Celebrating International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day

8th March 2022

We’re celebrating all of our female team members (which make up over 80% of our team!!) here at BTTJ today on International Women’s Day, each & every one does a fantastic job!

As a firm lead by a female Senior Partner, we are proud to have such a diverse workforce.

Image of Samantha Wright - Senior Partner, Commercial

Samantha Wright, Senior Partner states Our business first started here in Coventry 224 years ago.  It is fascinating to think of the progress that has occurred during that time and even in my own working lifetime I can see some huge changes that have occurred – for the better. When I was first an Articled Clerk it was an express term of the contract that women could not wear trousers to work; it was ‘suggested’ I used my middle name (Jane) because “Samantha” was common and that I should cut and dye my hair because everyone would assume I wasn’t very bright. Those who know me well can imagine my response to those ‘suggestions’ and so my hair remained long, and my name stayed the same. Anyway, I personally rather enjoyed the surprise on others’ faces when they realised the error of their judgement based solely on a hairstyle… Today I’m as keen as ever that we don’t let negativity and stereotypes dictate our future.

Just over one hundred years ago women were not allowed to qualify as solicitors – the law changed in 1919. Now a girl from Gosport, who went to the local comprehensive, can be the Senior Partner, and the majority of our fee earners and staff are female. I am keen to keep embracing the challenges and changes.”

We’ve also done some Q&A sessions with just a handful of our female team members:

Kate Booth, Head of Family

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? I was interested in the law from a young age. My father is a solicitor. When I was a child, I would sometimes go with him to his office at the weekend. I remember sitting at a desk pretending to be doing “very important work” (in reality playing with a typewriter and singing songs into a Dictaphone!). I studied law at university and was fortunate to undertake a vocational degree which involved a year in practice at a law firm.  This gave me practical experience in a number of areas of law and helped me to decide at an early stage in my career that I wanted to specialise in family law.

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? I deal with family law matters such as divorce, financial settlements, child arrangements and issues relating to cohabitees.  Family law is a really varied area and no two days – or cases – are ever the same.  

What do you like doing in your spare time? I have a young family who keep me busy. I can often be found helping them to make various costumes and creations with little more than a cardboard box and a glue gun!  The pandemic has made me appreciate the importance of spending time with close friends who inspire and support me – and who make a decent cup of tea!    

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? I find it rewarding to help clients at what can be a really difficult time in their lives.  It is satisfying to be able to work with clients to reach a resolution that will empower them to move on to a new chapter. 

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? Women have only been able to practice as lawyers for a little over a century; now according to the Law Society over half of practising solicitors are women. I am proud to be part of that number. It is inspiring to see in recent years a number of women who I have worked alongside – both solicitors and barristers – become judges in the Family Court. They bring an inclusive, more representativeapproach. Recently my daughter – when dressing up for a “what you want to be when you grow up” event, chose to go dressed as me (complete with laptop and coffee cup!). I hope I can continue to inspire my children to follow their dreams and achieve whatever they set their minds to.   

Image of Angela Mulgrew - Legal Executive, Conveyancing

Angela Mulgrew, Head of Residential Conveyancing

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? I started off as a legal secretary and decided it was something that I wanted to achieve

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? Conveyancing

What do you like doing in your spare time? Walking, eating out and reading

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? Building up relationships with clients and providing the best client care possible.

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? Significantly changed.  It was a very male dominated environment in the 80s when I first joined a law

Image of Helen Strong - Head of Private Client

Helen Strong, Lead Solicitor, Private Client

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? After finishing my first degree, I was living with a person who was at the college of law and working in retail as a graduate management trainee and she asked me to help with her applications to solicitors’ firms for what was then called “Articles”, now known as a training contract.  I got interested in what she was doing, found out more, did some work experience and then decided I would enjoy working in an environment that was intellectually challenging and where you could help and work with people.

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? Preparing wills, helping executors with administering estates after people have died, estate planning, inheritance tax, trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney. This area of work is often called “Private Client”. I also supervise the other members of the team, training them and helping them with technical issues and queries.

What do you like doing in your spare time? Spending time with my family, walking, listening to music, reading and knitting!

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? Helping my clients and always meeting lots of new people.

