100 Years of Women in Law
14 June 2019
A hundred years ago. It’s close enough that you can hold a picture in your mind of what life might have been like, yet far enough removed that the reality is likely very different. There were tea bags and washing machines and cars. There were crossword puzzles, zips on trousers and, thanks to the invention of the bra, no more corsets.
There were no plasters, though. They came in in 1920. And sliced bread wasn’t a thing until 1928―the same year as full female suffrage (we can dispute which was the better innovation of the two).
The other big omission of course, was that women―although they could go to university to study law and had been doing so since Eliza Orme in 1888―couldn’t yet become lawyers.
Thankfully, that was about to change.
In December of this year, the UK marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act.
Stephenson Law is about to celebrate its second birthday. That decision a hundred years ago is the reason we get to do what we do now. We’re a predominantly female firm with a female founder and leadership team. It’s inconceivable that we would be doing this without the change in law, let alone being taken seriously.
We’re also a different kind of law firm. Our approach isn’t female-centric but it’s certainly driven by having more and more women in the workforce, recognising the way that society is changing and spotting an opportunity to turn the traditional law firm on its head.
We’ve built flexibility into our set-up from the very beginning, something that benefits everybody. Family and personal commitments are worked around the day job, and we’ve scrapped billable hours and the 9-5, trusting our team to manage their time.
We also like to think that we’ve removed a lot of the ego you get with traditional law firms, offering common sense support right at the heart of our clients’ businesses in a way that is truly service-driven.
A hundred years ago, the legal profession was just taking steps to become more inclusive. We’ve made huge progress since that time, yet firms like Stephenson Law are still the anomaly.
What will the next hundred years look like? Who knows, but we’re excited to be leading the charge.