#IWD2018 Who Inspires: Alison Bull?

Thursday, 8th March 2018

Name: Alison Bull
Job title: Partner; family lawyer, mediator and collaborative lawyer
Company: Mills & Reeve LLP

Alison helps individuals, couples, and sometimes their children to sort out issues arising when couples separate; and also preparing for marriage or cohabitation by preparing pre-nups and cohabitation agreements.

Which woman has inspired you most?

There are so many! Close to home, my grandmother, mother and now my daughter. In my professional training, my supervisor when I was a trainee Catherine Hallam, mediator doyenne Lisa Parkinson, and many others who are part of Resolution and the family law community. Within my firm, fellow partners (managing partner/board member) Claire Clarke and Caitlin Jenkins, and to be honest all my amazing female colleagues and partners. If you trouble to get to know people, I find there is usually something about them that can inspire (psychopaths excluded).

Which famous/historical woman inspires you most?

Baroness Hale, first female judge in the Supreme Court, springs to mind immediately, but again, there are so many!

What does feminism mean to you?

For me, feminism is about redressing the gender imbalances that still exist; overtly and within our unconscious. For example, why do we just accept that on marriage women usually take their husbands’ surnames?

Have you found your industry to be particularly tougher for women? If so, how did you overcome this?

Traditionally the law has been dominated by men (and that remains true at equity partner level in law firms), although the reverse is now true amongst today’s trainee solicitor cohort. Family law has always been populated more by female than male lawyers and mediators. Unfortunately some unconscious bias prevails, reflective of society generally, but I have been fortunate. I recall that at the outset of my career, I was the first women to wear trousers to work in my firm. It was noted and challenged by my then (male) supervisor. Whilst this is pretty trivial in the scheme of things, I had courage in my convictions and carried on regardless, and soon others did likewise. It helped that I prefer to wear trousers!

This year’s #IWD2018 theme is #PressForProgress how do you feel, as women we can push for equality faster?

We all need to take personal responsibility for speaking up when we see or experience inequality; whether gender related or otherwise, and to challenge our own prejudices. We also need to facilitate men being able to become fully involved in childcare, taking parental leave, and working part time for family reasons.