returners. 7. Ask about their children! Or talk about your children. Being a working parent is common, and those of us who have done it have had to learn how to make the juggle work. Talking about how we make that juggle work and normalising the changes that are required once you have children makes the process less daunting and more manageable for everyone. ■ 1. DCU Business School research report (https://business. dcu.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/DCU-HR-SearchMaternity-Leave-Research-Final-Version.pdf).
Nature / History ■ Blair Castle (digitalvisions.uk) There’s a virtual tour of the stunning Blair Castle and grounds in Pitlochry PH18 5TL which you can enjoy from your sofa. The tour enables you to go inside the hall, stairs and some rooms. You can read about its history here: History of the castle – Blair Castle (blair-castle.co.uk) Books ■ Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop (goodreads.com) ■ The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3) by Hilary Mantel (goodreads.com) Streaming Films ■ Misbehaviour (2019) Misbehaviour review: Miss World drama fails to keep its feminism intersectional | The Independent | The Independent The film is based on the true events from the 1970 Miss World contest in the Royal Albert Hall. A group of women plan to disrupt the event with long lasting impact. Music / Art ■ The Metropolitan Opera on Demand: Fantastic reviews of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten (and Egyptian Pharaoh who attempts to change society) Met Opera on Demand. ■ Cocktails at the Frick Museum: short talks about individual paintings and a suggested drink! Cocktails with a Curator | The Frick Collection
LegalWomen | 15
Giving thanks for flexibility Dorothy Kellas, a partner at leading Edinburgh firm Gilson Gray, reflects on her experience of flexibility at work
ast year forced change on our profession and many others. I hope some of it may stick but our track record is patchy. Reflecting on this is framed by my own experience and the views expressed here are my own. But I doubt my story is unique.
Prior to becoming a partner, the idea that I may want flexibility around my working life simply did not arise – I was one of a team of young lawyers, working and playing hard. Late 80s legal life in Edinburgh was a time when firms were getting to grips with the fact that women were contenders for partnership – save for a few notable trailblazers we were poorly represented. I stepped into that arena. The assumption of women came with consequences. For a long time, many firms held the line that partnership was only for those who could work full-time, so neatly side-stepping the thorny issue of women returning from maternity leave wanting different arrangements. It was the woman’s choice to comply and organise child-care or step away. Many probably opted for the latter. Dorothy Kellas
For me, and not for the first time, I reaped the benefit of being in a firm which was willing to change. At least a bit. I was also one of two young mums in the partnership so had moral support. In truth it was not a difficult negotiation to work restricted hours in the office, but I felt a huge responsibility to ensure the arrangement was a success. Given that, with a few tweaks, I have continued with that pattern through the ensuing 27 years I think I can say I have succeeded. Was it all plain sailing? Absolutely not and it was often wrongly assumed I was not sufficiently available for meetings. The reality was I was in the office every day, just not all day. My availability was no less than that of colleagues who went for extended lunches or spent time doing business development on the golf course but, as the saying goes, perception is everything. My female partner coined a useful phrase at the time, namely “We are not part-time partners; we are full-time partners who are not in the office all the time”. We were contributing and, don’t forget, our remuneration reflected the reduced attendance during office hours. Like most mums I experienced blood-pumping races to school, having been caught last minute trying to exit the building. Working full-time would have been a whole lot easier. But these times pass quickly. I never really doubted my choices. I was pleased to be in a firm which accommodated this, of course, but never really shook off the feeling that I was being given a concession. And there was always a little bit of guilt, which I now think is mad. Whilst I hope that younger legal women find such working arrangements are mainstream, we need to ensure that this 16 | LegalWomen
does not become a reason to blight career progression. The Gender Pay Gap is real and this is part of that story too. We must not be so thankful for a sensible working pattern that we lose focus on fairness. As my children approached the end of school other pressures arose. Into the mix came an increasing need to devote time to an elderly parent. This responsibility was not so easy to package into a set time frame – in my case the parent in question was not for remembering my other obligations! It was a most stressful time. My observation there is that our colleagues with responsibilities for elderly (or other) relatives have the much harder gig. I am not sure there is as much flexibility for them. These responsibilities probably do fall mainly on female colleagues but not exclusively. In many ways I think it can be harder for others to ask. A man asking to step back for any reason may, even yet, be viewed with suspicion by those less enlightened. Of course, many firms, my own included, are willing to consider alternative arrangements as required but perhaps this is not yet commonplace across the whole profession. I have a lot of faith in the younger generation of lawyers. We are often told that balance is their key aim. Some use derogatory terms but I applaud them and hope they do not lose that focus. Our profession’s ability to attract the brightest and best people probably depends on it. The experience of COVID related issues has forced change. The Law Society of Scotland’s recent survey on homeworking1 illustrates the scale and speed of change forced upon us. Whilst the theme of balance remains, and it is unlikely we will all work from home all the time, one thing is clear. Agile working can work! It has been a bit of a leveller and has shone a light very positively on the contribution made by those who are not full-time in the office. So, let’s stop viewing these arrangements as favours, or concessions for which we need to be endlessly grateful. They are agreed on a commercial basis and work well for both parties. Many are keen to return to normal, but I hope it’s not the same normal. ■ 1. https://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/journal/issues/vol65-issue-12/homeworking-a-journey/
Miriam González Durántez
Miriam González Durántez, Founder of Inspiring Girls, talks to Coral Hill about lockdown, its implications for gender equality and some questions we should all consider for the future good of society
What has the experience of lockdown highlighted about the role of women in society? As usual when there is a crisis, women are the ones who suffer most the consequences of that crisis. And this is despite many women in care and support jobs (nurses, carers, cleaners, etc) who have carried the weight of the most difficult moments of the pandemic. Many women had to give up work to be able to deal with school closures. And when the full economic impact of the lockdowns will be fully felt (after mitigation measures such as furlough schemes are withdrawn) we will likely see many jobs done by women being the ones that are primarily impacted, as happened after the financial crisis in 2008. This is simply because there is a disproportionally high number of women in badly paid and temporary jobs - it works like clockwork. We will only be able to sort this out when we get more women into higher paid and more stable jobs.
put in place - and I am sure that they will vary from country to country. But what I do know is that we need to start considering options. And that includes addressing the situation of families that subcontract domestic and care work. If somebody is selfemployed and uses a car to be able to do their job, in many countries that cost can be deducted from tax income as it is a cost needed to generate income. But the costs associated with domestic work and childcare cannot be deducted even though they are clearly costs needed for women and men to be able to work and be productive. Nevertheless, that is not the only issue, because what happens with the people who cannot afford that help? Should the state cover those costs at least when the individuals work? And should that be done in a means tested way? I do not know what the answers are, but we should definitely be asking ourselves those and many other similar questions if we want to make progress.
During lockdown, many families, without support for childcare, were near breaking point; what has this highlighted about society’s approach to the time and effort that goes into running a home and childcare? We have all realised what needs to be done in a society (in terms of caring and domestic chores) for a society to be able to work and to be economically productive. Without a certain amount of cleaning, cooking and taking care of children, the sick, and the elderly we cannot generate any wealth – and we cannot generate the economic resources that pay for our welfare state.
What role would you like to see the state take, in relation to childcare and other unpaid work in the home and why? This is a public policy issue, not just an issue to be dealt with by individuals or within families. Because it affects all our productivity as a society. And it is encouraging to see that politicians are starting to recognise this. For example, the proposals of Biden in terms of carers ($750bn that could generate 3m new jobs) could be a game changer for how we organise society.
