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Women in law: Progression to Partner

View profile for Julie Temple
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Julie Temple, Partner and Head of BLHR and Employment team at Birkett Long, tells us about her career in law, what has changed, and what needs to continue.

When did you start your career in law?

My career in law began when I started at Birkett Long in September 2000 as a trainee solicitor, although I had been working towards this career throughout secondary school and my first work experience.

What made you want to become a lawyer?

Becoming a lawyer just appealed to me. I grew up watching the likes of LA Law, although I knew from my first work experience that real life was nothing like what you see on TV, but I still wanted to do it.

What changes have you seen within your career?

At the beginning of my career, the use of technology was very different. We all had computers but correspondence was by letter, fax or memo, and email didn’t really exist. Employment law has also grown substantially. My first employment legislation book was probably half the size of the current one.

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

I have really enjoyed developing as a person and a solicitor. Every day presents a new challenge, whether for me or my clients, and rising to it is great.

Do you feel the history side of this 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.)

I greatly value the sacrifices and efforts of our predecessors, but the important thing for me is what we do now to build upon these efforts and continue to make a real difference. It saddens me that we still talk about peoples’ successes within the context of male or female. Especially when women’s’ successes are discussed in the context of a wife, mum, or full/part time. It really shouldn’t matter - although it does.  

Do you think enough has changed in the last 100 years – what other changes would you like see?

I don’t think enough has changed over the last 100 years, and as I have said above, we need to continue to build on the successes of the past.

Julie is based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217318 or julie.temple@birkettlong.co.uk.

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