Report: Inspiring Women In Law Event
This month, Louise Crick and Gemma Adams of Tuckers Kent Branch attended the Inspiring Women in Law event at Canterbury Christchurch University. Both Louise and Gemma are studying with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
Emma Palmer, the President of the Kent Law Society and Gowri Nanayakkara, Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University co-hosted the evening. Emma and Gowri gave detail about the journey of the first female
solicitors and barristers, since the implementation of the Sexual Discrimination Removal Act 1919. We owe a lot to them. We have made a lot of progress but 100 years on, there is more to do.
The first speaker was the Stephanie Boyce, Deputy Vice President of the Law Society and a Law Society Council member. Stephanie told us that it has been 100 years since women have been entitled to enter the profession but more needs to be done to make our profession more diverse and inclusive. Although there is an equal number of men and women in the profession, at senior level just 28% are women.
Stephanie will become the President of the Law Society and in that role she hopes to provide faith and hope of greater opportunities for all. She goes on to say that “law should be regularly taught in schools to better understand and promote rights”.
Her advice to anyone studying law is never give up. She made 4 attempts to become the Deputy Vice President of the Law Society and learnt lessons from the knock backs. “Don’t be afraid but be resilient. Be clear about what you want and don’t be afraid to ask.”
Susan Millns, Professor of Law and Dean at the Graduate College gave us a very inspiring insight into her career path into academics. She said she took advantage of every opportunity that come along. She advises students to do the same. Susan said she wanted to try lots of different experiences to find out what she did and did not enjoy.
Susan told us she was interested in stories about people and social issues and discussed the difficulties she faced working full time with children. She said “when you have children you need to rebalance and refocus your attention. It was a struggle as I could not spend as much time working as I had before”.
She continues: “there is clearly a point when it becomes difficult for women who want to have a family to balance. Many post-graduate students, who have had a career in practice and have children, are looking to work in law in an academic position for a different perspective and more flexibility.
Peri Ramadan, a Post-Graduate Student of Canterbury Christchurch University, told us the moving story of how she fell pregnant and gave birth just 4 days after her exam! She spoke about the importance of mental health and the ability to adapt and take your foot off the gas when required to. She told the room that in order to study or practice law, we need resilience and perseverance.
The final speaker of the evening was Sally Penni, a barrister, Vice Chair of the Association of Women Barristers and the founder and CEO of Women in the Law UK. Sally spoke of her career path into crime and how she was inspired by Rumpole of the Bailey.
She told us that “running a household is a full time job, so if you are working, and running a household, good on you”. If you stop working for a period of maternity leave, she suggests ways of keeping your hand in, such as writing articles, blogs or giving lectures. She reiterates that “you can plan all you like but not for life’s interruptions”. It is important to be flexible and adaptable in this field.
She finished poignantly - “To advance equality, we need allies who support the work and importance of gender equality”. If we work together, we can make equality a reality.
All in all, this event did exactly what it had promised – it inspired a room full of students, trainees and lawyers. Thank you to Kent Law Society for the invitation.