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Catherine McGregor, Publishing Director at The Legal 500 (In-House), explains why The Legal 500 has worked with Clifford Chance to profile some of the firm's successful female partners and associates from around the world.

A D V I C E   T O   M Y   Y O U N G E R   S E L F

What would we tell our younger selves if we had the chance? It’s a notion that has provided ample fodder for books and films.

In Advice To My Younger Self: Reflections of Successful Women Lawyers, compiled by the GC magazine team at The Legal 500, we worked with Clifford Chance to profile the professional journeys of some of its female partners and associates around the world. The purpose of this project is to show younger women entering the legal profession the diversity of pathways to success as a woman in law, and also to share practical learnings and tips – in other words, what these high-achieving women would now tell their younger selves.

Interestingly, what we have observed in collecting these testimonies is the sheer variety of roads to law that our interviewees took, and the fact that many of them did not originally intend to become lawyers at all. Sometimes, we learned, it is the happy accidents in life that can be the most fruitful.

Another key theme that emerged was the necessity of nurturing skills, other than simply legal, in becoming a successful lawyer. Oftentimes, our interviewees have developed these skills in unique ways that reflect their own personalities, values and circumstances. These journeys do not always conform to the typical “route to success,” revealing the idea of the well-trodden, traditional path to partnership to be, increasingly, outdated.

While this report is not designed to be a thesis on the role of women in the legal profession, the women we spoke to are those who have managed to effectively navigate their way to positions of importance at Clifford Chance, with some eventually leaving the firm to become leaders of in-house teams.

A thread that runs through a number of the conversations is the importance of not censoring yourself out of your own career by assuming that things cannot be done, or that changes and flexibility cannot be built into the lawyer’s role. Indeed, perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice to a younger self would be to constantly recognize the potential you have – and not limit that needlessly.

Crucially, the stories told here offer different illustrations of what both the journey and the destination of a lawyer’s professional life can be. Or, as Maya Angelou put it: I created myself. I have taught myself so much.

Publishing Director, The Legal 500 (In-House)