International Women's Day 2021 - Sacco Mann Talks To... Christine Barker at Ward Hadaway

5 Minutes

Amy Haycocks talks to Christine Barker, Joint Head of Family at Ward Hadaway. Christine is based in Manchester and has over 40 years’ experience in dealing with divorce and financial issues as well as children matters. She deals with a full range of family matters with a particular specialism in divorce, financial issues and children.


Statistics show that women have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic whether that be by being more likely to have been made redundant / on furlough or taking the lead with home-schooling whilst juggling work, whilst other statistics show that increased working from home and flexibility will allow for positive steps forward for Women in work.

Now as we start making steps to move out of lockdown and towards ‘normality’, what do you think the lasting effects from the pandemic will be for Women in Law?

I think the increase in flexibility will no doubt be a positive thing moving forward. Previously, many women moved out of law after having children due to the lack of flexibility from firms so hopefully it’ll keep many more women in the profession.

One of the things I don’t think is talked about a lot is the reduced confidence levels of more junior lawyers having spent the last 12 months working more independently without the day-to-day support from more senior team members. I think this is something firms need to make sure they address.

Her work covers all aspects of family law including complex financial settlements which often involve businesses, trust and difficult family arrangements.

Reflecting on the last 12 months, what have been the biggest challenges for you personally and what are the positives you would like to keep and take forward?

I think the biggest challenge has been getting used to working from home and not being with the team every day. A lot of what I love about my role is meeting new clients, networking, and getting out in the market so those things not being possible has been tough.

I moved to Ward Hadaway in April last year after over 20 years with the same firm, so we couldn’t celebrate the move quite in the way we wanted whilst in national lockdown however, it’s been amazing how smooth the transition has been, and it’s been lovely to be able to get to know my colleagues in all the offices virtually.

What piece of advice do you wish you could go back and give to yourself at the beginning of 2020?

Stock up on wine not dried pasta, do the things you love whilst you can and try not to worry about the things you can’t control.

As many firms are revaluating working environments, flexible working policies and benefits packages to ensure they’re relevant post-pandemic. What things do you feel make the biggest impact for Women in the workplace?

Having started my career in law over 40 years ago, the working environment now certainly feels a world away from how things were for Women in law when I first started.

I think one of the biggest changes will be having more freedom to choose when and where you work but I think people only feel comfortable doing that when its accepted as part of the culture of the firm and I’ve always tried to do this by leading by example by being transparent with my team about working fitting around my outside of work life and they have always done the same.

What is the thing you are most looking forward to doing once we’re finally in the ‘new normal’?

Sitting outside Cibo in Hale in the sunshine (hopefully) with a nice glass of wine with friends and family.