Freshfields senior partner pushes for the abolishment of billable hours

The partner urged the acceleration of change to address the issue of gender equality in pay

Freshfields senior partner pushes for the abolishment of billable hours
Georgia Dawson

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer senior partner Georgia Dawson has pushed for the abolishment of billable hours in the UK legal profession.

“We need to measure outputs rather than inputs,” she said in her keynote speech at the Fiona Woolf Lecture last Thursday according to the Law Society Gazette.

She pointed out that an “ecosystem problem” plagued the industry, and that she had failed to observe “the necessary action, or in some quarters of the profession a sense of urgency, for action to move us to a profession with true gender parity.”

“We have to recognise not all women have the same experience of work. There are additional barriers for women, such as women of colour or disabilities. The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to reimagine the practice of law and have the chance to reshape the ecosystem as something fairer for all,” Dawson explained in a statement published by the Gazette.

Research that was recently conducted by the Law Society of England and Wales revealed that while gender pay parity had improved in the four years since the implementation of mandatory gender pay gap reporting, there was still progress to be made.

“For many years, efforts have focused on improving gender equality, giving individuals the tools to navigate the profession as it currently exists and operates. There have been efforts to improve aspects of the ecosystem, [such as] unconscious bias training,” Dawson said.

Female lawyers are also rising up the ranks both in private practice and in-house, and women continue to be drawn to a legal career. However, Dawson said that the rate at which the profession was changing was “too slow.”

She expressed her belief that the onus to take gender equality efforts further lay on firms’ management teams.

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