Legal Women – a new magazine for everyone

Coral Hill
Coral HillAssociate Professor, University of Law

Coral Hill is associate professor at the University of Law and a non-practising solicitor. She is the founder and editor in chief of Legal Women, a free new quarterly publication focused on equality, diversity and inclusion, covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Christina Blacklaws, Amanda Pinto QC, Master Karen Shuman, Nicola Williams, Rt Hon Lady Arden of Heswell DBE and Millicent Grant QC (Hon)
Top L to R: Christina Blacklaws, past president Law Society for England and Wales, Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar of England and Wales at General Council, Master Karen Shuman, Master of the Chancery Division and chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Steering Group, Lincoln’s Inn. Bottom L to R: Nicola Williams, Service Complaints Ombudsman Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces, Rt Hon Lady Arden of Heswell DBE, Supreme Court judge, Millicent Grant QC (Hon), past president of CILEx. Photograph: Christina Blacklaws

This inspirational photograph is from one of the highlights of the 2019 centenary celebrations for women being able to qualify as lawyers.

Lincoln’s Inn hosted a discussion with female lawyers representing distinct legal careers: solicitor, legal executive, barrister, in-house counsel and judges. The evening showed how we all share similar challenges by virtue of being female and of course this is also true for the many women working in the law in different capacities.

Although I have been involved in many diversity and inclusion initiatives, it made me realise that despite the many excellent groups promoting gender parity, there’s rarely a UK-wide campaign involving all branches of the legal profession, to influence legislation or drive cultural change.

At the end of the centenary celebrations, it was important for there to be some concrete developments and a magazine seemed a way forward to capture the initiatives under way, inspire real change and create innovations in leadership. Gender parity as with other diversity issues is a discussion that needs to involve all society.

Diversity makes business sense

It’s increasingly recognised that diversity makes business sense; the most profitable and robust businesses are embracing diversity and inclusion but these ideas haven’t really had the same impact on the legal world. The magazine will tackle how to change our working environments to suit the modern world which will benefit everyone. There are many men who don’t want the traditional constraints either and if law firms fail to adapt, they may lose some of the strongest talent from both women and men.

Diversity during a pandemic

It’s clear that the pandemic is having an enormous impact on women’s lives and it is essential to maintain a focus on gender parity and ensure that appropriate gender-segregated statistics are collated. Although we know that women are less likely than men to be acutely ill from the virus, the majority of health staff supporting patients are women, and for those trying to work from home without the usual childcare and support, life has become extremely complex. The extra burden means that increasing numbers of women have chosen to abandon their careers, at least in the short term.

If we simply put diversity to one side because we’re in a crisis, it will compound our problems. Women working is a substantial part of our economy – if that’s ignored then it will damage the recovery of the UK, as well as damage the advances women have made in terms of being able to work.

Magazine mission

The key mission of Legal Women is:

  • to provide clear information on gender parity
  • to inspire practical initiatives and create real change
  • to promote innovation in legal leadership and practice

Focus

Editions will have features and regular columns. The features in the first edition are unsurprisingly the impact of the pandemic on our working lives and the issues of domestic abuse, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Cherie Blair, as Patron of Refuge, discusses this with the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Victims Commissioner. For the international pages we have an inspiring project on the creation of gender-sensitive courts in Pakistan.

Legal Women ambassadors

We have fantastic ambassadors on our editorial board:

  • Christina Blacklaws, past president of the Law Society for England and Wales
  • Alison Atack, past president of the Law Society of Scotland
  • Karen O’Leary, a triple qualified lawyer, based in Northern Ireland and also qualified in the Republic of Ireland and England and Wales
  • Janem Jones, an experienced advocate based in Wales
  • Millicent Grant QC Hon and past president of CILEx

Want to contribute?

The writers are from many different working environments and across the UK and I’m always keen to hear from people so if you have something to write do get in touch for a discussion by emailing Coral@LegalWomen.org.uk.

The magazine is quarterly, and we are publishing blogs regularly on our website. Frequently, people say there isn’t information provided in an accessible way or a sufficiently personal way for them to relate to it. In response, I’m collating blogs on different topics which will be a resource. So far this has been on people’s experience of the pandemic, and I’m building a series of blogs on career planning and in particular on advice for lawyers who intend to set up their own practice.

Please check out Legal Women magazine and the website for yourself.


Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.

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