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Jane Amphlett

Employment law Partner Jane Amphlett shares her insight as part of our Women in Law campaign.

"Woman in floral dress sitting pensively.
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I have always worked hard, sought to challenge myself and taken opportunities where they have presented themselves.

Jane Amphlett, Employment Partner
Howard Kennedy

Tell me about your career path, and how you got to be an Employment Partner

I would like to claim that I had a clear vision but the truth is that I have always worked hard, sought to challenge myself and taken opportunities where they have presented themselves - starting with wanting to travel after university but my father offered to buy me a round-the world ticket if I went to Law School first!

I immediately found employment law interesting and rewarding – seeking to address inequalities, it is about issues which are of crucial importance to those involved, intellectually challenging and constantly evolving, reflecting developing social mores. At that time the MOD had a discriminatory policy that, once pregnant, women were required to leave the Armed Forces. So, as a trainee, I took on pro bono cases, including advocacy in the Employment Tribunals, did two "seats" in employment and qualified into the employment team.

At five years' PQE, my boss left and I was offered the role as Head of Employment at Manches and a year later I was offered partnership; I moved to Addleshaw Goddard as a partner and Head of Equality; and have been with Howard Kennedy (FSI), for nearly 10 years, latterly as Head of Employment and Immigration.

Has being a woman ever had an impact (either positively or negatively) on your job and if so, how?

I was incredibly lucky: my parents believed that everyone should use their talents and there was never any question in my mind about my right to equality of opportunity. That has helped me to be able to challenge situations when I have perceived that I have been disadvantaged. Of course bringing up children while pursuing a demanding career is not always easy but the juggling is made possible by working with a great team (and that includes my husband on the home front!).

Can you tell me a time where you’ve challenge the status quo and whether you were successful in changing people's mind-set

In terms of my own role, I was the first female lawyer in my firm to wear trousers and the first to work part-time: that was in the late 1990s and early 2000s and it's amazing how quickly we take things for granted!

We challenge the status quo regularly in our work and seek to persuade people to view things from a different angle.

One of the greatest catalysts for change is people feeling and being brave enough to speak out, on behalf of themselves and others: as the #metoo cases have demonstrated.

Have you got any advice for young women entering the legal profession?

I agree with Michelle Obama that your own confidence and fortitude will determine your success: that's what I try to instil in my three daughters.

Who would be your female inspiration, either within or outside the legal industry?

We benefit from the legacy of so many inspirational women. In the Victorian era, not long before women were permitted to practice law, Josephine Butler was an inspirational British feminist and social reformer. She campaigned for women's suffrage, the end of coverture in British law (under which, on marriage, a woman's legal rights and obligations were subsumed by those of her husband), the abolition of child prostitution (she was part of a group which forced parliament to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16), and an end to human trafficking of young women and children into prostitution. She was a feminist with a strong social conscience who played a major part in improving conditions for women in education, legal rights and public health.


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