Feature: Louise Duckett
We are pleased to feature Louise Duckett, President of the Kent Law Society and Solicitor at Davis Simmonds & Donaghey Solicitors. Louise is extremely experienced in representing parents and family members in care proceedings; including cases relating to domestic abuse, sexual abuse, non-accidental injury and neglect.
We have chosen to feature Louise as she is a strong advocate for women in law and is an avid supporter of Women in Law Kent (WILK).
WILK: How did you get into law?
Louise: I got into law accidentally. I studied Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies at University. My dissertation was about whether female defendants in criminal proceedings were treated in the same way as male defendants. As part of my research, I spent a lot of time with barristers and in the crown court. I absolutely loved being in Court and thought maybe it was something I should pursue. I decided to do my graduate diploma in law (the law conversion) and then my LPC. I ended up working as a secretary in a law firm one summer between courses – in the childcare department. It was an area of law I didn’t even realise existed – and I found it fascinating. I realised that as a Solicitor in this area of law, I could spend lots of my time in Court and I knew it was for me.
WILK: Did you face any obstacles in your legal career?
Louise: I didn’t know any lawyers at all. None of my family or friends were lawyers. It was hard to get work experience or even speak to people to see if law was the right thing for me! I didn’t realise people might comment on which university I went to. When I started out, I remember being in a room full of lawyers at court, being the youngest there and being asked which college I went to. I didn’t realise at the time that they were referring to Oxford/Cambridge and that I was the only non-Oxbridge lawyer in the room. I remember one person laughing when I said which university I went to. If anything, I think it made me even more determined to do well; but of course at the time it sometimes felt intimidating. I’ve also found obstacles since having children; some people have implied that means I can’t do my job as well or that maybe I won’t be as focussed, or they might have had an issue when I worked part time hours. I think it has actually made me a better lawyer and much more understanding of the circumstances of all of the people I meet along the way!
WILK: You are the President of Kent Law Society, what are your goals for your presidential year?
Louise: I have three main themes. ‘for you, for the future, for charity’. ‘For you’ means looking after ourselves and our profession. It means making sure we check in on one another and it means understanding what wellbeing really is. So far I have run an event about wellbeing and supervision and a fun wine tasting event. ‘For the future’ is all about the next generations of law students, lawyers, partners and Judges. I want to help people have the chance to reach out to their peers and maybe to be people they wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to chat to. I want to help students speak to trainees, help trainees speak to junior lawyers and help junior lawyers speak to partners. It’s all about progression and succession! I’d love to see the statistics of solicitors and legal executives becoming Judges change – we are a great profession, and the judiciary needs to be representative. ‘For charity’ – I am supporting Young Lives Foundation. This goal is simple. I want to raise as much money and awareness for this charity – which is a fantastic Kent based charity helping children all over the county.
WILK: Lastly, do you have any advice for future female lawyers?
Louise: You can do it! I think we’ve absolutely got to believe in ourselves and find great supportive cheerleaders to keep around us – and make sure we pass that on as well. I have had some amazing mentors over the years and I hope that one day I can repay the kindness.
Thank you to Louise and we wish you all the best in your presidential year!