We caught up with Catherine, a trainee solicitor at Clyde & Co, to find out about her involvement in their LGBT+ network Pryde & Co - here's what she had to say.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to Clyde & Co
My journey was a bit different from the norm - I had decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was doing a Masters in International Law after finishing my Bsc in Politics/International Relations. With this goal in mind I worked in media analysis for a few years to save up funds for the GDL. I completed my GDL and then worked as a legal secretary/temp to save up for the LPC.
After finishing my LPC I joined Clyde & Co to work as a paralegal in their MIT2 (Marine and International Trade) department where I assisted a large team on a very complex and long-running marine arbitration case. I really enjoyed working as part of the team, and as my employment continued my responsibilities grew. At the end of my contract I was recommended internally for a training contract by one of the team's partners and the team's legal director. Given my positive experience with the MIT2 team and the opportunity to train in a firm that was well known for its work in the Marine sector, I was thrilled to be offered a training contract which started in 2019.
As a member of the LGBT+ community, what has been your experience working at Clyde & Co?
It has been very positive! My first role as a paralegal was supervised by a legal director/partner who is a lesbian and during my time as a trainee I have met various other LGBT+ members at all levels of the firm. I feel that this visibility is very important and has helped me be at ease with being out and being myself around colleagues. The openness I experienced can also be seen in the Pryde network, which I also felt was very important to helping me feel comfortable in being out at the firm.
How would you describe the Pryde network to an aspiring trainee at Clyde & Co?
The Pryde network (also sometimes referred to as 'Pryde & Co'), is the firm's LGBT+ network and is also open to allies. The network has members from all aspects of the firm (trainees, secretaries, business support staff, partners, etc.). The Pryde network is also affiliated with other LGBT+ networks, such as the LGBT+ Insurance Network (LINK).
What is the primary goal of the Pryde network?
The Pryde network has two primary goals. The first goal is to provide a support network within the firm for LGBT+ staff. The second goal of the network is to educate friends and colleagues of the firm about the issues that LGBT+ people face.
In what ways does the network support the LGBTQ+ community at Clyde & Co?
The Pryde network is involved in many aspects of the firm. As mentioned, Pryde acts as a support network for its members, but it also often partners with other networks in the firm, for example it discusses and organises intersectionality events with ACED (Achieving Cultural and Ethnic Diversity), our BAME group. The Pryde network also acts as an advisory group for the firm's UK and Global management team; raises awareness through events, presentations and communications; and collaborates with other LGBT+ networks in the industry.
What sorts of activities could a member of the network get involved with?
As a support network, Pryde & Co regularly hosts meetings that are open to all colleagues in the firm where they discuss the status of current initiatives, possible future initiatives and any other relevant topics that have arisen since the last meeting. Additionally, members are encouraged to attend events hosted by partners to both network with other LGBT+ members in the industry as well as to bring fresh ideas back to the Pryde network.
By way of example, last year one of my colleagues and I attended a presentation hosted by Pride in the City as representatives of the firm and the Pryde network. At this presentation, there was a presentation made by Bisi Alimi, a former Nigerian public figure who came out as gay and gave a powerful account of the adversities he faced as a result of this. Following this presentation, we discussed at the next Pryde network meeting that it would be beneficial to have Mr Alimi speak at our firm as his story could help educate our colleagues on important intersectional elements regarding race, sexuality and class. Sadly, the current Covid-19 health crisis has slowed down the Pryde network's activities somewhat, but it is still very much active!
What are some of the Pryde network’s biggest achievements within the firm?
One of Pryde's biggest achievements recently has been to partner with Stonewall with Clyde & Co becoming a Global Diversity Champion. Personally, I feel that the open, welcoming environment to LGBT+ members is itself a hallmark of the Pryde network's success.
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