Blazing the trail for women in law

06 March 2020
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From two female Partners to 17: how the gender divide is narrowing here at the region's largest law firm

Gender diversity is at an all-time high here at Wilkin Chapman, with females filling almost 70 per cent of our legal roles – from partners to trainee solicitors.

We're using International Women’s Day – Sunday, March 8 – to highlight the massive strides that have been made in the area of equal employment within its offices.

Over the last two decades the number of equity and fixed share Partners has risen from just two women to 17. While this does lag behind the number of men in these roles – with that total standing at 30 – the gender divide will continue to decrease with a high percentage of females coming through the ranks.

Latest employment figures show how:

  • Of 63 Senior Solicitors and solicitors at Wilkin Chapman, 44 are women;
  • There are 10 trainee solicitors and all those positions are filled by females.

Further to that, a gender diversity study that was compiled and released by us in autumn 2019 revealed how the support teams across our legal offices in Grimsby, Lincoln, Beverley and the Lincolnshire Wolds, are female dominated. The roles directly supporting the firm’s lawyers are 100 per cent filled by women, with 70 per cent of people within business and managerial support also being female.

Lisa Boileau, head of the Family department was the first woman to be appointed a Partner more than 15 years ago – followed, on her return from maternity leave, by the firm’s Head of the Wolds offices Claire Parker.

“When I was training to become a solicitor, I was invited to a business dinner. I walked in the room of approximately 200 people and counted eight women, including myself in the room. Now, I walk into a room and I don’t give it a second thought. I have no need to count,” said Lisa, who is attending Lincolnshire Showground’s International Women’s Day event on Friday alongside Partner and Head of Employment Law & HR Teresa Thomas, and other female colleagues.

“I feel blessed not to have to give issues over gender equality a thought in my day-to-day life. Twenty years ago, the world was very different, and it is wonderful to see how much can change in one generation,” she added.

Claire agreed: “At that time, I do recall being extremely conscious of the heavy male dominance, I would be walking into a room full of suits. It was a massive thing, to be sitting surrounded by men,” recalled Claire.

“The progression made by Lisa and I certainly broke that mould at a time when women were possibly not encouraged to remain within the professional environment in the same way they are now. It was certainly a very proud moment and since then I am delighted to have seen the change,” she added.

For Senior solicitor Andrew Holt, gender has never been a consideration, instead what has been a focus has been the retention of talented individuals through the evolution of family friendly policies.

“I think we would all agree in the ethos that it is ‘family first’ with as much done as is possible to ensure that we happily accommodate family needs. It is not just about policy however, but an awareness of individuals’ circumstances and taking the time to understand, and that maybe either a male or female employee,” he said.

“In any profession now, we must look to attract and keep talented individuals and be proud to support them and watch their progression, whatever their gender,” he added.

Promoting ‘Collective Individualism’ and using #EachforEqual, International Women’s Day 2020 is highlighting how ‘collectively we can each help to create a gender equal world. For more go to internationalwomensday.com


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