International Women’s Day 2024 – interview with Kate James

    International Women’s Day 2024 – interview with Kate James

    What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

    International Women’s Day allows me a moment to reflect on the many ways that women have influenced the course of history, and how their drive and tenacity is really influenced our workforce and our economy.

    Just recently I found a book that belonged to my great-grandmother who studied physiology at the University of Durham – I found this immensely inspiring, the book dated back to 1904 – it makes me very proud that my great-great grandparents enabled her to progress her studies and I think we all have a sense of duty not to forget the sacrifices of the past.


    Have you seen a marked change in how women are perceived in the legal industry since you started your career?

    I am proud to say that I think Porter Dodson has always been progressive and when I first joined the partnership there were a number of female partners. I have never felt held back because of my gender – at times it has been difficult juggling the demands of managing a career with a husband in the Royal Marines and two small children and I can see how for many this would have made career progression impossible. The firm has tried to embrace flexible working and since the pandemic this is more apparent. I am lucky to have a very supportive family and unwavering support from my husband.


    Do you feel there are enough opportunities for women to progress to the very top in the legal sector?

    More and more, there are opportunities for women in the legal profession – at a recent networking event of Managing Partners in the Exeter area I was not surprised to see an almost exact gender balance. I still believe women face challenges and I can only hope that other firms are as progressive as Porter Dodson.


    What advice would you give to younger women starting out their legal careers today, and what can we do to encourage these women to become future leaders?

    Young women entering the legal profession should not be deterred by the challenge of juggling work and life - I am so pleased that hybrid working and more flexible working arrangements have enabled women to combine a family with a professional career. I appreciate that leadership is not however for everyone - qualifying into the legal profession is an accomplishment in itself, but if you want leadership then you should absolutely go for it!


    As Managing Partner, how proud are you of Porter Dodson’s progression over the last 25 years when it comes to equal opportunities for all?

    I am immensely proud of the progress Porter Dodson has made. Whilst the support has always been there, when I first joined it was difficult as things like flexible and hybrid working were such an unknown entity – my children still tease me about putting them into holiday club on their birthday (I hasten to say, I didn’t). At times I felt guilty being the first one at drop off and the last one at pick up; I missed school sports and plays. Where we have seen the biggest change over the last 25 years is the shift from support for working females, to support for working parents.

    I am adamant that that level of compromise shouldn’t happen anymore, and this firm is at the forefront of ensuring you can be a parent and a good lawyer – and you can be good at both. Porter Dodson has been on a journey – and one I am proud to be part of.

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