Legal Women May 2024

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Editor-in-Chief: Coral Hill. Features Editor: Molly Bellamy. Sub-editors: Gillian Fielden, Tilly Rubens, Joanne Skolnick. Editorial Team: Ramsha Khan, Charity Mafuba, Elizabeth Shimmell, Agnes Swiecka and Emma Webb. Researcher: David Smith, Administrator & IT Support: Stephen Flanagan 8

LegalWomen | 3
Find us online at: 15 5 Foreword 8 How do we balance careers and personal life? 10 Qualifying as a New York Attorney and solicitor in England and Wales 12 Qualifying through the Non Law Graduate Route 14 Qualifying through the Solicitor Apprentice Route 15 You do not need to be Kim Karadashian to be a Superstar Solicitor Apprentice 17 Suzanne Reece on the SQE 18 International Women's Day 2024 in-person events 20 International Women's Day interviews 21 Inspiring Inclusion and Beyond: Don't pull the ladder up and walk away 22 Alternative Law Careers 23 Carving out an In-House legal career 27 London Legal Walk 28 LW Likes 29 LW Recommends 20

Ifeel privileged to be serving as guest editor for this edition of Legal Women magazine and am grateful to our Founder and Editor-in-Chief Coral Hill for according me this opportunity. It is fascinating to be privy to the intricacies involved in co-ordinating and collating information for publication.

The legal landscape appears to be changing in relation to the non-traditional routes to qualifying as a solicitor, on the premise of advancing social mobility and levelling the playing field in terms of accessing the profession. Specifically, the significant uptake of Solicitors Apprenticeships and the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) which was launched by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) in 2021.

Consequently, this has meant that those from ethnic minority and limited socio- economic backgrounds now have the opportunity to enter the profession. In tandem, these non-traditional routes have the added benefit of enabling non-law graduates/ professionals the opportunity to become solicitors without the need for completing a conversion course like the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in the case of the SQE route. Education providers like Barbri, have developed a pre-SQE 1 foundational course which covers basic law principals aimed at non-law graduates.

This edition features contributions from women who have taken these paths to qualification, those in the process of entering it and those like myself who have just entered it, (having recently qualified). Reading their personal stories has been refreshing, albeit nostalgic, as it took me back to my own non-traditional route to qualification which began after graduating from BPP

LW magazine is for everyone; lawyers, solicitors, barristers, advocates, judges, legal executives and those working as paralegals, legal secretaries, advisers or recruiters, the list is endless. We welcome the many male champions as readers and contributors.



University. I opted to complete the New York Bar course during the pandemic and qualify as a New York Attorney whilst simultaneously completing the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS),so I was inspired to include my personal story.

We also get to hear from the Course Tutor and Coaches perspective on the advice they would offer students and those considering embarking on this journey.

Refreshingly, more law firms are now receptive to these routes as evidenced by the rise of law firms and institutions ascribing to them.

Additionally, we will hear from women who are already in the legal field and have made the transition from private practice to in-house. On this topic I interviewed one of my mentors as well as my former boss on their personal experiences of this, which will hopefully serve as “food for thought” to those considering making the transition. ■

Solicitor (England and Wales), New York Attorney, Advisory Board Member - Barbri

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Editorial Board

We are delighted to receive advice from the distinguished members of our Editorial Board. Full biographies are available on our website.


Christina Blacklaws

Millicent Grant QC (Hon) FCILEx

Janem Jones

Sally Penni MBE

Jenine Abdo


Karen O’Leary


Alison Atack

LegalWomen | 7 Introduction Many
Donaghey & Chance

How do we balance careers and personal life?

Many lawyers feel under huge pressure to succeed in their chosen career as quickly as possible. One view is given by Kamila Kurkowska in her piece below ‘a decade…?’ where she talks about the pressures women can feel in terms of achieving goals not only in their career but also at a time when they might like to start a family.

Each person’s reaction will vary depending on their exact circumstances and which jurisdiction they are working in. It’s important to remember that it is possible to elongate the career process – it might be tricky but may well suit your particular circumstances. There is a huge variety in as to when people start their legal careers and how they progress them, so it’s important to find the right thing for you.

Some people enter the legal profession at a mature age and with lengthening careers this has not been an insurmountable barrier to seniority. As we all know, there’s also been an urgent need for older workers to re-enter the work force and this is also true in the legal profession. Sharon Beattie KC, joint head of Chambers at New Park Court in Leeds and Newcastle, says:

“There is no one size fits all, but measures such as offering flexibility, mentoring or probationary periods may reassure candidates and organisations that any decision will be the right one for them and for chambers.”

She also highlights when age should be an advantage; it can give you perspective and the maturity to deal with stress and difficult clients more easily.

“A good candidate at 40, or older, could be an asset to a set of chambers for, potentially, 20 years. As to being out of date, the most important thing is that the nature of the job does not really change; people don’t change, it is still about making judgements, offering advice, and reading people. If you had those skills, you still do.”

It often comes down to confidence, but there are many support systems available and agencies such as Reignite Academy. Home - Reignite Academy - Relaunching Legal Careers - London, UK Joining a local legal community can be the first step. Great Sprint to the Great Sandwich (

Culturally, changing the mindset of when careers take off is important. This has been a recurrent theme for Legal Women and Helen Broadbridge wrote an excellent piece on Career trajectory theory. She reviews the theoretical path: “a worker completes their education and enters the workforce in their early-to-mid-twenties, and then works long hours, without a pause, for the rest of their career, while being identified for or breaking into management around the 10-year mark. However, she challenges this approach and suggests that instead of the ‘Great Sprint’, how about the ‘Great Sandwich’? Instead of expecting the thirties to be a makeor-break decade, why not see them as a decade for growth, after which all workers can look forward to thirty years of contributing their expertise all the way up to the highest levels of private and public institutions? With careers likely to span longer than ever, this could be a powerful model not ‘just for women’ but for all workers.”

You can read the whole article here: Great Sprint to the Great Sandwich (

Careers and Life Ambitions
8 | LegalWomen

a decade...?

Below the thoughts of Kamila Kurkowska a mentor to female lawyers and President and Founder of Women in Law Foundation in Poland › en

The clock

Some time ago, scrolling through Instagram, the algorithm prompted me to reel in a statement by Indra Nooyi former CEO of PepsiCo.

Indra begins her statement with the words:

The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict. When you should have children, at the same time you should be building your career. When you are promoting, your children need you because they are entering their teenage years. (...) and when you make an even bigger career your parents start to need you because, after all, they are getting older.

Very simple, and on the other hand very difficult. Difficult for women. And while I don't like the narrative that believes that every woman is or will be a mum and that only through the prism of motherhood are active women looked at, there is no fooling ourselves that the issue of work-life balance is a huge challenge for women, lawyers in particular.

We MAY only have a decade

One of my clients, the head of legal at a large technology company, moved into this position from an international law firm. We talked for a long time about professional topics, but then moved on to private ones. This head of legal said something to me that I heard in my head for days afterwards:

"You know, Kamila, because we women really only have a decade to fit everything in - children, relationship and career.”

And when I analysed my own path, but also that of the female lawyers I work with, it's exactly like that. Each of us has about 10 years, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more, between the ages of 30 and 40 to have children (if that's what we want and that's what we're planning), get a professional position and still build a lasting, happy relationship. Of course, we should not forget to take care of our mental and physical well-being. Sometimes there are also the responsibilities of caring for ageing parents.

But how do you do all this when a day has only 24 hours, a week has seven days and a year has 365, and you still have to sleep sometime....

The head of legal said during our meeting:

"I can't believe there are women who have it all, do it all and in every area of their lives everything is working perfectly. You have a career, your children are happy, looked after and you spend a lot of time with them and your relationship is blossoming in love, friendship, passion and understanding. This is not the case!”

“It is not fair”

Men don't have to "mobilise" like that. They don't have to rush to have a child before the age of 40, they don't have to choose - work or family. For employers, they are even more attractive employees when they have children, and preferably still have credit. I'm sure you're familiar with the term 'fatherhood bonus' and 'motherhood penalty'. Men do not face the problem that the older they get, they become invisible, like women over 50. On the contrary, 'Silver on the temples' adds to their seriousness and authority. This is not fair!

And I don't want you to think that I'm blaming men at this point - no. I just don't like the way this world is set up, even though I know we can't change biology. I think men have their challenges and even demons too. I know this because a lot of female lawyers tell me about their relationships, and not every man can bear to see his life partner succeed professionally and financially.

