Sally Bolton - director and advocateSally Bolton - director and advocate

Sally Bolton – director and advocate

Law, as a profession, has traditionally been seen as a man’s world, a private old boys’ club closed to women. However, this is an increasingly outdated view and there are firms on the Isle of Man that allow women to thrive both professionally and personally. Corlett Bolton has a long running association with pioneering women in the legal profession.  A former partner, Clare Faulds was the first woman to be admitted to the Manx Bar in 1973 and went on to become the Head Magistrate of the Falklands. The second female Advocate, Jackie Karran, a well respected Advocate particularly in the area of land law, was a partner from 1999 until her retirement in 2005. 

Corlett Bolton & Co was founded by Sally Bolton and the former Attorney General John Corlett on the 1st of November 1992.  Sally is still at the helm today with her co-director Nadine Roberts. Sally entered into the field of law during the 80s. After studying History and English at university, she trained as a librarian. She then became the first law librarian on the Island in which role she helped advocates find written material, which wasn’t tremendously easy considering the lack of written material at the time. Working in the role, she realised an aspiration to become a lawyer, and so did a barrister training course in London then did her articles on Island eventually qualifying as an advocate in 1990. Nadine, who qualified as an Advocate in 2009, is a past student of Sally’s and now heads up the firm’s Port St. Mary office.  In late 2019, Liz Parkes, former director of Gelling Johnson Farrant (which was, until its acquisition by Corlett Bolton, one of the oldest law practices on the Island) joined the team as a Senior Advocate. At present she works at and manages the current Peel office and will soon be working from new premises on Michael Street.  

Liz Parkes - senior advocateLiz Parkes - senior advocate

Liz Parkes – senior advocate

While ambitious women may have entered the profession, the demands of the job do not suit everyone.  Many women have found themselves leaving the profession with the demands, the responsibilities, and often a requirement to work long hours often resulting in women having to decide between family or professional life. Corlett Bolton continues to encourage young women to join a career in law through its good relationship with University College Isle of Man, by offering work experience and have supported a number of female pupils of its business studies course- although male applicants are welcome, too.

It’s also important to note that certain areas of law are more compatible and practical with family life. Criminal law can often result in phone calls at any hour of the night: it’s hardly practical to accept a call to represent a client at midnight, and try to do the school run in the morning. During her pregnancy, Liz found that she wanted to move away from court based work to focus on work that was more accommodating to family life, resulting in her last court appearance occurring while she was heavily pregnant.

However, the challenges faced by women in the profession are easing with advances in technology and a more inclusive culture. Corlett Bolton attributes some of its success to being sympathetic to the needs of all its employees, but especially mothers. Their ‘family-friendly’ approach allows for flexibility among its staff, which has been aided recently by remote working technology. Since the pandemic, Zoom calls have been used frequently to conduct meetings, while developments in areas such as online banking has allowed tasks that would have previously meant coming into the office to be completed from home. 

Nadine Roberts - director and advocateNadine Roberts - director and advocate

Nadine Roberts – director and advocate

By the time Nadine went to study her LLB in Law in the early 2000s, she felt there were very few barriers to entering law as a woman. She initially gained an interest in a career in law after studying it at A-Level. She loved the idea of a career that used analytical and research skills. The path for women in Manx law had already been well trodden by the time Nadine was a trainee and through her career she has always felt supported, particularly when juggling raising two young children with the demands of her professional life as an Advocate and Director.

For individuals wanting to follow the footsteps of the ladies of Corlett Bolton, Sally has some very simple advice: “do it”. The career isn’t easy – it can be frustrating and stressful, but never boring and it is often rewarding. It’s a job that requires hard skills and knowledge, but also vital soft skills: being able to deal with clients, often in distressing situations, is not something that you can learn from simply reading big books. Sally emphasises that law is a huge and varied sector, though quite often individuals will find that an area of law will choose them, not the other way around. There are constantly new opportunities for individuals, with new areas of law constantly emerging as the world changes around us. With firms such as Corlett Bolton becoming more inclusive, the smoke filled rooms of the old boys clubs have been cleared to both the benefit of aspiring female advocates and their clients.

Advertising Feature in conjunction with Gef’s International Women’s Day Series

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