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Aspiring Solicitors speaks to Early WiN at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

early women in NRF v2Norton Rose Fulbright is launching a women’s network specifically for people at the practice in the early to mid-stages of their careers. Early WiN is part of the existing Women in Norton Rose Fulbright Network (WiN) and is open to individuals from all areas within the practice.

Leonie Hamway, Kate Langley and Nita Mistry, junior associates at the practice, discuss the importance of women’s networks and the motivations behind the launch of the Early WiN network.

Q&A

1.     Why is it important to have women’s networks in law firms?

A women’s network provides a forum in which women from all parts of the business can meet each other and exchange ideas and experiences – creating a sense of camaraderie and belonging. It creates a platform for exciting and educational events including everything from talks and lectures to workshops on boosting confidence in the workplace. It is an essential tool in helping to increase diversity and the retention of women at all levels within the business.

2.     Why was Early WiN formed?

The idea behind Early WiN is that it will provide help and advice to those who may not otherwise yet have the benefit of contacts or experience to assist and support them in their career progression.

Key focuses of the network will include enabling individuals to achieve their potential and dispelling preconceptions about limits to career progression on account of gender. We want to help give junior members the confidence and skills they need to develop long and fulfilling careers.

3.     What events and initiatives does Early WiN offer?

The network will be formally launching on 25 September with a welcome drinks for new joiners.  We recently ran a very successful lunchtime event, in which three of our fee earners (from just below partner level) gave a short but candid talk about their backgrounds and careers so far and then answered questions from the audience. There was also an opportunity to submit questions anonymously before the event.

Looking ahead at the Early WiN calendar, we are organising a number of events including:  further lunchtime talks by people within the firm and outside the London office,  internal networking lunches, an internal speed networking event and also an external networking event with a special guest speaker.

4.     Are men allowed to be involved in Early WiN?

Absolutely – it is encouraged. Early WiN will be available to all new joiners and current members of the practice, whether male or female.

The overriding ethos of the network is gender equality and fostering an inclusive environment in which women and men progress together equally.  We have a number of men involved in WiN from all parts of the business. Inevitably, the “W” in WiN can sometimes make men feel excluded from the group, so we work very hard to ensure that male participation is encouraged at every stage, from the attendance of events right up to becoming member of the Steering Committee.

5.     How has WiN helped you?

Leonie: It can be tough starting a new job and WiN helped me find a place with the practice particularly as a career changer. WiN gave me (and many others) a voice at a stage in my career where in many other parts of my job I was extremely junior. WiN was a welcoming group that openly discussed important issues that directly related to my experiences.

Nita: WiN has provided me with a platform to network internally, in particular with more senior members of the practice. It provides valuable opportunities to understand career challenges faced by women and their experience and advice on overcoming such challenges.

Kate: WiN events have been of great benefit, from opportunities to network externally to learning from the experiences of others within the practice.  I have enjoyed the responsibility of organising Early WiN events and being able to contribute positively to the network. I am committed to establishing greater gender balance in the legal profession, especially within the senior levels and hope that in turn Early WiN can help achieve this aim.

Leonie’s work focusses on bribery, corruption and regulatory investigations, Nita’s practice areas are contentious construction, energy and transport work. Kate focusses on commercial litigation and contentious regulatory work, and is a Professional Ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors.