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Normalising flexible working patterns

A focus on skills in more flexible workplaces is key to achieving equality for women within the profession, says Dana Denis-Smith

8 May 2019

We know the legal profession has a diversity problem. While women make up more than half of practising solicitors, they only represent 28 per cent of partners in private practice, with the figures for equity partners even lower. 

There is no doubt that law firms recognise this, but so far efforts to increase the number of women in the partnership and in leadership positions have not resulted in enough progress, particularly in big City firms. 

So what needs to change first? The question, put to women shortlisted for the most recent Inspirational Women in Law Awards, provoked a wide range of responses.

Radical changes to flexible working arrangements, along with mentoring and sponsorship programmes, and improvements to parental leave topped the list of suggestions.

Other responses included compulsory paternity leave, ditching the billable hour, a diversity accreditation scheme and a four-day fulltime working week for all. 

The breadth of i...

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