Three female legal professionals working across the global legal sector share their current thoughts and experiences working in law. 

They offer their opinion on this year’s theme ‘’DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ and also share their current achievements and what they are most proud to be working on in 2023.

  • Wendy Lloyd-Goodwin - Founder of Life Science Law 
  • Sophie Kirk - Paralegal at Life Science Law 
  • Tina Durward - Senior Legal Consultant at Life Science Law 

 We asked:

  1. What’s your opinion and experience as a woman within the legal sector? 
  2. Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the legal sector and how did you overcome them?
  3. What do you think the industry needs to do better around innovation and technology? 
  4. What are you most proud to be working on in 2023 that will help to inspire other women into the industry? 

Wendy Lloyd-Goodwin - Founder - Life Science Law 

“I am passionate about what I do.  I find working within the legal sector, finding solutions based on data and using legally defined parameters/ interpreting and moulding the scope to fit within the legal framework to achieve a desired outcome extremely rewarding. I also love first and foremost helping to solve others problems and challenges, whether that’s providing support to alleviate workload, or solving a business challenge. For me, receiving positive feedback from my clients brings a smile to my face, and keeps me doing what I do. 

“To be honest, I do not dwell on what it is like to be a woman within the legal industry, which is a traditionally male dominated environment. It is what it is, and I have developed my approach based on the personality dynamic of the team. The secret of good team dynamics is diversity. I have had bigger challenges, where I have worked in female dominated teams. Most lawyers worry about doing a good job, and can often feel challenged where they feel they are in competition with others, whether they are male or female. Having self belief, creating  a good team dynamic regardless of gender is where I have focused my agenda.

“The commercial arm of the legal industry is traditionally a male dominated sector, and it was the oppression I faced in private practice as a newly qualified female solicitor which led me to retreat into what I felt would be a less oppressive environment – in-house. I also had to juggle the work life balance of developing my career, being the best at work, and also ensuring I was emotionally and physically available to care for my child, and the guilt which goes with never being at the school gates. These difficult challenges gave me extra motivation to overcome them. I had a vision and I kept that vision in focus – something I continue to do.  It’s important to remember why you do what you do, and to keep that vision in mind to help drive you forward.

“Every day there is a new challenge which I have not faced before and I am truly living by my mantra that you learn the most from challenges which you do not necessarily solve on the first attempt.  I continue to embark on projects which I know will not be easy, as in many cases I have not done them before, but must continue to push forward with in order to develop and grow the infrastructure of LS Law because that’s what's needed.  Pushing through the fear and doing it anyway!  These new challenges are not all going to plan, but we keep moving forward, and I know we will get there eventually, because I don’t give up, whether that’s developing a new website (it's still not done despite being almost a year in the planning) , changing our IT solutions (just don’t ask me about that one!), recruiting consultants and suppliers to provide us with new business functions both back office and additional service offerings (this is the exciting part but daunting as it adds more responsibility and hence management time and headspace). Don’t give up. Just keep pushing forward!”

Sophie Kirk - Paralegal - Life Science Law

“I believe as a young woman coming into the industry, that the legal sector is really putting an emphasis on levelling the playing field between men and women in the legal profession. From the application process to the promotion of a good work life balance, I believe the legal industry is starting to adapt and improve in order to allow women to enter the profession and stay within the profession if they decide to raise a family. This is so important as women deserve to be in the legal profession. Throughout my time studying the GDL and the LPC, there has been an equal split in the male to female ratios in the classroom. To see women gaining training contracts and vacation schemes, achieving things that our grandmothers couldn’t have done is incredible and really shows the momentum of women’s rights and the shift society has taken for women to thrive in the legal profession. I feel so blessed to have the support to pursue this career and I am excited to see where my legal career takes me.

