Ahead of Hugh James hosting the upcoming Women in the Law UK’s event, Emily Powell a Partner from our Commercial team talks to us about her experience as a woman in the legal sector and why she is keen to be involved with the Women in Law UK organisation.
I have always been a firm believer in fairness; growing up my parents were regularly confronted with my cries of “it’s not fair” during many disputes and disagreements with my siblings. The early parts of my career were focussed on criminal defence and immigration work, driven by my pursuit of fairness, I wanted to work with some of the least privileged people in society and ensure that they got a fair hearing when faced with the might of the State.
But, having grown up in the ‘80s and ‘90s when women in business were very publicly shattering glass ceilings, it wasn’t until later in my career that I stopped and thought about how gender diversity is still a topical issue for women in the legal profession. After all, sexism had been stamped out at the end of the ‘80s, hadn’t it, so what was left that women in law needed to advocate for?
I was finally prompted to stop and think about this issue when the gender pay-gap became topical. I didn’t understand why this was still happening. Whatever the underlying reasons, how could these issues and others still experienced by some women in workplaces be addressed?
Of course, there are no easy answers to these questions and there is no quick fix. As gender diversity changes over the years at the bottom of the profession there can naturally be expected to be a resultant change at the top. But this is not a reason for complacency and these issues and more need to be highlighted and discussions must continue to ensure they are proactively managed and addressed.
I realise that I am in a very privileged position to be a partner in a top 100 law firm and one which is actively committed to diversity in the workplace. I am so excited that we are now working with Women in Law to promote conversations around gender diversity in the legal profession in Wales. I look forward to the establishment of a strong network where difficult issues can be discussed and we can contribute to the development of the conversation on gender diversity to give every woman and man in law, in Wales the opportunity to grow and develop to the best of their ability. And above all to promote fairness!