Our series to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) continues today with the views of Katherine Bellau, General Counsel, MoneySavingExpert.com Limited and Halebury’s own Executive Chairman and Co-Founder Janvi Patel, about the importance of IWD, inspiring change and their experiences as a woman in the profession.

Katherine Bellau, General Counsel, MoneySavingExpert.com Limited

It is International Women’s Day on 8th March – do you think it is important for the legal profession to celebrate IWD?

Yes, it’s hugely important for the legal sector to celebrate IWD – we must champion those women in our profession who have forged a path for the women of future generations. To improve the longevity of more women’s careers in the legal profession, we also need to raise awareness of the opportunities for flexible working and promote the visibility of those who inspire change through working flexibly in their roles today.

The theme for this year’s IWD is inspiring change, how do you go about inspiring change through your work as General Counsel at MoneySavingExpert.com?

I influence change by demonstrating that you can work flexibly at senior level and still meet the needs of the business. I also create opportunities for others to do the same. This includes promoting an openness to part time working and creating a flexible role for an excellent legal candidate who has the skills required by the business, but who wouldn’t have been able to work with us full time.

What have been the most significant developments/changes for women pursuing a legal career since you started out?

I’m really pleased to see the growing recognition that women should have a stronger voice at board level. The representation of women in the boardroom brings a different dimension to the decision making process – this filters down to affect working practices throughout businesses.

Which female in the legal profession do you most admire and why?

There is someone very close to me who I admire very much. My mother in law Vivienne Bellau, 70, was one of only two women who studied law in her year at university. She currently practises as a Tribunal Judge having successfully juggled motherhood with her impressive career.

Janvi Patel, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Halebury

It is International Women’s Day on 8th March – do you think it is important for the legal profession to celebrate IWD?

It is exceptionally important. Women have long struggled in the profession but they are also making great strides. What we have today is women taking control of their roles and really leading a drive for change.

The theme for this year’s IWD is inspiring change, how do you go about inspiring change through your work as executive chairman at Halebury?

Everything we do at Halebury is done with a fresh approach in mind, whether that is for our clients, our lawyers or our staff. At Halebury we start from the inside out and so we establish what our lawyers want to achieve with their lives and then we set about helping them to achieve that with a business plan that enables them to have the lives and careers they want.

Not only does this approach yield tremendous benefits for clients who get truly motivated, experienced and committed commercial lawyers, the sense of empowerment felt by those lawyers is life-changing.

What have been the most significant developments/changes for women pursuing a legal career since you started out?

There used to be two alternatives for a legal career – in-house or private practice – but now the possibilities are endless. Halebury is just one example that has given lawyers incredible control and flexibility over their working lives. It is not about doing less, it is about finding alternative routes to create the life you want.

Which female in the legal profession do you most admire and why?

Without hesitation it is Shami Chakrabti. The work she does is vital and she does so in a way that is eloquent, intelligent and thought provoking. She is from humble beginnings and sets a great example to women everywhere about maintaining integrity and influencing on a global stage.