International Women’s Day – A chat with Sarah Jackson
To mark International Women’s Day 2021, we chatted to some of our female partners to find out what challenge they have faced as females in the legal profession and ask them who and what has influenced them most in their personal and professional lives.
Our first chat is with Sarah Jackson, Partner – Commercial Litigation. This is what she has to share…
Who is your most significant female role model and what have they taught you?
Every woman I look up to who’s careers have really flown have seemed to work much, much harder than anyone else and juggled their home life/kids as well.
What has been you greatest challenge as a woman in the legal profession?
Before March 2020 I would have said working part time whilst everyone else is in work full time. You feel like you stick out like a sore thumb when you are coming in late / leaving early but no-one notices the nights that you work late, or the days you start early. Now I will say that home schooling two primary aged children whilst working has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.
What do you think is the most effective thing IBB does to support female lawyers?
Enabling us to work part time / remotely / from home. Nowadays people do not generally bat an eyelid, which is an enormous change over the last decade.
What is the best initiative you have come across that is designed to support and advance woman in the legal profession?
I’ve yet to find one – let me know when you do. Typically I work on the principle that I should reach down and pull up those behind you as there is some safety in numbers. If the only women at the top are the ones that have chosen or found themselves through circumstance not having children, or the ones that have completely outsourced their kids, then they are often less sympathetic to those of us who try to manage to juggle kids/work. So have ones at the top that have juggled and know what it is like to rush home and be late for collection every day and then have to make tea, do bedtime and then re-open the lap top. Who can show that it is possible to juggle with some understanding and trust. The ones that will say yes it is hard but hang in there it does get better. So the best initiative would be to enable and empower people to balance their home life whilst allowing them to flourish at work. By having trust in your employees you can allow them to manage their work and time to suit them and the business so they don’t feel bad by trying to juggle the impossible juggle of home/work/life/kids. Saying you do is not enough we need to show that we do that too and a year of Lockdown should have showed us that it can be done.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Be kind to yourself.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out?
Be kind to yourself and others, make friends at the bar and with other professionals they are your future source of business. Linked In is a great resource – but it does take years. Charm goes a long way. You can’t have it all, all the time, so choose what is important. Exercise more and do more yoga. Marry a man that will share the home side of things equally.
What are you most proud of in your career to date.
Define your ‘superpower’ and tell us what actual superpower you would choose if you could?
Making marmalade – Plate spinning as I’ve got pretty good at that over the last 12 months (or maybe juggling would be a better meme?)
What is the one key issue that you would ‘Choose to Challenge’ ?
Presenteeism is a load of old hogwash and is only there to make the people at the top feel comfortable in all they survey.