Each month we spotlight one of our member’s stories…
This month, Uma Akther from Macfarlanes talks about why she’s proud to work for the organisation, which is investing in their employees, and how she moved into the career.
Name: Uma Akther
Job title: Inclusion and CSR Manager
What is it like working for Macfarlanes? Why are they a great organisation to work for? How have Macfarlanes supported your career? How has the organisation helped you be authentic at work?
My time at Macfarlanes has been unique in so many ways – I joined a firm where D&I was, and continues to be, at the forefront and the genuine desire to be better at D&I was evident from day one. Honesty and determination are so important because to me my job is more than just work; it is a personal passion and it is about fairness and equality for all. It is so refreshing to work for an organisation that is open to listening and striving to continually improve. The firm genuinely values its staff and recognises their contribution.
The size of the firm enables my team to deliver meaningful events and reach everyone who works here. The culture is very human-sized; we know each other personally which means we work together with more cohesion, and less formality. I feel valued as an individual and, as a function, we are an integral part of the firm.
In every organisation that I have worked (private and public sector) there have been times when because of my ‘difference’ (gender/ethnicity/religion/dietary requirements) I have felt out of place – let’s be honest, most of us probably have at some point in our careers. The difference is, at Macfarlanes everyone wants to learn and I know I have allies. The support system is real and spans to the very top.
Tell us about your role and how you got into it?
I actually got into my role by accident – but it was the best accident of my life! I grew up with five siblings in East London, I was the only one with a real interest in attending university. At the time a successful career to me was one where people became a doctor/banker/lawyer etc. I had a very good memory, was a real people’s person and a very loud voice (when necessary), based on this I tried politics and policing and eventually decided I wanted to be a lawyer.
Trying to secure a training contract to become a qualified solicitor was tough (and depressing!). My plan B was to join a law firm in a different role and build connections which might lead me to becoming a trainee solicitor there. The door that opened for me was one with the CSR team at a magic circle law firm. Two things happened; I discovered the area of CSR and D&I which I did not know existed and I realised how passionate I was about this sector.
My role is challenging yet satisfying, I have led on some really interesting projects with fantastic outcomes. We run events and engage with staff daily, we have come a long way and the progress is visible.
What tips would you give someone looking for a career there?
Macfarlanes is perfect for those who want to build careers for the long term. If you enjoy collaborating with colleagues and finding opportunities and pursuing them, your hard work will be recognised and rewarded. Our culture is thoughtful, challenging and supportive, and we are a place where everyone, at whatever level, can thrive. Working at Macfarlanes could be the best career choice you’ll make.
Macfarlanes are a distinctive London-based law firm with a unique combination of services built and shaped around the needs of our clients. Our unrivalled blend of expertise, agility and culture means we have the flexibility to meet their most challenging demands and adapt to the changing world around us.