Women, you can get to the top in law
Nabarro Nathan managing partner tells how she strikes a balance between work and family life
NABARRO NATHAN law-firm managing partner Nicole Paradise makes a convincing case for women balancing a career and family life.
The 48-year-old mother-of-two recalls that when she started out in the 1980s, “I used to be the only woman in meetings. But it is very different today. Thirty per cent of the partners at Nabarro Nathanson are women and a number of these hold management positions.”
Ms Paradise has been at the firm for getting on for 20 years. She was appointed to her present role in 1999 and has responsibility for implementing development strategy.
She tells JC Business that she has “never felt obligated” to give up work to spend more time with her children Lucy, six, and Jack, 12. “It was never a dilemma for me and I would encourage other women to work if they want to. There are so many different routes people can take today.
“Nabarro has no problem if a partner needs to spend time with their family.”
Two or three times a week, she tries to leave work “early” at 7pm to have dinner with the family at home in Chiswick. But she admits to finding it difficult when she has to go abroad or attend weekend conferences. “I have a very good support network. It is down to you to make to make it work and be obligated to spend money on childcare. When I do have the week off, my father always says: ‘Oh, so you are being a proper mum now.’”
Raised in Edgware, Middlesex, she qualified at Herbert Smith in 1986 and worked in Hong Kong for two years before returning to London to specialise in insurance. “There are some great opportunities for young professionals in Hong Kong, but I did not want stay out there.” She recalls that getting visas from Bangkok was “tricky, as I had Israel on my passport”.
In 1988, she joined Nabarro’s commercial litigation and dispute- resolution department. Her career highlights include victory in a lengthy environmental-pollution case in 1996, defending the operator of a high-temperature waste incinerator against a claim by a farmer that his cows had been poisoned.
She acknowledges that the legal profession is “a lot more lucrative today and has become increasingly recognised as a business”. But she contends that the “main opportunities” for young entrepreneurs today lie in the City. “Trading is good, as are hedge funds — not that I really know what they involve.”
Discussing the “cultural push” among Jews into law and the City professions, Ms Paradise reflects: “There was a feeling passed down from my parents’ generation that a profession equals a secure income and respect in the community.”
As for aspiring lawyers, she advises against following the herd when jobhunting. “It is so frustrating when we interview prospective trainees and they give the standard answers,” she reveals.
“For instance, when asked, ‘What are your faults?’ do not reply: ‘I am a perfectionist.’ It is important not to be too standard. Try to be yourself.”
Away from the office, her main interest is spending time with her children and husband John Lennard, who runs an independent record label.
They are planning Jack’s barmitzvah next year.
Nicole Paradise: “When I do have the week off, my father says: ‘So you are being a proper mum now’”