Women in the Law UK, the Manchester-based lobbying, networking and support organisation, is gearing up for its launch in London next month.
Dame Linda Dobbs, the UK’s first non-white High Court judge, Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, and the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers, are among the speakers.
Barrister Sally Penni founded the non-profit organisation – which has more than 700 members and 14 ambassadors – to help increase the representation of women in legal leadership roles and support women in their careers.
She said: “Sadly diversity is still a real issue in our profession, particularly at a senior level, so I hope that women and men alike will not only attend our events but join our organisation and – most of all – work with their employers to encourage an environment that supports women throughout their careers.
“Our events have been really well received in the North West of England and, on the back of that, our colleagues in London asked us whether Women in the Law UK could replicate our formula in the capital.
“We are also keen to collaborate with other like-minded organisations to promote diversity in the professions nationwide.”
The inaugural London gathering will be the first in a quarterly programme of meetings in the capital.
Other speakers for the event, being held at City law firm BLM on Thursday 20 September are Claire Howell, chief executive of the Really Effective Development Company, Wendi Momen MBE, publisher, academic and magistrate, Deborah Bryan, family law barrister, and Sara Ibrahim, barrister and political activist.
Women in the Law UK’s events are held under the Chatham House Rule.
Marnie Millard, chief executive of soft drinks business Nicols plc, told an event organised by Women in the Law UK in June that while many law firms had women’s leadership programmes, most of these had yet to bear fruit in the upper echelons of the profession.
“I hate to say it, but all these programmes are not yet leading to significant changes at the top,” she said.
She said businesses and law firms should not simply permit flexible working but senior management should also lead by example.
“I prefer to get into the office early in the morning but, as long as the day-to-day business issues allow, I will leave before 5pm so that everyone can see me going and feel they have permission to do the same,” she said.
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