Ways You Can Help Other Women Through Career in Law
Law careers can be challenging to get through. Women face their own set of struggles too.
Instances of sexism still materialise in the profession. For instance, one barrister was recently fined for claiming that female lawyers were hysterical and over-emotional. While it might seem like an isolated incident for some, a supposed professional openly expressing these sentiments indicate systemic issues as the root cause of such outbursts.
Though fines were issued, such comments could also put many young women off from the profession entirely. If you’re already working in law, you’re well-positioned to provide some strong counsel to help usher in the next wave of talent.
You could likely do a good job of this effort already. However, if you’re nervous about supporting others or wish to give some vague ideas more structure, the tips below might help.
Provide Assurances Around Time
Starting a law career can often seem like a young person’s game. However, this is a dire misconception.
In 2010, a 47-year-old American woman passed the bar and ran her own legal practice, kickstarting a career change. Her mother didn’t pass the bar until she was 61 and was still practising law by age 82. All of this took place in the US, but there’s no reason to believe similar success stories can’t occur anywhere.
The law might be rigid, but the timescale for studying and mastering it is completely flexible. Women need to know that these opportunities are constantly present and are always welcome within the profession. Once that understanding is in place, anything is possible.
Suggest Educational Opportunities
All lawyers are great learners. They have a strong background in learning the intricacies of the profession and even enthusiasm for it. Moreover, these professionals recognise that more than natural talent is needed to see them through.
The University of Stirling offers undergraduate LLB subject courses and postgraduate LLM and MSc programs in law. Those who enrol can take their first steps in law, gain a firm understanding of essential subjects, and ultimately specialise in any aspect of law they see fit. Human rights, commercial law, and legal systems can be studied in great depth here.
Women have a great deal of agency when they sign up for these courses. There’s freedom of choice, and after their studies, they can be qualified to enter a range of career paths.
Of course, you’re not just pitching subjects when recommending university studies. There’s a brand-new lifestyle to go with it, giving aspirational women a fresh start to explore their aspirations. New places and friends will materialise, and doors in the legal profession and beyond will open.
Recommend Early Networking
It’s never too early to start making contacts. Connections in law can recount anecdotes, provide advice, or generally serve as inspiration through their presence alone. Fortunately, the university experience is a great place to start on this, but networking should be a constant post-degree process.
Though lawyers appear to be incredibly self-sufficient, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are self-made. Every professional in this line of work needs support, not just upon entry but throughout all the twists and turns in advancing their career.
Having more than one mentor in the legal profession is also important. While you might be willing to offer portions of your time, counselling anybody through their career alone can be an overwhelming task and perhaps even diminish the quality of support you could provide. If you know a woman who’d like to practice law, strongly advise them to expand their circle.
Because women need to find multiple mentors in law, they should try to ensure that each is different from the next. A diverse pool of voices can provide an exciting range of guidance and counsel.
Women are often underestimated in professions like law. Sexism may push some to work harder than they should to prove themselves.
However, it’s worth reminding them that they have nobody to prove themselves to but themselves. They must take the time to have breaks, de-stress, and ultimately build a life outside their work. As you might know, studying and practising law can be all-consuming even at the best times, so that side of things needs to be carefully managed.
Neutralising any sense of imposter syndrome can help with this effort too. Hard work and perseverance are the only things that help anyone progress through a career in law. No matter what stage of her career she’s in, only the aspirational lawyer’s efforts have brought her that far. Remind her of the feats she’s achieved at every stage, celebrate them, and note that they make her deserving of scheduled self-care.
It’s a shame that so much doubt can surround women in law. Still, there are concrete steps they can take that dispel these notions. Once the beginnings of their career are in motion, confidence should hopefully start to build, which might help you also feel more comfortable in your supporting role. Build their awareness, encourage them to expand their circles, and remind them to spend time enjoying the journey.