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WIFL launches to support women family lawyers

Date:24 FEB 2020
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A professional support, networking and mentoring association dedicated to supporting women working in family law launches in March.

Women in Family Law (WIFL) will create a platform across the profession to unify all who practise in family law, from High Court judges, barristers and solicitors to paralegals and legal executive lawyers and all other practitioners. It is being founded by Hannah Markham QC, head of 36 Family, and launched with the support of Mrs Justice Judd, Vanessa Meachin QC, Katie Rayden and Simone McGrath (Vice Chair of WIFL).

Writing in Counsel’s March issue, Markham explains WIFL recognises that many supportive groups such as Resolution, the Family Law Bar Association and the Association of Lawyers for Children already exist, and hopes to work with such groups to ‘signpost our members to them and encourage active participation and engagement’.

‘A core component will be cross-professional support and guidance so that, through us, newly qualified solicitors from Carlisle to Bournemouth can get to know each other and support one another,’ Markham says.

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‘Our aim is to create a national mentoring scheme, taking guidance and learning from the impressive groups already in existence and sharing what works and what does not. I am delighted to share that a number of High Court judges and Senior Circuit judges have pledged their support to our mentoring scheme, along with women in senior roles across chambers and law firms.’

WIFL will also provide ‘a platform to challenge bias, to support those who feel financially excluded from the profession, and to develop networks of support in the office, courtroom and beyond.’

Its long-term aims include the promotion of women from all backgrounds to senior roles and to fund support to those less financially equipped to enter the profession. It intends to place a clear emphasis on wellbeing and mental health, will support women juggling responsibilities for children or parents (or both) and wants to ensure that women with disabilities feel able to take on roles they previously felt closed to them.

Markham says: ‘Our founding board celebrates who we want to be, and is comprised of senior and junior women from both the Bar and solicitors in practice; women of colour, women who have faced adversity, women who have battled mental health issues, and women who have achieved success through more unusual paths.’

Come along to WIFL’s launch party on Friday, 13 March at Gray’s Inn, which will be attended by Baroness Hale and Lady Justice King, or join its first event in north England in June (venue and date to be confirmed). Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/women-in-family-law-launch-event-tickets-90770969413.

To join WIFL or find out more, email membership@womeninfamilylaw.net. If you’re interested in providing mentorship, email mentors@womeninfamilylaw.net.