Kirsten Tuck, partner, Everett Tomlin Lloyd and Pratt, Newport, Pontypool and Usk...

Starting out as a young trainee solicitor in 1995, I was the only female lawyer in the local firm at which I worked. 
In fact, 38 per cent of solicitors at that time were female, but only 15 per cent were partners in their firms. 
Yet, in a profession which was traditionally dominated by white, middle-class men, things were already starting to change, as every single year since 1992 has seen more women joining the profession than men.
It has taken a while to catch up, but now almost 49 per cent of solicitors are women, including two thirds in the public sector. 
We are however, further from reaching equality when you look at the number of women partners. Last year 59 per cent of non-partner solicitors were women, but just 33 per cent of partners. 
While this is, of course, a big increase and improvement on the position when I joined the profession, we still have some way to go. 
It is fair to say that it is an issue which is high on the Law Society’s agenda, as they are currently carrying out the largest survey ever conducted into women in law.
I have been fortunate with my own experiences. I joined Everett Tomlin Lloyd and Pratt solicitors in 1998 and from the outset I was encouraged to progress and could see that my hard work would be recognised and rewarded. At the age of 30 I became a partner and have been instrumental in developing the firm. 
We have always had a mix of male and female partners at my firm and I believe this can help gain a different perspective and create a positive dynamic. The last two solicitors we promoted to partnership level were both women. 
However, the reason they were offered partnership was because they had performed exceptionally well and shown the level of commitment and dedication which we look for in our new partners. 
Personally, I don’t believe in positive discrimination. Jobs should go to the people who are best qualified for them. 
Monitoring pay and opportunities between genders should not be about ticking boxes, but ensuring that there are no barriers to prevent the best people thriving in the profession. 
I am secretary of the Monmouthshire Law Society, and we have just appointed our new female president, Mel Bevan Evans, who owns and runs her own firm. 
About half of our active committee members are women. Looking at workplaces generally, it is now widely recognised that fairness in the workplace is a vital component in the smooth running and development of any successful organisation. 
In law, this is supported by the Equality Act 2010, the aim of which is to improve equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants. 
Organisations should have policies in place to ensure these outcomes happen and to prevent discrimination, providing clarity to all employees so that they know what is acceptable and expected of them as individuals and as part of the organisation.
The Act states that it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work and lists nine areas as protected characteristics, including sex and pregnancy and maternity.
Employees who believe they have been discriminated against at work, or are concerned that their colleagues are being discriminated against, should raise it with their employer and have confidence that it will be taken seriously.
Last year new gender pay gap reporting provisions came into force which require firms with more than 250 staff to provide data including comparisons between salaries and bonuses paid to women and how these compare to those paid to men. 
Much of this data is yet to be published, with the deadline being April this year, but we have already seen some cases of significant inequality, with the BBC being perhaps the most high profile example. 
Only a few larger city solicitor firms have released their data so far, but gender pay gaps of between approximately a fifth and a third have been revealed at three of the country’s biggest law firms. 
In fact, the disparity in larger law firms appears to be far greater than in more moderately sized high street practices. In city firms an average of just 27 per cent of partners are women, compared with the professions overall average of 33 per cent.
At my firm we recognise that it is important to provide flexible working conditions, in addition to providing training and opportunities to ensure that each person reaches their full potential. 
I consider myself fortunate to have been given fantastic opportunities and encouragement throughout my career, especially at my current firm, and do not feel that being female has held me back. 
One of the things I like the most about owning my own firm is that I am now in a position to offer the same opportunities to others, the result of which will hopefully be a long and bright future for my 200 year old firm.