SYLA’s Women in Law Event 2020

Back in March, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association (SYLA) annual Women in Law event! SYLA is a non-profit organisation run by young lawyers, for young lawyers and they host a wide variety of events throughout the year! CLICK HERE to check your eligibility to sign up for free membership. In this blog, I’d like to talk about the Women in Law event and hopefully this will encourage you to attend future SYLA events!

Women in Law: Breaking The Glass Ceiling

The theme of this particular event was about women breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry. The speakers were all distinguished women and I was truly blown away by their inspirational work! The event took the form of a panel with Emma Boffey of CMS (past President of SYLA) chairing the panel and I’d like to share some snippets of each member of the panel’s talk:

Rachel Barrett

Rachel was called to the Bar in 2012 and is currently a barrister with Cloisters – you can find her profile HERE. Rachel is also the co-author of ‘Employment Law and Human Rights’ (OUP, 3rd edn) and is credited as a researcher for Baroness Hale’s ‘Mental Health Law’ (6th edn). I was really inspired by Rachel’s talk because she spoke about the gender inequality at the Bar. What was particularly striking was that of the top 100 barristers at the criminal bar, only 4 of them are women. It was encouraging to see her so passionate about fighting gender equality and the gender pay gap.

Rachel was also a judicial assistant in the Supreme Court from 2014-2015. Judicial assistants must be a solicitor, barrister or advocate qualified in one of the UK jurisdictions, who have completed a training contract or pupillage by the start of the appointment. Although the deadline for this year’s appointments was at the end of March, you can keep an eye out for future roles HERE.

Susanne Tanner QC FCIArb

Susanne was called to the Scottish Bar in 2000 and took Silk in 2016. She is currently a QC with Ampersand Advocates (of which she is also the Stable Director), a fellow with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a tribunal chair on various Tribunals, a tutor at the University of Edinburgh and a Door Tenant at Crown Office Chambers (London). Susanne expanded her practice by in October 2019 when she was called to the Bar of England and Wales. You can find Susanne’s full profile and appointments HERE.

Susanne’s presentation centred around 6 key points and I’d like to summarise them here for you in the hope that it just as inspiring to you as it was for me:

1 – Build law into your life

  • Build the law into your life, and not your life into the law
  • This was a particular emphasis that career progression is not a straightforward line in most cases
  • Life throws up a variety of obstacles so we should incorporate the law into our lives more flexibly

2 – Dream big

  • We must act as if there is no glass ceiling
  • Having the confidence to go forward and disregarding fears

3 – Be a mentor and a mentee

  • We should actively seek out people who we admire and aspire towards
  • BUT – at the same time, we are never too young to mentor someone else
  • We all have different life experiences to share with one another

4 – Thirst for learning and development

  • This attitude is how Susanne has managed to expand her practice
  • Susanne emphasised that such confidence comes from growing and encouraged us to seek continual learning and development

5 – Support others to make change

  • Susanne encourages us to join groups with like-minded people
  • Embrace a supportive environment

6 – Take time to breath

  • We must never lose track of our health and well-being
  • We must keep up with our hobbies, interests and friends
  • Maintaining a healthy work/life balance

Lisa Henderson QC FCIArb

Lisa was called to the Scottish Bar in 1995 and took Silk in 2016. She is currently a QC with Ampersand Advocates, a fellow with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, an Ambassador for the Scottish Arbitration Centre, an advocacy skills instructor with the Faculty of Advocates and the Vice Chair of the British American Project UK Executive Committee. Lisa was called to the Bar of England and Wales in July 2019 and is a Door Tenant at 42 Bedford Row Chambers (London). You can find Lisa’s full profile and appointments HERE.

Interestingly, Lisa actually has a musical background and talked about her journey to the Bar – which started at the age of 24. She encouraged us to take leaps of faith and to never look back because we have nothing to lose. I was really inspired by Lisa’s forward-facing and bold attitude to her career!

Event round-up

The event finished with networking with members of SYLA, other young lawyers and the above speakers. I was truly blown away by the inspirational stories and journeys of Rachel, Susanne and Lisa and a huge thanks to SYLA for organising such a successful event.

I hope you’ve found this blog write-up useful and provided you with an insight of the type of events SYLA organise. I would strongly encourage you to sign up with SYLA to keep track of any upcoming events!

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