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? Well, on my very first day as a trainee solicitor, the partner I was supposed to be sitting with for my first bit of training told me that he didn’t think women should be lawyers and should be staying at home looking after children! Needless to say, when I mentioned this to someone else at the firm, they moved me to sit with his female assistant. I am glad to say that these attitudes, that to be honest were quite rare, have changed.  Since I have been practising, there have always been a lot of women in the legal profession, but many more are now reaching more senior positions such as managing or senior partners or being appointed as judges, which is very good news indeed.

Kerry Hudson, Solicitor, Personal Injury & Employment

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? Being able to help people who were facing problems- which has led me on to dealing with lots of contentious work!

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? Personal Injury and Employment Law

What do you like doing in your spare time? Spending time with my children

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? Being able to give practical advice to help find a way through what might seem at times a daunting situation, and the best bit is when a difficult case is won which goes some way towards putting right a wrong.

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? In a way I don’t think the role of women has changed, but the recognition they get has.

Kate Weston, Conveyancing Solicitor

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? I did A-level law and loved it, had an inspirational teacher who used to be in practice which inspired me to do a Law Degree. After a brief spell in recruitment post University, I found a training contract and the rest they say is history. I also married a barrister and nearly went to the dark side (the Bar) but decided to stick with being a solicitor in the end!

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? All aspects of Residential Conveyancing. I also run our Balsall Common office.

What do you like doing in your spare time? I like spending time with my children (usually at the side of a football/rugby pitch or by a swimming pool).  I also like to socialise with friends, read, walk my dogs and cook up a storm in the kitchen when time allows

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? No day is the same and the people – I’m really lucky to have a lot of loyal lovely clients

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? I think the role of women in the law hasn’t changed – a lot of us still juggle family with career and the profession hasn’t been that sympathetic to that in the past. I think the whole world’s attitude to work/life balance has shifted post covid and it’s now more acceptable for women (and men) to work from home and try achieving that illusive balance whilst still being taken seriously at work.  The legal profession is slowly being dragged into the 21st Century, but in terms of salary and career progression for women in law I do think the legal profession still has a way to go.

Katie Nightingale, Private Client Solicitor

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? My career as a lawyer started in Upper School when we completed a Careers Week.  At the end of the week we were asked to complete a questionnaire based on our likes and dislikes, our personality, and our future aspirations.  The questionnaire then produced an ideal job role and mine was a Solicitor.  After this I completed various work experiences in the holidays at different types of law firms, the Magistrates Court, the Crown Court, and the Police Station.

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm / your areas of law? I am a Private Client lawyer.  I advise individuals on the preparation of Wills, inheritance tax and succession planning, care home fee considerations, Lasting Powers of Attorneys and also assisting families and beneficiaries with loved one’s estates when they have passed away. I am based at our Southam office.

What do you like doing in your spare time? In my spare time you will find me in the gym or renovating my new house.  My weekends are spent with my nearest and dearest, and my niece and nephew.  I love the theatre and the ballet and take every opportunity to spend a day in London with my mum having a bite to eat and watching a show.

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? My clients.  Hands down the best part of my job in Private Client is the people I get to meet day in day out.  Every single client is individual, they have a new story to tell, or a new joke to brighten up my day.  I thoroughly enjoy spending the time getting to know my clients and listening to their wise words.  I pride myself on building relationships.

How do you think the role of women in the legal profession has changed since you started your career? In all honestly, having been working in the legal profession for the last 10 years there haven’t been any changes for women.  I have never felt this has been an obstacle and I have never felt I haven’t had an opportunity because I am female.

Lauren Robinson, Legal Apprentice

What attracted you to becoming a lawyer? I have had an interest in the profession for a very long time. I can remember telling people around the age of 13/14 I was going to become a lawyer. I am not entirely sure what the attraction was at that time, it probably stemmed from tv programmes, but I have always loved the idea of helping people and the law always fascinated me.

What it is exactly you deal with in the firm/ your areas of law? I currently deal with a wide variety of areas – residential landlord and tenant, debt recovery, general dispute resolution matters as well as assisting in private client. The work I do is also very varied.

What do you like doing in your spare time? In my spare time (when I am not studying which seems to be all the time at the moment – downside of being an apprentice!) I love socialising with friends and family, traveling to new places and creating creative makeup looks.

Favourite thing about working in the legal profession? My favourite thing about working in the legal profession is learning something new every single day, every day really is a school day here! It is also a very rewarding profession to work in.