Telling stories & planning a series…

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We’re telling tales …

June was mostly about story telling. Beginning with us writing up the stories of the twenty-six candidates we’re putting forward to our new member firms for consideration as part of the next Reignite Academy programme, which will run September 2019 to March 2020.

Why stories and not CVs? Well, the CV is there as well but our candidates have had such interesting journeys since they left private practice that it’s only by understanding and telling their stories that the wealth of their experience comes to life. We are very excited about hearing the reactions from member firms and organising interviews as we move into the next phase of the process.

And talking of stories, we had a wonderful evening at Macfarlanes earlier this month, celebrating our joint HR in Law awards and hearing from the people involved in the pilot programme. Melinda, Stephanie and Lisa did very short introductions but most of the time was spent hearing from the Reignite Associates and the partners they are working for.

Hearing them answer questions like:

Q. “How did the young associates react?” (to having you older people on the team was the unspoken bit) A.“Universally positive.”

Q.“What prompted you as a partner to take a Reignite associate onto the team?” A.“We can’t afford to miss out on great talent.”

Q. “How difficult was it getting back up to speed after a long time away from the law?” A. “Surprisingly easy – I didn’t have to catch up on 17 years of changes, it was just about getting back up to speed with where the law is now.”

Despite awful weather – it poured with rain all day – not only did we have great attendance, the first cohort of Reigniters presented us with flowers!

Speaking of member firms, we were thrilled to have Brenda Trenowden, Global Chair of the 30% Club, at the bootcamp for interested candidates held on 7th June at PwC.

Brenda recently joined the firm as a partner in their People and Organisation team. She told the story of how she persuaded a woman she’d met at the school gates, who was, at the time, a full time mum, to return to work with her in a quasi PA-type role. After some reluctance and the usual fretting about “being out of it”, the woman agreed and now, ten years later, has a very senior position at the bank.

We’re planning a series of thought leadership and networking events in the Autumn. One of those in the schedule will look at how to make agile working work in a law firm environment. Brenda will be on the panel – so, look out for more information on invitations. We’ll share the details in our newsletters and Facebook Group.

The Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) grants certification to firms that meet standards around the number of women in their ranks as equity partners, in leadership roles or amongst their most highly compensated partners.

Melinda is their ambassador in London and was heavily involved in their inaugural awards for UK firms meeting their certification criteria.

Click the logo below to read more.

“Women are stuck in development and coaching programmes while the men get the jobs.”

That’s a quote from the brilliant “What Works” by Harvard professor Iris Bohnet. How much attention is paid to work allocation within law firms? Is there a system or do partners pick the associates they are comfortable with.

This piece in the lawyer talks about how blind allocation can help overcome bias and provide better experience for everyone – click on the logo below to read more.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who made an appearance in our last newsletter, topped the bill at a recent a TEDx event – delivering a talk entitled – The Law is Male. A powerful piece discussing the impact the world over, when the law lacks female experiences, perspectives and expertise. Click below to watch her piece at TedxGlasgow.

This month’s meet the team features Rebecca Hayes, one of our pilot cohort who has accepted a permanent role in the Employment team at CMS.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you were doing before the Reignite Academy came along. I am an employment lawyer. I trained at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert before moving to Linklaters at 3 years qualified. I worked as a Managing Associate at Linklaters, returning after both of my maternity leaves. Shortly after returning from my second maternity leave I decided to take a career break and retrain as an interior designer. I wanted to try something completely different and work around my young family. After retraining at KLC design school, I set up and ran my own interior design practice.
  • What made you decide to return to private practice. If it had not been for Reignite I would not have returned to private practice: I did not think that it was an option for me, given the length of time I had been out of it. However, I believe that it is the best place to upskill and retrain if you have had a significant career break, because of the training opportunities, ability to learn from others and opportunities to broaden your network. CMS have been amazing and I can not thank the Employment Team enough for giving me the opportunity.
  • What are you enjoying the most? Regaining financial independence, being intellectually challenged and working in a corporate environment.
  • What’s been the most surprising/challenging thing about being back? I have been surprised by how it is much more acceptable to work in a more agile and flexible way. The most challenging element is simply time pressure. Juggling family and work life is definitely a challenge, even though my children are older.
  • What advice would you give to anyone thinking about returning to private practice.? Go for it! It will be a challenge, but so, so rewarding. I’m gradually beginning to feel like the old me.
  • Best box set/book/film recommendation. Box set: Pose (I’ve watched it twice). Book: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Film: Has to be Grease!

And last but not least, we have a new page on our website – ‘News and Insights’ – where you can find our latest pontifications on all matters women, careers, the legal profession and anything else that comes to mind.

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