This is something that has been hidden in society for a long time because a disproportionally high number of women have been dealing with those tasks in a silent manner, during their spare time or as their main task. It is a productivity factor that has never been properly costed or valued. But now we have all seen the value that it has – and therefore there is no excuse not to recognise its economic value. Often the burden falls on women to do the unpaid work in homes. In OECD countries what is the extent of that unpaid work and how does it compare with lawyers’ billing hours? According to the UN, women do 2.6 times more unpaid caregiving and domestic work than their male partners. In OECD countries, women dedicate 1 to 3 more hours to domestic chores than men per day. Even in countries with ‘advanced’ gender parity like Norway women do 20% more unpaid work than men (though not as bad as in the US where it is 60% more, or in Mexico where women do almost six and a half hours per day more than men). On average in OECD countries, women spend 4.24 hours per day on domestic and care tasks - that is 1,428 hours per year on unpaid domestic work. Many law firms ask associates to do 1,700 billable hours per year and that is considered to be a tough job - women do 1,428 hours per year and that is not even billed, it is unpaid. Many families with sufficient earnings, will incur costs for childcare, cleaning services etc. Should this be a deductible expense and how could one campaign for it? I do not know what are the precise policies that need to be
You are encouraging debate on ‘how to build back better’ after the lockdown. How do You see change being accomplished: changes in law, policy and/or cultural change? I do not have a magic wand. But clearly what we are facing is a long process of lack of trust in institutions. When that happens to a society, it is not enough just to sort out the immediate challenges that we face (currently COVID) - we need to reconsider every aspect of our societies. I am convinced the pandemic will be followed by a period of intense social change – it is up to all of us to make proposals in areas that interest us – and one of those areas is how we organise the care and basic tasks that every society needs. Could you summarise how Inspiring Girls, which you founded, is developing and its impact? Inspiring Girls was created in 2016 around a simple concept, connecting girls with female role models. Since then, we have made tremendous progress as we are now present in 17 countries. 60% of the girls that come to our events tell us that they discover jobs and opportunities that they did not know about beforehand. Inspiring girls is easy – everybody can do it just by dedicating 15 minutes of their time to our campaign and recording a video for our video hub. We do not look for only powerful or famous women – we look for women from every walk of life. So, no matter what you do, what your age is, and what your background is, there is definitely a role for you at Inspiring Girls. Miriam González Durántez is an Attorney at international law firm Cohen & Gresser and founder of www.inspiringgirls.com. ■ LegalWomen | 17
Gender-Equality and Economic Recovery Vicky Pryce, Chief Economic Adviser and board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research, examines the impact of COVID-19 on the progress of gender-equality and argues that economic recovery for everyone would be helped by free childcare for under-fives. In the long-term it would pay for itself. Vicky Pryce
he case for targeted support for women to ensure they can return to work and contribute to the economic recovery, when the crisis comes under control, is overwhelming. According to the UN women represent globally some 70% of health workers1. In the UK, women dominate the front line of the national health service and care sector and are therefore more exposed to the disease itself. At the same time, they have been amongst the worst affected by job losses. Globally, the estimate is that women are almost twice as likely to be losing their jobs during the pandemic. There is a real danger that any progress we have seen in gender equality will be going backwards due to COVID. Short-term and long-term consequences The adverse short-term consequences may leave a trail of longer-term issues that will need to be addressed by policymakers around the world. But the problem is not confined to developing countries. An IMF study using anonymised Vodaphone and other data in Italy, Spain and Portugal to track mobility of people, since the pandemic, found that though mobility of both men and women dropped substantially as countries got closer to and then into a lockdown, that of women dropped even more as the chart below, which appeared in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook in October 2020 indicates.
The question of course is how quickly that will get reversed. If not, we may well end up post-pandemic with an even bigger pay gap than before. We know that, during normal times, the pay gap starts to widen after women have their first child and continues to widen for a good 12 years thereafter. What is less well-known is that this is mirrored in the widening gap between the commuting distance to work between men and women, as women search for jobs closer to home that offer greater flexibility and fit with their childcare arrangements, for which they still are the main ones responsible in the household. This is shown in the chart below produced by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. What it shows is that the more the radius within which one is searching for jobs must be shrunk in size to ensure there is good proximity with school/nursery/home, the more the pay gap between those not constrained by this – mostly men – widens.
The result of course is that women who assume the main childcare responsibility are penalised financially for the flexibility they need, particularly if they also end up working part-time, as 42% of working women in the UK do. The gap between full-time men’s hourly wage and part-time hourly wage is as high as 34%. Not only are women therefore on average poorer during their lifetime than the men but also suffer in relation to benefits on retirement. By the time a woman in the UK reaches pension age for example, her pension wealth on average is about a fifth of that of the average man. 18 | LegalWomen
Extra childcare responsibilities major disincentive to continue working COVID-19 can only have made that worse as health concerns and childcare issues intensified during the period of lockdowns and other social distancing restrictions. Though schools in much of the UK have stayed open during the latest lockdown uncertainty over future course of events may again hamper women’s willingness to return to work. A survey for Social Europe in June 20202 showed the extra stress that women with children have experienced compared with that of men during lockdown has acted as a disincentive for women to carry on working – and many of these women may find it difficult to re-enter the market when things start getting back to ‘normal’. According to the report a greater percentage of women than men, working from home, experienced work life conflicts always or most of the time. It was almost twice as difficult for women to concentrate on their job because of family responsibility, they found it harder giving enough time to the job, were too tired after work to do their normal household chores and worried more about work. Mothers in the survey were 47% more likely than men to have either lost their jobs or to have quit because of the crisis. At the same time, research showed that during the lockdown the lowest paid down the earnings scale in the UK were also those with the lowest share of tasks that could be done from home3. As women tend to be over-represented on the lower paid occupations, it is no surprise that they would be disproportionately affected.
potential. This calls for extra attention to be placed in both the provision and cost of childcare, as I have argued in my book7. Free childcare for the under-fives would, in the long-term pay for itself, in more tax collection, faster growth and a better use of skills across the economy translating into higher productivity and competitiveness. In the interim any move to make childcare costs tax deductible would certainly be a move in the right direction.
This is confirmed by an LSE study4 for the UK which showed that women and those from disadvantaged backgrounds were amongst those groups most at risk of losing jobs or having a reduction in pay during the pandemic. A survey by the law firm Shoosmiths found that during the pandemic while 75% of men had their furlough pay topped up by their organisation, only 65% of women did, possibly reflecting the areas, such as, hospitality where many women work, and which has faced greater difficulty during the pandemic.5
1. https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/9/ feature-covid-19-economic-impacts-on-women 2. https://www.socialeurope.eu/covid-19-fallout-takeshigher-toll-on-women 3. https://voxeu.org/article/large-and-unequal-impact-covid19-workers 4. LSE study: ‘Generation COVID: Emerging work and education inequalities’ https://www.lse.ac.uk/News/Latest-newsfrom-LSE/2020/j-October-20/One-in-10-young-peoplelost-their-job-during-covid-19-pandemic 5. https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/insights/articles/covid19/ covid-19-and-its-impact-on-women-at-work 6. https://centreforbrexitstudiesblog.wordpress. com/2020/10/30/we-rightly-worry-about-the-young-butwhat-has-covid-done-to-womens-gender-equality-progress/ 7. Women vs Capitalism’, Vicky Pryce, Hurst Publishing, 2019
What next? Even if women do return to work, they may well be faced with more problems in terms of caring responsibilities. In the UK, there are concerns that some 10,000 childcare providers may not be able to carry on after the crisis and some 150,000 nursery places may disappear6. The cost and availability of childcare particularly for pre-school children remains a major issue across the world, working as an obstacle to women’s proper participation in the workplace. From an economic perspective, it adds a clear market failure to many others that still exist, such as, information asymmetries and conscious and unconscious biases. This deprives the economy of skills and therefore productivity and prosperity and restricts growth
As an IMF study has indicated, the removal of obstacles to women’s employment results in substantial growth and welfare benefits as illustrated in the Welfare and GDP chart. So, the call for action is clear. Women are in a majority and yet the enormous sums spent by governments to support the economy, during the crisis, have hardly been directed at the problems they face. If not corrected this will be to the detriment of the economy as a whole and to the chances of a strong and sustainable post- COVID recovery. ■ Vicky Pryce is Chief Economic Adviser and board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a former Joint Head of the UK Government Economics Service and author of ‘Women vs Capitalism’, (Hurst Publishers, 2019). She is also visiting Professor at Birmingham City University and some of the themes in this article draw from and expand on a blog she did for BCU’s Centre for Brexit Studies in November 2020.
