6 September 2019 | Comment | Article by Emily Powell
Ahead of Hugh James hosting the Women in the Law UK’s Cardiff launch event, Charlotte Werner, a Trainee Solicitor at Hugh James shares with us her thoughts on why she is looking forward to the organisation having a presence in Wales.
Before university, the impact that diversity might have on my future career had never really crossed my mind. During my degree at the University of Exeter I studied for a module in Gender, Sexuality & Law which highlighted the issues which can affect women in the legal profession.
It was at this time that I started to gain more of an interest in these issues and so I decided to set up the first Women in Law society on campus. Through this collection of female professors, industry leads, students and even women in the judiciary such as Baroness Butler-Sloss, we were able to create a network of good practice in empowering and mentoring each other.
When considering where to start my legal career, I could not ignore my position as a young female lawyer and the type of firm I wanted to train and qualify in to. During my vacation scheme, I had seen that Hugh James had many women in senior positions, both as partners and in the central service departments. For me this was an exciting prospect; I could have a career in a firm where I would have positive role models to support me and job progression was realistic. I found out that many people in Hugh James have flexible working arrangements to allow for families commitments or other caring responsibilities. There is no “long hours” culture and there is a friendly, approachable, open working environment, which is so important to me.
As the profession - and other industries - move to become more inclusive, having a support network of likeminded people is really important to me. It is so refreshing to be part of a firm that values diversity and supports women which is reinforced by its involvement in the Women in Law UK Wales launch at our offices. Championing confidence, assertiveness, leadership, innovation and succeeding as a female lawyer needs to be cultivated and understood and I’m so glad the firm I work for is involved. It also why the Women in the Law UK’s theme of “confidence, clarity and connection” really appeals.
As I progress through my training, I have been able to learn from successful people as my trainee supervisors. I have also been able to see female leaders getting involved in litigations that help women – the vaginal mesh and Cwm Taf maternity services investigations in my own area of clinical negligence alone. The Cardiff legal community is great at prioritising wellbeing events and educates from the top down about adapting the legal workplace for the new generation.
I think Women in the Law UK is an excellent addition to the Welsh legal and women’s support network and it is an exciting time to be a trainee solicitor at a prestigious Welsh firm.
If you are interested in attending or finding out more about the Women in the Law UK – Cardiff launch event, please click here to register.