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As we celebrate International Women's Day, we shed light on the career of one of our colleagues, Kate Jones, our Head of Legal at CTI Digital. Kate shares her journey navigating the legal industry, overcoming barriers, and inspiring others along the way.

From a young age, Kate sought a legal career; however, like many women in the legal profession, she encountered hurdles, particularly after becoming a mother. Despite the challenges, Kate's determination has proven itself with a successful, thriving career. Through stories like Kate's, we hope to bring attention to working women and inspire future generations.

Leadership profile - kate jones blog graphic

What’s your name?

Kate Jones.

What do you do?

I’m a solicitor and am currently Head of Legal at CTI Digital.

What was your first ever job?

If you don’t count selling ‘perfume’ (water and rose petals) to my mum and her friends, it was babysitting for a couple of local families. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in legal?

I’ve been asked this question a lot, and I honestly don’t know. From quite a young age, I wanted to be a lawyer - I even made people sign contracts at primary school to be in my band! 

What do you feel has been one of the significant barriers in your career?

Not a barrier, but I did find it a lot harder once I became a mum.  I have a law firm background, and the number of women lawyers at a junior level is high - c. 53%. However, when you get to Partner level, only 37% identify as female. That’s a big difference, and I am one of many women who decided to leave a law firm because the work/life balance and pressures, particularly after becoming a mum, didn’t work for me.

The legal industry is changing, and my old firm was trying to retain female talent, but the way law firms are set up (billable hours and a need to service many clients with often very short timelines) doesn’t lend itself to a good work/life balance and the realities of being a parent. It can work for some people, and my old firm had some fantastic female role models who had extremely successful careers in a law firm, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

How did you overcome these barriers, and what do you think are the most important things to remember when facing these challenges? 

I had some great female (and male) role models. I got given some great advice when I came back from maternity leave and that was just to be unapologetic for working flexibly. If you start off the way you mean to go on (with nursery picks up visible in your diary and confidence to reject meetings that clash with childcare commitments), then people soon learn and adapt around you.

It took me a while to have the confidence to do this, but when I did, I realised the world didn’t fall apart if I wasn’t available from 5-7pm. In fact, a lot of issues resolved themselves before I logged back on! I'm lucky that I'm able to work flexibly at CTI. I have some days in the office and some at home, and I can work around my children. I also know that challenges aren't always permanent - it's definitely getting a bit easier as they get older.

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome or doubted your abilities in your profession? How did you deal with it?

Definitely. I’ve had lots of occasions during my career where I’ve felt that my opinion wouldn’t be valid or I’ve second guessed myself on giving advice (and whether it will be listened to), even though I know what I’m saying is correct. As a junior lawyer, I also feared that everyone would ‘find me out’ every time I went on holiday!

Tackling imposter syndrome has definitely got easier as I’ve become more senior, and I think that’s a combination of experience, confidence and having had some great lawyers around me who have championed me and reminded me that I am good at what I do. If I have a wobble, I like to remind myself of times when I’ve given good/helpful legal advice, and it’s had a positive outcome - that usually resets my confidence in my ability and squashes my imposter syndrome.

Can you recall a specific moment or experience that was pivotal in shaping your career path?

At 10 years qualified, I left a successful law firm career for an in-house role. It was scary as I didn’t know a world outside of law firms - had I made the right decision? Then, after 4 months, the company I joined then went into administration. I had loved being in-house - you get to know a company inside out and make a real impact across a multitude of things, not just contracts, so I knew I didn’t want to go back into private practice, but I only had 4 months of in-house experience. I decided to try for another in-house role, and I got one. I learnt so much in that role, and with a brilliant mentor, it gave me the confidence to continue with my in-house career, which has led me to CTI!

What would be your advice for women and those who identify as female wanting to enter the legal industry?

Don't assume you have to follow the traditional route into law. When I qualified, you only really had the option of law school and then getting a (sought-after) training contract. Now, there are so many more ways to become a solicitor. Most firms allow paralegals to progress to qualification, and the SQE route allows people to qualify via their work experience (which, in my experience, is much more valuable than what you learn at law school). Also, don't be afraid to consider law as a career change or to return after a career break - your previous experience (work or life!) will be invaluable.

If you could tell younger you one thing that you wish you knew now about your profession, what would it be? 

Don't worry that your skills aren't transferable. The legal work I do today is far from the type of work I was trained to do, but if you are a good lawyer, you can apply your knowledge and skills to many different areas of law. I don't profess to be an expert, but as an in-house lawyer, you don't need to be. You need to be confident enough to apply the knowledge you do have and also humble enough to recognise when you don't have the expertise, and you need to bring an external lawyer in.

What would be your advice for women who are looking to develop their leadership skills?

Get yourself a good mentor, preferably someone that you work with and admire. Then watch and listen to them - join calls and meetings with them and see how they tackle difficult conversations, how they influence people’s decisions, and how they drive change. I learnt so much from my previous boss and I am a better leader today because I’ve learnt from him.  


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