The world has changed and I feel that we all need to reinvent ourselves and put ourselves back together. ■

Kamila Kurkowska

Mentor of female lawyers

President and Founder of Women in Law Foundation

Legal Women have recently formed a strategic partnership with the Women in Law Foundation in Poland. See page 28 and follow us on socials for further updates.

LegalWomen | 9 Careers and Life Ambitions

The main reason I qualified through this non-traditional route was my age; I went to law school in my mid 30s and simply didn’t have the emotional fortitude to cope with the mammoth task of completing Vacation Scheme and Training Contract application forms. Finances were also critical – the alternative route was cheaper and permitted instalments. This was important as I already had a debt from funding my LLB.

I learnt about alternative routes in my final year of law school, at a seminar where one of the panellists was New York qualified. She subsequently qualified as a UK Solicitor. I was intrigued and she shared her route to qualification, which she had completed through Barbri. I did some research and attended a taster session for the New York Bar course and was sold. I discovered that I could complete the New York Bar and then complete the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS) to be admitted as a Solicitor without going through the Training Contract route.

SQE and the pandemic

My plans were disrupted by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) launch of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and phasing out of the QLTS. This meant my timeline to complete this course was shorter and I had to simultaneously complete the QLTS alongside my New York Bar course. Added to this the Covid pandemic meant my New York Bar exams were initially deferred and then I had to do them online. It was a tense time.

Qualifying as a New York Attorney and solicitor in England and Wales

Dual-qualified lawyers are increasingly a feature of our legal landscape. Here Charity Mafuba traces her own unusual/alternative route to qualification as a New York Attorney and Solicitor in England and Wales. Charity sits on the Advisory Board for Barbri.

I vividly remember the telephone call with the Barbri Rep, who in a shocked voice said, “this has never been done before”. My strategy was to complete my tasks for the New York course during weekdays, then at the weekends, I would swap to a weeks’ worth of QLTS MCT tasks. This meant I mitigated the risk of confusing the legal concepts between the two jurisdictions. In addition to this I was working full time. To say this was no mean feat would be the understatement of the century. It was definitely onerous but my sheer determination was my saving grace.

I must emphasise that I didn’t have additional responsibilities, a husband or children. That is one period in my life where I was grateful to be single. I had the good fortune of being allocated Daniel Hill as my Personal Tutor for the QLTS Course. He gave constructive feedback and was very encouraging.


Crunch time came and my QLTS MCT exam was just 20 days before my New York Bar Exams. I planned carefully when to park my New York Bar revision and focus on my MCT revision. The exam was draining; completing 200 multiple questions over a 6 hour period with an hour break between the two sets of 100 questions.

Following this exam, I gave myself one day to recover and resumed revision for the New York Bar exams. I was mentally exhausted, but not one to be easily deterred, I soldiered on. Fantasising about my admission ceremonies, dual licences and the numerous doors they would open for my legal career served as ample motivation.

10 | LegalWomen Alternative Routes to Qualification

Crunch time

The results of the last QLTS MCT were released and I had passed. Given that 50% of the candidates failed this exam, I was so relieved. My MPRE results were released and again good news, I had passed. This meant that I was one step closer to achieving my UK Qualification (-pending successful completion of the New York exams.) Later the same year, I had the great satisfaction of achievement when I passed the New York Bar first time. All that remained was to complete the 50 hour pro bono requirement before submitting my application for admission to the New York Bar.

While waiting for these remaining New York Bar exam results, I had enrolled onto the remaining QLTS Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) course so I could sit the remaining assessments which would enable me to apply for admission as a Solicitor. I performed well during the completion of my OSCE course but shockingly, when the results were released, I had failed. I was rudely awakened, felt stupid and incompetent. This sent me into a downward spiral and created anxiety and doubt in my abilities. In that headspace I decided that I would no longer continue in my quest for achieving a UK qualification. I felt an immense sense of defeat.

It took me some time to rationalise my emotions and come to terms with this setback. However, after ample reflection and an appreciation of my efforts to date, I decided that I had come too far to throw in the towel and revisited my decision to quit. Deciding to proceed, I maxed out my American Express credit card (which I had almost paid off). My only option to continue with my plan was to enrol onto the SQE2 Course as the OSCE had now been phased out.

Moreover, still reeling from my failure, and deathly afraid of failing again caused me to second guess myself and make silly mistakes during assessments resulting in lower grades. I went into militant mode, revising manically, determined that failure wasn’t going to be in my vocabulary.


When the results were released 4 months later, I was elated to discover that I had passed in the 2nd Quintile of my cohort. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Having triumphed and succeeded in the exams and fully recovered from my failure of the OSCE exams, I can now appreciate the silver lining that I wouldn’t have been eligible for a seat on the Barbri Advisory Board if I had passed the OSCE and not needed to complete my resits under the SQE2 route.

It was so surreal and satisfying when my application for admission was granted and even more so, when I stood beneath the Law Society Arch and got my photos taken at my admission ceremony on the 14th July 2023. Whenever, I look at my Transcript, Practicing Certificate and admission photos, I am reminded of the importance of persevering in one’s goals despite major setbacks. The victory is always sweeter when it is snatched from the jaws of defeat. ■

New York Attorney and Solicitor (England and Wales), Barbri Advisory Board Member

LegalWomen | 11 Alternative Routes to Qualification

Many people still consider the path to becoming a lawyer as being very structured, traditional and inflexible. However, when looking at the legal sector it is apparent to me that no one takes exactly the same route to get to where they are today. There are countless routes to qualification, and my experience is an example of this.

I first considered pursuing a career in law when I was still in school. However ultimately I decided not to choose law for my undergraduate degree. One of the reasons behind this decision was because I knew so little about law firsthand and I had no one I could turn to and ask about it. Instead, I pursued a BSc in Psychology. This was a subject which I was more familiar with, having previously taken it at A Level. I also found out that it was possible to do a conversion course in law and kept this at the back of my mind.

While at university, I considered my career choices. I found that although I enjoyed studying Psychology, it did not feel like the route I wanted to take. This led me to consider other options and again my mind kept wandering back to law. After considerable research, I applied to do a law conversion course that would also allow me to gain a master’s degree.

As a result of not having taken the ‘traditional route’, I faced the difficulty of feeling like I was behind those who had undertaken a law degree. It prolonged when I would get a job and truly begin my legal career in a field where qualification can already be a long process. A key example of this is that since I had not done an undergraduate law degree, I could not apply for a training contract as early as those who had. This feeling of being behind was something I realised early on and still poses a difficulty even now. I even briefly debated whether just getting a job in another field, where I could go straight into it, would be preferable to law.

However, once I began studying law, any hesitations I had were removed. My interest in law, which had been slowly developing for many years, has finally solidified into now knowing it is definitely something I want to pursue. This has made me feel more driven, motivated, and interested. I have thoroughly enjoyed the master’s course and the things I have learned so far, and this is reflected by the fact that I was able to achieve a Distinction mark overall.

There are also substantial advantages in taking an alternative route to qualify. I believe that it develops many transferable skills and provides a wider experience to draw from, overall allowing

Jessica Farnsworth talks to Legal Women about her experience of pursuing qualification from a non-law background.

a more rounded approach for students. Being a lawyer is after all not just about knowing the law. While this is undeniably a crucial component, there are many other important elements. Therefore, the experiences gained from taking an alternative route to qualification can only ever be beneficial. For example, I had the opportunity to attend an open day for STEM students at a law firm. As the firm’s clients were based in scientific research, it was preferable to attract candidates who have more of an understanding of this field.

Now that I have completed my master’s course, I am looking forward to graduating and facing the challenges that lie ahead in my path towards qualification. Alongside the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQEs), I have another choice in paths to consider regarding the Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). The QWE is a newer route which allows work experience to either be accumulated by a training contract, or through several different work experiences in a legal environment . The choice of paths, and flexibility in this, is an advantage because it has the scope to be attainable and suitable for more people. I do not have a set route in mind, but I do have goals that I am aiming towards. I am looking to get work experience at the moment to help aid and direct my career progression.

While it is daunting to have so much of the journey still ahead, it is also exciting. One thing I have found really useful, in transitioning from a non-law background, is getting to meet others ahead in their legal careers by attending law seminars and networking events. I have been lucky enough to find that there is a supportive and uplifting network of people at these events. It is easy to feel out of place and I definitely did before going to my first law event, however, I found that people could not have been more welcoming.

While I recognise that I am still in the early stages of my path to qualification, it feels like I have made progress since I first had the idea of pursuing a legal career. Overall, alternative routes should not feel like a deterrent to becoming legally qualified. I would reiterate that it is possible to succeed through alternative routes, and an alternative route could even perhaps be seen as preferable! ■

12 | LegalWomen Non-Law Graduate Route
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Ruqayyah Raja talks to Legal Women

UK about the nontraditional route to qualification from a solicitor’s apprentice viewpoint.

