Meet the women paving the way in the Scottish legal sector

Law firm recognises high-flying female staff 

Edinburgh law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn has chosen to mark International Women’s Day (Wednesday, 8 March) by celebrating its female staff who are paving the way for other women in the legal sector.
The firm says it has seen a number of its female partners and solicitors endorsed as recognised authorities in their practice areas and appointed to key rols in national trade bodies.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme – Be Bold for Change is designed to encourage people to take ground-breaking action to help drive gender equality and the firm says women at Shepherd and Wedderburn are taking up the challenge in a variety of ways.
The property ladder
According to Shepherd and Wedderburn, the property and construction industry has long been male dominated. Even today, only 15% of the workforce in the sector is made up women.
It says organisations such as the Association of Women in Property (WiP) have been vital in changing that, and just in time for the 8 March celebration, WiP named Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Emma Carmichael as the chairman of its Central Scotland Branch.
Emma Carmichael
Carmichael said: “WiP has been supporting women in the property and construction sector for 30 years, advocating diversity and knowledge sharing, and working hard to widen the appeal of property and construction to women who might not have considered it as a career choice.”
The firm has a long relationship with WiP, with partner Sally Morris-Smith having recently completed a successful term as Chairman of its South East England Branch.
Settling disputes
Another area where Shepherd and Wedderburn says its employees are making strides for women is in the area of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. Taking the lead in this area is Leigh Herd, a specialist construction disputes lawyer, who has just been confirmed as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Scottish Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).
Leigh Herd
Since 2015, Herd has played an active role in the global organisation, which represents practitioners involved in dispute resolution. Both in this role, and her previous role as the Branch’s Young Members’ Convenor, she is active in encouraging and promoting the interests of young people within this area – including many young women.
Clean Energy
Shepherd and Wedderburn says its female employees truly excel in a number of other sectors. Leading the charge for the renewable energy sector, for instance, is partner Patricia Hawthorn. Hawthorn has just entered her third year of office as chairman of Scottish Renewables, a role to which she was elected in 2015.
Patricia Hawthorn
Hawthorn combines the role with her work at Shepherd and Wedderburn, where she advises public and private sector clients on consenting, regulatory and compliance matters in the clean energy sector across the UK.
As part of the firm’s 90- strong renewable energy team and headline sponsor to All-Energy, the UK’s largest renewable energy event, Hawthorn will make the opening address at the Offshore Wind session which takes place on 10 May.
Corporate restructuring and insolvency
Demonstration of such commitment to driving their respective industries and profession forward has been key in propelling Shepherd and Wedderburn lawyers into the top rankings of the leading legal directories, and in earning further plaudits, according to the firm.
Yvonne Brady, head of the firm’s top-ranked Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency practice, is described in the leading independent legal directory, Chambers and Partners, as …’the most experienced recovery lawyer in Scotland’,  while her fellow partner, Gillian Carty, is described in the same directory as ‘…an exceptional lawyer whose technical ability never fails to impress’.
This week, the legal industry’s equivalent to the Hall of Fame: the Who’s Who Legal has named both Brady and Carty as among Scotland’s foremost restructuring and insolvency practitioners—two of only three Scots lawyers to be listed.
Based on comprehensive, independent research, the 2017 Who’s Who restructuring and insolvency listing was compiled by Legal Business Research in collaboration with Global Restructuring Review.
Stephen Gibb, chief executive, Shepherd and Wedderburn, said: “All our lawyers pride themselves on their expertise, innovation and commitment to our clients.  In showcasing the recent achievements of Emma, Leigh, Pat, Yvonne and Gillian as part of the International Women’s Day celebrations, it’s clear that these lawyers are leading the way in their respective areas. They have set the bar for everyone who wishes to be a leader in their industry.”