Women in law Series: Therese Trulsen

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. This time we've talked to Therese Trulsen, senior lawyer and chief representative at our office in Shanghai.

Shanghai, 08.03.2022: We are talking to some of our female lawyers from across our international offices and since 2017 Therese Trulsen has been at our Shanghai office. Therese is part of the firm's corporate, finance & tax group, and works mainly with cross-border matters related to the Nordics and China, hereunder international M&A, compliance, and corporate law.

Do you have a female role model in your field?

– To see Toril Marie Øie be appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway back in 2016, as the first woman to hold that office, was meaningful to me. It is vital that women can rise to all positions within the legal field.

What is it like being a female lawyer today?

– I have seen improvements during my eight years of practicing law. The trend is clear, there is an increase in the number of female lawyers attending meetings and an increased number of women at senior lawyer and partner levels. The recent years’ focus on unconscious bias as well as client’s requiring law firms to deliver on equality might have aided in this change.

Can you think of a story from your studies or career where being a woman either benefited you or posed a challenge?

– Sometimes I have thought that opposing counsel, or their clients, have been surprised that as a senior lawyer I am also female. Entering meetings, I have for example been asked to serve tea as it has been assumed that I am the assistant. It can sometimes be a benefit, however, as the element of surprise often is an added advantage in negotiations.

What is your number one advice for other female lawyers?

– Trust your knowledge and dare to speak up. As an example, I sometimes get the impression that some female lawyers are afraid of voicing an opinion or an idea unless they know all the angles, whilst their male colleague would perhaps not be as reluctant to brainstorm an option or suggestion. Personally, I considered not applying for this position in Shanghai since I did not meet three of the five requirements listed in the job description. Luckily, I ended up applying after having identified other reasons for why I should be considered, and I was also very motivated by the opportunity.

In your opinion, what should law firms do to recruit and retain female lawyers?

– All lawyers, men and women alike, are individuals with different backgrounds and needs, and it is important to see and value the individual. For most lawyers, however, there is a need these days for flexibility to maintain work-life-balance. It is also important to have relatable role models, and for some female lawyers that would mean seeing and hearing from female partners. Other good initiatives include mentoring of junior lawyers.

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