“There are currently more than 1,300 solicitor apprentices in England, whilst some 18,000 university students graduated with degrees in law in 2022 (The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, June 2023)”.1

It’s a crazy statement to make, that a solicitor apprenticeship may be harder to secure than one of the 8,000 available spots at Oxford and Cambridge. Yet, a tiny sliver of obscurity around this route, still remains in the world of law despite its exclusivity.

Timesheet filled, out-of-office message on, laptop shut, tea mugs cleared, I’m writing this article on a late Thursday evening. My Thursdays, as a second-year solicitor apprentice at Deloitte Legal, are always the busiest with my four-day working week in the corporate immigration team (Friday being my study day). Being an indispensable player in a person’s decision to start their life or settle in the UK, brings immense personal fulfilment no matter how many times I do it over with new faces, new circumstances, and new personalities. It was my remarkable team that meticulously trained me as if they reassembled my Lego pieces to unlock a gleaming caseworker character – a solid upgrade from my sixth-form build.

Before this shiny new upgrade, on a Thursday, I completed my A-Levels virtually and clapped for the NHS at my doorstep at 5pm. I proudly received an A*AB in Politics, History, and Mathematics, yet was financially unable to apply for university… yet. Having completed high school abroad in the UAE, and Bahrain, I was constrained by - ironically - the law, in The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998, s 1(7)(a) which meant I had to wait out one more year to comply with the 3-year residency rule. This is where things took a sharp turn. As a victim of a shelf robbery at my first job where I worked as a shop assistant at Holland & Barrett, I suddenly grew financially literate and finally my dad’s ramblings about somehow avoiding a debt of a minimum of £32,314 clicked, leading to aggressive Google searches on legal apprenticeships. It immediately became my life’s mission to secure one; I knew I was tired of waiting for a pay-out, I was primed and ready to dive straight into the professional world, and I really wanted to learn both on-the job and off, as I do best. I was never a partygoer anyway.

Every pathway in life comes with its advantages and disadvantages, it would be naïve to think otherwise. Every interview I went to, without fail, I was asked if I had the mental strength to see the six-year apprenticeship through to qualification. I always left feeling like they were purposely putting me off, but whilst I’m just in my second-year, it is glaringly obvious that this is difficult and requires a certain personality. Watching the 2016 Olympics on TV, I caught the dead switch in Mo Farah’s eyes as he was running his 10,000-metre marathon, when it turned from a physical race to a purely mental one. Whilst the completion of a solicitor apprenticeship is no comparison to an Olympic gold, it’s a long-winded marathon which tests

your mental endurance of excelling at each of your six-month seat rotations as a trainee whilst both completing your LLB and Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)with your one allocated study day a week (it’s never enough). However, if you have the tenacity to see it through, you will leave with six years of client experience instead of two, a solid network and support system, and find belonging with diverse communities across and beyond law firms. It is no luck that “apprentice pass rates were average 26% higher than the overall pass rate” undertaking the SQE from September 2021 – August 2022 (Solicitors Regulation Authority, February 2023).2

Of course, I am a huge advocate for the solicitor apprenticeship route to qualification, like many, many others. It diversifies access to the law and contributes to an inclusive legal landscape with the lowering of grade requirements and access to all. Alongside my fellow solicitor apprentices at Simmons & Simmons LLP, Dentons LLP, and Bolt Burdon Kemp LLP we created an initiative called mylaunchpad to empower prospective legal apprentices by providing free mentoring for students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, and comprehensive application support. Truly, the resilience required to become a solicitor was introduced by my very first interaction with the legal world as I suffered more than 10 rejections each with a 5-stage gruelling process - I’d take a university personal statement any day. If you would like to support our journey to break down barriers, launch careers in law, and empower the next generation of apprentices, please reach out at to find out more.

Solicitor apprentices do deserve a similar air of acceptance and regality as those pursuing a degree from Oxford and Cambridge, typically starting at the age of 18 at looming law firms working and studying simultaneously for 6 years into transformed newly qualified solicitors. ■

Ruqayyah Raja

Solicitor apprentice at Deloitte Legal Co-founder and Mentor at mylaunchpad


2 apprenticeships-week-2023/#:~:text=Apprentice%20pass%20 rates%20were%20on,8%25%20higher%20than%20other%20 candidates.

14 | LegalWomen Solicitor Apprentice Route

You do not need to be Kim Kardashian to be a Superstar Solicitor Apprentice.

Apprenticeships - Juggling work, life and study through positivity.

Do you know Kim Kardashian? She is nearly as famous as Donald Trump. Kim Kardashian is known for her multi-million-dollar business and prior to that, a reality TV celebrity. However, did you know that she is training to become a lawyer through an apprenticeship in the state of California? Kim's work with grandmother, Alice Johnson, helped to secure Ms Johnson’s early release from a 1996 life sentence for a nonviolent drug offence. Kim Kardashian now wants to continue to advocate for criminal justice reform and help those who are unjustly imprisoned. So that’s in the US.

What about here in England? Solicitor apprenticeships were officially launched in England and Wales in 2016 as an alternative route to qualification. They are now gaining traction helped by the amazing City Century initiative that is promoting apprenticeships in the City of London.

Solicitor apprenticeships can increase access to the legal profession and diversity within it. However, qualifying as a solicitor through a solicitor apprenticeship is not a walk in the park. It’s a six year programme. An apprentice works in the organisation four days a week and has one Study Day to study to obtain a law degree. This is followed by study to pass the Solicitors Qualifying Exam - SQE1 and SQE2.

A solicitor apprentice has to juggle work, study and life. So, what is required to succeed and flourish on a solicitor apprenticeship programme? It goes without saying that good time management and organisational skills are required. But what else? Much more than that is required to thrive rather than just survive. There are 3 requirements that are needed - Growth Mindset, Grit and Resilience.

GROWTH MINDSET: This is the belief that one's abilities and intelligence can be developed through perseverance and hard work. This belief leads to taking the action to develop and grow. Many apprentices start their apprenticeship straight from school. They are plunged into a completely new environment. They may have been at the top of their class at school and now they are out of their comfort zone. They may never have studied law or worked in a legal office so are learning something new everyday. That is why a growth mindset is essential.

GRIT: The term "grit" was popularised by psychologist Angela Duckworth, who extensively researched the concept. In her work, Angela Duckworth defined grit as a combination of passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. The apprenticeship programme is six years. Although six years equates to the time it takes to qualify through the “traditional route “, an apprentice makes a six year commitment (possibly at the age of 18 - but could be older). Apprentices have to wave goodbye to the long school holidays. A solicitor apprenticeship is like running a marathon. Although a solicitor apprenticeship is a fantastic immersive experience, it does require stamina and commitment.

RESILIENCE: This involves cultivating the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity, setbacks, and challenges. A solicitor apprentice has to deal with the challenges of study and

working in a sometimes stressful working environment. The ability to bounce back quickly from failing an exam or negative feedback is essential. In addition, there are life events such as, relationship break ups, illness or financial problems which might knock an apprentice off course.

The big question is, how do you develop a growth mindset, grit and resilience? Positivity is the holy grail! Positivity is not about standing in front of the mirror and saying “I am positive “100 times. It requires the use of positivity techniques and more importantly these positivity techniques require practise.

There are various positive psychology techniques which include; writing a gratitude journal and doing random acts of kindness. One simple technique is each day, for at least 21 consecutive days, to think of three positive things that day and reflect for a few moments on those positive things. This is not as easy as it might appear due to the negativity bias we all have. Negativity bias is a psychological concept where we tend to pay more attention to and give more weight to negative experiences or information compared to positive ones. For example, if you get three exam results -two are very good and one is poor, you will focus much more on the poor result. However, the evidence shows that this daily practice increases positivity and helps to automatically shift the focus to favourable outcomes or circumstances.

Solicitor apprenticeships have many benefits. For example, no student debt and six years of legal experience and are one of the best ways to qualify as a solicitor. I have the privilege of working with amazing solicitor apprentices. Their passion, enthusiasm and professionalism blow me away. I am so impressed by their commitment. So, it does not matter whether you are Kim Kardashian, a school leaver or you’ve been working in a firm for a number of years, a solicitor apprenticeship is a credible and exciting way to qualify and become a superstar solicitor! ■

Elizabeth Ajagbe-Ajagbe

Skills Coach - Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme at University of Law

Positivity Coach and Trainer for solicitor apprentices –Inversely Paranoid Lawyers Ltd https:// www.linkedin/in/elizabethajagbe/

Solicitor Apprentices LegalWomen | 15

From intake to invoice: How to extract full value from your legal tech investments

You may manage a legal practice, might be a client-facing feeearner, or you may keep the back office running smoothly. Whatever your role in your firm, you’re busy and your time is precious.

