Home / Publications / CMS Next / Heike Wagner on women in law
  1. Protection and loyalty: securing valuable trade secrets
  2. Meet our expert: Maria Figueiredo, Partner, Portugal
  3. Meet our expert: Dalia Majumder-Russell, Partner, UK
  4. Digitalisation and innovation
  5. Contributing to climate-neutral transportation
  6. Investing in intelligent automation
  7. Advising on innovative digital project
  8. Supporting climate-resilient businesses
  9. Supercharged ESG: Getting control of the post-COVID agenda
  10. Meet our expert: Adriana Escobar, Partner, Colombia
  11. Meet our expert: Babita Ambekar, Partner, Singapore
  12. Meet our expert: Bridgett Majola, Partner, South Africa
  13. Meet our expert: Lillian Lofty, Partner, Kenya
  14. Meet our expert: Marite Aragaki, Partner, Peru
  15. Meet our other experts
  16. After the pandemic
  17. Digital transformation & sustainability to help overcome COVID crisis
  18. Data and risk: challenges in an uncertain world
  19. Smart living: creating a framework for disruption and innovation
  20. Technology: a unifying force
  21. The green economy: identifying primary risks and key opportunities
  22. The true cost of ESG
  23. Developing markets
  24. Investing in new technologies
  25. Shaping the Energy Transition
  26. Supporting electromobility
  27. Transforming the short-term insurance industry in the East African market
  28. Advising on a EUR 1.1bn Bulgarian gas pipeline procurement
  29. ALPLA expands its global plastic recycling capabilities
  30. CMS advises on first ever European real estate transaction using blockchain
  31. CMS advises on ‘Train Maya’ rail project
  32. CMS helps the BBC launch the streaming service BritBox in the UK
  33. Commerz Real lands the largest deal in its history
  34. Helping Teyliom Hospitality’s expansion in Central and West Africa
  35. Online gambling grows as Gamesys is sold to JPJ Group
  36. Selling the Merkur offshore wind farm
  37. ST Pharm establishes new medical testing and analysis business line
  38. CMS expands in Norway
  39. One woman’s journey to advocating for fair global health
  40. Raising funds for a good cause
  41. CMS Academy adds participants through digital learning
  42. Lupl delivers transformative open industry platform for legal matters
  43. Helping our clients grow
  44. Heike Wagner on women in law

Heike Wagner on women in law

To mark International Women’s Day in March 2022, Heike Wagner, Chair of the CMS Council, spoke with the publication The Impact Lawyers.

What traits characterise you as a lawyer?

I am instinctively curious. I find law fascinating and am genuinely interested in the business of my clients. For every organisation I work with, I like to get completely involved, understanding their needs and working closely with them to provide quality counsel. 

What are the most important challenges facing a woman who wants to have a career in a law firm?

It is important to be self-confident, back your decision-making and trust that you are as good as anybody else. It is too easy to fall into the trap of thinking others with similar experience know more than you, an attitude that can really hold you back.  

Like in all professional careers you need a wider network amongst your friends and family to help guide you. Ultimately, our work is unpredictable and requires us to be available at unusual times in the day. You need those around you to understand this. 

Do you think that the situation of women in the legal profession has improved in recent years?

It has improved significantly, in particular for women with children. The introduction of part-time work, flexible maternity leave and remote working have all been major developments.

The industry has also responded to wider society’s push towards greater equality – with our clients demanding a more representative team. 

Both of these elements have helped increase the number of female lawyers making partners and female partners in management positions within law firms. 

And if so, do you think there is still room for improvement?

There is always room for improvement, in particular we need more female partners in management positions at law firms. Ultimately for women with children, their priorities have to be client work and their families. This can make it more challenging to take on management positions, which can be both time consuming and under rewarded. 

In terms of fixing this, mentoring programmes for women can help. Quotas might also help to a certain extent for these roles, but more importantly, we need continued pressure from wider society to break down barriers. 

How do you think the legal profession has improved since many women have started a career in the legal profession?

When I started as a lawyer more than two decades ago, many women had joined the industry, but it was considerably harder to make partner.

For example, I remember being asked why I wanted to become a partner when I had a husband, while another said he did not think clients will accept female lawyers.

Thankfully, times and perceptions have changed considerably. The number of female partners has increased within the last few years. Diversity - not only gender diversity- helps to have different views on things and improve business success.

Is equality becoming as relevant an issue in law firms as, for example, sustainable policies or digital transformation?

It has become at least as relevant as these issues, with our clients insisting on working with organisations with shared values of equality. 

First published in The Impact Lawyers

Key contact

Dr. Heike Wagner
T +49 69 71701 322
Previous 45 / 45 Next