Reflections on International Women’s Day
2019 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, the legislation which first recognised women as 'persons' in England and Wales – this paved the way for women to practise law and some strong willed, intelligent women seized the opportunity to qualify and practice as solicitors and barristers.
At NLS Solicitors, we don’t go out specifically to attract female talent to our team - this just happens to be the case and we are very proud of that fact. In the 100 years since women have been able to practice the Law, we would like to think that we have played a small but increasingly important part in the development and advancement of female lawyers, and we hope to continue to do so for the years to come.
The firm has grown significantly over the past year, and with that growth the gender balance of the management team and the firm as a whole has changed dramatically. Currently:-
3 out of 6 of the firm’s Directors are women
76% of our legally qualified staff are women
5 out of 8 members of the management team are women
- Our first 3 training contracts were awarded to aspiring female lawyers
So here's what some of our team have to say :-
Kirsty Richards, Head of Family & Director :-
I find it incredibly rewarding to work in, and lead, a department that has given so much opportunity to talented women and has recognised the need for flexibility in the workplace. Many of our female staff, including myself, are also mums and it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure that being a working mum is possible. When making it possible, we also need to ensure that we are aware of and nurture wellbeing, particularly in the field of law - where working hours are often unkind and lengthy - but in understanding the need for flexibility, the tenacity and dedication of many mums means that they are able to smash through glass ceilings and be leaders. At NLS we are proud of all our work force but today we are especially proud of all our wonderful women part of our team.
Kate Probert, Head of HR:-
During my time in Human Resources I have heard, and unfortunately still hear, many shocking stories of how women in the workplace are treated differently and discriminated against. I am so proud to have recruited so many strong and determined women to join our team. Some of us already have years of experience behind us, some are just stepping foot on the career ladder and I can’t wait to see where it takes them. We learn from each other, we laugh together, we cry together but most of all we support each other. We are also lucky at NLS to have gentlemen who support women in the workplace. Even in these modern times, others are not so fortunate.
Ann-Marie Mullings, Paralegal:-
I am grateful to Dr Ivy Williams QC and Helena Normanton for paving the way for women in the legal profession, to never give up and keep persevering.
Thakmina Begum, Supervising Solicitor:-
Having worked at NLS since September 2018, I have had the privilege to be surrounded by women and men who support each other to help hundreds of victim of domestic abuse every month. We have a diverse team of people with the ability to speak a variety of languages enabling us to assist survivors of abuse from all backgrounds. Being part of such a movement is humbling and rewarding. On this day, I would like to celebrate all the wonderful people who support women every day!
Gita Duggal, Solicitor:-
Today is a day to celebrate female empowerment, recognising how far women have come but acknowledging the work that still is required, as many women continue to be unheard, excluded, face gender inequality and abuse of power and violence.
I joined the legal profession as I find it extremely rewarding in helping people access justice within the family law arena, in particular helping women who are victims of domestic violence and ensuring they obtain the relevant protection from the perpetrator.
Traditionally the legal profession has been a male dominated profession but has today has come a long way with more female judges, women heading up legal departments and running their own successful practices, which shows how far women have come and being recognised in their own right.
Although there is still more to do, today can be summed up perfectly by the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception”
Fatimah Iqbal, Solicitor:-
I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back- Malala Yousufzai
Growing up in a matriarchal environment I watched my mother build a career and run a household, she was relentless. When I asked her how she did it she always replied ‘we are women, strength is an integral part of us’. I never understood that at the time but now looking back I salute all the women who came before me who taught me that when the going gets tough, we put on our high heels and get the job done! I’m from a generation where many glass ceilings have been shattered for me, though we continue to strive for new heights in equality to make our predecessors proud. NLS is an environment where all staff thrive, strong women are in positions of power and worthy role models. A society where women nurture and cultivate their peers is one that will always prosper. From my first day at NLS I knew this would be the perfect springboard for my career and confidence. All the women who struggled to make their mark and pave the way for me have left me indelibly stronger, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Baroness Warsi, Emmeline Pankhurst are some of my heroes. I became a solicitor after reading about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she inspired me and made me feel like I’m stronger than I am and most importantly, that I can make a difference.
Shazia Saliheen, Supervising Solicitor:-
It is important now more than ever, that we as women support other women to develop and progress in terms of their experience and careers. It is unfortunate that we still live in a world where we are still having to fight for equal pay /equal career development and opportunities as men. Women are still being sexualised and marginalised and as women, we need to stop this and support each other.
It is important to recognise that there are women across the globe who continue to suffer in terms of forced marriages /child brides /FGM/control and are prevented from attending schools /learning to drive etc having their own voice. We have to ensure that these issues are highlighted so that the necessary steps are put in place to stop this. Days such as international women’s day are so important to concentrate people’s minds that although we have had changes for the betterment of women we still have a long way to go.
At NLS, we have a strong family department which promotes all genders /ethnicity and shows we can all work together.