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Imagine having access to a range of products and services in one location, accessible with a single login. This level of integration eliminates the time-consuming task of navigating through multiple applications and managing several suppliers.

The impact? Removing administrative bottlenecks and reclaiming precious fee-earning time.

The Future of Legal Tech

Dye & Durham’s new Unity® Global Platform is a next-generation solution that introduces an array of new applications and features—all accessible in a single, user-friendly platform.

Think of Unity® Global Platform as your single destination for everything you need to run a thriving legal practice, including:

• Practice & case management including legal accounting and billing

• Client Onboarding with full KYC/AML, Source of Funds, and integrated TA6 property information forms

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• Calendaring, task management, and time tracking

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All of these essential applications are easily accessible by logging in at

Step into the future of legal tech — and make sure you are getting the full return on your technology investment — with Unity® Global Platform.

Visit learn more or contact our team for an introductory discussion at ■

16 | LegalWomen Advertising Feature

TSuzanne Reece, Senior and Lead Tutor-SQE Course at Barbri, talks to Legal Women about Work and Study on SQE Prep Courses from a Tutor’s viewpoint

he Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is a fantastic opportunity for people working in the legal profession as non-qualified staff to gain that coveted qualification as a solicitor of England and Wales. The SQE route allows students to work and study as they prepare for their SQE 1 & 2 exams and then to qualify as soon as they satisfy the qualifying work experience and fitness to practise requirements. This has the advantage that students do not have to choose between qualifying and giving up a lucrative job or a position in a firm or organisation where they are valued.

The profession is better for SQE as it now means the profession is a viable option for many more people. This includes people who could not afford to give up work to study or could not secure a training contract but none the less are brilliant at their jobs. The diversity in routes to qualifying through SQE and the SQE apprenticeship means the profession should begin to reflect the diverse background and interests of those seeking this qualification who do not come from a traditional legal background.

This is not a course for the faint-hearted but many of the qualities that students require to complete these courses will be those they have already established in the working environment. This includes the ability to multi-task, read quickly and efficiently and to think on your feet. The SQE prep courses will test student’s physical stamina, resilience, and their ability to adapt and learn. Students who have experience of working for a law firm, in-house or within the charity or voluntary sectors will recognise these qualities.

Many employers also recognise the value of having experienced non legal staff qualify as a solicitor in their organisation and are extremely supportive of their employees. Work can be unpredictable, clients demanding and sometimes the nature of the business means that deadlines are tight for meeting court and commercial expectations. These challenges can sometimes leave employees at a disadvantage. This is because “legal potential” and “opportunity” do not replace the benefits of regular study time. Too often students are left with challenging workloads and the time for study is restricted. There must be enough time to study to give students a chance of being successful.

This is why it is important, before embarking on the SQE Prep courses to consider three important questions that cover the duration of the course and exams:

1. How do I feel and do I have the drive and determination to sustain me?

2. What are my work commitments likely to be?

3. What are or anticipated family commitments?

The first question requires an honest discussion with yourself. If the answer is “not at the moment ” then have a break and plan to come back to this topic when you feel ready to move on to questions 2 & 3. When the time is right, the answers to questions 2 & 3 are best considered and discussed with supervisors, family, and friends. You support network will be vital as your work and study without this support will make the journey even harder.

My advice:

• Speak to your supervisor before you sign up for the course – get their support and plan for how you can study and work.

• Plan ahead- when is the best time for you to combine work and study –choose your preparation course dates carefully with when you know that work will not be so busy.

• Try to establish a routine as soon as possible – so that you get into the rhythm of study.

• Take those small pockets of time before work, at lunch and immediately after work, or on the commute to and from work to catch up on your studies.

• Plan for the unexpected – life, family, and the inconvenient illness –however minor, will come along to throw you off schedule from time to time. If you build some flexibility into your plan, you can get back on track.

• Take some days off to study during the course, not just at the end of the course to revise. This will help you stay on track and help you to feel in control of your study despite the workload.

• Plan time to revise. You can never start too early so do not leave it too late, have a deadline to start and then go.

Once you are on a SQE prep course students may think it is half the battle done. However with online learning, there is still the need for regular study and progress. The SQE is not an easier journey than its predecessor. It is different and more flexible but just as demanding in terms of fundamental legal knowledge and skills. On every course I see students that work hard to come to grips with applying the wide legal syllabus and at the same time demonstrate the skills that are required within a very tight timetable for each assessment. On the type of online preparation course run by Barbri, this can conveniently be done anywhere with an internet connection and headphones. At Barbri, we encourage students to find small pockets of time every day to study and not to assume that they will have the luxury of several hours uninterrupted study during the day.

These courses do not lend themselves to last minute cramming. In addition, if a student is working, this is extra pressure that must be factored into your study schedule. Planning and focused study are recurring themes at Barbri, and as a student these will be your best friends. I like to compare it to a long swim. There is the fun of deciding to jump into the pool, then the slow and regular pace of those laps in the pool where you just get your head down and keep going with no idea how much further there is to go. Then exams dates start to appear in the distance and it is the gradual increase in speed and sprint to the final line.

Revision is often underestimated. Students may be great at the day job but it is the final push of exam revision to refresh the law for a closed book exam and practice that will improve the test scores for SQE 1, multiple choice questions or legal skills for SQE 2. Some students take the long view – they knock out at least a month before the exams and focus full time on their revision. Others must fit revision around work and family life snatching those “small pockets of time.” Both approaches will require extra work for simulated mocks and a final push through to the end of the exams.

The reward for people who did not think they could qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales is evident from the Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook posts that announce they have passed SQE and been admitted. It may be a hard journey which requires focus, planning and resilience but with the support of many good people it is an achievement that once gained will be one of the best milestones in any career. ■

LegalWomen | 17 Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)
Suzanne Reece

International Women’s Day 2024 in-person events

This year we marked the date with a series of events in Belfast, London and Edinburgh and include here photos with summaries of the discussions. The Cardiff event is still in process so keep an eye on our social media.

One theme from all the events was imposter syndrome. Even women we perceive as successful talked about this anxiety and we discussed some of the tips to address it, given in an article by Eileen Donaghey. A key strategy was keeping a folder of positive feedback – why not read it through before a job interview or an intimidating meeting to remind yourself that you do have what it takes! You can find the original article here benham/docs/1940_legal_women_may_2023/21


Emily Thornberry MP and shadow Attorney General talked to Coral Hill about inclusivity and Labour’s plans for the future.

Ever the down-to-earth politician Emily Thornberry arrived by bicycle, slightly wet but completely composed and ready to talk. She reflected on her own career as a barrister and that she was fortunate to have female role models in her chambers, including, Dame Helena Kennedy. She was frank about the difficulties of developing your career alongside a family and how she and her husband had arranged things. She wasn’t sure if her career as a politician would have been possible if her constituency had been outside London.

The big take away was ask women to apply roles as often it hasn’t occurred to them to do so. For Emily herself, it was Harriet Harman who suggested she apply for certain roles. This was a

theme heard in Belfast and Edinburgh, where women leaders said they were surprised to be invited to become a partner and assumed it wasn’t compatible with their family commitments, in one case a KC, being surprised that Lady Dorrian suggested she consider a judicial role and so on.

The discussion also covered the initiatives by The Fawcett Society on salary secrecy; participating employers do not ask about past salary as often this ensures that a lower salary is carried around with the individual. There’s no need to know what their current salary is but rather concentrate on what salary is appropriate for the role being offered.

One key feature of the plans of the Labour Party concerns action to counter the issues over funding being less frequently available for women and in smaller sums. The shadow City minister Tulip Siddiq, plans to use a state bank to fund female-led businesses and this will form part of the party’s financial inclusion agenda. Labour says it will use state bank to fund female-led businesses | Women in the boardroom | The Guardian

London Photos from Norton Rose Fulbright Credit photographer - Benoît Grogan-Avignon.


International Women's Day 18 | LegalWomen
L to R Sheila Webster, President of The Law Society of Scotland, Lady Dorrian, Coral Hill The Right Honourable Lady Dorrian Lady Dorrian spoke in Edinburgh and has kindly made her speech available. You can find it on our website on the events page. L to R Coral Hill, Eileen Donaghey, Emily Thornberry MP, Fiona Fitzgerald, Olivia McDonnell LCJ Keegan spoke at The Law Society of Northern Ireland


The Right Honourable Dame Siobhan Keegan, Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland was the guest at the Legal Women evening at The Law Society of Northern Ireland in Belfast. Tamara Duncan, trainee solicitor at TLT, reflects on the evening.

