Article provided Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods, Managing Director, Lysander Law
Even though more women than ever are currently entering the legal industry, they are still majorly underrepresented within senior roles.
This underrepresentation has been met by legal professionals creating the Women in Law pledge to help tackle the issue of gender inequality.
While this is a great opportunity for women in law, it’s these women themselves that are shaping their future – using their motivation and ambitions to make their voices heard. The industry is finally listening and it’s time for women to take their rightful place in these senior roles. But what is true success in law as a woman and how does one reach it?
What does success mean to you?
It’s important to outline the goals you desire from the offset. Before mapping out your blueprint to become the best lawyer can be, take some time to really reflect on which aspects of law you enjoy the most. It could be that owning a firm is your ultimate goal, but your goal could also be to manage junior team members or to head up a certain department. Being at the top of the firm isn’t necessarily the one measurement of success. Remember you’re allowed to adapt your career goals throughout your career and change your path as you go but it can be handy to have a goal to aspire to at all times.
There is always time to expand your knowledge. Whether it be law-related or something completely separate, knowledge is power and consistent upskilling can help you progress in your career. For example, something as obvious as learning a new language can open so many different doors for you.
The great thing about working in the legal sector is that you are exposed to different forms of learning at all times. On top of that, keeping a finger on the pulse of new legislation, adaptions in case law and current cases as well as industry-specific updates will allow you to continuously build your commercial awareness. Developing this soft skill will enable a broader mindset, perhaps allowing you to acknowledge a completely new angle on a case.
Be confident in your own decisions and knowledge. You have got as far as you have because you know the industry and have made sensible and smart decisions. Second guessing your ability to progress could be the road block you need to remove in order to flourish in your career. Knowing your own worth in your firm will give you the confidence to speak up – if you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t either. Believe in the decisions you make and the conclusions you come to and you’ll find taking the next step much easier.
Having confidence in yourself changes the atmosphere around you too. Respecting yourself will enable others to do so. Confidence gives an individual a positive outlook on life and those are the people who are more likely to be considered to head up special projects, or take more ownership of their role.
Don’t be afraid to change
By no means should you change who you are, but where you are isn’t such a big deal. The firm you start in may not be the firm you have your last day in. Something that many women in law may face is maternity leave. It could be that you’re lucky enough to work in a firm that has just the right provisions in place for you throughout your time there, but it’s not such a bad thing for you to leave for a firm that could offer you better work-life balance when going through transitional periods.
There are a plethora of different opportunities that various law firms can offer their employees. You shouldn’t be afraid to make a move that is not only right for your career but for your personal life as well. Whether you feel as though your progression has been stumped, or if you’re just looking for a better of work-life balance – you need to think about how a potential move can benefit you. Remember that being successful at work is fun but you should enjoy all elements of your life – not just the ones your paid to do.
Check in on yourself
Throughout your career, your wants, needs, ambitions and motivations will constantly change. Don’t forget to take a minute to reflect on where you see your career path taking you because success comes from being able to see the long-term benefits of your actions.
Focusing on the task at hand is essential but when it comes to your career, your decision should always come from forward-thinking outlook.
You control your ‘luck’
As women, we are resourceful, strong and smart. So, don’t wait around for a miracle to happen, or even for somebody else to throw an opportunity in your lap. You can make your own luck in life. Go out and find opportunities to excel and progress within the legal community. It could be something as simple as volunteering your time to a case that makes you stand out above the rest or shadowing a legal professional to gain in-depth insight into the job at hand.
From female employees with years of experience to those just starting out, the legal world looks to be opening its doors to more women in the industry to grow into senior positions – it’s just about getting yourself there. With the introduction of the Women in Law pledge into the legal industry, now is the time for women to increase the 33 per cent of females in partner positions by striving for the senior roles that they are more than capable to do.
About the author
Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods is Managing Director of Lysander Law.
Lysander Law are based in Bristol and specialise in Family Law, Personal Injuries and Serious Injuries. With a team of three experts in these fields, they provide personalised specialist advice for each claim, so their clients receive the best outcome.