October 3, 2018
The introduction of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 came after the Law Society refused to allow four women to sit its examinations in 1913. They took their case to the courts where the judge, Mr Justice Joyce, ruled that women were not ‘persons’ within the meaning of the Solicitors Act of 1843. It was not until 1919, when the Sex Disqualification Act was passed, that women were allowed to practice law.
Interestingly, when I was appointed to the role of managing partner of GBLF in 2013, I found myself the subject of much media interest, because I was only one of two female managing partners in the North East legal scene at that time.
From an early age, I was determined to work within the legal industry, but found it extremely difficult to break into the profession. I believe this was because I had no family or personal connections in the law to help me get a foot in the door. After almost a year of unsuccessful training contract applications, I chose the paralegal route. In my eyes, this allowed me to put my degree to use and gain knowledge, experience and confidence. Once those skills had been developed, I was able to successfully apply for a trainee solicitor position.
I qualified as a solicitor 15 years ago and the profession was definitely more weighted on the male side back then. I cannot say that I feel being female has particularly held me back in any way – my philosophy has always been that to prove myself I needed to show hard work, commitment and dedication. I must also give some credit to Gordon Brown, the founder of our firm, who has encouraged me every step of the way to get to the top.
I believe entering the profession being male or female is just as difficult as ever. One of the best things about being a managing partner is that I can ensure that our firm adopts a fair and equal approach to recruitment of trainee solicitors, where background and connections aren’t taken into consideration. People are purely judged on merit.
Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP
With offices located in Newcastle and Chester-Le-Street, GBLF offers a range of legal services across all areas of family, residential conveyancing, wills and probate, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial law.
0191 388 1778