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Women in Law – What are the crucial career factors to consider?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 29/02/16

L Gates recently announced that over half of its global promotions to partner were given to women, with 27 females set to assume the new position. With many other international firms also making strides towards gender parity, it’s clear that there has not been a better time for women to establish a long and successful career in the profession. 

While the majority of the effort to ensure both genders are equality represented is focused around graduate positions, more opportunities are arising for women to progress up the career ladder. However many young women rule out progressing to senior positions early on in their career, with recent research from the Executive Coaching Consultancy, indicating that one in three (30%) of young women in law have ruled out aiming for senior positions.

The research indicates that motherhood may be a particular worry for women in law with 66% of young women in law saying that a work life balance is a key concern when making career decisions.  It’s clear that firms have a considerable role to play in shifting their culture to support women throughout their careers, but there are steps individuals can take to ensure their success further down the line. 

Networking is key for career progression in every profession and law is no exception - everyone should invest in building connections with clients and peers in both their own and other law firms. Becoming a specialist is also great for career progression, as niche specialisms are highly marketable and will ensure you are in demand for your entire career. Women should perhaps also consider the culture of a firm before accepting a position, researching whether they have polices to support maternity transitions, if they have flexible working polices, and the percentage of women in senior positions.

There is undoubtedly room for firms to improve in terms of culture, but the signs are pointing in the right direction. With firms such as K&L Gates making significant strides in terms of gender parity, it look as though more opportunities will be available for women at senior levels in the near future.