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Flexible working in law; a tale of two experiences Christina Simpson Christina Simpson, Senior Solicitor, Associate at Capsticks LLP Flexible working wasn’t really something that occurred to me during the early days of my career but fast forward ten years or so and as I started to think about my future both at work and home, the issue came into sharper focus. At that point, I actually decided to make a sideways career move out of private practice; one of the main reasons being because I wasn’t convinced that I really could “do it all” - or at least do it all justice – whilst working in what felt, at the time, like a very traditional and inflexible sector. After stepping into a hybrid in house/HR role and then having my daughter, I needed to work more flexibly and wondered how to approach the issue with my manager. And, like many before me I suspect, I was really worried about how he would react. Would he think I wasn’t committed to the organisation? That I just wanted a day to lie around watching television (I wish!)? But actually, I needn’t have worried; after an open conversation with him, ultimately, we came to an agreement about my working hours that suited both me and my team. And when the time came that I missed working in private practice and decided I wanted to move back into it, again, I was nervous. I’d seen the benefit of flexible working and I knew that it worked, but I wasn’t sure I’d find a firm that was genuinely committed to it. Again, I needn’t have worried. I can honestly say that the question of me working reduced, non-standard hours was never an issue for Capsticks. Having spoken to colleagues and friends including Nicola though, I think perhaps I am one of the lucky minority of lawyers who haven’t encountered resistance on the way to flexible working. Nicola Butterworth, Associate at Capsticks LLP Things have come a long way from when I first started practicing law. Putting it in perspective, at that time, everyone 20 | LegalWomen
time-recorded in manuscript, dictated correspondence and used bulky paper files. Real flexibility across the legal sector occurred when it became possible to access a firm’s intranet remotely and more so, when we were issued with blackberries and, eventually, laptops. Yet there was still a culture and an expectation of presenteeism in the office. I had my first child shortly after qualifying. Following 18 weeks maternity leave I returned to work full-time. After a few years, a second child followed. By then I was mainly providing employment support on corporate transactions. Clocking off at 5.00pm wasn’t an option when there was a deal to be done. So, if a baby-sitter wasn’t available, my young children joined me in the office. Hardly representative of flexible-working. By the time my third child arrived I decided to request to work part-time. There was no opportunity for an informal discussion about my proposal. My email to one of the partners was met with an escalation to HR and provision of the firm’s flexibleworking policy and a pro-forma request to complete. As an employment lawyer I had advised numerous times on flexibleworking queries. I knew the business grounds on which the firm could reject my request. I went through these and considered how they might apply. I drafted solutions upfront. Setting out the benefits for the firm? More tricky. There was a dearth of studies on the business benefits of flexible working at that time. I submitted my request and attended a formal meeting. My request was rejected. Client service would be affected. Despite working in a large team no-one could cover my work. We reached a compromise, I could leave early once a week. My eldest is now an adult. My other children attend boardingschool. Finally, I can work the hours that were requested of me so early on in my career and I can be physically present in the office. Yet, ironically, having joined Capsticks last year, I now work for a firm which truly embraces agile working. The benefits for the firm in doing so came to the fore in March, when our physical offices were closed speedily. Our temporary transition to home-working in response to the pandemic was seamless. Everyone already worked part-time in the office and at home, and all of our files are virtual. For staff who bore the brunt of home-schooling alongside home-working, or became socially
enlightened approach to working arrangements, hours and location, is the way forward. However, if your employer still needs a gentle nudge to see the benefits of flexible working, it might help to highlight how it is positive for the organisation as a whole. Helpfully, studies do now show that flexible working improves not just employee mental health and wellbeing, but also their productivity, their engagement and their commitment to their employer. Adopting a positive approach to flexible working means a firm is also more likely to attract and retain talented employees. Is your employer aware of this? If not, how can you get this across? Can HR help? It’s not always rosy In the interests of full disclosure, it wouldn’t be right to talk about all the benefits of flexible working without mentioning some of the challenges it also brings (although these might not be things to dwell on when “selling” your proposal!).
Nicola Butterworth isolated during lockdown, the firm adapted quickly, finding solutions to accommodate their needs. How can I apply for flexible work? It’s clear from our experiences that a lot really depends on the culture of your firm but, if you are currently wrestling with the issue, not sure if or how you’ll be able to convince your employer to agree, hopefully some of the things we’ve learnt along the way will help: Conversation is key If you want to work more flexibly, having an open, informal conversation with your line manager is a vital first step in the process. Other than the fact that having the conversation might result in you being able to reach agreement without the need for a formal request at all, there are three key reasons why it is important: 1. It improves relationships; we all know a conversation is often a more effective way of building trust and understanding, particularly when you are asking for something; 2. It enables you to explain your request and the reason for it. It also helps you to get a sense of how your line manager feels about the request and to understand any concerns they might have, giving you an opportunity to address them head on and up front, and offer solutions to alleviate those concerns; and 3. From a legal perspective you can only make one flexible working request in any 12 month period. Therefore, it’s far better to “use up” your annual allowance to make a formal request you know is going to be granted, than to have your request rejected and then have a long wait before you are legally entitled to ask again. The best way of establishing whether your request is likely to be granted is to have a conversation with your line manager. ‘Sell’ the idea During Covid times, many of us have been successfully working from home for some of the week, quite possibly carrying out our work at different times of the day. Hopefully, this has helped to persuade even the most sceptical of employers that an
For example, if your flexible working arrangements involve lengthy periods of home working, you will probably come to realise how important those impromptu chats with colleagues are, and how much you miss the ability to share ideas quickly and easily with others. We may all be Zoomed out at the moment, but staying connected is hugely important when working flexibly. Also, ironically the distinction between home and work can become less clear when you work flexibly, as the ability to work “anytime, anywhere” becomes the temptation to work “all the time, everywhere”. Switching off seems to be much more difficult when working from home or during non-standard hours, and making the time to have a proper break invariably features low on the ever-growing list of things to do. It’s good then to see some firms making a real effort to provide support to employees struggling with similar challenges. For example, at Capsticks we’re asked not to schedule meetings over core lunchtime hours so that colleagues can get outside before the early nights set in, and we’re encouraged to use the firm’s Friday late afternoon update as a cue to log off for the weekend. We’ve also all added a sentence on our email signatures which makes it clear that if we are emailing outside of normal business hours, it doesn’t mean we expect a response out of hours. Flexible working post-Covid There’s still a lot that the legal sector can learn from the pandemic. Agility is more than the ability to work from home and home-working doesn’t suit everyone. Tribunal and Court hearings can be run virtually. Support staff can work from home and working times can be flexible. Most importantly, the ability to hang your jacket on the back of your office chair no longer defines whether you are a good lawyer or not. But whatever the culture of your organisation, it’s fair to say that Covid has forced the issue of flexible working in a way and at a pace that simply wouldn’t have happened otherwise. That can only be a good thing – and something good has to come out of Covid, right?! Further information on making a flexible working request is available at www.acas.org.uk/making-a-flexible-workingrequest. ■
LegalWomen | 21
Is the “end of the office” a “women’s issue”? I
