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.
Christine Butterfield is a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Wills and Trusts department based in the Dorchester office:
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the legal industry?
I was working in arts administration at the time and feeling that I had progressed as far as I wanted to and was looking for a challenge. An art gallery I worked in at the time had to take legal advice on a potential dispute over a contract and afterwards I thought ‘I want to be that lawyer’. So I retrained as a solicitor whilst I was still working in the arts.
2. How did you qualify?
Most of my studying was done part time and distance learning whilst I continued to work. Firstly I took a specialised course in legal issues relating to cultural property through the Institute of Art & Law. This confirmed my decision to go down this route, so I continued onto the PGDL course to convert my History of Art degree to a Law degree. I then did the solicitors’ LPC, then a two year training contract in London, qualifying in 2004.
3. What do you think you bring to your chosen discipline?
Hopefully a sharp legal mind! Certainly empathy, which is essential for my practice area which includes Wills and probate. It is surprisingly how many people still comment that it has been nice not to see a man in a suit.
4. How do you think the legal industry for women has progressed?
I’ve noticed over the 15 years I have been qualified that there is increased acceptance from clients that they are dealing with a woman, whereas in my early days I think there was an assumption that a solicitor would be male. And workwise, there is now huge flexibility. I am able to have a fulfilling professional career and a family.