The 2024 theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ and as such, the event was a testament to the power of solidarity and collaboration in fostering an inclusive legal profession, with attendees, both male and female, sharing experiences, exchanging insights, and inspiring inclusion for a diversity of backgrounds and circumstances.

A poignant keynote address from the Lady Chief Justice set the tone for the evening as she emphasised the importance of inclusivity in driving progress within the legal profession. Sharing both personal anecdotes and professional insights, Lady Chief Justice highlighted that her achievements to date are due to encouragement from a number of areas: family, both mother and father; peer support from mostly females; and professional support from males. She stated that we should recognise the ways in which men support inclusion, without fearing it will necessarily detract from celebrating women in the legal profession.

Much of the dialogue centred around allies in the workplace and how psychological support can make a difference to women in the legal profession. Lady Chief Justice discussed recent surveys carried out by the Law Society Northern Ireland and the Bar of Northern Ireland, which emphasise a ‘mid-career migration of women’, generally related to caring obligations and the lack of financial and professional support in the profession when returning to work after having a family. On a positive note, in February, twelve females were among 34 members of the Bar of Northern Ireland appointed as King’s Counsel in the first call since the Covid-19 pandemic. This marks a three-fold increase in the number of women represented during the last set of appointments in February 2020, highlighting the increase in women in senior positions, who may be able to offer guidance and support to those at the beginning of their law career or individuals trying to juggle work responsibilities with caring obligations. Practical support, such as flexible working and an understanding of working hours and arrangements, was further emphasised, as many caring responsibilities tend to fall on women.

The ‘burnout barrier’ was also considered, with attendees agreeing when Lady Chief Justice indicated that legal professions have inevitably become more complicated and stressful due to increased demands in meeting deadlines, constantly being ‘on call’ and easily accessible, as well pressures legal professionals put on themselves. The statistics indicate that many females in private practice tend to move to the public sector due to the prospect of flexible working and increased work/life balance, which leads to questions about

what the private sector is doing to support young professionals. Lady Chief Justice has put in place an annual health check for the judiciary to encourage mindfulness in this area and believes that there should be a Code of Conduct established in the profession for times in which emails should be replied to or the maximum number of hours one should work.

Lady Chief Justice continued by saying that, as we all understand the need for diversity within the profession, the debate now needs to focus on the fundamental principle of actively including people, highlighting the importance of this year’s theme, Inspire Inclusion. She spoke of her delight that socio-economic inclusion is now being discussed as she feels this, along with ethnicity and disabilities, in particular hidden disabilities, need to be supported more. Mentoring and reverse mentoring is one way in which Lady Chief Justice believes people can begin to feel included no matter their background and that it’s important for those established in law to let everybody shine for different reasons.

Parting words from Lady Chief Justice centred around ‘being yourself’ in the profession. That the stereotyping of females and the pejorative terms often applied to ambitious women, such as being pushy or overconfident, wouldn’t necessarily apply to men. The lesson is to stay true to yourself and have your voice heard. An ability she has noticed over the last number of years in young people who are increasingly speaking up about issues and getting involved in groups such as the Young Solicitors Association or Young Bar Association, which allows them to be further represented.

In the closing the event, Coral Hill, Editor in Chief of Legal Women Magazine, expressed gratitude for attendees’ support and participation and enquired into the impact events like these have. Positive responses followed, with Aileen Donnelly, Interim Head of Equality & Human Rights at Education Authority, stating that there is an element of peer and aspirational mentoring within the events, where all attendees share common issues that are important to discuss so everyone can learn from each other. Mary Kitson, Senior Legal Officer in the Equality Commission Northern Ireland, also shared the same viewpoint, affirming that it is helpful to talk about experiences, hear from others and share ideas.

Shauna McStravick, Director at Cavanagh Kelly, works in Insolvency, a male dominated industry. She expressed that many insolvency law events in Northern Ireland feature all male panels and the event attendees are predominately male. She believes events like Legal Women’s are important as they inspire inclusion and focus on females building each other up.

Another attendee highlighted a term that has great importance to her – ‘Can’t see, can’t be’. Being surrounded by strong females growing up, she was able to take inspiration and support to forge ahead in her chosen path. This point was solidified by Lady Chief Justice who believes that the visibility of women in senior positions should never be underestimated.

As attendees departed, energised and inspired, it felt like a renewed sense of purpose was present - a commitment to continue the work of building a legal profession where all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or background, are welcomed, valued, and empowered to thrive.■

LegalWomen | 19 International Women's Day
L to R Eileen Donaghey, Coral Hill, LCJ Keegan, Caroline Glover, Karen O'Leary Photos from PressEye and used with permission of The Law Society of Northern Ireland
"We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead." Beyonce

Wise words from a global female superstar. Our world is increasingly seeing more women taking the lead even if they do not always get the same limelight as Beyonce. For International Women's Day this year, Legal Women virtually travelled to Spain, New Zealand, Pakistan and Zambia to interview four female superstars. They all started their professional lives as lawyers and are now at the very top of their chosen fields.

Ayesha Malik became totally mesmerised with courtrooms as a child when she enthusiastically watched Perry Mason on television and decided she wanted to be a lawyer. Not an easy dream for a girl growing up in Pakistan to achieve where even today only 12% of lawyers are female. Ayesha is a determined woman who went on to become Pakistan’s first female Supreme Court judge. She also made history with her ruling on the ‘two finger test’1 - a primitive, insulting and highly traumatising practice which had hitherto not previously been questioned.

Monica Musonda quit her highly successful job as in-house Counsel and moved country to set up a food manufacturing business. This was in order to make food more affordable and available for people living in Zambia. Not a decision many would make but Monica is exceptional, determined and brave. Her business, Java Foods is today the biggest manufacturer of instant noodles in Zambia with 70% of the market share.

Columbian born Erika Torregrossa Acuna is a lawyer, professor, government adviser and expert in Human Rights in Spain. Her passion to defend those who do not necessarily have the resources to help themselves is a part of her DNA. Her grandfather Antonio Torregrossa was a Spanish lawyer working in Colombia who was assassinated after a trial where he defended a trade unionist. Erika willingly picked up his mantle.

Juliette Derry is the Principal Legal Advisor to the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. She believes that working in the environment sector is not merely a job or a career but truly a vocation. To be a part of something that brings positive change is what makes Juliette get out of bed each day. She works tirelessly to make sure her own children, and future generations of children, can swim in rivers, go fishing and be happy in a clean world.

Four extraordinary women. Four exceptional lawyers. Four inspirational leaders. The world is changing. We used to say behind every great man, there was a great woman. Today women are not standing behind anyone, they are stepping up and ahead.

Read Ayesha, Monica, Erika and Juliette’s stories here; ErikaTorregrossaAcuna.html

Maroulla Paul

Maroulla Paul is a writer of short stories, a food and wine critic as well as a legal journalist

1 appjudgments/2020LHC3407. pdfappjudgments/2020LHC3407.pdf

20 | LegalWomen International Women's Day
Supreme Court Judge Ayesha Malik Ayesha Malik ( Monica Musonda, founder & CEO of Java Foods - Zambian food processing entrepreneur — Lionesses of Africa Juliette Derry, Principal Legal Advisor to the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment
Day: Social Media Campaign Interviews
Erika Torresgrossa Acuna, lawyer, professor, expert in Human Rights

Inspiring Inclusion and Beyond:

Don’t pull the ladder up and walk away.

Everyone deserves a seat at the table. The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 was Inspiring Inclusion, an integral part of which is celebrating Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I), but it goes far beyond that in my opinion. What does it mean to really be included? I’ve heard the “inclusion” aspect of ED&I described as, not only being invited to the party (the party invitation being the equality and diversity element) but being asked to dance or to sit at a table and chat. The question then follows, how do we implement that in our working lives, both men and women, from all different backgrounds? My personal approach to inclusion stretches beyond making sure women have a seat at the table and that their voice is heard. It’s also about not pulling the ladder up behind me, about making sure as much as I can that others are able to access the same opportunities I’ve had, it’s about social mobility, reasonable adjustments and a whole compendium of considerations that will help others not only to attend the “party” (whatever that may be) but also to be themselves and to thrive.

