Catherine talks overcoming obstacles, bridging the gaps, delivering success and why equity in the work place is so important.
From the end of March 2023, I will be taking over as managing partner of Morr & Co, the firm has been around for a very long time and has changed a great deal in the last decade particularly.
We have an amazing culture here at Morr & Co. We have always valued our collegiate, supportive and professional approach to our clients and to each other; and it’s at the heart of everything we are and everything we do.
I have practised as a commercial litigator for about 25 years. I have always loved my practice area. Most of my clients are businesses, and each client’s business is different, and fascinating. In order to help my clients resolve disputes with suppliers, or counterparties, or internally between directors or shareholders, it is necessary to understand how those businesses work, and their priorities. That aspect of my practice has exposed me to many different business sectors, and different ways in which businesses are run.
Like many people, finding my path into my career was an accident. As I was leaving school, I wanted to join the Police Force, but back then, I was too short (the height requirements have since been abolished!) My parents were keen for me to be the first in my family to go to university, and I chose to read law, as being the next best thing to becoming a police officer. I applied for a training contract in my second year at university, because I still had not decided what to do with myself; and within 6 months of starting work as a trainee solicitor, I knew I had found a career for life.
There are four points in my career that will always be important milestones for me. The first was returning to work after a career break. 20 years ago, the profession was far less welcoming to women returning to work; and even less enthusiastic about litigators working part-time. I will always be grateful to David Foster of Barlow Robins (now Moore Barlow) for giving me the opportunity to re-join the profession, on a part-time basis. Becoming the head of my team here at Morr & Co was my first opportunity to grow and develop a team of very talented people. I was appointed to sit as a deputy district Judge at the end of 2021. That is a real privilege, and I am proud to be able to serve my community and the justice system in a small way. Finally, my new appointment as managing partner here at Morr & Co.
I believe the changes to working life brought about by the pandemic are here to stay. I am excited by the opportunity to increase the advantages of flexible and hybrid working. It has lifted many of the obstacles to recruitment and career progression that have limited the potential of people with caring responsibilities, or who happen to live too far away from our offices to commute to work. I will be focussing on using the opportunities of hybrid working and advances in technology and IT to help us work more efficiently and productively; and to be happier with our work life balance while we do that.
Notable women leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama have spoken about the need to bring your whole self to work; to avoid projecting an artificial self in the workplace. I think that’s right; and no-one should feel the need to suppress their personality to present what they think might be a more acceptable version of themselves at work.
I try not to be a different person at work from the person I am at home. I like a clear desk, and I like a tidy house. I have a lot of energy, so I work hard, and I spend my leisure time being active. My family make bets every year when we go on holiday about how long I will manage to stay on a sunbed before I have signed up for some activity or other!
We are entirely committed to delivering the best service we can for our clients. That means understanding what they need and working with them to deliver it. It means being available to them, and responsive. It sounds simple, but it takes hard work and a lot of training to create an environment in which all our lawyers deliver that, each of them unique in themselves and the way that they work, consistently.