The women-led law firm that lets
partners be parents
A leading law firm has announced a ground-breaking move that will see its practice becoming female-led for the first time in its 113 year history.
From next month, the Ipswich-based firm Prettys will have five women partners after promotions for two key members of the team and a further external appointment. Prettys currently has three male partners.
The pioneering move comes as the legal profession celebrates 100 years since women were first allowed to practise law. While women now play a bigger role in legal practices in 2019, only 18% of partners at the UK’s biggest firms are women*.
The breakthrough at Prettys comes as a result of the talent and dedication of their female lawyers – many of them working mothers - helped by the firm’s commitment to more flexible working for all staff, said CEO Ian Carr, 62.
“We have a great pool of talent and those who have the ability and want to make the commitment are helped to become the best they can be,” he explained.
“At Prettys we allow people to work flexible hours and work from home. This helps our employees ease themselves back into work after maternity leave.
“Having a family is challenging and the traditional model of women having to take time away from the business can impact on progression in the field.”
The three women being made partners in April are Georgina Rayment, Vanessa Bell and Emma Woollard.
Georgina, 41, joined Prettys in 1999 as a full-time secretary, while also training to become a solicitor. She is the current head of the firm’s family team and said she was delighted to become a partner.
Explaining how Prettys had encouraged her career, she said: “There has long been an open-door policy with a genuine desire for committed staff to improve and progress.
“I have never felt that there was a ‘glass ceiling’ that limited my ambitions and I am pleased this will continue for future prospective female partners.”
Vanessa, 37, joined the firm in 2014 and will become head of the employment services team, advising public and private sector clients on all aspects of the employment relationship, from handling grievances and disciplinary matters to carrying out large-scale reorganisations by way of example, with other services including defending Tribunal claims and conducting workplace investigations.
She said: “I think having a number of female partners in the firm is a really powerful and encouraging message to our female staff that, irrespective of gender, the firm recognises and rewards talent. There are no barriers in place to achieve partnership as a female.”
Emma, 46, who joins the Prettys team on April 1, is a trusts and estates solicitor with twenty years’ experience.
As a parent, she explained the challenges this role can entail: “Juggling a World Book Day costume at less than a days’ notice, organising a cake sale and remembering the school trip consent slip prepares you for any stressful client matter, a deadline or a tricky bit of drafting!”
The three will be joining long-serving Prettys staff Georgie Hall – who becomes a full equity partner from April 1 – and Zöe Hodge, partner and head of estates.
Georgie, 57, has been with the firm for 27 years. She is head of Private Client, covering cases relating to the breakdown of relationships including finances, asset division and children matters.
Renowned in the industry for her quality of client care, Georgie says gender equality can help bring complementary skills to the table: “There can be a mix of risk-taking, attention to detail, networking and strong financial governance when there is a good gender mix.”
Zöe, 41, who became a partner in 2013, said the firm supported her and helped her with more flexible working hours when she became a single parent after having her third child.
“I struggled with working hours and child care after my pregnancies but the firm was extremely flexible and amazing in their support to me,” she said.
“There are a lot of excellent female professionals who are discriminated against due to having a family, but I’m proud to say this isn’t the case at Prettys. Our pay structure is clear and transparent and there is no difference between men and women.”
Ian Carr concluded by saying “We have a great pool of talent at Prettys who work really hard to achieve our goals. In return we create a flexible, rewarding and fun environment within which to work. Those who make the most of their talents whatever gender are those who will be most successful within our organisation. Transparency in pay and performance are key elements to deliver this.”
For more information on Prettys, get in touch by calling 01473 232121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.