Women in law series: Heidi Ann Vestvik-Bruknapp
In celebration of the International Women's Day on March 8th we’ve asked some of our female lawyers from across our international offices what it’s like being a woman in law today. Read our first interview with Heidi Ann Vestvik-Bruknapp, associate at Wikborg Rein's Bergen office and part of the firm's fisheries and aquaculture team.
Bergen, 08.03.2022: Heidi Ann Vestvik-Bruknapp has worked in Wikborg Rein for three years and we start by asking Heidi Ann what inspired her to study law in the first place.
– I began my law studies after I had taken a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Politics. When studying Comparative Politics, I read that the voting by Supreme Court judges was affected by several different factors, including which political parties they voted for in elections. This called for my interest on how the judges came to their conclusions in legal proceedings – in other words the legal method as a tool for solving legal issues.
Do you have a female role model in your field?
– From a general point of view, I have always looked up to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her work on gender equality and women's rights before she became judge in the US Supreme Court has inspired me and I guess many other female lawyers. Fortunately, young female lawyers in Norway work in a quite different climate, but our way to becoming a partner is still a bumpier road than for our male colleagues. Thus, I think many female lawyers can relate to Bader Ginsburg's path when trying to find their way in a male dominated industry.
Can you think of a story from your studies or career where being a woman either benefited you or posed a challenge?
– As a young female associate it would always be a challenge to assert in a male dominated industry.
What is your number one advice for other female lawyers?
– The most important advice I could give is to keep an open dialog with your employer and discuss how you can perform at your best at work and at the same time have the opportunity to have a family life.
In your opinion, what should law firms do to recruit and retain female lawyers?
– I believe that law firms have been good at recruiting young female talents from law schools. The proportion of women in law schools in recent years has been close to or above 60 per cent and a recent survey by Advokatbladet shows that the ten largest law firms in Norway have a female share at the associate level of 59.3 per cent. However, law firms have a long way to go to retain talented female lawyers, especially after the female lawyers have become parents. Thus, I believe that the most important thing is to focus more on work-life balance.