Future Lawyer Blog

How representation matters in the legal field: Women and the Tax Bar through the lens of a Trainee Solicitor

How important is representation in the field of law? Does the legal sector need to work harder to bring more female, ethnic minority and LGBTQIA+ barristers in the realm of tax law?

It was evident how crucial representation was at the Women and Tax Bar event held at Lincoln’s Inn on 30th November 2023, strongly emphasised by the diversity of lawyers speaking. There were those from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, who were also at different professional levels of their career.

My ‘inner tax trainee’ was beyond excited, and I was mesmerised by the panel of women and their interesting perspectives and experiences.  Sarah Black, a barrister in tax law at 11 New Square Chambers, recalls the exact moment that made her want to be a tax barrister; it was her personal tutor who swayed her to become a barrister in this area of law. She explains with a smile on her face: “that she was never good at maths but was delighted to be told that she did not need maths to succeed in this area.” The room burst into quiet giggles, including myself.

The ‘What do you like about tax law? question prompted varied responses.  I liked  Nicola Shaw’s answer:

“The tax bar is often the first option for ‘nerdy people,’ because it consists of analysing legislation that affects tax, but it also moulds individuals to become quick thinkers.”

Nicola Shaw, Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers

As a trainee solicitor in this area of law, I can certainly recognise that reflection, but with the added characteristic that it also appeals because tax law is constantly around us, especially in a domestic and international context. As Lady Justice Falk, who sits on the Court of Appeal states: “Tax is built on a legal system.”

The biggest takeaway from this event is the fact that the Tax Bar is still underrepresented, and it is such a competitive field to enter. Lady Justice Whipple stresses the importance of representation, especially in tax law: “I would like to for women and women of colour to be in this area of expertise.” Diversity in the field of law is vital. The greatest hope for the future is to see more panels that accurately represent the UK legal sector because it is through visual representation that students, trainee solicitors, and pupil barristers will have the motivation to pursue these fields, knowing that they ‘can’ and ‘will’ be seen as an equal within the profession.

Victoria Rivera is an international student. Originally, she is from Los Angeles, California and has moved around quite frequently (living in other countries as well). She is pursuing her LLM in Public International Law and wants to pursue a career in being an IP attorney in the US or a glorious career in legal journalism. She loves to talk and interact with people, and is a big fan of Star Wars, Ted Lasso, and Japanese anime. Fun fact: she loves to write short stories and read romantic novels. 

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