Girlings Solicitors and Girlings Personal Injury Claims are celebrating the #First100 years of the first equal opportunities legislation to enter the statute book, which has particular significance for the legal sector. We asked Sarah Finnis about her experiences.
Q1 What made you want to enter the legal profession?
When I left school at 18, I spent a year working at Girlings. Prior to that time I had never considered a career in law but thought it might be interesting and I have always been one for trying something new.
Q2 What was your first role in the legal profession?
As a paralegal at Girlings, I spent a year assisting a partner in the Family Law department and was absolutely hooked. During my time at University I worked at law centres and when I qualified in 1998, I knew that I definitely wanted to specialise in Family Law.
Q3 What is your specialist area and why did you choose this?
I chose to specialise in Family Law as I have a fundamental belief in fairness and desire to help people. I get great satisfaction from showing clients their options so that they can move forward to the next chapter in their lives.
Q4 A story which illustrates how things have changed in law firms during your career?
The biggest challenge I believe for all women, regardless of the sector they work in, is being recognised as still being committed to their career when working part time to raise a family. In my experience working parents or carers work incredibly efficiently and bring a wealth of experience and insight to the team.
Since the nineties, the culture in the legal sector generally has become far less formal and in particular the dress code is now far more relaxed. I think this is a good thing. I’d like to think the profession has become more inclusive but I am sure we could still do more.
In Family Law over the last ten years I have seen the development of Collaborative Family Law which I see as a positive way of achieving a more amicable resolution of family conflict which supports the family as a whole.
Q5 Who inspires you and why?
My clients inspire me.
Q6 What advice would you give to young females who wish to follow a career in the legal industry?
My advice to young women who wish to follow a career in law is to be confident and importantly to be a team player.
Q7 What is your proudest achievement and why?
My proudest achievement has to be passing my driving test at 17. It was a seminal moment for me as I was the first in my friendship group to pass and I am quite competitive! I can still remember the feeling of control and sense of freedom it gave me.
Q8 How do you maintain your work/life balance?
The work/life balance is a constant juggling of plates. Luckily, I have always been good at compartmentalising and giving total concentration to whatever situation I am in. We all need to try to achieve a balance, I am not sure I always achieve it but I enjoy trying!
Please read Reliance on information posted in our Terms of Website Use - see Legal section - before relying on this commentary.