Coincidence or perfect timing? When I was asked to write this blog post on the challenges and opportunities for women in the legal profession, I was also asked to host the Baroness Hale of Richmond (Lady Hale) for a law dinner at Goodenough College where I reside. I was ecstatic to sit and discuss with Lady Hale the challenges of being the first female judge to be appointed to the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. When I asked her about the most difficult part of her legal career, she asserted that it was being accepted by her peers and the public.
As a woman in law, acceptance by male lawyers and judges was a struggle as the legal field was greatly dominated by older men for several years. I remember attending court as a law student and when introduced to a Magistrate as an Attorney in Waiting, the first question that he asked me was, ‘How many men are studying law with you?’
However, in recent years several women in the legal profession motivated me to remain steadfast in my dream of becoming an Attorney at Law in Dominica. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be an attorney at law. I knew I wanted to fight against injustices and to represent the underprivileged in my country. To be a female in such a noble field would be a great feat.
I began my legal journey in 2017 and I currently possess an LLB (Honours) in law from UWI Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, and a Legal Education Certificate from Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago. I spent five years propelling forward on my legal journey and I am now in my sixth year studying an LLM in Drafting Legislation Regulation and Policy at the School of Advanced Studies.
Throughout my five years, I attained legal experience by working at the Attorney General’s Office and private firms. My favourite experience was working as a Judicial Research Assistant with Birnie Stephenson-Brooks, the Civil High Court Judge in Dominica. She taught me the importance of time management in the legal sector as a woman. Pursuing a law career does not necessarily mean choosing between a career and a family, but we have the ability and chance to make time for what is important to us and create a healthy work-life balance.
Opportunities for Women in Law
Finances can be an obstacle in the legal journey for both male and female lawyers but some organisations sponsor scholarship opportunities. At a postgraduate level, there are multiple scholarships including Commonwealth, Rhodes, and Chevening Scholarships. I am currently a Chevening scholar representing my country for 2022-2023. The Chevening scholarship is a prestigious award open to members from Commonwealth countries seeking to pursue a 1-year master’s program in the UK. If you are interested in the field of law, do thorough research on scholarship opportunities and funding to continue excelling at your goal. Many universities also provide bursaries and other forms of funding to assist young lawyers.
Mentorship is also important for female lawyers. When I came to London, I was informed of GROW Mentoring which is a charity aiming to support students from all backgrounds to help reduce barriers to the legal profession. GROW pairs aspiring lawyers with professionals with similar backgrounds or interests in the legal industry. Law students feel represented in the industry and have a mentor who can be understanding, on a more personal level. GROW also hosts many networking events where representatives from commercial firms give insights into the job market and tips on applying for job placements.
If you are interested in commercial law, GROW is a great organisation to register and be a part of. Follow them on social media for the many available opportunities. I attended a GROW event with motivational speakers and networked with young women in the field who are just as passionate about the law.
The legal fraternity continues to grow and women make up a significant portion despite challenges. Through dedication and hard work, I believe that dreams coming true are possible. As women and lawyers, it is our responsibility to raise our voices against injustices and continue assisting young girls to dream big and follow their passions and aspirations.
About Devi St Luce
Devi St Luce is from the Commonwealth of Dominica. She is a 2022-23 Chevening Scholar. She is currently pursuing an LLM in Drafting Legislation, Regulation and Policy at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
She is an Attorney at Law in Waiting; She has recently graduated from Hugh Wooding Law School and attained her Legal Education Certificate to practice Law in the Caribbean. She will be called to the bar in her country this year.
She is the owner and CEO of Day-Vie’s Printing Biz, a printing and design business in Grand Bay, her community.
She is the Supervisor of the English Department at LEC Education in Whitechapel, London. She was a former teacher at the St Martin Secondary School, Dominica where she taught English, Spanish, and Electronic Document Preparation and Management.
She is a student leader and representative of the Accredited Quality Systems Certification (AQSC) for the University of London. She is passionate about equal and fair laws for children and women. Her goal is to become a legislative drafter, drafting Bills for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United Nations (UN).