Past President of the Law Society
I am the Immediate Past President of the Law Society of England and Wales. [As of April 2020].
I originally specialised in representing some of the most vulnerable children in our society. In the mid-2000s I set up my own law firm which I grew to be the largest specialist family law firm in the country.
I started to develop new ways of delivering legal services by establishing a ‘virtual’ law firm. My firm provided all back-office services, including technological, to self-employed consultants.
The law changed in the UK which allowed non- lawyers to own and manage legal businesses. I approached the Cooperative Group, to suggest that they should develop a family law offering and they agreed. In 2011, we set up the first UK Alternative Business Structure (ABS). I became a director of policy, responsible for all external affairs.
Later I moved to a large law firm where I was their Chief Operating Officer – responsible for development of innovative service delivery and operational models, including technological development.
I have undertaken voluntary work which included, since 2002, being a member of the Law Society Council.
I became a representative of the Women Lawyers Division and started to work on issues of gender equality and balance.
In 2016, I was elected as Deputy Vice President of the Law Society leading to the roles of Vice President and President.
As soon as I was elected, I started to develop the three themes – Innovation and the future of legal services, access to justice and gender equality.
A main strategy was the Women in Leadership in Law programme.
Women are entering the law in large numbers (in the UK this has been over 50% for nearly 30 years) and yet they are not reaching leadership positions in equivalent numbers. We undertook the largest ever global survey on this subject by holding roundtables.
The roundtables created discussion around the key issues: bias, lack of flexible working, the problem of difficult work/ life balances and the gender pay gap and gather women’s lives experienced from around the world. The roundtables aimed to empower women to become leaders and change makers in their own organisations, so we created a toolkit with opportunities for activism.
From these round tables, we produced three reports. In June 2019, we held a symposium at which we launched, with the support of our government and all the representative bodies, the Women in Law Pledge which distils all that we have learned into some simple actions.
The UK government asked me to chair the LawTech Delivery Panel- a group charged with growing the LawTech industry in the UK.