Don’t turn away from helping others thrive. I fundamentally believe that when we inspire others to understand and value inclusion that we really will forge a better world. Why bother you might ask, when times are tough and we need to closely guard and foster our own successes, and my answer is that the minute we stop caring and stop thinking about including others and helping them access opportunities to which we have been privileged, we are doing ourselves and society a dis-service. It’s like a chain reaction that once set in motion encourages others to take similar action – small incremental changes we take personally can lead to wider, more systemic changes, I truly believe that. I was recently asked, “shouldn’t we be doing less for others?”, to which my answer was, I don’t agree. It is our duty as human beings and as lawyers to do more to inspire inclusivity and to do as much for others as we can within our capacity as agents of change, be it volunteering, mentoring or pro bono work. All of these elements can create fundamental changes for the better and lead to greater inclusivity for those who may feel shut out or forgotten by society.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from; it’s who you are that matters.

When my great great grandfather, a Jewish tailor, left Poland in the late 19th century he bought a sea ticket to New York, hoping to make a better life for himself. The ticket turned out to be a fake and he ended up in Liverpool and then travelled to London where he set up a tailoring business on Gray’s Inn Road, a stone’s throw from where I now work at Gray’s Inn Square. His son, my great

grandfather continued to work as a tailor and raised a family of 5 children of which my grandmother was one. She told us that during World War II, her family changed their name from Marks Tannenbaum to Marsh because of antisemitism in London. I often reflect on the lack of inclusivity that forced a family to change their name and I wonder how they must have felt and come to terms with having to change their identity. I myself have witnessed a lack of inclusivity during my lifetime, both as a woman and ranging from comments about my surname (“these second and third generation Polish people blend into the community as though they were English”) to assuming I don’t speak English. I have felt robust enough to brush particular incidents off, but overall, I have felt inspired to stand up for, and to protect others where I can, in particular young women starting out in their legal careers, whatever background they may be from.

Education and awareness are crucial.

Education and awareness play vital roles in fostering inclusion and empowering people from all backgrounds. Through initiatives such as, mentorship programmes, educational workshops and advocacy campaigns, individuals and organisations can create opportunities for minority groups, including women, to thrive. By providing support and resources, and by not turning our eyes away from the key issues and simply walking by, we can empower others to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential. Inclusivity really is the key and represents a call to action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and create environments where all are valued and respected whatever their gender, race, class, sexuality or disability. Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for everyone.

LegalWomen | 21
International Women's Day

Meet Louise Hall

Legal Women talks to Louise Hall, Senior Lecturer in Law, Solicitor and Salford Information and Legal Knowledge Scheme ( SILKS) legal employability Lead at Salford Business School.

Having worked in both the private and not-for-profit sector, Louise made the transition to academia in 2016.

Louise has been an instrumental part of the team establishing and leading SILKS: the pro bono law clinic offers free and impartial legal advice to members of the Salford community, enabling students to observe real world cases to improve their learning.

“When I first graduated, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career in law, but I did a year of work experience with the Crown Prosecution Service after graduation, and that made me realise that it was something I wanted to continue with”…. I qualified as a solicitor in 1998, and undertook my training contract in private practice’’.

Louise started her career in private practice, before moving to the not-for-profit sector, where she undertook senior -management roles and continued with her focus on housing law. Advocating on behalf of tenants, she took on cases which included disrepair, homelessness, possession proceedings and anti-social behavioural issues.

“I loved the flexibility that my not-for-profit role offered me at that time in my career when I had very young children. For me, I have always had a focus on Social Welfare law. I feel the focus of students is often on corporate law or private practice, whereas there are actually more options available than you might think and I feel it’s part of my role to inform the students of all the possibilities.”

Working her way up to Managing Solicitor for North Manchester Law Centre and Manchester Citizens Advice Bureau, Louise balanced her career with being a mum to her young family. It was in 2016 that she decided to take the leap into academia, when a role opened up at the University of Salford.

“The University has such a strong focus on industry partnerships and ensuring employability in our students,” says Louise. “It meant that I could give something back by teaching, while still maintaining my work as a practising solicitor.”

“The best thing about being an academic? Watching the students succeed. And I don’t just mean those who shine academically: I like working with students from all backgrounds, and giving them the tools and the confidence to make decisions about their career paths, whether that be in law or otherwise.”

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, Louise is no stranger to challenges.

“I think women face different challenges to men,” she says. “If you want to start a family, that obviously impacts on your career, and finding that balance is difficult. Even at a young age, I find that female students are thinking about this, whereas men don’t share the same focus. Luckily, lots of organisations are becoming more flexible and introducing part-time positions, but there’s still a lot of progress to be made.”

To find out more about undergraduate law at Salford Business School, visit LLB (Hons) Law | University of Salford ■

in Law, Salford


22 | LegalWomen Alternative Careers in Law

MHow to carve out a successful In-House Legal Career following Private Practice.

Charity Mafuba talks to Vicky Harris-General Counsel, Norstella and Patti Kachidza-General Counsel, Monex Europe Limited; Deputy Chair-InterLaw Diversity Forum about their transition from Private Practice to In-House.

uch has been made about the perks of working inhouse in contrast to the hustle and bustle of private practice. However, before making the transition, there are many factors for consideration regardless of the stage one is at in their legal career. Below are some examples that have been shared with me by several lawyers and recruiters whom I have interacted with.

Salaries-Generally, in-house remuneration is significantly less than that accorded in private practice. With an increase premised on merit. However, dependant on the legal sector you choose to work in, some sectors will pay private practice rates.

Work Life Balance-The notion of working in-house often perpetuates the “work, life, balance” mantra that is deemed to be devoid in Private practice. Whilst this may ring true, one can find oneself clocking private practice hours, depending on the nature of work.

Performance measurements, Billing Targets, Chargeable Services in Private Practice-In-House, this is measured in terms of business and targets achieved as a team and the skills each person brings to the table, as opposed to individual targets and work experience in the private practice setting, in-house, there is no time recording of the dreaded billable hours. The value of this is that it encompasses individual performance objectives and provides satisfaction of personal contribution with regard to profitability of the business.

When to transition from Private Practice to In-HouseAccording to recruiters, the most effective time to make the move in-house, is between 2-6 years PQE, as that is when the highest volume of roles are available. But, is there ever a time when it becomes too late to transition? Whilst a transition is always possible, a cautionary tale applies; some say it becomes more difficult after 6 years.

Pros of working In-House-The main pro is that teams are often smaller, which incentivises and fosters unity among colleagues, putting paid to the old adage “team work makes the dream work”

Cons-As with everything else in life, there are downsides worth mentioning. Work can be very demanding and almost reminiscent of the dreaded private practice environment.

Career Progression-In contrast to the private practice structure, in-house consists of a fairly flat structure. In essence, you have to wait until someone leaves.

The practical implications of this may mean that one is compensated with gaining new experience by getting exposure to different industry sectors, supervising and/or mentoring other colleagues -not being over determined by the quest of ‘making partner’

In light of this, I talked to Vicky Harris and Patti Kachidza about their personal experiences and viewpoints.

Can you tell us about your time working in Private practice?

I trained at Slaughter and May, where I really enjoyed four seats in different areas of the firm; Competition, Corporate, Debt Financing and Intellectual Property, before choosing to qualify into Corporate where I worked on some fascinating transactions including the Thomson Reuters merger.

LegalWomen | 23 In-House Careers
Vicky Harris, General Counsel, Norstella Charity Mafuba

When and why did you make the transition from Private Practice to In-House? Additionally, when would you say is the best time to do so for those considering the move? I was seconded into the Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk business unit to cover a maternity leave and I never went back to private practice. I discovered a real love for the in-house life and it felt like a much better fit for me.

I don’t think there is a bad time to move from private practice to an in-house role. I was around three years qualified and I had thought I’d do another few years before making the move, but the opportunity arose and it seemed too good to miss. If you start your legal career in private practice, I think it makes sense to spend a few years gaining a strong legal basis and training before making the move. If you are able to do a secondment either as a trainee or a qualified lawyer into an in-house team I would definitely encourage it – it’s a great way to get a taster of the differences between private practice and in-house, and also helps with demonstrating that you understand the differences between the two when you apply for your first in-house role.

What would you say are the advantages of working In House in contrast with Private practice?

What I like about working in-house is that you are part of the commercial team and you are involved in discussions about what the business is trying to achieve much earlier than you tend to be in private practice, which means you can really help create the solution to the problem from the beginning. I also like being able to more freely offer an opinion on the best course of action, weighing up the risks and pros and cons of the various options available.

During my time in-house I’ve been able to advise on such a broad range of legal topics, and I enjoy being a generalist. In private practice lawyers tend to specialize pretty early on, and for me keeping that variety has been important. I’ve advised on issues like defamation and sports rights, Mergers and Acquisition (M&A), Intellectual Property, Litigation and Employment issues.

