Breaking the glass ceiling for Women in Law

Front and centre of the Legal Geek conference 2017 was the Women in Law Tech panel featuring Somya Kaushik, the CEO of EsqMe; Katherine Ainley, the CEO of Tikit, Christina Blacklaws, the Director of Innovation at Cripps LLP, and Dana Denis-Smith, the CEO of Obelisk.

The debate, moderated by ITV’s Barry Matthews, set an up-beat and disruptive tone for the rest of the day’s speakers.

During the panel, Katherine Ainley, the CEO of the legal software solutions provider Tikit who sponsor Legal Geek’s Women in Law Tech Meetups, raised the issue of combatting unconscious bias – a matter which Blacklaws also felt strongly about telling the panel that “unconscious bias is the biggest issue.” On the sidelines of the conference, we decided to delve a little deeper to ask Christina Blacklaws a little more about women in the judiciary and overturning unconscious bias.

During the panel, Blacklaws had told a packed audience that out of 43 European countries, the UK ranks 42nd for women in the judiciary. And she added the following to Legal Geek:

“When it comes to the judiciary it is really clear that we (the UK) are behind other European nations. And in some ways the judiciary represents the highest echelons of the legal world, so it’s really important.

“I don’t think women need preferential treatment but we can achieve a level playing field.”

Blacklaws also stated to the panel that “unconscious bias is the biggest issue.”

Adding to that afterwards, she commented:

“we are all biased so the only way forward is to raise awareness of that and to always try and think ‘what am I basing my decisions on?’

“In life the stellar candidates will always rise to the top. But we will have true equality when the average hard-working woman is viewed equally with the average hard-working man.”

“I really believe in the concept of lift-as-you-climb and women and men can both be mentors for women climbing the ladder in law.

“The pace of change in the UK may be glacial but progress is achievable. Look at France, in 2011 a law was introduced stipulating that the boards of large companies must have 40% female representation by 2017. With that law coming into play this year, they are on the way to achieving this target.”

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