Inspirational Women in Law: Elizabeth Joyce
The Women Lawyers Division at the Law Society supports and advises all women solicitors and aspiring women solicitors, from trainees to retirees and are dedicated to meeting the needs of their women solicitors.
Providing an opportunity for women solicitors to have their voices heard, their members work in private practice, and in-house within corporate, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
We will hear from women who are members of the Division, how it has helped them through their journey in law, as well as insightful nuggets of advice.
Elizabeth graduated in law from Trinity College, Dublin and after qualifying in Ireland, was admitted to practise in England. Since 1999, she has mainly worked part-time and works three days a week as deputy general counsel for Lucy Group Ltd in Oxford (www.lucygroup.com). How does she manage a legal role part-time? Read below to find out.
Some women working part-time may fall into the trap of working full-time hours in a part-time capacity and are only paid for their part-time hours. How do you manage your time to ensure this doesn’t happen?
I can honestly say this has not been an issue for me. With my wide-ranging experience, I believe that I am good value costing less than a full-time worker and I work intensely during my working days. However, it is key to be flexible and I can change my days or work additional paid days to fit in with deadlines and schedules; being organised is essential.
Have you found you have to work harder to ‘prove yourself’ as a part-time lawyer?
You have to be very productive during your working days but a happy worker is a productive worker. I think it is important not to apologise or be defensive about working part-time.
How do you spend your time out of the office?
As Vice Chair of the Law Society’s Women Lawyer Division working part-time allows more time for meetings and helping with the Law Society’s Recharger Course for lawyers (usually women) seeking to return to the law or changing direction. I am also a trustee of a Charity. Both of these roles have developed my soft skills. I also enjoy catching up with friends and family, trying to get fit and shopping for my new home.
What is your favourite aspect of practising law?
As an in-house lawyer, the work is hugely varied and there is always an opportunity to learn something new.
Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team when the business achieves its goals is most rewarding; one stand-out moment was being part of the team when De La Rue plc was awarded the British passport contract in 2009 and attending the signing ceremony with the Managing Director.
What is your least favourite aspect?
Being asked to approve deals without having the necessary information and having to find it.
When did you realise being in-house counsel was the role for you?
From the first time I worked as an in-house lawyer I have relished the variety. You can be working on large transactions such as M&A or working out if a contract has been formed. As you are an available resource colleagues feel they can ask you anything which often requires going back to basics.
Three tips for aspiring lawyers?
1) Develop your emotional intelligence as AI is changing the way law is practised 2) Learn to prioritise and manage expectations 3) Be flexible