Girl Power At GWlegal

Published: 08/03/2018

On International Women’s Day, GWlegal celebrates its wealth of talented female staff members.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #PressForProgress, highlighting findings that gender parity is over 200 years away, and reminding us all that we must stay motivated to ‘press for progress’. It recognises that, with movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity and that friends, colleagues and communities must continue to unite on this issue. Collectively, we can all play apart, the day asserts.

Given the history of women in law, this is definitely a relevant topic for law firms across the globe.

In the 1900s, women in Britain were refused admission to the Bar purely because of gender. This discrimination women faced professionally, as lawyers and many other professions originally seen to be ‘men’s work’, was famously challenged by suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.

Miss Pankhurst spoke about how women in England were not even allowed to submit themselves for the preliminary examination in order to become students of the Inns of Court. There was, however, no law excluding women from becoming solicitors. Judges, she contended, simply found some way of deciding women did not hold the right.

“Perhaps,” she said, “they do not want to share these £10,000 incomes with members of the other sex.”

Thanks largely to the activism of those such as Miss Pankhurst, the legal sector is now much more inclusive.

According to recent research by the SRA, women make up 48% of all lawyers in law firms. or the other staff working in law firms, women make up three quarters of the workforce.  

However, The Law Society, also recognises that female solicitors remain disadvantaged in the sector, as in most fields of work. Lack of flexible working conditions, culture and infrastructure in the workplace as well as performance criteria and measurement of professional success are all challenges for women working in law. Such challenges are stated in detail in the report, ‘Obstacles and Barriers to the career development of woman solicitors’.

Furthermore, differences between men and women in law become more apparent when we look at seniority. In 2017, women make up 59% of non-partner solicitors compared to just 33% of partners (SRA research). The difference is greater in larger law firms and less so in those mid-sized, where women make up 54% of all lawyers in firms with six to nine partners and those with 10 to 50 partners.

Nonetheless, small progress is being made. Since 2014, the gap has closed, with the proportion of female partners rising steadily from 25% in 2014 to 29% in 2017.

How does GWlegal stack up?

We are proud to confirm that the majority of our workforce are women, due to fact we hire based on competency and nothing else. Our flexi-working scheme, in which many staff members work from home or during non-traditional hours, mutually benefits all.

Currently, GWlegal has:

• 137 employees – 94 female; 43 male

• 13 qualified solicitors – 7 female, 2 female trainees

• 5 licensed conveyancers – 4 female

2 female CILEX fellows

1 female board member, of 5

Some of our key female staff members include:

Adele Whittle

Adele heads up the personal injury department and is also director of operations. She joined GW in 2003 as a RTA (road traffic accidents) solicitor and has worked her way to the top since!

Lynne McCaffrey

Joining GW in 2005, Lynne looks after the day-to-day running of the property department. Lynne’s talent and dedication to law has seen her progress from conveyancing manager to head of the entire department.

Linda Cummins

Linda is head of Wills and Probate. She has more than 20 years’ of legal experience.

Emma Coffey

Emma is Head of Sales, focusing on property, and given her bubbly personality, it isn’t hard to see why!

Barbara Hillen

We’d challenge you to find a better HR manager! Barb has headed our human resources department for many years, working her way up the ladder since 2004 when she joined as a HR assistant. She is supported by HR executive Lauren Roberts.

Lindsey Walsh

Our talented business analyst has over 25 years’ experience in commercial IT and has worked in Sydney,  Boston, Florida, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Milan. What a talent!

Teresa Abols

Teresa joined the conveyancing team in 2006. After 18 months with the firm, she moved to the sales team and has happily remained there since.

Debbie Greatley

Our Head of Accounts knows all things monetary. GW couldn’t function without her!

Olivia Blundell and Olga Kimec

Olivia and Olga are our two female trainee solicitors. We believe in the progression of all our employees and we are delighted that the pair have moved from assistants to solicitors.

What the firm says:

Adele Whittle, Director of Operations at GWlegal, comments:

“Is GWlegal an equal opportunity firm? Absolutely!

“Our firm is built on one basis – it’s talented pool of staff, whichever background they may be.

“From our dynamic lawyers who successfully win cases every week to our dedicated IT personnel designing some of the most innovative case management tools in the country, our team has remained consistently strong. Good people lead to good business. For that reason, we have also implemented agile working practices, to ensure all staff are able to maintain a work-life balance.

“Our hiring policy has always been based on competency, it just so happens that the majority of our staff is also female!”

Content correct at time of publication.

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