Who? Jane Keir, partner, family and divorce, Kingsley Napley, London.
Why is she in the news? Represented a woman who was awarded £400,000 in compensation after arguing that she sacrificed her prospects of becoming a law firm partner to start a family with her solicitor husband. Mr Justice Moor, delivering judgment in private in RC v JC, said he found sufficient ‘relationship-generated disadvantage’ to justify awarding the wife compensation.
Thoughts on the case: ‘Our client’s situation stood out for career sacrifice compensation and we worked hard to secure witnesses who corroborated her talent and potential. Mr Justice Moor made clear his decision should not open the floodgates to relationship-generated disadvantage claims. However, it is good to have shown that the principle of compensation still exists in family law for exceptional cases. In theory, this would apply to whichever partner steps back in their career putting family ahead of ambition and earning power.’
Dealing with the media: ‘I was impressed by the media. Their reports were accurate and balanced, noting that although this was a landmark decision for the claimant, it didn’t necessarily mean a green light for everyone who had given up work for the sake of their family and children. What surprised me more, perhaps, were the titles that carried a story. Yes, the Guardian, Telegraph and Mail covered it, but I wasn’t expecting the Mirror or Stylist to find it interesting or newsworthy without a sensationalist slant.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘The world and our society continue to develop at such a pace that the need for good lawyers remains constant. Take divorce and family work: from same-sex marriage to surrogacy and the imminent introduction of no-fault divorce, whatever your views, the opportunities to develop and shape the law have never been better.’
Career high: ‘Becoming the senior partner of Kingsley Napley in 2013. I recall my predecessor Christopher Murray telling me that there was no job spec for the role and that you made it your own. I will always remember the spontaneous cheer I got from the women in the room when we told the firm.’
Career low: ‘I went through a period not long after qualifying where my confidence dipped. Clients expect you to have all the answers and can be unforgiving. It is one of the reasons why I qualified as a coach last year with Meyler Campbell, to help support junior lawyers who have all the qualifications and formal training but who have yet to develop their confidence.’