International Women's Day 2021 - Sacco Mann Talks To... Claire Petricca-Riding at Irwin Mitchell

5 Minutes

Amy Haycocks talks to Claire Petricca-Riding, National Head of Planning & Envi...

Amy Haycocks talks to Claire Petricca-Riding, National Head of Planning & Environmental Law at Irwin Mitchell, based in Manchester. Claire has considerable experience in all aspects of planning and environmental matters relating to a range of sectors. Most notably, in the the development (commercial, PRS and PBSA), retail, maritime and waste management sectors. She also acts on property and corporate transactions in respect of bespoke due diligence.

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?

That is a difficult question to answer as the range of personal circumstances will vastly differ.  For me and my fellow female partners who have family commitments, it has allowed a greater degree of blended living – I may even be at more school pick ups and drop offs which for working mothers has caused a disproportionate amount of guilt in the past.  This level of blended living may mean we feel less guilty about all manner of things.

But for those starting out in the profession there will be different challenges and as leaders it is incumbent on us to ensure that the door is wide open for others to walk through and ensuring we are visible even in a blended physical and virtual workplace.  The entrants to the profession are gender balanced, the key is to ensure that whatever the new normal is this balance is maintained going forward which seeks to overcome the challenge of female retention at a certain age and point in their careers.  The hope and desire is that the new normal changes this as it will allows for greater flexibility in the workplace.

Chambers & Partners, 2021

Claire is enormously dedicated to her work and her clients. She is well respected, very straight-talking, easy to get on with and forward-thinking in her approach.

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?

The biggest challenge has been focus. Home schooling and home working has meant a house full of people which has lead to constant distraction. Meeting the challenge of family life and work commitments has been hard, but equally rewarding now the end is in sight.

The change to a virtual workplace has been transformational for me and my team which is spread across a number of Irwin Mitchell offices. We have become more productive and have fostered closer relationships as a result of being able to see each other ondaily basis if we wish to! It certainly hasn’t always been easy, the team has gone through a lot of change since I joined 18 months ago, but we emerge from this a stronger, more united team.

The openness we have I would very much like to take forward as it nurtures all our characters and career aspirations.

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

Don’t buy the cases of wine during the first lockdown! Joking aside it would have been to make sure I get out more. The habit is to start work early instead of going for a run or walk. We all need time and space – I would remind myself of this.

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?

The biggest impact will be for women to be part of these conversations that will change the future of working and the workplace. Without diversity of thought and opinions the new normal will quickly become the old normal to the steps forward for change and the opportunities that brings will be lost once again for a generation of lawyers.

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

Laughing with my friends and family. We have a lovely work family at Irwin Mitchell the opportunity to socialise with them all again in person is something I am very much looking forward to – Manchester I am sure is waiting for us all to come back!