Empowering women in law to lead in a shifting society
In 1921, the first woman qualified as a solicitor in Scotland. Madge Easton Anderson, born in Glasgow and the youngest of three daughters, became the first woman to work professionally as a lawyer. She eventually practised in both Scottish and English law, before becoming a partner in Britain’s first all-female law practice, Berthern & Davy.
Today, while there remains a higher number of female law graduates to male, women’s presence in senior roles and round the partnership table remains disproportionately low. Gillian Crandles, head of divorce and family at Turcan Connell, and the firm’s managing partner since 2019, is keen to ensure a greater number of women remain with the firm, climbing the ranks in accordance with their ability and ambition, without traditional barriers blocking that progress.
“The issue is not gender; it is about who is looking after children and the availability and cost of childcare,” says Gillian.
Turcan Connell is 63 per cent female with 67 per cent of those representing our senior leadership team – and those numbers will be bolstered in the coming years.
Technical excellence and emotional intelligence are incredibly valuable skills when dealing with private and complex family matters and there is no doubt that having a balanced workforce encourages the right range of views and approaches in our particular profession, whether that be structuring a will, advising a family business, dealing with the emotional fallout of relationship breakdown, or planning a personal tax strategy.
As the firm’s first female managing partner, and the only family lawyer in Scotland recognised as an Eminent practitioner in Chambers UK, Gillian is as passionate about progressing women in the profession as she is about empowering women experiencing breakdowns in their personal relationships.
And she is not the only one. Lindsey Ogilvie makes up the second part of the powerful partnership duo in Turcan Connell’s family law team and together they are committed to nurturing a community of trust in the firm with staff offered various flexible working options to suit both male and female employees, and vitally, to support their families.
“Life can be complicated,” says Lindsey, a solicitor advocate and an accredited specialist in both child and family law by the Law Society of Scotland. “The annual divorce rate in Scotland has fallen but is still around 8,000 each year, often bringing financial hardship and uncertainty not only to the parties but also their children, with women generally bearing the brunt of the fallout.
“We see the rise in blended families, we navigate cross-border cases and we stay in tune with emerging issues, including economic abuse and the extent to which it can be perpetrated many years after a relationship has ended, as well as the legal considerations around family creation to inform and prepare women in each unique personal family circumstance.”
In 2025 we will see the launch of Women in the Law in Scotland as an exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. It will connect historic and contemporary portraiture, but more importantly it will illustrate the advances that have taken place over the centuries, which now enables women to fill positions in the highest echelons of the legal profession.
“I’m excited to feature alongside many accomplished women in law,” says Gillian.
“I think it is an excellent initiative which fits perfectly with our appreciation of the arts here at Turcan Connell.
“That said, there is still work to be done for women in our profession as a whole, and we both recognise the importance of progress as practitioners in law and
as women supporting family
The Family Law team can be reached at Turcanconnell.com
Partner content in association with Turcan Connell.