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Women in law: Paralegal to trainee solicitor

View profile for Cara O'Donoghue
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Cara O’Donoghue, a trainee solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate team is currently in her second seat in her training contract. Throughout her years of studying, working as a paralegal, and now close to qualifying, she tells us about her journey.

When did you start your career in law?

I began my career in law as a paralegal in the Commercial Property team at Birkett Long LLP.

What made you want to become a lawyer?  

I always had a keen interest in law; I love how there are so many different areas which can be pursued, and how vast these areas can be.

What changes have you seen within your career?

The most significant change I have noticed is that there are a lot more women commencing careers in law. In fact, it could be argued that there are more women than men beginning careers in law these days. Birkett Long LLP has nearly 70% female employees now.

How do you feel it has been to progress within your career?

I feel that progressing in my career has not been an issue, especially at Birkett Long LLP. I started my undergraduate degree in September 2012 and will be qualifying as a solicitor in March 2020.

What have you found to be the most surprising thing about academic life?

The amount of women studying law at university in comparison to men; I would say that my undergraduate class was 80% women.

Do you feel the history side of this is interesting?

(In 1888 Eliza Orme was the first woman to gain a law degree. It was only in 1919 when the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act came into force that four women with first class degrees from Cambridge were allowed to pass their law exams and become lawyers.)

The history of women in law is very interesting. Especially, when bearing in mind, that historical women needed to overcome numerous boundaries and struggles to pursue a career in law. Without these women, a career in law for women would not be as accessible.

Do you think enough has changed in the last 100 years – what has stood out to you most?

Based on the points mentioned above, I think that so much has changed in the last 100 years. What has stood out to me the most is the significant increase in the amount of women that are partners/equity partners at law firms.

Cara is based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217311 or