#InspiringInclusion in the Legal Profession


This week I moved into the final seat of my training contract to join Howard Kennedy's female-led Employment team. I am privileged to be training at a time when the legal profession is not only open to women, but, as a trainee from a working-class background, is also open to those from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Currently (according to the SRA) 62% of solicitors are women, which is incredible for an historically male-dominated profession. In fact, there has been a rise from 48% to 53% for the number of women in law firms. However, as we climb the ladder of seniority, the number of women drops to 32% for full-equity partners. I didn't however want this to be a piece of doom and gloom, so to throw some light on this dreary statistic, I am proud to say that my new team has not one, but two female partners. 

 Where are all the women partners?

This question in law firms more generally remains – where are all the women partners?  There is a myriad of answers, including perceived stereotypes, inflexible working patterns, unattainable ideals, a lack of support, a lack of role models…the list is long but I want to focus on just two of these.

Role Models

Since becoming a trainee, I have had a lot of discussions on career progression and one of the recent conversations really struck me. As we know, the senior partnership of many firms remains dominated by men, which can make it difficult for women lawyers to find role models; someone who they can identify with or discuss career progression with. It can be easy to think that reaching the upper echelons of the legal profession is more difficult for women and it can be, but is that in part because we see so few women in that role? 

Obviously, as can be seen with our Employment team, this is changing and I'm privileged to be working in a team led by two women partners who are role models to junior lawyers. It is becoming possible to see and learn from women partners as role models for the next generation. In time, perhaps the 62% of women solicitors entering the profession will be reflected in the number of women equity partners? 

Flexible Working 

Traditionally (or should I say, pretty much up until the pandemic), it was almost expected to have a 9:30am-5:30pm workday (or often much longer) and to be based in the office. This made it much harder for women (and men) to be able to take on family or carer roles/commitments whilst maintaining a steady career progression in a competitive world. We have come a long way in the last few years with flexible working become much more popular post-pandemic. This opens the way to progress while also focusing on responsibilities outside of work. 

In the spirit of #inspireinclusion, the Employment team embraces flexible working with over half the team having flexible working patterns. And it's not just for familial responsibilities. Flexible working patterns are there for any colleague regardless of gender and regardless of the reason. Contrary to what many may have thought, such flexible working does not encroach on client service; quite the opposite. Legal 500 recently carried out a survey across hundreds of clients. Howard Kennedy's Employment team came out with top rankings for overall client satisfaction. 


So perhaps it seems that an increase of role models and flexible working patterns may offer answers to helping break down some of the barriers to the legal profession. Plus, such practices are not just beneficial for women in the workplace but for growing a culture of inclusivity for all. 

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