Another obvious difference between private practice and inhouse is that you no longer need to track your time – the billable hour pressure is removed. I think removing that administrative burden can be quite a relief to a lot of people – you only have one client and you learn quickly how to prioritise your workload.

Within Thomson Reuters I moved around different divisions going on to support the editorial and news teams, and then the Intellectual Property division.

I became Head of Legal at Clarivate and managed a global team of Legal and Privacy professionals, helping the company to grow through acquisitions and its listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company saw a lot of change during my time there, and I really saw how the in-house legal team has such an important part to play in connecting the other functions and business teams together, leading the changes and implementing processes and policies to fit the needs of a growing and changing business.

As General Counsel of Norstella, the team I manage operates globally and covers all the legal needs of the business, whether that be Commercial contract support, Employment advice, Compliance and Privacy matters, Corporate Governance of M&A. And everything else besides. We try to be genuine business partners and that means understanding the business, our goals and ambitions, and providing pragmatic and

commercial advice in a timely manner. I love the fact that I never know what will arrive on my desk each day… that’s what keeps things interesting!

What would you say are the disadvantages of working InHouse in contrast with Private practice?

In private practice, there is generally a clearer career progression route in the early years – each year you become more qualified, at a certain point you become a senior associate and then ultimately if you want to, you can pursue the partnership track.

In-house is not so linear, no two in-house roles are the same, and titles and salary ranges can vary hugely between companies.

In an in-house environment, you need to find your career development through the skills you build and experiences you have, and given the very narrow pyramid at the top, people tend to move around more for career progression.

Historically, salary levels in-house have been viewed as lower than private practice, and that this was a quid pro-quo for a better work life balance. I’m not sure either view is reflective of current practice – certainly as you progress in your career there are opportunities for salary, bonus and equity incentive plans to increase too, and the demands of working in-house have also increased as companies realise the benefits they can gain from their in-house legal team.

Can you tell us about your time working in Private practice?

I went into private practice straight from law school. I loved interacting with clients, learning the ropes from seasoned senior lawyers whose names I’d often seen in newspapers, and eventually having my own client base. I remember the billing targets, the late night working and falling asleep in the cinema on a very important date with my fiancé to be due to sheer exhaustion.

24 | LegalWomen In-House Careers

Although the three years I spent in this first private practice role were extremely demanding, and I had to ‘up my game,’ I would not have changed the experience for anything. It was there that I learned to draft pleadings, give advice, conduct research on real life situations, and those crucial life skills. I realised that I had a taste for all types of litigation; from the financial services and commercial law that my firm specialised in, to criminal cases which would occasionally come across my desk.

Ten years later, I took another role in private practice at a small boutique firm in Mayfair. I found that with seniority also came a wider remit as a lawyer, adviser and mentor. I no longer dealt solely with giving legal advice, but also with advising clients on strategy, averting or addressing mistakes and challenges of all kinds (both internal and external). I was also exposed to the raison d’etre of law firms. Law firms are a business whose success depends on growing the client base, creating and maintaining the brand, and raising their profile in the industry and media. This was something I would never have learned in-house.

I enjoyed this practice, specialising in Banking and Finance litigation and interacting with international clients. I learned that one approach to an identical problem for one client would not necessarily work or be appropriate for another client in the same situation. I realised the power a client had and how much the clients’ values and mission influenced their decisions and how receptive they would be to advice.

When and why did you make the transition from Private Practice to In-House? Additionally, when would you say is the best time to do so for those considering the move?

My first transition from private practice came after I won a scholarship to study for my masters at the London School of Economics. I specialised in International Finance and International Business Litigation. The day before graduation, I gave birth to my first child. It became clear to me that I could not combine motherhood with the gruelling hours of private practice. When my daughter turned one, I had my first taste of working in-house when I joined the Investment Banking legal team in a Bank.

How soon should one transition from private practice to inhouse? Well, it depends on your life circumstances at the time, and your plans for the future. Personally, I think a minimum period of 4 years post qualifying is the best time to make a move from private practice to in-house.

What would you say are the advantages of working In House in contrast with Private practice?

Working in-house is a wonderful opportunity to be ‘in the house’ of the company. You not only learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the company’s business, but you also learn how to effectively deal with the differing personalities and focus of those who drive the business. The legal knowledge can be applied to real life scenarios facing the company. A 360 degree view of the company will improve the quality of your advice, even when you instruct external firms and barristers.

Your working hours are fixed (at least on paper) and you have an ecosystem of teams who need advice on a far wider range of issues and legal specialisms than in private practice. You become quite protective of the company you work for, and your loyalty to the company is no longer a professional obligation, but a personal commitment. To me, that is a very good place to be in your professional life.

What would you say are the disadvantages of working InHouse in contrast with Private Practice?

There can be a sense of no longer being in a ‘legal community,’ and feeling like you are no longer at the coal face. The business just wants an answer and a solution- period.

In my case, I missed going to court, drafting pleadings and legal opinions in the way they had been done for hundreds of years, and creating my own version of the TV legal dramas I had watched as a child.

The in-house terrain is sometimes fraught with office politics which can be distracting and can muddy the waters in your aims of solving legal issues.

In-house salaries tend to be lower than private practice.

However, none of these so-called disadvantages can trump the satisfaction of being embedded and invested in the company’s success as a business, dealing with the highs and lows and feeling part of the tribe that is your company.


Helpful resources for those considering a move in-house include: Axiom

Particularly for those who are considering a move in-house after several years of working in private practice.

Crafty Counsel

Is a community and media company that was founded by Benjamin White, following his transition from private practice at Clifford Chance to an in-house role at a tech company. Crafty Counsel was founded on the premise of Benjamin’s realisation that there were limited resources in the in-house legal sphere compared with private practice.

They host events such as the infamous Crafty Fest, (a summer festival for in-house legal professionals) think ‘Legal Coachella’, Fintech day and Disputes day. Crafty Counsel’s ethos is “Bringing joy, insight and connection to in-house legal professionals through content, community and context”.

It provides invaluable resources and fosters a real sense of community for in-house legal professionals.

All the law societies have articles on in house careers. For those in England and Wales you can book a free career consultation by emailing These are suitable for:

• paralegals (including those completing qualifying work experience)

• trainee solicitors

• qualified solicitors (including those admitted overseas)

• returners and career changers considering a switch to law

There is also an In-house Network | The Law Society and committee About the In-house Network advisory committee | The Law Society Career development | The Law Society

LegalWomen | 25 In-House Careers

LEAP introduces LawY, providing verified AI generated responses to Legal Questions

LEAP, the legal practice management productivity solution announces the launch of its partnership with LawY, a newly integrated AI legal assistant which is exclusively available to users of LEAP. LawY generates fast, accurate responses to legal questions posed by practitioners.

While generative AI can be extremely intelligent, precision and accuracy are paramount in legal matters. LawY uses AI to answer legal questions from an expanding legal knowledge base, that grows, improves and learns with each verified response. LawY employs a pool of experienced and qualified lawyers who act as verifiers eliminating any risk of error or misinformation. Differing from other AI tools the results produced within LawY include case law and references to support any findings.

“LawY not only reduces the research burden on practitioners, but also ensures that information produced is accurate and reliable and aligns with the rigorous standards upheld by legal practitioners.”

Gareth Walker, CEO, LEAP UK says:

“With LawY, LEAP users get instant answers to their legal questions with the added benefit of having the responses endorsed by genuine legal expertise. It is a powerful productivity tool that hastens legal administration, enabling those firms using our software more time to focus on delivering a top-tier service to their clients.”

Gareth continues,

“In the last year LEAP has invested time and money into developing AI functionality within the software, and the LawY integration is just the beginning of a list of exciting new AI features being made available over the coming months.”

"Boosting LEAP's AI capabilities helps users streamline legal tasks, especially useful for those on fixed fees. This investment frees up a lawyer’s time to focus on building strong client connections, offering better expertise to more clients, and ultimately, making more money."

This unique integration enables legal practitioners to deliver faster, more accurate responses and reduces administration efforts, aiding everyday tasks including:

Conducting legal research

Drafting letters and documents

Creating precedent orders

Preparing court documents

Reviewing case law or legislation

Drafting affidavits

Proof reading

Grammar checking

Summarising information

LawY is available as an integrated module to the LEAP user base immediately.

For more information, please visit: integrations/lawy/ 

About LEAP

EAP Legal Software has been helping law firms to become more efficient and profitable globally for more than 25 years. LEAP is committed to consistently providing world-class legal practice productivity solutions and has innovation at the heart of its research and development so that users continually have the best possible experience.