asked the readers to choose the topic of my next article. The votes were extremely close between the top two: ‘rebranding “women’s issues”’ and ‘the end of the office’. So I decided to combine them and ask: ‘Is the “end of the office” a “women’s issue”?’ First of all, is it the “end of the office”? I like to remind myself that while we think of offices as a modern invention, they are in fact creatures of the industrial revolution. Offices were invented to house bureaucrats overseeing factories. The factories required all workers to be in the same place, at the same time, clocking in and out on a timecard, operating machinery on a production line. The office simply mimicked the factory, with rows of desks for clerks who worked the same hours as the factory workers, compensated for their time, rather than their output.1 Innovations have followed, but the office has been slow to adapt. Electronic communication, for example, has been widespread since the 1980s, and yet, until this year, there we still were, calling and emailing each other from opposite ends of the floor, despite the fact that those same calls and emails were capable of reaching someone on the other side of the planet. Surely, the office was overdue for evolution? Then 2020 happened. Knowledge workers have experienced more remote working since March than ever before. (Although, it is necessary to recognise that a lot of people are not knowledge workers and have had to bear the brunt of redundancy or battling their way into a fixed place of work.) Twitter announced that workers could work remotely indefinitely.2 Facebook announced that half of its workforce could be working remotely within a decade.3 Organisations with a big real estate spend will be thinking about how they can save money, especially as lockdown policies hit revenues. But while household names from Barclays to UBS have been musing about cutting their office footprints, few have rushed to end corporate leases - although disaster recovery sites that have proved largely pointless during the pandemic will be first on the list.4
So not exactly the end, but change is afoot Many commentators have been quick to polarise the remote working debate - home or office: which is better? The benefit of avoiding two hours a day of commuting (both in terms of time and expense) is obvious - not to mention avoiding the cost of feeding yourself in Central London rather than from your own fridge. But the disadvantages are also clear - arguably there is more value in face-to-face learning than distance learning and we miss socialising with (some of) our colleagues. Despite best intentions and many organisations no longer being on a ‘war footing’, many workers are logging in earlier and logging out later, flipping the script from working from home to living at work.5 For those who have endured the interruptions of homeschooling or competing for desk space and bandwidth in a flat share, the return to the office is most welcome. Extremes aside, most people want a bit of both and, in most cases, it is hard to see why organisations should refuse. The 22 | LegalWomen
cat is out of the bag in terms of firms realising that their financial performance has not been overly hindered by 90% of staff working outside the office. Moreover, so many months into widespread remote working, it would take a truly gifted leader to persuade their workers that there is no place at all for remote working in the future of their organisations. What is done cannot be undone. Therefore, most organisations should see working remotely 1-3 days a week as the new normal. Is it a remote-working revolution? More evolution than revolution. It is the rapid and welcome acceleration of trends that were already in place. After all, let’s not forget how quickly even the most fundamental office policies can change with the right circumstances: before the heatwave of 2018, many workers would have worn a suit or equivalent to work every day for their entire careers (perhaps removing the tie on a Friday). Many organisations introduced a dress-down policy that summer and, upon realising that all of their clients did not fire them in a rage and the ground did not open up and swallow them, decided to keep it. Might these changes lead to gendered outcomes? Even in economies with a high proportion of jobs that are capable of remote working (45% in Switzerland or 37% in the US, versus 11% in Cambodia, for example), there are a lot of jobs that cannot be done remotely. Insofar as knowledge jobs create an ecosystem of other jobs, decreasing office traffic could have gendered outcomes in certain women-dominated sectors, such as retail, hospitality, reception, or cleaning. Some sectors will see men hit harder - security or taxi driving - while others are more evenly split - hairdressers and barbers or baristas, for example. But within those knowledge jobs, what might the increasing normalisation of remote working and the blending of work and non-work lines mean? The great hope is retention. While it may sound silly to set it out in these terms, the prospect of taking it in turns to fit the school run and bath time in around work for a few years suddenly feels more attainable - and may feel more true to one’s values than having to choose between paying someone else to do it (not that the ‘outsourcing’ option is financially viable even for many dual-income couples), one partner giving up work to do it, or not having children. The prospect of having a garden - presuming that those excruciatingly expensive areas within a stone’s throw of major business districts are beyond budget - but with a long commute only 3 times a week rather than 5 is also a lot more palatable. (I like to imagine that firms could even capitalise on this and cut down on prime London real estate in favour of satellite space in St. Albans, since everyone lives there anyway.) Improved retention could help to slow the relentless pace of corporate careers and to forge leadership identities that are compatible with caregiving responsibilities. If we are going to live into our nineties, it is really necessary to make partner in 7 years? Or to exit the workplace for good in our thirties?
that if only one of them spends the vast majority of the first 12 months of a child’s life with their child, it will set the tone for the next 18 years. Shared parental leave avoids this issue and, moreover, as more men experience the process of securing approval for leave, creating cover plans and navigating re-entry, organisational processes will improve for everyone.9 Finally, those needing to cut down their office space, but only by a small amount may wish to consider repurposing a floor into a subsidised child-care space. Schools are only open 39 weeks a year after all. ■
Member of the Westminster & Holborn Law Society EDI Committee and Tax Solicitor
Helen Broadbridge However, the accompanying fear is that, although working remotely and flexible start and finish times should empower all workers to maintain time for themselves and enjoy more sustainable careers, the perceived advantage of those who choose to spend the maximum amount of time in the office will remain. The fear is that we will end up with a two-tier system where facetime still offers an irresistible reward… As usual, these dynamics need not be fundamentally gendered, but as far as workplace policies impact caregivers, and as far as caring responsibilities fall disproportionately on women’s shoulders, there will be gendered outcomes. But things are getting better! The distribution of unpaid work in families is evening out. A Better Life Lab study found this year that while a greater proportion of women respondents were undertaking different categories of childcare in every case, the gap between women and men was sufficiently small that it would be remiss to overlook men’s growing contribution. For example, while 94% of women make meals and feed their children on a daily basis, so do 76% of men.6 This is not surprising if you consider that onebreadwinner-one-homemaker families only account for 25% of working families - the rest being dual-career or single parent.7 (It was unclear whether the research was counting working families without children, which is a shame because research suggests that 18% of women in the UK have not given birth by their 45th birthday - and one presumes that a similar proportion of men have never raised children - and their experiences should not be excluded.)8 So is the “end of the office” a “women’s issue”? No. It is an opportunity for leaders to embrace the changes that have been slowly bubbling away in their organisations and suddenly accelerated by unprecedented circumstances. To maintain momentum, leaders must listen, collect data and formalise change with policy - even if it is experimental at first. Policy change could be small, such as writing down the ‘unwritten rules’ to fetter bad behaviour (like asking for calls at 07:00) and encourage the good (like a ‘no meetings on Fridays’ rule). But it could also be more visionary, and the first policy on that list should be true, properly paid, shared parental leave. Even dual-income, domestic-labour sharing partners will find
1. 2020, ‘Covid-19: is working from home really the new normal?’, The Economist. 2. Paul, Kari, 2020, ‘Twitter announces employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’’, The Guardian. 3. Koran, Mario, 2020, ‘Facebook expects half of employees to work remotely over next five to 10 years’, The Guardian. 4. Thomas, D et al, 2020. ‘The end of the office? Coronavirus may change work forever’, Financial Times. 5. Jacobs, Emma, 2020, ‘Remote work: how are you feeling?’, Financial Times. 6. Dowling, Daisy, 2020, ‘A Way Forward For Working Parents’, Harvard Business Review. 7. Ibid. 8. Petter, Olivia, 2017, ‘Childless women are on the rise, latest study reveals’, The Independent. 9. Bass, D & Tastad, C, 2020, ‘The route to true gender equality? Fix the system, not the women’, World Economic Forum.
LW Social Media Content Writers
egal Women is active on three sites, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. To produce good quality content and schedule posts is very much full-time work so we would welcome extra assistance to share the burden. We are very fortunate to have Charity Mafuba doing fantastic work on building our Instagram site as well as Alice Jellard and Emma Webb working on our Twitter content. This is a great way to keep up to date with the latest developments, build contacts and exercise social media as a business tool. If anyone has an interest in this please contact Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk. ■
Alice Jellard LegalWomen | 23
Bhini Phagura of Rayden Solicitors interviews Dana Denis-Smith, founder and Chief Executive of legal services provider, Obelisk Support
D Bhini Phagura
ana gives an insight into her motivations and challenges in setting up her business, discusses flexible and agile working, the impact of the pandemic and what’s next for the First 100 Years Project.
