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Firm news
28 Jul 2017

Boodle Hatfield announces its new partnership with the Arab International Women’s Forum

We are delighted to announce our partnership with the Arab International Women's Forum. 

Boodle Hatfield has been supporting business families since 1722 and offers a holistic legal, tax and wealth structuring to support clients from the Middle East, with Arabic speaking lawyers across key practice areas.

Boodle Hatfield is also well know for its commitment to diversity and we have won the Euromoney Best National Firm for Women in Business Law six times. We look forward to working closely with the Arab International Women’s Forum in the year ahead to continue making leadership development for Arab women in the legal professions as a key priority area.

Q&A with Shaima Jillood, Partner at Boodle Hatfield

Q: Please tell us about some of the initiatives that Boodle Hatfield has launched or been involved with to empower women leaders in the legal profession, both within the UK and internationally.

A: Boodle Hatfield is one of the oldest law firms in the country with a key focus on the Middle East. We are proud to say that women are the powerhouse of the firm and we believe that our record for the number of women in senior management is unrivalled.  Sara Maccallum, our senior partner is a woman with a young family and 60% of the most senior partners are female. This leadership by strong and approachable women provides real role models for other staff who see there is no glass ceiling.

We believe that there is real business and social benefit to encouraging a diverse workforce and work/life balance and we have been fortunate that our ethos has successfully achieved an enviable balance naturally.  However, we also recognise that it is important to underpin the approach with solid procedures so we have developed robust policies and run regular diversity workshops for all staff.

Of course, all organisations have different challenges and we are very focused on working with others to developing inclusive values across the profession.  We often host events on behalf of other organisations most recently the RE (Real Estate): Women and the Managing Partners Forum which gives us the chance to share our insights and stories.  Our partners are also sought after speakers at conferences and take the opportunity to explain how we live and breathe our policy and to offer insight into the challenges and share the experiences of others.

Q: In your experience and observations, although obstacles to diversity in the legal profession and barriers for women to advance in legal careers are universal, how do these impact women in the MENA region specifically? How can law firms operating in the region proactively and effectively address these challenges?

A: The challenges of women in the legal sector are universal, as women strive to balance raising their families and their professional aspirations. The legal sector is generally male dominated and over time, the West has been gradually adapting to more flexible working practises to enable women to achieve that work/life balance. Support for such initiatives stems from the top and there is further progress needed as women seek more senior positions. With respect to the specific challenges within law firms based in the Middle East, I believe the challenges are more widespread as public and cultural perception is key, particularly as fewer women hold judiciary and senior decision-making roles. As the region continues to see female professional role models emerge, it will pave the way for better working practises in law firms, and enable women to reach their full professional potential.

Q: What are your goals and objectives for the year ahead working in partnership with the Arab International Women’s Forum?

A: Boodle Hatfield is delighted to be partnering with AIWF and collaborating on their common women’s initiatives. We wish to offer an insight on the challenges within the legal sector in the West whilst building bridges with similar entities in the Middle East. We would like to offer support its members worldwide with knowledge sharing and legal support for their established businesses, start ups and their personal matters relating to property, family law and tax structuring. With the shared AIWF ethos of female empowerment in the workforce, we can work together during the coming year on the AIWF’ s existing programmes and expand our respective networks to ensure this powerful message is spread amongst a broader audience.

This article first appeared in the AIWF newsletter, which can be downloaded here.