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Gardner Leader flexes its inclusive culture with two new hires

Progressive law firm, Gardner Leader based in Newbury, Thatcham and Maidenhead, is once again taking the lead on supporting working parents following the hire of Hannah Davies, Corporate and Commercial solicitor, and Clare King, solicitor in the Commercial Property team.

Last year Gardner Leader became one of the first law firms in Berkshire to launch its own diverse and inclusive ‘Back to Law’ programme – helping lawyers get back into private practice after a career break and regain their confidence and skills.

After a seven year career break Hannah, who is mum to two young children, took part in Gardner Leader’s month long ‘Back to Law’ internship, during which time she received the latest legal, HR and technology training and advice.

Hannah started her legal career training and working at a leading international law firm in London for over six years. She soon moved from intern to employee at Gardner Leader where she now works part time in Maidenhead’s corporate and commercial team.

Hannah has extensive experience of advising businesses across multiple sectors on a broad range of corporate and commercial matters, including commercial contracts, mergers and acquisitions, joint venture agreements, outsourcing agreements, company secretarial, risk management and compliance matters. She has worked at a leading airport operator advising on a broad spectrum of commercial matters and managing its property portfolio, and was seconded to the Prague office of the international law firm where she managed a high volume of corporate transactional deals.

Hannah said, “I took a career break to look after my two children and to settle into a new life in Berkshire having lived in London. The challenge of my husband working long hours in the City and managing the children did not suit me returning to work sooner but now my children are slightly older so the time felt right to return to work.

“Gardner Leader has been so supportive and I’m delighted I made the application to their Back to Law programme. They trained me on all their systems from the outset and made me feel very valued. They offer a flexible culture that is very progressive when supporting work-life balance.

“So far the return has been busy but extremely rewarding and it’s great to be working as part of a team again, build relationships with a wide variety of fascinating clients.”

Clare King, mum to two teenagers, joins Gardner Leader’s commercial team in Newbury after also taking a seven year career break to raise a family. Clare brings 21 years in all areas of commercial property work, including portfolio management, development work, corporate support and landlord and tenant matters.

Clare said, “The juggle of working did not suit our family circumstances at the time but my children are now teenagers and I felt it was a good point in my life to resume my career.

“It’s exciting to be part of Gardner Leaders’ team as I reap all the benefits of working for a fast growing, innovative law firm that’s local to me and understands the benefits of flexible, modern day working practices.”

Both new joiners say confidence was the biggest challenge when returning to work after a career break. Clare continues: ‘Whilst the legal knowledge was there it takes time to confidently use that knowledge after a break. I therefore returned to law slowly to rebuild my skills and to familiarise myself with changes, mainly technical ones, by working as a paralegal for several months before then moving to Gardner Leader.

Hannah adds: “During my career break, I undertook various voluntary roles such as advising at a legal clinic and helping a local mental health charity, to keep my brain and skills active. I also spoke to career coaches and a Law Society Back to Law Ambassador for advice. It’s important to do what you can to keep up your skills and confidence if you plan to return to work at some point.”

Derek Rodgers, Managing Partner at Gardner Leader says, “We’ve always been a firm supporter of providing workplace policies and initiatives that support working parents and create an inclusive, diverse and flexible workplace culture.

“We’re delighted that Hannah and Clare could join the team as they’re experienced in their specialist areas, have a strong work ethic and are brilliant with addressing the clients’ needs.”

Gardner Leader has also continued to support the development of its staff with a number of promotions, welcoming five new Partners – Jo Bullard in commercial, Michelle Challis and Chris Dale in conveyancing, Simon Fisher in family, and Richard Mead in inheritance protection, as well as promoting four staff to senior associates and one to associate.