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Celebrating International Women’s Day

An interview with agricultural property litigator, Esther Woolford

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we have interviewed one of our female partners, Esther Woolford, who heads up the Agricultural Property Litigation team in Taunton.

In this interview, Esther not only highlights her achievements but also explains the challenges she has faced in her career. Her words “women need to learn how to self-promote and put themselves forwards for opportunities” echo this year’s IWD theme which is #EachForEqual

Tell us a little about why you were drawn to a career in law and your current role at CW

I always believed in right and wrong and would try to address unfairness from an early age. This attracted me to the law and now I attempt to right wrongs and resolve problems in my role as a litigator!

My role as a partner gives me the opportunity to manage people and be involved in the running of the business which is an added layer I enjoy.

What challenges have you faced in your career and what challenges have you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge is achieving a work/life balance especially now that I have a young son. As a working mum, I am always wrestling with a guilty conscience especially if I have to work away.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Representing the claimant in a successful farming partnership dispute. The end result was that the claimant’s family were able to keep the farm and stay in their family home.

Who is the biggest influence in your life?

My father who died at an early age. His death made me appreciate the importance of living life to the full as you never know what is round the corner.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing woman in the workplace today? 

Women need to learn how to self-promote and put themselves forwards for opportunities. We tend to self-censor too much!

How can we make a positive impact on gender equality at work?

We just need to keep going – there are lots of positives and plenty of opportunity for women to promote equality.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself and enjoy the journey.

What do you enjoy about working in the Agricultural Sector?

I love rural life – and I am interested in the issues affecting the rural community. Agricultural law is challenging and varied – making each day different and fascinating – regularly dealing with property law, principles of trust, probate, tax, partnership, company law and even human rights.

What challenges do you think women face in the Agricultural Industry?

The industry is historically a male dominated one but Minette Batters has been President of the NFU for two years now and her recent uncontested re-election as leader is paving the way for women to play key roles in shaping UK agriculture.

What drew you to work in Agricultural Law?

I grew up in the countryside and whilst my paternal grandfather was a legal executive, my maternal grandmother was a founding member of the Women’s Land Army creating a perfect genetic synergy!

Do you have any advice for young women seeking to be involved in the Agricultural Industry?

Go for it! The industry is evolving and whilst Brexit presents challenges to the sector, it is important to remember that with challenges come opportunities. The Agri-tech revolution is going to make it a very exciting space to work in especially for the next generation. 

Esther is a Partner and Solicitor Advocate specialising in agricultural and property litigation. She joined Clarke Willmott in 2013 and heads up the agricultural litigation team in our Taunton office. Esther recently became a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association.

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