Inspirational women on International Women’s Day 2024

Supporting International Women's Day

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and its theme of Inspire Inclusion, we asked some of our female lawyers to tell us about the women who inspired them to pursue a career as a lawyer. It’s not always the famous names who make the biggest impact, as their stories show.

Fiona Fraser

Fiona Fraser, a paralegal in our personal injury team:
“Although influenced by a wide range of notable female legal professionals throughout my career, I’d like to mention somebody you have probably never heard of, certainly not in legal circles. Her name is Fiona Durkin. Fiona was my English teacher many decades ago. Her passion, positivity, determination and dry sense of humour had an influence on me far beyond my career choice. Fiona Durkin demanded your attention in a classroom, without saying a word. She oozed strength and passion. She taught that anything was possible and that to make a difference was the ultimate goal.

So, here’s to the Fiona Durkins out there, inspiring the next generation to believe. Unsurprisingly, a few people Fiona Durkin taught ended up having long, successful careers in law.”

Julie Harris

Julie Harris, a partner and head of our personal injury law team:
“As a law student and aged around 18 to 20, I was fortunate to spend three summers working in a busy Drumchapel law firm where there were two extremely inspiring female lawyers, namely Margaret Breslin and Carol Kelly. They were very articulate and impressive in court, while always empathetic with their clients, kind with all who worked in the firm. And they managed to juggle running a busy legal aid practice with their family commitments.

Margaret later went on to join The Faculty of Advocates and Carol became a Sheriff. I learned such a lot in the time that I worked with them.”

Alice Bowman

Alice Bowman, an associate in our employment law team:
“When I was in my mid-twenties, I was very politically active; I had spent time in the West Bank, and was involved in anti-cuts, anti- Bedroom Tax, feminist, and anti-fascist activism. I had been inspired by the women I worked with when I worked in elderly care, who had fought and won equal pay with the support of the trade unions. I got my equal pay out when I was only 19, and, from that young age, I knew there was power in the trade union movement.

After my finishing my first degree, I worked with women offenders and at Women’s Aid. I was inspired by the resilience of these service users; despite the trauma experienced, they were still standing. I quickly became aware that these women needed lawyers who had a trauma informed approach and understood the intersection between class and sex. I started to wonder if maybe I could do a law degree to help these women.

I got speaking to some activists and realised that some women within the movement had done law degrees. Before this, law seemed so distant to me. One activist friend was a solicitor working in homelessness; another truly inspiring activist had gone from being a socialist politician to working in criminal defence; and another had moved from social work to law, with a view to setting up a women’s law centre. All these left-wing women made it seem like the law could be used to challenge oppression and structural violence, and that was something I was very much interested in. I still am.

So off I went to do my law degree, aged 26. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my mum and dad, who always taught me to push myself and to dream big.

After all that, I ended up back where I started, in the trade union movement working for Allan McDougall Solicitors. It’s a natural fit for me. I had always been a union member throughout my career, and, advocating for trade union members, especially in the current political and economic climate, is something I care deeply about, and as importantly, I enjoy!”

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