1. What are your priorities for your year as Chair of the YBC?
There are a number of issues about which I am really passionate, including pay for the publicly funded Bar, social mobility, equality, diversity and wellbeing.
I know this doesn't sound very sexy, but I am a big believer in data driven decision-making. I therefore want to focus this year on canvassing views and assembling the evidence that we need to enable us to identify all the relevant issues and to tackle them effectively.
2. What do you think is the greatest threat facing young women at the Bar today?
Burnout. The pressures on all junior practitioners are immense and wellbeing is one of the easiest things to sacrifice, until it isn't. Barristers are expected to give their all to their profession, and women are expected to give their all to their family. Even candidates on The Apprentice don't give more than 110%.
3. Looking to the next 100 years, what does gender equality at the Bar look like to you?
We've gone from a ratio of 1 to a few thousand to roughly 50:50 for new pupils over the past 100 years, which is obviously hugely encouraging.
The main problem today is in relation to retention - particularly for women around 10 years post-qualification. I hope that a future focus on wellbeing and flexible working will help more women thrive in the profession for longer.
4. Who is your female professional icon?
I was recently reading about Helena Normanton QC. She'd be a remarkable pupil today: the daughter of a piano maker and a grocer, who trained as a teacher before forging a path to the Bar.
She is all the more remarkable for the fact that she also forged that path for every other woman practising at the bar of England and Wales. Her petition to the House of Lords led to the passage of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 and in that year Helena Normanton was able to secure admission to Middle Temple and become the first woman to practise at the Bar. I don't know what the Bar would look like today if it weren't for Helena and women like her. And I'm glad I don't have to.
5. What more can be done for women coming to the Bar today?
Listen to them when they tell you what they need. Encourage them when they don't think they can get it. Support them when they decide to try.