Stephanie is a solicitor and the firm’s business development manager, based at Regent Circus, Swindon. Having qualified in 2000, she spent 12 years in practice as a litigation lawyer and team manager before moving into her current role at Bower & Bailey.
Stephanie is a true ambassador for her firm and for the legal profession. When she is not exploring new business opportunities for Bower & Bailey, she’s busy networking and is a member of a number of regional associations including Swindon Women in Property, Bristol Women Lawyers Divison and Switch On to Swindon as an ambassador. Until recently she was a committee member of UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (Oxfordshire) and Bristol Law Society Council.
How has the legal profession changed since you qualified in 2000?
Looking back as a solicitor there has been major change on two levels; technology and networking expectations. I have seen a technological revolution in the way lawyers work. Now everything is online with portals for dealing with the Ministry of Justice or the Land Registry. When I started it was all paper based with documents actually sent by post. But it is not just speed, technology means we can have a much improved interaction with our clients, responding better to their questions and keeping them in touch. But in many ways the changes mean that the role of a solicitor, which has always been demanding is now even more high-pressured. Now that everyone has a computer, we do many tasks ourselves. Inevitably we are smarter with our business technology. Digital dictation has replaced typing pools. And, with the help of a case management system fee earners are a lot more self-sufficient than they were previously.
One change I have particularly seen is that junior lawyers now need to be more focussed on networking and establishing their contacts. It is not just partners that are building relationships, everyone must network and bring new business in. This is evident in the vibrant business community in Swindon which I have been proud to be part of for the past six years.
Ours is a relationship business. The successful legal firms of the future will be the ones that recognise and nurture the power of networks and then ensure that all staff and colleagues can best collaborate in the interests of their hard won clients.
We have a customer first, digital first approach which delivers tangible benefits that clients’ value and recommend strongly.
As a woman in the legal profession, would you recommend the life of a solicitor to a young student?
I would definitely recommend a legal career to an ambitious young student. There are great opportunities for women within the legal profession. It’s possible to thrive in a positive flexible working environment and to maintain a healthy work / life balance.
One of the main strengths and benefits of our profession is the variety of roles available. Through the Women Lawyers Division, I meet many women who have had varied careers within law. Be it as employees or partners in large or small firms, or University Lecturers, PSL, roles in-house or for the Police, the CPS or the Government. Speaking as a solicitor, I certainly believe that there is no doubt that your career path can be adapted depending on the stage of your career and your other commitments. Flexible hours and part time work are encouraged at an increasing number of firms and taken up by many solicitors for a variety of personal reasons. For example, having previously worked full time I currently work three days a week for a very flexible firm. I am proud to have maintained my career whilst raising a family, as are many of my peers. Bower and Bailey are a progressive and forward thinking organisation that values collaboration and puts relationship building front and centre.
Visit Bower & Bailey online at www.bowerandbailey.co.uk and follow them on Twitter @bowerbailey