Siobhain Egan, Consultant, Lewis Nedas & Co.
How long have you been working for your current company?
I joined them four years ago in 2008.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I was called to the bar in 1989 and re-qualified as a solicitor in 1993, when working for Offenbachs Solicitors. They were specialists in the fields of serious crime and fraud defence. Thereafter, I was a salaried partner in two other firms before joining my husband, Jeffrey Lewis, at Lewis Nedas as a consultant.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
My proudest professional achievement is my current appointment as a member of The Sentencing Council. I report to Lord Justice Leveson.
Other than that, I have successfully defended many high profile cases throughout my career; the one case that stands out in particular is the News of the World sting that involved an alleged conspiracy to kidnap Victoria Beckham and her family. It is a real shame that the authorities did not listen to the complaints that we made on our client’s behalf about the behaviour of newspapers, even then!
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Defending serious crime and serious fraud prosecutions is very challenging because there have been so many procedural, funding, and evidential changes brought about by successive governments.
I have always tried to avoid being stereotyped as a female criminal lawyer, and have largely refused to conduct many child abuse or sex crime cases as a result. Sadly, there are still too many senior partners and barristers clerks who feel that those areas should be the sole preserve of female lawyers.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
I have to confess that my husband and I are both workaholics; we just love what we do. Other than that, we have wonderful long-suffering friends who occasionally remind us that there is another world beyond that of serious crime and fraud.
In truth, this is a 24/7 job, as it can be unpredictable, and we have to react quickly and at very short notice.
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 did not have a particular mentor or role model, but I have been fortunate to have trained with and/or worked with some great criminal/fraud lawyers, for example: Bernard Carnell; Christopher Kinch QC (now HHJ Kinch QC); Stephen Hockman QC; Nadine Radford QC; Martin Hicks QC; Kaly Kaul QC; and Dee Connolly. All of them are meticulous, clever, and fearless to the last.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Corporate diversity initiatives are slowly moving towards their desired goals. The Law Society have helped enormously in this regard. It will take some time before its effects filter through, so it is difficult at this stage to see which are the most effective and why.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
There are few advantages, if any, to being a female in my areas of expertise. It is a field dominated by male clients, judges, solicitors and barristers. They key to dealing with these disadvantages is to ensure that one produces great results consistently and the best client care available. In short, women still have to be better than their many male colleagues.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Perhaps the most significant change is that there are so many more women lawyers than when I first qualified. Law firms are having to fight hard to keep the most talented of these young women.