Dentons raises a cup of tea to women lawyers at the commercial bar

DENTONS, the world’s largest law firm, recognizes that there are still hurdles to overcome for women working at the Commercial Bar in Scotland – and as a firm they are fully committed to working to drive the positive changes needed to improve diversity and inclusion in the sector.

That’s why Dentons set out to start a meaningful conversation about the issues facing women’s rights advocates in the business sector by hosting a casual and informal discussion event.

Over a delightful afternoon tea at Dentons Edinburgh office at Quartermile, female members of the Scottish Commercial Bar were invited to share their experiences and discuss ideas for improving the situation of women lawyers at law business in Scotland.

Moderated by partner Lisa McCreath, barrister Craig Kennedy and Scottish partner Douglas Blyth, the event was very warmly received by attendees and will form the basis for future similar discussions on not just gender, but more diversity. generally within the profession.

One of the main topics discussed was parental leave and family responsibilities, and the disproportionate impact/burden on women. This seems particularly difficult in their branch of the profession, given the conditions of self-employment, and it has led to many practical problems for them such as arranging hearing dates in relation to other commitments.

Dentons’ defense of female commercial lawyers echoes the precedent their legacy firm, Maclay Murray & Spens, set more than a century ago when they appointed Madge Easton Anderson as Scotland’s first female legal officer. in 1920 after the passage of the Sexual Disqualification (Withdrawal) Act 1919, which allowed women to enter the legal profession for the first time.

Dentons Scottish partner Douglas Blyth said:

“Much progress has undoubtedly been made in moving the legal profession forward so that it better reflects the population it serves, but the sad truth is that there is still a long way to go. It’s impossible for me to say what steps we should take because, well, I’ve never been in the position of these women. What better way to explore how we break direct and indirect biases than to bring together women at the commercial bar, explore the challenges they face and how things could be changed for the better? We don’t just want to talk about diversity, it’s at the heart of what we do.

Dentons Partner Lisa McCreath said: “As the bar becomes more and more diverse, it seems almost counter-intuitive that we still (regularly) receive all-male slates for alternative lawyers. It got us thinking about things.

“It is important to recognize how far the Law Society has come over the past 100 years; but as more and more women are called to the commercial bar, we must recognize that this means that more and more women are balancing their busy practice with “traditional” parenting and caregiving responsibilities. It is not easy. In the wake of Covid-19, as a firm we need to take proactive steps to ensure that we capitalize on the wealth of talent at the bar, by training the right people and ensuring that our experience is not limited to all- male lists.

“In order to break down biases, really, there needs to be an active discussion and it was a pleasure to lead this discussion with my team and members of the Commercial Bar. For many women, this was their first in-person networking since the pandemic began. It was really relaxed and I hope everyone enjoyed it. We’re really looking forward to building on that in the weeks and months to come. »

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