International Women's Day | Women in Law

Published: 07/03/2019

On International Women’s Day, GWlegal would like to thank its wealth of talented female staff. 

Each woman who works with us contributes to the firm’s successful day-to-day running and we wouldn’t be GWlegal without each and every one of you. 

Our firm is proud to present the following staff stats.

Our team at the time of writing consists of: 

• 111 employees – 76 female; 35 male

• 9 qualified solicitors – 6 female, 2 female trainees

• 4 licensed conveyancers – 3 female

2 female CILEX fellows

1 female board member, of 4

Some key female members of our team 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.

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.

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.

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 trainee solicitors.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day campaign is #BalanceforBetter. 

The idea behind this campaign is that a balanced world is a better world. It urges everyone to consider how they can help forge a more gender-balanced world, to celebrate women’s achievement, to raise awareness against bias, and to take action for equality.  

This theme is particularly relevant to the legal industry, where women have been sidelined for decades. 

Here are some eye-opening FAQs about women in law...

• It wasn’t until 1921-2 that England welcomed its first female barristers or solicitors. Before this time, it was not permitted by law! Women were only allowed to be employed for legal support work. The first woman to earn a law degree was the very inspiring lawyer and feminist Eliza Orme (1848-1937), in 1888, at University College London. At the time of obtaining her degree, Eliza was 39 years old, but had already been unofficially practising law out of an office in London’s Chancery Lane. Eliza and her colleagues prepared paperwork for property transactions, patent registrations, wills, settlements and mortgages - many of these services we offer today at GWlegal. 

• Another notable lady in the history of law is Gwyneth Bebb, one of the first women to get a law degree at the University of Oxford. Despite graduating with first-class honours however, Gwyneth was not allowed to sit the exam to be admitted to the bar, as the law disallowed it. Determined to practice law, Gwyneth and three other women took the matter to court in Bebb v Law Society. Although they were unsuccessful, the case raised awareness of the issue and contributed greatly to the law changing in 1919. Sadly Gwyneth passed away at just age 31 due to complications following the birth of her second child, so was never able to practice law. 

• The 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act finally allowed women to sit for the bar exam and become qualified lawyers. It clarified that women were indeed considered ‘persons’ (under prior law, they were not!) and as such, could be admitted to the bar.

• Today, the legal profession has become significantly more equal between the sexes, but there is still work to be done. Women represent about 63% of newly qualified and nearly 50% of all solicitors yet at senior levels, women account for only 25% of partners. Equal pay also remains a problem with pay differentials exceeding the national average. At GWlegal, we believe in equality and will continue working to raise awareness of this issue.

Happy International Women’s Day! 

About GWlegal

We offer the everyday legal services you require to move smoothly through each stage of life’s journey. Property law when purchasing your first home. Equity release when you are ready to retire. Financial Claims or personal injury services when something goes wrong. Will writing and estate planning to protect you and your loved ones.

If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 or email us with your question.

Who are GWlegal? We’re a national firm with local values.

How can we help?

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Content correct at time of publication.
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