The First Hundred Years project marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers.
To commemorate the occasion, Coodes is sharing some of its own team members’ experiences of working in the legal profession. Sarah Cowley, Partner and Department Manager for our award-winning Residential Property team, shares her insights.
1.When and why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I didn’t really decide to become a lawyer – the career chose me. At the age of 19 I was lucky enough to be given a position as an office administration assistant in a firm of solicitors in Essex. It soon became apparent that I had outgrown the role. My then manager gave me the opportunity of becoming their word processor operator (goodness, how old?), preparing conveyances and leases.
I recall sitting outside the senior partner’s office, hearing them argue that I was not qualified to do the job. Fortunately, my mentor won and today this experience enhances my belief in supporting progression and training. That was just the beginning. I worked my way through the ranks and became a lawyer with a case load in my own right. Realising that my career was at a standstill, I studied at night school and gained my qualifications
2.What drives you in your role?
The success of the firm and my team is my main driver. I aim to deliver a great service, to manage and assist the team and to build on the success that the Residential team already holds. I really wanted to be Ally McBeal but alas she was not real and, let’s face it, she didn’t have to work that much. I love every element of the job, including managing my team.
3.What do you like about working for Coodes?
I truly believe that Coodes is the best firm in the area. The management are fair and approachable. Coodes is a firm that is forward thinking and embraces change, supporting the team as it happens. With the fast-changing face of the residential property market this is extremely important and probably more so today than ever before.
4.What is your proudest moment (personal or professional)?
I would pick out three: Qualifying, collecting the Best in Cornwall and Devon at the ESTAS on behalf of the team and marrying my man.
5.What changes have you seen during your career that have affected female lawyers?
The residential conveyancing sector now hosts some of the greatest female leaders in the industry.
6.What advice would you give to a young woman considering a legal career?
Work hard, aim high, go for it – the world is your oyster and nothing can stop you, other than you.
Sarah Cowley is a Partner, Licensed Conveyancer and Department Manager, Residential Property at Coodes Solicitors.