Women in the Law UK holds first London event with array of high profile speakers

20 September 2018: A networking and lobbying group with more than 700 members in the North West of England is to launch in London today. Women in the Law UK will hold its first formal event in the capital tonight, Thursday 20 September, with a bill of high-profile speakers from the worlds of law and business.

The event will take place at the Fenchurch Street offices of law firm BLM, with speakers including  Dame Linda Dobbs, the UK’s first BAME High Court Judge, and Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society.

Other leading figures set to address the event include Claire Howell, chief executive of the Really Effective Development Company (REDCo Ltd), Deborah Bryan, family law barrister, Sara Ibrahim, barrister and political activist, and the former Olympic swimmer Kate Haywood.

Women in the Law UK was founded in Manchester in the North West of England by the award-winning barrister Sally Penni to provide support to women at all stages of their legal careers and to address the gap in female representation in leadership roles within the profession. The non-profit organisation runs a wide-ranging programme of events in the Northern city and has more than 700 members and 14 ambassadors.

The organisation’s inaugural London gathering will be the first in a quarterly programme of meetings in the capital. Women in the Law UK is also seeking members and ambassadors in London to represent its agenda within their firms and chambers.

Miss Penni said, “Our events have been really well received in the North West of England and, on the back of that, our colleagues in London asked us whether Women in the Law UK could replicate our formula in the capital. I am excited to be able to do so, and would like to thank BLM for hosting us, and all of our speakers and panellists for giving up their time to support our launch.

“Sadly diversity is still a real issue in our profession, particularly at a senior level, so I hope that women and men alike will not only attend our events but join our organisation and – most of all – work with their employers to encourage an environment that supports women throughout their careers. We are also keen to collaborate with other like-minded organisations to promote diversity in the professions nationwide.”

report by the consultancy firm PwC in 2017 found that, although law firms recruit a greater proportion of female than male trainees, female representation plummets at partner level. In the top ten UK firms PwC revealed that just 18 per cent of partners were women, a figure that rose slightly to 19 per cent among firms ranked 11-25.

The PwC report laid much of the blame for the lack of female participation at partner level on a culture of long hours that many women find to be incompatible with family life.

Women in the Law UK’s events are held under the Chatham House Rule, enabling speakers and audience members to speak freely and learn from each-others’ experiences in a confidential environment. Previous events held in Manchester have covered subjects including career progression, why lawyers need to sit on boards, how to network and make it work for you, and what lawyers can learn from inspiring businesswomen.

The next Women in the Law UK event in London, after tonight’s launch, will be a Christmas drinks evening taking place on 12 December that will include keynote presentations by Cherie Booth (Blair) CBE QC and the High Court Judge Dame Maura McGowan, as well as insights from personal branding expert Ronke Lawal.

To book places at Women in the Law UK events readers should visitwww.womeninthelawuk.co.uk or book directly via www.eventbrite.co.uk. Individuals and businesses that are interested in joining Women in the Law UK should emailwomeninthelawuk@gmail.com to request a membership form.


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