Elaine Gingell Littlejohn, Senior Associate, Aequitas Legal
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
During my fourth year of law school, I joined a medium-sized firm as an apprentice and immediately found my niche in family law. After three years, and upon obtaining my law degree, I joined my current firm to run the family law department and represent the Foundation for Social Welfare Services in Malta. I held this position for five years until I decided to take my career a step further and moved to Ireland to further develop my experience in family law. I joined the firm Mannix & Company as an associate. After a year, I relocated to Scotland and carried out research in international family law and then returned to my current firm in Malta.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Having lived in three European jurisdictions, my proudest professional achievement has been my success in working and representing clients in different legal systems and court settings, coupled with my accomplishment in significantly contributing towards the growth of the family practice at the respective local and foreign firms.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
The greatest challenge in my current role is to ensure the provision of optimal service and efficiency to all clients at all times. Time management is a key factor in trying to overcome this constant challenge and I do my utmost to utilise every hour of my working day in the most resourceful manner and in my client’s best interests.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Being a lawyer and a mother is, at times, a struggle in itself and trying to attain the right work-life balance is certainly no easy task. However I strongly believe that with the right attitude and frame of mind, everything is achievable in life. I have learnt that I can be a good lawyer and a good mother by trying to completely separate the two roles thus giving my full attention to work during my office hours, while focusing on my family when I’m at home. It’s a daily challenge but having a successful career and a happy family life makes it extremely rewarding.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I cannot say that I have had one mentor or role model in my career as a number of people have guided me throughout my years as a legal professional. I have been lucky enough during all these years to have worked with partners and colleagues who were always ready to work hand in hand as a team creating the right work environment and setting the right example for any maturing professional.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
With today’s changing workforce, it would be safe to say that corporate diversity initiatives are almost inevitable. Most companies are now recognising the power of diversity in their workforce and create services that appeal to their increasingly diverse customer bases. These initiatives may well contribute towards achieving various goals including better work relationships among employees and the enhancement of social responsibility.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
I believe that being a female lawyer poses its pros and cons particularly depending on the legal sector involved. In family law, I would say that being female has, in most cases, put me at an advantage. From my experience most clients, be they men or women, look out for a female lawyer to discuss their personal issues, probably because women in general tend to be more sensitive to certain delicate matters.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
The significant increase in female lawyers together with the appointment of women in high profile legal jobs has contributed towards a positive change in the general perspective on women in the legal profession. Additionally, technology has played a very important role, giving lawyers, particularly women, the opportunity to pursue their careers even from their own home.