How can law firms retain female lawyers?

March 29, 2023
Pania Charalambous


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Ironically enough, justice is personified by Lady Justice, whose statue is outside the courts in many countries, and yet women’s representation in the legal profession, especially the judiciary, is an ongoing issue. I do not think there is a lawyer who has not encountered or noticed in their career the lack of women representation.

Throughout my career I have always worked with and been mentored by senior male lawyers. Most of my clients at senior positions are male and so are most of the senior lawyers on the other side of transactions I work on. Although the number of women lawyers has increased, women representation in senior positions is still lagging behind.

This trend equally applies in business, though I have noticed that in the last 3-4 years there are more start-ups led by women and entrepreneurs have started to embrace hiring female advisors. What I find most encouraging, and inspiring is that most of my female clients who have taken the leap of faith to set up their own business in London are young mothers of various ethnic backgrounds. I am hopeful this is a trend that will persist at a bigger scale.

One key concern in the legal sector is female retention. At the most productive stage of their career women often decide (or are “forced”) to leave the industry for various reasons. Key reasons are the long hours, unpredictable schedule, pay disparities and hyper-competitive environments that erode collegiality.

The gunnercooke model provides its employees the flexibility that they need in their lives to support their partners, empowering us to design, plan and control our work with less compromises.

This is exactly what I need at this stage of my life. With the arrival of our first baby my husband and I relocated to another country and largely embraced working remotely. gunnercooke has given me access to a fantastic network of partners and colleagues around the world and the opportunity to work on my own terms that work for my family. This means I can work at times and in places that suit me.

This framework not only facilitates and supports my working model but importantly it inspires and incentivises me to work hard, grow my practice and fulfil my aspirations. The gunnercooke model not only wins the battle against the problem of female retention but it also supports women who wish to return to the profession.

Pania Charalambous is a Corporate & Commercial Partner with dual qualifications in Cyprus and England and Wales. She has a particular focus on M&A, disposals and joint ventures. You can contact her here.

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