It’s never too early to begin leading your career

Over the past year, ADLS, in conjunction with Miriam Dean QC and Liz Riversdale of Catapult Leadership Training, has been running a series of workshops for senior women lawyers, with the aim of helping women lawyers fulfil their potential and see their career dreams become reality.

Miriam Dean QC

Entitled “Leading Your Career”, they are formatted as a practical, interactive one-day workshop, and have provided participants with the resources to take responsibility for the future of their careers, as well as offering a unique opportunity to hear stories and advice from Miriam Dean QC’s own career experiences.

The motivation behind the workshops was her own experience of participating in a similar workshop herself about eight or nine years ago. “It came home to me then how much that workshop would have helped me if I had done it years earlier,” she says.

During the day, workshop participants create self-profiles, discuss career barriers and opportunities, draft personal brand statements, and think about how better to “market” their skills. Understanding one’s own values and interests is an important part of this – how do they shape who you are and what you want for your career? Attendees are also encouraged to think about the challenges women face in the current working environment, and about how they then choose to deal with them.

To date, the workshops have only been available to women lawyers with six or more years’ PQE. Yet, so successful have they been, additional sessions will now be offered to more junior lawyers – those with between two and six years’ PQE. Upcoming junior and senior sessions are happening in both Auckland and Wellington, with a combined workshop also being run in Christchurch.

“We are so proud at the success of the senior ‘Leading Your Career’ workshops which we run with ADLS, and have received such fantastic feedback from participants. And we are confident these workshops – with some tweaking – will be just as valuable for more junior lawyers as well,” says Ms Dean QC.

Indeed, this writer would have loved to have had the chance to participate in such a workshop as a junior lawyer, however, there was nothing like it on offer at the time, and certainly not to those in the quite early stages of their legal careers.

“Feedback from similar sessions which we have run in-house for junior lawyers shows that there is real benefit in encouraging them to start planning their careers early on,” says Ms Dean QC. “It is important for both junior and senior women to think about where they want to go, learn how to network and build their profiles, identify what their behavioural style is, and learn how to handle constructive criticism and develop their ‘backbone’.”

Ms Dean QC also considers there are real advantages, not only to the women actually attending the workshops, but for the organisations (including law firms) proactively enabling their lawyers to attend.

“In my experience, law firms especially invest a lot in their juniors, and it can be very hard when many of them move on after a few years. Part of the workshop is about helping juniors to see that – if they invest in themselves, and if their firm invests in them – by putting into practice some of the suggestions in the workshop, they might be able to stay longer in one place, rather than feeling they have to move elsewhere to take their careers to the next level,” she considers. “And I can’t think of any time when diversity was such an important issue as it is at present – when we, as a profession, are recognising that women lawyers do need to be brought through,” she notes.

The upcoming Auckland junior and senior sessions will be held at ADLS’ Chancery Chambers premises, while the junior session in Wellington will be hosted by Buddle Findlay.

National HR Manager of Buddle Findlay, Jo Calder, says that the firm is very pleased to be supporting the workshop for Wellington junior lawyers. This is particularly so given the firm has seen the benefits of senior lawyers in its Wellington and Auckland offices participating in both the workshops and follow-up sessions.

“The comradery and internal networking has been heartening to witness. There is a real sense of solidarity and collaboration and a true desire to see each other succeed. As a result, there’s been a significant and positive cultural shift not seen before,” says Ms Calder.

“The tools and strategies, along with practical ‘real life’ experiences shared, provide a safe pathway for female lawyers to navigate and operate more effectively and to strategically manage the issues and challenges they may encounter during the course of their legal career. Our people simply don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be part of the ‘Leading Your Career’ phenomenon.”

The combined Christchurch session (catering to both junior and senior women lawyers) will be hosted by Duncan Cotterill. Duncan Cotterill Partner, Ayleath Foote, says that the firm is very happy to support ADLS in hosting this event and bringing it to the Garden City.

“Duncan Cotterill recognises the importance of investing in our female practitioners and their careers. Having sent two of our female lawyers on this programme last year, we can attest to the real value of the course in relation to important career decisions, and have received very positive accolades from the women who attended.”

Importantly, these workshops are not a “once attended and quickly forgotten” experience. Participants in most of the workshops to date have chosen to stay in touch with each other, and have actively continued networking and supporting each others’ career development efforts after the sessions. Ms Dean QC has joined in with some of these post-workshop catch-ups, meeting with past “Leading Your Career” attendees in both Auckland and Christchurch already, and is looking to do the same with past Wellington participants soon.

“The fact that the participants have decided to stay in touch and are continuing to follow up with each other after the workshops is one of the things I’m most proud of. I’m looking forward to catching up with participants in Wellington shortly, but I warn them that I’ll want to check in on their progress!”

“There is no better endorsement than participants requesting follow-up sessions immediately after the initial workshop,” agrees Jo Calder.

With the past popularity of the “Leading Your Career” workshops, women lawyers wanting to attend either the junior or senior sessions, in any of the centres on offer, are encouraged to register as soon as possible. The workshops – because they are so interactive – are limited to a maximum of around 20 participants. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear directly from one of the country’s top lawyers and to take leadership of your career.  

Want to lead your career? Sign up now …

ADLS, Miriam Dean QC and Catapult will be running a number of “Leading Your Career” workshops around the country over the coming months, for both senior and more junior lawyers.

Check out the dates and venues below – places are limited so register now to avoid disappointment. Register here.

Thursday, 12 April | 2-6 years' PQE
Thursday, 23 Aug | 6+ years' PQE

Christchurch (hosted by Duncan Cotterill)
Thursday, 24 May | 2+ years' PQE

Wellington (hosted by Buddle Findlay)
Thursday, 21 June | 2-6 years' PQE
Thursday, 27 Sept | 6+ years' PQE

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