What motivated you to set up Obelisk? How does it work? I qualified in 2007 in one of the magic circle law firms and had already left the legal profession when I came up with the idea for Obelisk. This was my second business as an entrepreneur and I was quite surprised to be making a return to the legal sector. A lot of things that had played on my mind came together in this new business idea – many of my women lawyer friends seemed to drop out once they had kids; my experience working in a top firm was of 24/7 working pattern which seemed to suit men but not women and often being present as opposed to having something to do seemed to be the motivation for many of those that stayed late in the office; also there was a rising trend in outsourcing offshore for cost reduction reasons as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. So all in all I thought we could provide a flexible legal support solution built around people that needed to fit work around other commitments rather than spend all their time at work. The idea was simple: corporate clients needed work with overflow and ad hoc tasks; our pre-vetted lawyers would be available for this kind of work and when the request came we would be tasked with ensuring the match of skill and of availability across the board so clients would get their work done on time whilst the lawyers worked only as much or as little as they had available. Did you encounter any challenges when you set up Obelisk and how did you overcome these? In particular, were law firms / those in the legal sector sceptical? Setting up a new business always presents challenges for sure. One challenge I did not face was the number of women that were desperate to get to work. Many told me how they felt no one wanted their skills and assumed they were unwilling to work when in fact what they needed was flexibility to work and bring up a family at the same time. I tried to fundraise but without success – I met angel investors who thought I had a great business idea but they were not very keen to invest into a business started by a pregnant woman. All challenges are opportunities – in the end, I grew the business organically. The client survey we conducted very early on – August 2010 – was not an encouraging read for a new business. Many said they would never contemplate outsourcing work and even less so to a business with home-based workers. Do you think the pandemic has accelerated the move to flexible/agile working in the legal sector – and how do you see the future of work post-pandemic? Has the battle of being allowed to work more flexibly been won? There will for sure be lasting change around flexible work patterns as a result of the pandemic – and not one day too 24 | LegalWomen
soon! It’s something that many had needed and were denied or afraid to ask for before so I am really pleased that we will have this lasting legacy at least. However, I have already seen firms are trying to set inflexible frameworks to manage flexible working patterns – management struggles with the ‘how to’ manage a workforce that works in a different, hybrid way especially when the result of the change is more of the power shifting from management to an empowered employee workforce. This is an uncomfortable place for top down management so the transition will be difficult and there will be a tag of war between management and employees. In the end results will win and as we have seen if people continue to be productive and produce strong results for businesses, then the case for flexible working is proven. Given concerns about loneliness and isolation amongst people working from home due to the pandemic, are you able to offer any advice to employers in support their employees at what is clearly a very difficult time? There is so much that can be done for teams. Firstly, there is not too much communication in times like this – even telling people you have an open telephone line policy to raise any concerns can help; make sure you buddy people up to have someone to talk from work but not about work. We had many more huddles – social not only work related – as soon as the pandemic struck. They were never compulsory but just a safe room to chat when people needed it; we shared ‘remedies’ and also had 30 minutes of games or something to relax every now and then. It’s critical to communicate repeatedly no one is alone and they are supported and mean it. Has the implementation of flexible/agile working in your business met your expectations and do you have any further developments planned? We’ve always had a mixed model with everyone in my team having a mix of office/ home based working days which they set to suit them. One change we have made in the last 6 months or so is that we recruited new members of the team but even further afield – one is based in the south of France, another in the Midlands so not as easy to commute but we have managed to make it work really well and it will continue even when the current health emergency subsides. So even we have become even more flexible! We have also started developing – with a grant from Innovate UK – a new technology tool to help other organisations bring their team together more easily and help them with any management challenges. So how people will work if very much part of our DNA and we are constantly looking for innovating more and more in this space. What general advice could you give a business that is considering implementing flexible/agile working, but is concerned about how this might adversely impact employee productivity? An unhappy employee is not a productive employee and very often we don’t get the best out of people when we impose an inflexible working pattern that poses a struggle for them on a daily basis. My advice to any business is to really redefine ‘trust’
and ask themselves what is requiring them to be so inflexible in the schedule they set for their employees. In professional organisations, having a strict schedule or a rota is not necessary for delivering a good quality services so what is the reason for maintaining a 9-5 on site working pattern. If it is control, then perhaps the concept of ‘trust’ is eroding and the culture of the organisation really needs to be rebuilt. Please can you tell us about ‘The First 100 Years’ project, including its aims and a summary of progress to date? What are your future goals and where can our readers find further information and keep abreast of developments? The First 100 Years (www.first100years.org.uk) is the campaign that led the celebrations of 100 years of women being allowed to join the legal profession as a result of the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. I had this idea of creating a go to place where women could discover their history, trace the journey of women in law and discover fantastic role models. I thought the centenary presented us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in law and discussed the challenges remaining in a context that was a more positive one, framed by the profession seeing a surge of women qualifying. I was keen we did not fight battles that have already been won and that we continued to advance women’s careers and aspirations against a background of much historical achievement. Initially we had a few plans – to record the lives and work of leading women pioneers of our generation but then we became much bigger and have produced so many things: a book, podcast, films, touring exhibition, events, conferences, mosaics, photographs and, of course, the first artwork to depict women lawyers to celebrate the centenary now hanging in the UK Supreme Court – Legacy 2019 by Catherine Yass. You can read all about what we achieved in our impact report (https://next100years.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/ First100Years_ImpactReport.pdf?mc_cid=5ec95f1f97&mc_ eid=e0d4b37e3a). The campaign continues with its new chapter, Next 100 Years – we will continue to advance and inspire women and the next generations coming through. We have a lecture series giving a platform to great women legal experts to show their brilliant minds (Heilborn Lectures), a new book (In her words) based on our photography days held around the world just before the pandemic onset as well as a new podcast series, Kids Law (www.kidslaw.info) discussing how law affects children as they grow up in a series of interviews hosted by Lucinda Acland and my daughter, Alma-Constance, who suggested we needed to do more to help families navigate the maze that is the law.
@the female lead “I skied back to the Pole again… to take this photo for all those men who commented ‘Make me a sandwich’ on my TEDx Talk. I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600km to the South Pole and you can eat it” – Jade Hameister, Polar Explorer. Rose Matafeo “It’s great to relax in front of the big screen after spending the day looking at the medium sized screen before I retire to bed to look at the small screen until I fall asleep”. On This Day She #otd in 1975, 90% of the women in Iceland took part in a “Women’s Day Off”, taking to the streets to demand equality. Without women, there was no phone service, schools were closed, flights cancelled. A year later, Iceland passed the Gender Equality Act. https://t.co/7Bq6nD0l7K
Is there any advice you can offer women who, as a result of the pandemic, might be struggling to balance childcare / home schooling responsibilities with the demands of a fastpaced legal role? If you have a partner, ensure they pull their weight – delegate chores and ask them to do them. It is more difficult for those without nearby help and the bubble system is very confusing and not always easy to rely on. It’s hard to see the end of the tunnel when the weather is bad and the situation is worsening but thinking of spring, looking for the early signs – the other day I spotted the first snowdrops whilst walking by a church – it is amazing how uplifting this can be. Always remember the small things that can delight and look out for those – they can provide joy and resilience when times are hard. ■
LegalWomen | 25
Farore Law on flexible working in the legal profession: our research and approach F
lexible working has been a key feature of Farore Law’s operational structure since the firm was founded in 2018, with remote working as the default position for our staff. We were therefore well-equipped to deal with the transfer to near 100% remote working in the ongoing pandemic, which has brought existing difficulties about inflexible working patterns into sharp relief – not just in law, but across almost all professional spheres.
Flexible and agile working is arguably the most effective means of ensuring better female representation and progression in law. Technology certainly makes it possible on a long-term basis post-pandemic – from specialist tools such as CVP, to software training for senior lawyers to safeguard and improve the effective development of the junior lawyers that they are responsible for, regardless of differences in time or location.
Flexible working should not be regarded as a temporary solution to the pandemic; rather, it is an essential response to ongoing issues of accessibility to, and equality within, the legal profession. Our 2019 Report on the slow progression of women in the professional spheres highlighted major concerns regarding the industry’s attitude towards women lawyers, and found that flexible working was a critical feature for their retention:
The impact of a flexible approach also affects other areas beyond gender. For example, it can serve as an extremely effective adjustment for disabled or neurodiverse lawyers that struggle with long commutes and continual on-site attendance. Similarly, the potential socioeconomic impact is significant: the cost of living in large cities is a considerable hurdle for junior lawyers during the early stages of their career. Remote working practically eliminates this setback and would render the legal profession as substantially more accessible.
■ Among solicitors, the number of women partners in large law firms is rising, but there remain more than twice the number of male partners despite an increasingly even gender split overall. Significant disadvantages cited by female solicitors included a lack of flexible working. Also noted was an increasing proportion of solicitors leaving private practice to work as in-house counsel. This trend is pronounced amongst women, with in-house roles being viewed as offering greater predictability and control over workload and schedule. In 2019, the Law Society acknowledged that the rate of attrition for female solicitors supports the premise that there are benefits to in-house work, one of which is flexible working.
