Book review: Talking Law, a Women in the Law UK Book

By Sally Penni

Independently published (March 2020), ISBN 979-8603267661, Paperback (295 pages)

Reviewed by David Wurtzel


2019 was the centenary of women being admitted to the legal profession. But even as we celebrated, we understood that the goal of equality on the bench and with practitioners is more than a numbers game. It requires a change in attitudes and work practices to allow men and women to be true equals in the law. This book comes from Women in the Law UK, a networking organisation which aims to encourage, inspire and support women in the legal profession.

Introduced by Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE, most of the book consists of a series of interview questions answered by dozens of women – and men – who range from a pupil to the former President of the Supreme Court. Some of these are barristers, but most are not. They cover the range of all the areas where women contribute to the law – solicitors with a number of specialisms and who are in-house lawyers or in firms, managing clerks, trainers, the first black President of the Law Society, and both partners and sole practitioners.

The respondents talk about their working lives, how they got to where they are, how they have worked to be where they can contribute most, and also their personal lives. The latter have been balanced with work, but not always in the same way. Finally, they are asked for their inspirational tips. There are a lot of these but there is no attempt to draw them together. This is wise. Readers will come to this book from different angles, but they should all find something which chimes with the challenges they individually face. It is noteworthy how many of the contributors came from backgrounds which a few decades ago one would not have associated with ‘lawyer’.

Anyone who has thought that they suffer from imposter syndrome should read this because the truth is that they really do belong in the profession.

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David Wurtzel

David practised at the criminal Bar for 27 years and is a door tenant at 18 Red Lion Court. Prior to his retirement, he was a consultant in the CPD department at City Law School and consultant editor of Counsel. David is a member of the Counsel Editorial Board.