Pioneering legal firm continues to promote women

Stephanie Zak, Partner, Commercial Law, Balfour + Manson, addressing the recent Female Lawyers Event organised by Balfour+Manson to celebrate International Women’s Day

BALFOUR+Manson, the first Scottish legal firm to name a woman as a partner, held an inspiring event for female lawyers following in her footsteps to mark International Women’s Day 2020.

Ethel Houston was named as a Partner back in 1949 – and more than 70 years later, Balfour+Manson is honouring her memory as the largest Scottish law firm with a majority of female Partners.

To celebrate #IWD2020, Elaine Motion – the firm’s Chairman (and until recently, Executive Chairman) talked about her own pioneering work in leading two significant legal cases around Brexit. Mrs Motion was the solicitor instructed in the Wightman case, which saw the European Court of Justice rule that the UK could overturn Article 50 unilaterally – and in the Cherry case, which led to the UK Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of  the UK Parliament in 2019 was unlawful.

She told the wide range of professional women gathered for the #IWD2020 event  what it was like to be part of an all-female team at Balfour+Manson that had made constitutional law sexy again!

Talking about what #EachforEqual meant to the firm, Mrs Motion said: “Balfour+Manson is  all about equality. Everyone celebrates successes, regardless of gender or anything else. Instead of fighting with one another, we work together to succeed. We are proud of Ethel Houston and our balanced partnership, but promotions are based on talent and nothing else.”

Stephanie Zak, Commercial Property Law Partner, spoke about her role as the Corporate Social Responsibility head at the firm and invited attendees to give her ideas on how the firm could do even more in the local community.

A Question & Answer session focused on Balfour+Manson’s compassionate approach to HR, the positive power of mentoring young lawyers, the family feel of the firm (which dates back to 1888) and the need to continue inspiring women to pursue a career in law.  One guest commented on previous work with Balfour+Manson which saw an all-female team attend a judicial review, something that probably wouldn’t have happened even a decade ago.

Afterwards, Elaine Motion said: “I loved the event. It was a truly fitting celebration of #IWD2020 with a wide range of very talented women of all ages and backgrounds, coming together to share conversation about a range of modern-day challenges – and to look forward optimistically. We will discuss making this kind of event more regular to create a supportive and enjoyable network for professional women.”

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