It is hard to believe as I look at APIL’s executive committee, and around the offices of my firm, that these women would not have been allowed to represent victims of negligence until just a little over 100 years ago. Even more recently, women and girls have not always been encouraged to study and practice law. In the late 1990’s, I recall saying to my careers advisor at college aged 17 that I wanted to study law and her gently but firmly attempting to persuade me that perhaps I would be better off looking at a career in teaching or social work. Thankfully I stuck to my guns, ignored the advice and went on to study law at the University of Sheffield, obtaining a First Class Honours Degree in Law and then a Distinction in my LPC. I was determined that I wanted to be a lawyer and to practice in an area of law which made a real difference to ordinary people’s lives. That’s why I chose to practice in personal injury law when I qualified nearly 18 years ago. I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved and want to dedicate some of my time to help inspire other women to achieve their own aspirations to succeed in this area of law.
Prior to the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, women were not permitted to practice law in the United Kingdom. Since then, many women have been behind some remarkable work on behalf of injured people and bereaved families. Today the APIL membership demonstrates a strong representation of women in the profession and female practitioners at the top of their game.
We are even on the cusp of tipping the balance within the legal profession with women making up 52 per cent of lawyers in law firms, up from 51 per cent in 2019, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Aspiring lawyers picking their relevant school subjects, law students, and those already working in the law but seek to achieve their full potential need equity above equality. This is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. To be successful, everyone needs equity. It is important that the difference between equity and equality is recognised.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Not everyone is the same and individuals need different things to be successful.
APIL’s diversity and inclusion committee, of which I am chair, recognises this. The committee works to improve accessibility across the association, including representation of women in leadership roles. Members might be interested to know that nominations are now open to become an additional officer on APIL’s executive committee. Successful nominees will work with our board of volunteers and an experienced staff team on a range of issues affecting victims of negligence. Anyone is encouraged to apply.
Take a look at the @apilexcellence Twitter feed to see some of APIL’s executive committee members taking part in the #EmbracingEquity campaign.