Farore Law’s approach to flexible working recognises that different individuals have different needs when it comes to maximising professional capability. Our approach has been acknowledged by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), which in 2020 granted us authorisation to provide pupillage as a law firm. This was partially in the light of our clear attitude towards flexible working, which marries with the BSB’s own endorsement of more innovative approaches to the education and training of lawyers. It is the firm’s aim to provide our pupil with the same level of flexibility afforded to our other staff members, and we are proud to be at the forefront of a positive shift towards dynamic working patterns in the legal industry.
■ As regards barristers: fewer women tend to move from Call to practice. Women also have a higher attrition rate once in practice, with the proportion of women falling as seniority increases. One of the most common reasons for women leaving the Bar is “family reasons”, with the majority citing the difficulty of combining a career at the Bar with childcare. A 2018 study by the Western Circuit Women’s Forum also remarked that primary carers are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to being able to remain in the profession, and that thin flexibility in working patterns contributes to this difficulty. Most women in this study cited the difficulty of balancing work and family commitments as a factor in their decision to leave. In comparison, male barristers rarely took parental leave, and those that did took no more than 6 weeks.
We see no reason for lawyers to revert to the default ‘on-site’ model, particularly when it has been demonstrated that facilitating flexible working is well within the industry’s capability. ■
■ There has been an increase in female representation in the judiciary since 2014. However, there is a lower representation of women in senior judicial roles (recently emphasised by the departure of Lady Black from the Supreme Court, leaving only one woman and no BAME judges). The greatest proportion of female judges are in fee-paid positions suggesting that they want to either hold the position on a part-time basis, or have other commitments which make flexibility essential.
26 | LegalWomen
Farore Law is a law firm specialising in employment, discrimination, equal pay, sexual harassment & misconduct, whistleblowing, and personal injury law. www.farorelaw.co.uk
e publish blogs throughout the year so please contact us with ideas. We are now concentrating on career planning blogs so whatever your area of law please consider writing.
Mel Nebhrajani, Government Legal Department’s (GLD) Director of Litigation reflects on her experience as a woman in law. www.legalwomen.org.uk/MelNebhrajani.html
Shannett Thompson, Partner at Kingsley Napley and Chair of the BAME & Allies Network, explains her career path and gives tips for others. www.legalwomen.org.uk/shannettthompson.html
Alison Lobb, Managing Partner of Morecrofts, describes her career path and gives great tips to junior and aspiring lawyers. www.legalwomen.org.uk/alisonlobb.html
The Bebb Quartet, Initiated by four extraordinary young women, who took on the legal establishment just before the First World War. www.legalwomen.org.uk/bebbquartet.html
Susanna McGibbon, A government lawyer at the height of her career reflects on gender equality in the Civil Service. www.legalwomen.org.uk/susannamcgibbon.html
Alice Hughes, trainee, has some tips for anyone starting out in the Legal World. www.legalwomen.org.uk/alicehughes.html
Amber Melville-Brown explains her legal career path qualifying in both England & Wales and at the New York Bar. www.legalwomen.org.uk/ambermelvillebrown.html
From the Great Sprint to the Great Sandwich Career trajectory theory. www.legalwomen.org.uk/helenbroadbridge.html
You can find all the blogs on our website www.legalwomen.org.uk/blogs.html
Reach new clients with Clio + Google My Business W
hen looking for legal services, 57% of consumers search on their own, relying heavily on online search. This happens even more during recurring national lockdowns. Since Google owns more than 90% of the global search market share, having a Google My Business profile ensures you show up where today’s potential clients are looking – online. Meeting clients where they are searching is essential for lawyers to efficiently and effectively grow their business. Google My Business brings a professional presence to channels that your clients are already familiar with. Although having a Google My Business profile doesn’t mean you’re going to get a tsunami of leads overnight, it will help establish your reputation as a trusted business in your local community when you may not be able to meet clients face-to-face. As a leading provider of cloud-based legal case management software, Clio knows that having a reliable stream of clients coming through the door (even if it’s virtual) is essential for any firm to succeed. With Clio’s Google My Business integration, you can create and manage a free Google Business Profile for your firm from directly in Clio. This allows you to reach an untapped client pool. Having a Google My Business profile also gives search engines another “vote of confidence,” indicating that you are who you say you are. This makes search engines more likely to reward
your website with better results in their search queries, making it easier for potential new clients to find you. Finally, since reviews still reign supreme when hiring a lawyer, with over half of prospective clients saying they use internet searches and review sites to help make a decision, you need to make it easy for prospective clients by having reviews appear next to your Google Business profile. You can also increase those Google ratings by sending clients a review request link that’s specific to your firm. Be proactive by asking for a review from every happy client, so that if a negative review comes along, it’s far outweighed by the good ones. To learn more about how Clio can help you grow your law firm, visit www.clio.com/uk. ■ LegalWomen | 27
Eliminating Violence against Women: if not now, when? By Lizzette Robleto de Howarth
n 17 December 1999, through Resolution 54/1341, the United Nations adopted the 25th of November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Every year, on this date, UN Women begin 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence that runs until the 10th of December, which celebrates Human Rights Day2.
The 25th of November was specifically chosen, because on that date in 1960, three Mirabal Sisters (Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa)3 were murdered on the orders of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). Better known as “Las Mariposas”, or “The Butterflies”, the Mirabal Sisters were four sisters – Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Dede – who actively opposed the brutal dictatorship of Trujillo4. The remaining sister, Dedé, died of natural causes on 1 February 20145. The eldest sister, Patria, left school to marry a farmer, Pedro Gonzales, who later aided and supported her in challenging the Trujillo regime6. The third daughter, Minerva, enrolled at the University of Santo Domingo to study law but because she had declined Trujillo’s sexual advances, she was denied a licence to practice7. The youngest sister, María Teresa, also enrolled at the University of Santo Domingo where she studied mathematics. Two of the sisters, Minerva and María Teresa, were incarcerated, raped and tortured in clandestine prisons 28 | LegalWomen
on several occasions8. On 25th November 1960, Minerva, Maria and Patria were returning from a visit to their husbands, who were in Puerto Plata prison, when Trujillo supporters beat them to death with sticks, shoved them into the back of a car and threw them off a cliff. The Trujillo government declared afterwards that their deaths had been caused by a road-traffic accident9. Trujillo’s plan to silence the Mirabal Sisters ultimately failed as their deaths caused mass public outrage and only resulted in highlighting their cause and the regime’s brutality. The Mirabal Sisters became symbols of feminist resistance and women’s rights activism. Sadly, gender-based violence is still a scourge that has yet to be eliminated. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)10, a total of 87,000 women around the world were intentionally killed in 2017. Their report states that 58% were killed by intimate partners or family members which equates to 137 women being murdered every single day. The regions with the largest number of women killed by intimate partners (not including other family members) were Asia and Africa (11,000 each), followed by the Americas (6,000), Europe (2,000) and Oceania (200). Gender-based violence or violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime11. This problem is not only devastating for the survivors of violence and their families, but it also carries significant social and economic costs. According to the World Bank, in some countries, it is estimated that violence against women costs up to 3.7% of their GDP which is more than double what most governments spend on education12.
