100 Years of Women in Law
2019 marks 100 years since women were able to qualify as solicitors. In 1919 the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act came into force and so paved the way for women to be admitted into the legal profession.
To celebrate this centenary and to remember and pay homage to the pioneering women of the legal industry, Battens are interviewing some of our very own female lawyers about their careers.
Anna Austin is Joint Head of Commercial Property based in the Yeovil office:
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the legal industry?
It seems like such a long time ago now but I think my earliest inspiration came from the portrayal of criminal lawyers in film, television and media when I was growing up. I always wanted to carve a career for myself and considered that the legal profession would create the opportunities I was seeking. At university, and later during my training contract, my interests and skills diverged into the (usually) non-contentious area of commercial property when I was instantly attracted to the fast pace of the transactions. I love problem solving and getting the deal done!
2. How did you qualify?
I took the traditional route: A’ levels followed by a law degree and legal practice course at university and then a two year training contract at another law firm in Somerset. I combined my law degree with French as I enjoy languages and love to travel.
3. What do you think you bring to your chosen discipline?
Working hard and working to a high level is essential in this job but, in addition to that, I find it easy to keep calm under pressure which really makes the difference to clients and to my team generally.
4. How do you think the legal industry for women has progressed?
I qualified in 2004 and the industry has changed massively in that time. I am continuing to see more and more women taking up senior positions and, with both men and women taking up flexible working arrangements to balance a career with a home life, teams are evolving to work together as a whole in order to provide a service of which they can be proud. One of my career highlights was being promoted whilst on maternity leave in 2017 which is something I would not have envisaged during the early stages of my career some 15 years ago. I feel very fortunate to work with such an array of talented men and women.