Ladies in the Law

Posted on: April 20th, 2014 by Jess Flanagan

Having woken up today amongst my wonderful supportive family, I’m clearly feeling nostalgic. Therefore, when reading this interview with Baroness Hale this morning, I thought I’d offer a small bit of career advice to aspiring young lawyers who might be finding it tough to get into the law.

Baroness Hale speaks clearly and wisely (as always) on this topic, which is very close to my heart. It’s not always easy for women to get into the law and as Baroness Hale suggests, even more difficult to mark out a successful career!

Not having a young family I cannot comment on retaining a career once children and family commitments arrive (although I’ve seen many women do it very well) but I will say that setting yourself up a solid foundation to start with will certainly help!

If it hadn’t have been for the Legal Services Commission trainee scheme (long gone and just a distant memory to some and a mystery to others) then I’m not convinced I would be in the position I am now. That’s quite scary and raises the question of what future talent is being denied the opportunity to start their legal journey in such inspiring areas of legal work? It’s slightly different for a solicitor as you do get all the benefits of being an employee, as opposed to self employed as a barrister – but the challenge of getting a training contract appears to be mammoth and I really do feel for graduates coming through the system at the moment!

My advice would be read the legal news, consider cases and reports of developments within areas of law you are interested in; follow people and organisations active within your areas of legal interest on twitter and importantly – interact with them; take opportunities; apply for secretarial or paralegal roles early on to get your foot in the door (even before you go to uni might be an idea) and show you are keen. Once in, push yourself and make yourself invaluable to a team or particular fee earner. Easier said than done, but your desire to achieve will not go unnoticed if you do it the right way!

Looking to the future, I endorse Baroness Hale’s suggestion that the pool from which judges are selected should be widened to include solicitors, academics and those from local authorities. I’d hope that might just encourage more women to continue to push themselves to the top, mostly to prevent Baroness Hale from being so lonely!


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