Skarbek Associates (‘Skarbek’), a leading strategy implementation firm, and Women in Law London (‘WILL’), the network aimed at associate-level women solicitors in London, are pleased to announce their partnership to deliver a panel session at the Global Law Summit, the one-off three-day event taking place in London from 23 to 25 February, commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

The Global Law Summit is an independent legal business conference, endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron and founded by The City of London; The Law Society of England and Wales; The Law Society of Northern Ireland; The Law Society of Scotland; The City of London Law Society; The General Council of the Bar; The British Council; UK Trade & Investment; International Bar Association; and the Ministry of Justice.

The session led by Skarbek, a silver level sponsor of the Global Law Summit, and Women in Law London will address the gender balance challenges the legal profession faces today. Research on the British legal profession consistently shows that despite women making up the majority of new entrants over the past 20 years, with 60 percent of lawyers under the age of 35 being female, law firms are grossly misrepresentative at the top with only 17 percent of partners being female. Furthermore, in the legal sector the gender pay gap is greater than the UK average, and widened in 2013 to 30 percent in private practice and 27.8 percent in-house.

The session, entitled ‘Women in Law: the pipeline is broken. Why this matters, and what can be done’, will take place on Monday 23rd February at 15.35hrs. The debate will be chaired by Catrin Griffiths, Editor of The Lawyer, one of the UK’s leading legal sector publications, and the panel will include Philip Goodstone, Partner at EY; Sylvie Watts, Board Member of Skarbek Associates; Sascha Grimm, Associate at Cooley (UK) LLP and WILL Chair; Tamara Box, Partner and Global Chair of the Financial Industry Group at Reed Smith; and Sophie Chandauka, Head of Asset Financing for Virgin Money Group and Co-Founder of the Black British Business Awards.

Suzanne Szczetnikowicz, Senior Associate at Shearman & Sterling and Vice-Chair of WILL, said: “It is imperative that at an event such as the Global Law Summit, there is a session addressing why the legal profession has particular difficulty in retaining and promoting talented women.  Our panel will examine the consequences of the legal industry lagging behind on gender diversity and how this impacts the firm or company, its business resources, client base, and the bottom line.

Sylvie Watts, Board member of Skarbek, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Global law Summit and to be working with Women in Law London. The legal profession faces a real challenge in retaining and promoting talented women. This has clear consequences—loss of credibility with clients and the outside world and reduced competitiveness in a changing market. It’s true that leaders in the profession have committed to improving the situation and have put diversity at the heart of their strategy. But so far, this has been slow to deliver results. I believe that the problem stems less from flawed strategies but rather from ineffective execution. This session will explore the practical steps firms and companies might take to improve culture, opportunity and balance, to improve diversity, and in particular gender diversity.”