In May 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new joint report Justice for Women Amidst COVID-1913 stated that curtailed access to justice institutions, rising intimate partner violence, growing injustice against female workers – including those on the front lines of the crisis – and discriminatory laws are some of the major risks to women’s lives and their livelihoods associated with COVID-19. The report suggests that roughly 2.73 billion women around the world live in countries where stay-at-home orders are in place which increases the risk of intimate partner violence. Moreover, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its May 2020 report, also confirmed that whilst the contribution of women to the design and implementation of responses to COVID-19 is essential, women continue to be absent from decision-making and leadership positions14. Additionally in her report of September 2020, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Dubravka Šimonovic, highlighted that the intersection between the COVID-19 pandemic, its lockdown measures and the epidemic of violence against women, has exposed pre-existing gaps and shortcomings in the prevention of violence against women. This is a human rights violation that had not been sufficiently addressed by many States even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic15. The United Nations Office of the High Commission of Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the global community to take urgent steps to end the epidemic of gender-based violence16. In this context, law societies, bar associations, and lawyers can play a significant role in ensuring access to justice without discrimination. On 25 September 2020, the Law Society of England and Wales released a report “Law under lockdown: COVID-19 measures, access to justice and vulnerable people”17. The report highlighted that the Coronavirus crisis has had a disproportionate impact on some of the most vulnerable in society. The report also analyses the impact of emergency measures and the resulting ability of vulnerable people to access justice and legal advice. To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Law Society joined forces with the InterAmerican Bar Association (IABA), the ILO and The Bridge Project at an event entitled “Gender violence and Administration of Justice: Progress and Setbacks”. Speakers from Argentina, Peru and the United Kingdom reflected on gender-based violence and the role that the administration of justice plays in offering effective judicial protection and guarantees to equitable treatment before the law. Panellists sought to identify the risks that have been exacerbated during the pandemic and discussed potential measures to resolve these issues. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially dangerous time for female victims of domestic violence because lockdown measures make it even more difficult to escape from their perpetrators. COVID-19 has highlighted that there is still a long way to go in terms of protecting women and it is a sad reminder that gender equality remains an aspiration. In the context of a double pandemic – COVID-19 and genderbased violence – added to the threat of a global economic downturn, gender equality is not only an urgent moral and social imperative but a critical economic challenge. Both men and women must work hand in hand with inclusion, respect, and mutual recognition of each other to achieve it. If not now, then when? ■
Lizzette Robleto de Howarth
International Programmes Manager The Law Society of England and Wales
1. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/54/134 2. 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/endingviolence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism 3. “Las Mariposas: The Mirabal Sisters’ Role as Heroines of the Dominican Republic”, Victoria Sanchez https://stmuhistorymedia.org/las-mariposas-themirabal-sisters-role-as-heroines-of-the-dominicanrepublic/#marker-73049-5 4. ‘I shot the cruellest dictator in the Americas’, 27 May 2011, BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latinamerica-13560512 5. “Last Surviving Mirabal Sister Died at the age of 88”, 04 February 2014, LatinTrends https://latintrends.com/lastsurviving-mirabal-sister-died-at-the-age-of-88/ 6. The Mirabal Sisters: The three “butterflies” who were killed because of their activities against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, 19 April 2017, The Vintage News https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/04/19/themirabal-sisters-the-three-butterflies-who-were-killedbecause-of-their-activities-against-the-dictatorship-ofrafael-trujillo/ 7. “Assassination Of The Mirabal Sisters Of The Dominican Republic”, 25 November 2014, ISIS International http://www.isiswomen.org/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=1744:history-of-theinternational-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-againstwomen-november-25 8. Conference “Under the Wings of the Butterflies", UNESCO http://www.unesco.org/new/en/ unesco/events/major-events/?tx_browser_ pi1%5BshowUid%5D=2482&cHash=5acea5e644 9. “Three women who defeated a Dictator: The Mirabal Sisters”, 25th November 2015, by Dilara Gürcü, Young Feminist Europe https://www.youngfeminist.eu/2015/11/threewomen-who-defeated-a-dictator-the-mirabal-sisters/ 10. Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related killing of women and girls (2018) https://www.unodc.org/documents/dataand-analysis/GSH2018/GSH18_Gender-related_killing_ of_women_and_girls.pdf 11. Violence against women: Key Facts, 29 November 2017, World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/news-room/ fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women 12. Gender-Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls), 25 September 2019, The World Bank https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/socialsustainability/ brief/violence-against-women-and-girls 13. Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19, May 2020, UN Women, IDLO, UNDP, UNODC, The World Bank and Pathfinders for Justice, and supported by The Elders https://www. unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/5/press-releasecovid-19-sparks-urgency-around-justice-for-women 14. COVID-19: G7 nations need to get gender equality right for a better future for women at work, 14 May 2020, International Labour Organisation https://www.ilo.org/global/about-theilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_744753/lang--en/index.htm 15. Violence against women, its causes and consequences, 24 July 2020 file:///C:/Users/012862/Downloads/A_75_144-EN.pdf 16. “Urgent action needed to end pandemic of genderbased violence”, 14 July 2020, OHCHR https://www. ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews. aspx?NewsID=26085&LangID=E 17. “Law under lockdown: COVID-19 measures, access to justice and vulnerable people”, 25 September 2020, The Law Society https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/en/contact-or-visit-us/ press-office/press-releases/law-under-lockdown-covid19-measures-access-to-justice-and-vulnerable-people LegalWomen | 29
Top 10 compliance mistakes and how to avoid them – By Julian Bryan, Managing Director, Quill
ompliance should be neither an afterthought nor a burden – it should be a natural consequence of running your law firm and managing your accounts well. The SRA will tell you that anti-money laundering and mishandling client money are the two most common mistakes law firms make. So how do you avoid the SRA’s intervention? Here are 10 compliance mistakes law firms most often fall foul of: 1. Not paying attention to the latest SRA Accounts Rules The SRA regularly updates its rules, and it’s up to you to be aware of these changes and understand how it impacts your accounts function. The best thing to do is follow the SRA news and adopt a compliance-centric approach to your business in order to avoid serious SRA Accounts Rules breaches. 2. Incorrectly operating a client account Ensure your client account includes the required level of information and that you don’t provide banking facilities to clients or third parties. It’s essential that your staff are aware of the relevant money laundering regulations and what constitutes provision of banking facilities. On the same point, don’t suffer lack of understanding about how to operate without a separate client account, should you choose this route. SRA’s Rule 2.2 is all-or-nothing. It gives you the choice of exemption from having a client account (across the whole practice, not on a client-by-client basis). Whilst this may sound like an easier option (and cheaper as you don’t need accountants’ reports), it could create more work by asking clients to pay third parties directly and subsequently making sure these payments have been made. Alternatively, another option permitted by the SRA is Third Party Managed Accounts which can provide client onboarding checks, card processing and outsourced client account services within one solution. You must decide what makes the most sense for your business. 3. Not maintaining a clear breach register You and your employees must be suitably trained to spot suspected breaches, and you must document how discovered breaches will be rectified and keep a register of this information. 4. Not having a payment of interest policy Your policy of interest should clearly state how money held in your client account will be handled, including when it becomes due and the rates you’ll use. 5. Not thoroughly checking your residual and suspense balances Analyse which of these monies you currently hold, determine if you should be holding them, return to the proper recipients where possible, and log what you’ve done if these people can’t be located. 30 | LegalWomen
6. Not defining ‘promptly’ This word is dotted throughout the revised SRA Accounts Rules. What ‘promptly’ means to one person is different to another. Choose suitable timeframes for your firm and clarify in your office policies. 7. Not setting realistic service level agreements (SLAs) There’s no point in setting impossible-to-meet timescales. For example, if you’re a rural practice with no easy access to a local bank or building society, don’t set tight timings regarding paying in cheques. Instead, be honest and upfront about what’s feasible for your unique circumstances and incorporate that into your contracts and policies. 8. Not supporting your COFA Your accounting system should allow you to produce a tribalance comparison of your client bank, cashbook and client ledger balances. By checking and signing a report of this nature, your COFA can meet his / her SRA obligations and you’ll have the visibility you need to make sure compliance measures are being met. 9. Purchasing the wrong legal accounts software Ask for recommendations from trusted peers of what works best for them. Be sure to probe any potential software provider about how they handle system enhancements to address ever-changing rules. Your supplier should be rolling out new and enhanced functionalities which allow you to streamline compliance procedures and ensure you’re constantly protected. 10. Not collaborating and communicating effectively Compliance is not a one-person task. It’s the duty of everyone in your organisation from your cashiers and compliance officers to senior leaders and solicitors. Seek input from all stakeholders when reviewing compliance-related policy documents and roll out updated documentation with appropriate training companywide. Keep your accountant informed always so audits can be done quickly and efficiently. Summary Hopefully our tips will help you fulfil your regulatory compliance responsibilities with ease. This excerpt is taken from our ’15Step Guide to Starting Your Own Law Firm’. To download our guide in its entirety, and learn how to keep client money safe and avoid money laundering scams, please visit www.quill.co.uk/ Legalpracticemanagementforstartups. ■ Julian Bryan is the Managing Director of Quill, which helps law firms streamline, and run their practice better and compliantly by providing simple and easy-to-use legal accounting and case management software, as well as outsourced legal cashiering services. Julian is an advocate for quality software standards and served as the Chair of the Legal Software Suppliers Association from 2016 to 2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Indemnity Insurance Where YOU Have Control – Beat the Deadlines! A
fter 3 national lockdowns and almost a year of varying government restrictions due to COVID-19, working from home and flexible working is fast becoming the new norm. This has led to more people moving and relocating to areas and properties better suited to their needs.