“Entering the legal profession, the application process is tough and disheartening. However, as a woman, I do believe it has been harder as from my personal experience women doubt themselves more and have the less confident edge that men tend to embrace and exude. I think within any profession or any type of study that you do, you will always have an individual or a group of individuals who will voice their unwanted opinion about girls being lawyers. There will also be men who voice their opinion about the application process favouring women which can make you feel guilty or make a woman feel in some way singled out and targeted. Having the effect of making them feel less worthy than a man because we are being told the application process favours an individual because of their gender. I think it is important for an individual to remember their worth through their own intellect. To remove any stigma and embrace the fact that despite our gender we deserve to be accepted into the legal profession and that we have been accepted by our own individual strengths not by our gender.

“I think Covid-19 and the pandemic showed that incorporating new innovative thinking and technology can improve work life balance and increase productivity. As a woman there is pressure to raise a family and the decision to take a step back from a career to have children affects a lot of women. New technologies that benefit the work life balance and allow women to choose the option to have children and maintain a successful career can only be beneficial for society. However, I am an individual too young to be thinking of having children at this stage in my life. I do have a chronic autoimmune disease which can affect my health. To be able to stay at home and work or incorporate new technologies that allows more individuals with a chronic illness to work from home will benefit their health and longevity in the legal profession. Chronic health issues do not impact just women, they can affect anybody. To incorporate new technologies which benefit people with health issues and allow them to remain in the legal profession and thrive is beneficial to everybody.”

Tina Durward - Senior Legal Consultant - Life Science Law 

“When I had the usual careers advice conversation at school and told them I wanted to be a lawyer, the response was “the most you can hope for is to be a legal secretary” and so I did the course and by the end of the first year could touch type, had a GCSE in Law and a realisation that nope, I really wanted to be the lawyer! I financed myself through my legal education by working as a carer. At University I worked night shifts. It just about paid enough but, more importantly, taught me some valuable lessons, not least humility, determination, the power of laughter and the importance of dignity. 

“I have had such a varied legal career in the life sciences sector. It is an area of law that is so fascinating and retains that tangible ‘human’ element. For me personally, believing in, and caring about, what I am doing makes me the best kind of a lawyer I can be, and so whilst my gender may well have been a factor for others, consciously or not, I have simply refused to engage. In my mind a good lawyer is simply a good lawyer, much like a good person is a good person – it's their work and actions that count, and they speak for themselves.

“I didn’t follow the ‘traditional’ career path  - my legal career in life sciences developed in-house, after joining J&J as an Administrative Assistant, after I had my son. Prior to that, my training contract with a sole practitioner fell through when he returned to private practice. Following which I spent several years working for a charity with the objective of developing leaders across all sectors of society and so not only did I have exposure to some amazing people, but I also gained valuable commercial experience and learnt to be resourceful (when I started secondees used to turn the server off at night before they went home)! I didn’t expect to pick up a career in law again, however, I had an amazing mentor at J&J who sat me down one day and said “enough is enough, you have to qualify”. With her support, I took the CILEX route back into the legal profession and subsequently converted to a Solicitor.

“It has been hard work and at times has been physically and mentally exhausting. It has required large doses of sheer determination, particularly when we decided to start our own business (naively from nothing) so my husband could pursue his passion as a motorbike mechanic when our son was a baby. I was juggling being a Mum, having a full-time legal career and supporting my husband with running his business. However, if I think about whether the challenges I have faced in my career have been gender-orientated, I can’t honestly say that this is the case. I feel I have the privilege of being a Mum, Wife and Lawyer and in all three, I have learnt the importance of simply being me, because in my experience when you genuinely care, it matters and it shows – gender is irrelevant.

“I have had multiple sole counsel roles (typically with little or no budget) and, consequently, learnt to be resourceful and use the tools I had to hand – whether creating a contracts library using OneNote, or a compliant infrastructure and self-service legal portal in SharePoint. I cannot stress enough the importance of enabling people to use and understand whatever technology you invest in, properly. Once you have that training and buy-in, not only do you enable and invest in your team, but it goes such a long way to future-proofing your organisation.”

Article by Vikki (Carley) Davies

Wordsmith Partnership