Occupying a unique position in the legal software market, LEAP includes legal case management, legal accounting, document assembly, document management and legal publishing assets in one solution. Its software is designed to streamline tasks such as matter management, time recording document management, email management, automated forms, client accounting, billing, reporting and remote working.

For more information, please visit

26 | LegalWomen Advertising Feature

A record number of solicitors joined The Solicitors’ Charity at this year’s London Legal Walk

Six Weeks To Go - The Biggest Fundraising Event in the Legal Calendar: The London Legal Walk 2024** Celebrating 20 Years of London Legal Support Trust

“The London Legal Walk is not just a one-day event, but an organisation/partnership that aims to raise awareness about the growing need for access to justice and legal support for those most in need. It brings together thousands of people from the legal community, including solicitors, barristers, judges, law students and their families and colleagues. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together and make a difference in their local communities.” Bob Nightingale MBE, Founder & Head of Engagement and Relations at the London Legal Support Trust

The London Legal Support Trust marks two decades of unwavering commitment to justice and advocacy, demonstrating a pivotal role in addressing the growing need for free legal advice in London and the South East. Since its inception in 2004, the Trust has been at the forefront of combating the challenges posed by funding cuts, including legal aid, and the pressing need for unrestricted core funding.

Scheduled for Tuesday 18th June 2024, the London Legal Walk invites participants to join what has become the most significant fundraising event in the legal calendar. As the London Legal Support Trust embarks on its next chapter, it calls upon the legal community and the public to join forces in ensuring access to justice for all.

The London Legal Walk, the flagship event alone has raised an astonishing £10.5 million, directly benefiting those in need of legal support, and is poised for another record-breaking year, with over 8,500 participants already registered.

Thanks to an impressive track record of innovative initiatives, the Trust has notably impacted the advice sector. Collaborating with key funders and advice agencies, the Trust funds several programmes aimed at recruiting, training, progressing, and retaining a new generation of diverse workforce address the skills shortages in the advice sector.

Amid a persistent cost-of-living crisis, the Trust, along with its partners, remains a lifeline for many in difficult circumstances. The Trust for London’s Poverty Profile (2023) highlights that 25% of Londoners live in poverty after housing costs, illustrating the critical role of the London Legal Support Trust in the fight against poverty and injustice.

For more information about how you can support or participate in the London Legal Walk, please visit https:// 

LegalWomen | 27 London Legal Walk

LW Likes

This international women’s day we are centring MEN!!! You see, the key to unlocking equality for women is to improve equality for men when it comes to parental leave. That’s why we are calling for 6 weeks paternity leave paid at 90% of salary. Here is our section from BBC Breakfast this morning

The Government’s ‘radical reform’ of paternity leave will do nothing to improve the lives of families. It’s a PR stunt. An attempt to make it look as though they’ve done something, when the fact remains that we have the worst paternity benefit in Europe.

Sign up to become a Pregnant Then Screwed member to be part of the team championing change:

#solicitors #lawfirms #legal #law”

Samantha McLeish Diversity and Inclusion Adviser medium=member_desktop

We are very pleased to announce a strategic collaboration between @ Legal Women and @Women in Law Foundation. We will jointly implement projects to support women lawyers in the international environment through educational activities and joint events. Who we are?

Legal Women is for everyone working in law, regardless of gender or type of work. It provides clear information on gender parity and shares ideas for real change in leadership and practice.

The Women in Law Foundation is changing the status quo in the legal industry. We give tools, show best practices, educate and change the Polish legal market, prioritizing new technologies.

As part of the Women in Law initiative, we organize periodic meetings and workshops where we meet to develop new ideas and find inspiration for new activities, often beyond the standard. We are keen to ensure that participants have the opportunity to take part in creating a practical strategy for promoting diversity and gaining new skills needed to function successfully in the new reality.

28 | LegalWomen LW Likes

LW | Recommends


Julia Louis-Dreyfus Wiser than Me: Spotify

There are numerous fantastically interesting, touching and funny interviews conducted by the irrepressible Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame. She talks with icons and then has a chat with her ‘Mummy’ about what she heard. Top recommendation is the interview with author Isabel Allende but there are so may to choose from.

Uncharted with Hannah Fry: BBC Sounds

Hannah Fry is a Professor of Mathematics, best-selling author, and an award-winning science presenter. This series looks at how to analyse statistics and gives an insight to the oddities that can be gleaned, such as the phenomenon of an increased birth rate of sons after wars, and visiting a convent to investigate ageing with grace.


Virginia Mendez on gender stereotypes and toys (

This is an entertaining and well-researched piece on the ‘pinkification’ of toys and the campaign by the advocacy group Let Toys be Toys. Home - Let Toys Be Toys

The Future by Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman is the prize-winning author of The power and follows it up with a similar strong title: The Future. Its an intriguing comment on our world as the richest tech CEOs receive the secret news that the world is about to end; they prepare to head to safety and the novel explores what happens to them and everyone else. If you’re quick you can get an audio version for free on BBC Sounds.


This is a 2003 film well-worth re-watching with excellent performances from a star studded cast: Julia Roberts as an university Professor at a prestigious all-female Wellesley College in the 1950s along with Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal as some of her students.

Despite the intellectual qualities of the students most are focused on finding ‘Mr Right’ to the exclusion of all else. Along the way are sumptuous settings and brilliant observational details from the era.

Anatomy of a Fall

There are so many reasons to recommend this film! It is a riveting to see the ebb and flow of a court trail with a backdrop of snow and beauty. How realistic the trial is we have no idea but it makes excellent viewing and introduces real drama.

The German actress Sandra Hüller is accused of killing her husband – the circumstances are mysterious and her sight-restricted son has to give crucial evidence.

The dialogue is wonderful; here’s just a couple of quotes:

‘Somebody said, of course money doesn't make you happy, but it's still better to cry in a car than in a subway.’

Sandra Voyter

‘Sometimes a couple is kind of a chaos and everybody is lost. Sometimes we fight together and sometimes we fight alone, and sometimes we fight against each other, that happens..’

Sandra Voyter

LegalWomen | 29 LW Recommends
Mona Lisa Smile

Discover the Key Trends Shaping the Legal Profession in 2024 with Clio

Clio the leading global provider of cloud-based legal technology, revealed the key trends shaping the future for lawyers in the Legal Trends Report. For solicitors, it is crucial to stay ahead of these trends to remain competitive and thrive. The report provides insights to help your firm grow from finance optimisation to AI integration.


Steady Growth and Collections

Law firms are experiencing steady growth, with increased utilisation, realisation and collection rates. On average, solicitors are working over 40% more cases and billing 70% more compared to 2016. However, collections have room for improvement; quick payment collection is crucial for success.

Online Payments

Implementing online payment options can significantly improve collection rates. According to the Legal Trends Report, firms using Clio Payments get paid twice as fast. Clio Payments, a secure payment solution, enables clients to make convenient online payments, resulting in faster collection times.

Cash Flow Management

“Lockup” measures the time it takes to receive payments for services rendered. The median lockup period is 97 days, indicating that firms have performed work that has yet to be billed

or collected. Cloud-based legal practice management software like Clio can automate administrative tasks and reduce lockup times.

Client Payment Delays

Both solicitors and clients share responsibility for payment delays. 41% of solicitors say clients don’t pay on time, and 24% said too many don’t pay at all.

However, clients tell a different story; 15% say they never received a bill, and 28% say they waited a noticeably long time to receive their bill. Strategies such as encouraging electronic payments and investing in AI-enabled payment systems can reduce friction and expedite payments.

AI and the Future of Law

AI-powered tools are already impacting law firms, making operations more efficient and competitive. Despite some hesitancy, lawyers are increasingly interested in adopting AI technology to enhance the quality of legal services and improve decision-making—71% of legal professionals who want to use AI plan to do so within the next year.

Want to learn more? Read the full Legal Trends Report now and embrace the future of law. Visit ■

30 | LegalWomen Advertising Feature

Improve your law firm’s productivity with LEAP Essentials

LEAP goes the extra mile to keep your firm constantly updated, ensuring you have the most accurate and timely information at your fingertips. Discover LEAP’s five essential features that will make your firm more productive and profitable:

Draft all documents and letters inside LEAP

Access a library of up-to-date court and government forms

Add your own documents to the library

Save time with Recurring Matter Templates

Unlock automation by entering all matter details in LEAP

Visit our website to find out more:

Access a library of Up-to-date forms

Our Ref: NO/0024/24 Dear Brian Sale Of Property Dr Brian Hetherton 19 Ellison Street Stockton Heath. Cheshire. WA4 2UL
Add your own Documents
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