ISOLAS partners share their views on International Women’s Day

08/03/2022 Emma Lejeune, Samantha Grimes

At ISOLAS we recognize the value in diversity and are proud to have a growing percentage of women partners and associates, further extending the scope of our organisation’s capacity for first-class legal advocacy. Fiduciary Group, ISOLAS’s closely affiliated sister company, maintains a female-majority board, proudly standing as a modern representation of a remarkably dynamic and accessible working environment. ISOLAS makes a sincere commitment to look towards the distinct attributes and abilities of the individual in the consideration of a prospective team member – whatever their gender.

Emma Lejeune, ISOLAS Partner and Private Client specialist joined ISOLAS in 2018, after selling her boutique law firm to ISOLAS.  Emma focuses on advising ultra-high net worth individuals, private clients, and family offices on matters including tax, family governance, succession planning, relocation, prenuptial agreements, asset protection and holding structures. Emma works to make sure families are protected and that the arrangements they implement around their family wealth allow for an easy transition from generation to generation, as well as promoting collaboration and communication between family members. Emma added: “I really enjoy my work, as working with individuals and families allows me to look at aspects which transcend pure legal matters and delve into the more emotional, human side.”

On International Women’s Day, we asked Emma to share her views on how it is to work in the industry as a woman. “Although still a taboo subject, the reality is that women continue to face several challenges in the current working landscape. Most people would put this down to women being outnumbered in boardrooms, or not enough women reaching high places. Although this is true, I don’t feel the issue is systemic, but more so to do with our personal choices. My view is that the main challenges stem from the internal struggles women sometimes face, where a personal or professional sacrifice must be made on occasion to accommodate the other. Still today, a lot of women feel like they need to choose between having a career and caring for their families. I believe women can have both, albeit with a few obstacles and sacrifices along the way. In today’s world, with technology and social media, we can be more flexible and have a wider reach without necessarily having to spend onerous hours in the workplace or travelling. A lot of businesses have embraced the concept of flexible working and working from home, allowing individuals to create distinct atmospheres for themselves in which they can thrive.

ISOLAS makes positive steps to tackle these challenges. We have embraced the flexible working culture, including remote working, and providing our lawyers and staff with the additional tools necessary to elevate their productivity and wellbeing.

ISOLAS recognises that diversity is dictated by the strength of individuals within their respective team, based on their ability and performance, rather than gender. Lifestyle changes during an individual’s career, irrespective of one’s gender, whether that change involves choosing to spend more time caring for family or even taking time out of work altogether. These variables naturally have an impact on the workplace. If a firm offers its support allowing for more flexibility for women to cater for specific lifestyle changes, then this will ultimately have an impact on diversity, yet this does not necessarily mean it is a detrimental impact on productivity, as it is facilitating the choice made by a female worker. There are various things that firms can do to promote diversity, offering flexibility being one, but most importantly, they should recognise the unique female attributes that can bring added value to the workplace when considering an applicant.

It is with this that I make the point that International Women’s Day, for me, is a day where all women should be celebrated, working women, of all stages in their career, as well as the stay-at-home mums, who also have tough roles, often involving personal sacrifices too. On International Women’s Day, I celebrate grandmothers, mothers, daughters, working women, young females, students, women from every walk of life who in their own way contribute something unique and special to the world.”

Samantha Grimes, ISOLAS Partner and employment law specialist, joined ISOLAS in 2003, and in March 2014 Samantha became ISOLAS’s then third female partner. Samantha focuses on employment acting largely for employer client across a broad range of industries from gaming to insurance to a variety of local businesses; construction and construction financing projects; commercial property work and probate largely involving deceased foreign nationals. Samantha added: “I work in a dynamic environment, with new challenges every day. My job is demanding, and very much about building client relationships and using my knowledge and experience and adapting to the individual needs of my clients. My job focuses strongly on problem solving in a variety of guises. We must also not forget the need to contribute to the overall success of the firm.”

Samantha also shared her views on the status of women in the workplace: “For women in the working environment, I still think that it can be difficult to strike a good work-life balance due to the evident demands and pressures of both. However, the increased flexible way of working is helping in some ways, enabling women with children or dependants to manage their non-work responsibilities around their careers”.

“Arriving in Gibraltar and starting my legal career here I discovered the legal profession in Gibraltar to be more male oriented than it is today. Things have changed greatly over the years of course with more and more women joining the legal profession. This progression has also been at ISOLAS. As a firm we still have several female partners, and we have seen more female lawyers joining the firm and successfully progressing in their careers.

“On workplace diversity, there have been many positive changes over the years, and I certainly see this amongst many of my clients who promote diversity within their own organisations. I think it comes down to increased awareness of employee needs and the benefits associated with having a diverse workforce, accompanied by increased communication, understanding and a willingness to act and make changes where necessary.

“Celebrating International Women’s Day means inclusivity and striving to improve and develop our world for the benefit of all.”

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