We are sharing a series of blogs from the winners and runners up at the National Societies and Volunteering Awards 2023. This series is giving a platform for the students themselves to share more about what they have achieved in 2023, their motivations, and the lessons they learned. Today’s blog is from the winners for the Development Award: Exeter’s Women and Law Society at Exeter Students’ Guild.
Exeter’s Women and Law Society are delighted to have been awarded the ‘Development’ award at this year’s NSVAs and are pleased to share our social action journey.
When Hannah and I took over as Co-Presidents of the Women and Law Society, we had lots of ideas! However, passionate about maintaining free membership, a lot of planning was required. As well as the individual work of each of our fantastic committee members (see photo above), Hannah introduced Women and Law’s first-ever Netball team whilst Freya, our brilliant Vice-President, implemented our first large-scale family scheme – buddying first-year students with other years and committee members. This year hasn’t been without its challenges. However, we are so proud of our brilliant committee – which doubled in size over the course of the year – and remained driven by the great feedback and support of many of our members.
Over the course of the year, we hosted a diverse range of events. However, whether we were hearing from female barristers, solicitors, judges or academics, our focus remained the same – asking our speakers to share their candid experiences in law, overcoming challenges and what change is still needed. Within these sessions, we also strove to develop our members’ skills and confidence. Ahead of some of our larger in-person events, such as our recent trip to Slaughter and May’s London Office, we hosted sessions on how to network, utilise LinkedIn as well as more specific application workshops to support members in maximising these opportunities.
In light of the Society’s aims, we also held a seminal panel event to mark International Women’s Day. Keen to ensure this remained accessible, we received funding from our University’s alumni fund to ensure tickets were free and we could provide a diverse range of female speakers, all at different stages within their legal careers. Recognising the value of mentoring and the important insights provided, we have continued to grow our ‘Inspire Her’ mentoring scheme to over one hundred female legal professionals and students – and still growing! Securing two new corporate sponsorships also maintained our free membership – a core part of our Society. However, Women and Law has also acted as an important community. As well as informal socials and our family scheme, our intramural netball team, kindly sponsored by Allen and Overy, proved to be extremely successful in their weekly matches!
Finishing the year, we are so proud that the Society has grown to over 400 members and is now supported by a 16-person committee. Our focus has remained on empowering women to enter the legal industry and are confident the Society will continue to grow and prompt more important change.