100 years of women in law - Dawn Gallie
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.
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the legal industry?
When I was doing my GCSE’s my dad studied law at night class. We used to chat about what his class was covering and I found it really interesting. I also enjoyed the argumentative element!! I decided to try law for myself at A-Level and loved it so went on to do a qualifying law degree.
2. How did you qualify?
I wanted a bit of variety so rather than doing a straight LLB in law I did at BA (Hons) in Law with American Studies at Uni, and then went on to do the Legal Practice Course. My training contract was with a firm in East Anglia and I qualified in February 2002. On qualification I decided to move back to the South/South West.
3. What do you think you bring to your chosen discipline?
My job in employment is incredibly diverse. I think I bring a balanced approach. Whilst I have to be robust in arguing a case and negotiating any settlement, and am passionate about doing the best for my clients, to do that in litigation you need to be able to see both sides of the argument. For day to day HR & employment law advice, I believe I bring practical, supportive advice and solutions- I’ve been told I’m quite a calm voice in difficult & sometimes stressful situations. I’m not sure that always applies outside of work!
4. How do you think the legal industry for women has progressed?
As a newly qualified solicitor, I was once asked if I was the secretary when I went out to see a client! However, there has been a great deal of progress in the industry that has historically been male dominated. There have, in recent times, been more females entering the profession than men and an increase in women appointed to the higher levels. Businesses are recognising the benefits of flexible working options – for all staff, not just females or child carers. There is still more work to be done to avoid assumptions and prejudices and the gender balance needs to be rectified at all levels of the profession - but where we are today is much improved from where the profession was 20 years ago.