Electronic policy documents are sent the moment you issue, and users have the choice of an ‘Individual’ or ‘Group’ account option. GCS Online is accessible from anywhere 24/7, making it the ideal solution for those working from the office or from home, meaning you will never miss a deadline!
The government took steps to further boost the housing market; first in May 2020, where rules were relaxed allowing property moves to go ahead, viewings to take place and estate agents to reopen. Then, in July 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Stamp Duty holiday (ending 31st March 2021), which has since caused an even bigger surge in property transactions.
If you prefer hard copy policies, our legal indemnity insurance ‘Pack’ offers the same instant cover and is just as easy to use as GCS Online. Policies are presented logically in a smart, easy-touse folder.
As the March 2021 deadline for the Stamp Duty holiday is fast approaching, now, more than ever, time is of the essence – and Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) is here to help, offering conveyancing solicitors quick and easy ways of obtaining legal indemnity insurance for their clients, whether it is dealing with residential or commercial properties or developments. For example, GCS ‘Online’ generates quotes in seconds which can be issued instantly or saved to your account where they will be waiting for you, ready to be issued whenever and wherever.
Alternatively, if you are unable to find the cover you are looking for ‘Online’ or in our ‘Pack’, or if you simply want GCS to issue policies for you, directly from our office, our ‘Bespoke/ Direct’ services is for you. Our highly experienced and friendly underwriters are always happy to help – simply phone or email and leave the rest to us. To register for GCS ‘Online’, to request a GCS insurance ‘Pack’ or to view an example list of our policies, please visit www.gcstitle.co.uk. To obtain a ‘Bespoke/Direct’ quote or for any further enquiries, please contact us using the details below. ■
Legal Indemnity Insurance for ‘Residential’ & ‘Commercial’ Properties and ‘Developments’
You’re in FULL Control! GCS puts YOU in charge of how you issue legal indemnity insurance for your property clients.
INSTANT cover via: GCS ‘Online’ - quotes in seconds, instant electronic policies GCS insurance ‘Pack’ - instant policies contained in a convenient folder GCS ‘Bespoke/Direct’ - let our friendly and knowledgeable underwriters issue instant cover for you, directly from our office gcs-title.co.uk/LW
Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales no. 3623950. Registered office: GCS House, High Street, Heathfield, East Sussex, TN21 8JD
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Making surgery their legacy T
he lives of tens of thousands of people throughout the UK are saved and transformed daily by surgery. Almost 5 million surgical patients are admitted to hospital every year in England alone so choosing to leave the Royal College of Surgeons of England a legacy in your will can have a direct impact on the future of surgery and the patients it saves. A recent legacy has allowed us to fund multiple one-year research fellowships all costing in the region of £65,000. One of the recent fellowships awarded with this generous bequest was to a trauma & orthopaedic surgeon whose project is looking at using augmented-reality gaming to optimise surgical performance. Delivering expert levels of surgery is a team skill, combining knowledge, technical and non-technical ability. Yet better understanding is needed about how, together, the surgeon, their assistant and the scrub nurse acquire and integrate these skills. The developed Augmented Reality (AR) headsets allow multiple wearers to overlap 3D digital information onto the real world, tracking hands and surgical instruments. Using AR gamification, the project investigates how surgical teams learn, and if enhancing their abilities during simulated and real surgery can accelerate learning, deliver expert-level skill, and thus improve patient care.
Registered charity no 212808
he lives of tens of thousands of people throughout the UK are saved and transformed daily by surgery. Almost 5 million surgical patients are admitted to hospital every year in England alone for procedures ranging from straightforward gall bladder removal and joint replacements to complex transplants and emergency trauma repair. The Royal College of Surgeons of England safeguards the experience, treatment and outcomes of the UK’s surgical patients through our ongoing state-of-the-art training of surgeons and pioneering research. Making a will is a significant personal responsibility and, just as a will brings security to those closest to you, a legacy to the RCS plays a crucial role in supporting the improvement of surgical care for patients. Please contact us to find out how leaving a gift to the RCS in your will could play a crucial role in our work. t 020 7869 6086 e email@example.com w www.rcseng.ac.uk/fundraising #surgerysaveslives
Another legacy gift supported a one-year research fellowship of a urology surgeon whose project is looking at determining the genetic drivers of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer affects approximately 10,000 people each year in the UK. It is more common in older adults and men with one of the most common symptoms being blood in the urine. This research aims to help sufferers of bladder cancer by looking into the genes, which play an important role in driving the cancers and their responses to treatments. In the short term, the project hopes to discover new ways to diagnose bladder cancer and predict patients’ responses to treatments and in the longer term, will aim to identify treatments that are more effective. The excellent fellowship applications we receive has doubled since the scheme was introduced in 1993 and we are unable to support 80% of applicants. We are always in need of more funding to enable projects that address the health challenges of modern society, supporting the development of pioneering ideas across the NHS. With each small success we take another step towards the next big breakthrough. ■
MAKE SURGERY YOUR LEGACY
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ondon Legal Support Trust (LLST) was co-founded by Bob Nightingale MBE in 2003. While working in South West London Law Centres, he recognised that, simply put, “none of the law centres had enough money to deal with the number of people that needed help”. The charity was founded to raise funds for specialist free legal advice agencies in London and the South East through events and other fundraising initiatives. After a virtual challenge in 2020, LLST is delighted that its flagship event, the London Legal Walk will return in its traditional format on 18 October 2021. More information can be found at https://rebrand.ly/LLST-LLW21
disabilities. When their mother passed away, they managed their tenancy without a guardian. The legal advice centre who took his case on helped to secure their home and they avoided eviction with access to specialist services. Without this responsive approach, they would most definitely have ended up in the homeless system. LLST provides financial and organisational support to the agency that helped the brothers, and many others like it. With a small monthly donation, you can help agencies continue their lifechanging work.
Payroll giving – your money working harder With payroll giving, you can donate every month from your pre-tax income. Your gift will go further at no extra cost to you. LLST will receive both the amount of your donation Adapting through change In 2021, LLST remains committed to and the tax that would have been paid on it. continuing to raise desperately needed funds. For example, a £10 monthly donation could generate £12.50, £16.67 or £18.18 at no It is no cliché that these funds are needed additional cost to you. Setting up a regular more now than ever due to the pandemic. Alongside virtual and physical events planned donation to LLST means the charity can plan and work with the agencies who support so for the year, there are a number of ways you many vulnerable people in our community. can get involved to ensure that as many as possible in our community can access the For more information and to donate, visit legal advice they need. www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk/ For as little as £10 per month, you can donate-today or email firstname.lastname@example.org and help people like Steve* a member of the small and friendly team will Steve* and his brothers have learning assist you. ■ (*name changed)
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 20 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 email@example.com Or call 020 7837 0006
Or write to: Freepost RTJA-SRXG-AZUL, Dogs Trust, Clarissa Baldwin House, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ (No stamp required) Please quote “ 334744” 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
However far from home, eCOS creates an interstellar client onboarding experience
Technology that connects you, wherever that happens to be Do you feel like it takes light years to onboard your clients? Don’t get caught in a black hole of delays and missing information. Onboarding your clients shouldn’t be a mission. eCOS, our electronic client onboarding solution, brings together everything you need to achieve remote onboarding. Access to client care packs, verification of identity and source of funds solutions, onboarding questionnaires and Law Society TA forms, all integrated into your CMS. eCOS gives you visibility over your onboarding process within a single platform. One small step for law firms, one giant leap for conveyancing. Start onboarding digitally with eCOS from InfoTrack.
Visit www.infotrack.co.uk/ecos or call us on 0207 186 8090 to access the future of client onboarding. LegalWomen | 35
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