Tell us who you are!
My name is Janet Clegg. I am 57 years old and a law graduate from Leicester University. I qualified as a solicitor in the early 1980’s when the English legal profession was still male dominated (not like now.)I was admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong in the mid 80’s and worked there for a couple of years as a matrimonial lawyer dealing with international clients. On my return to England I became a partner at a London law firm. While I practiced as a lawyer I did volunteer work at various charities, including in the social care unit of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Sq, London. I left formal legal practice in the 90’s and taught a law course for one year, did volunteer pro bono work, became a lay magistrate and worked on a volunteer basis for the Coram Foundation. I have always had an interest in psychology and studied at The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships. Recently, I have co-authored a guide book on relationships which is about to be published. The book brings together the psychological and more practical/legal aspects of intimate relationships.
What makes you successful?
While law has underpinned many aspects of my rather varied career it is my curiosity about people, how they interact and how they can be helped to fulfil their potential that has always been my main interest. I have particularly enjoyed helping young adults chose a career path and introduce them to others who might help them on their way to success. I was helped by two or three people in my career who were generous with their time and support. A teacher at my school (which was a Northern Comprehensive not known for its academic achievements) arranged for me to spend time at a local solicitors and actively encouraged me to apply to university.
What does “Social Capital” mean to you?
I have seen Kevin Spacey, the actor, speak on several occasions about how he was helped in his career by his mentor, Jack Lemmon. Jack Lemmon always told Kevin Spacey that it was incumbent on older successful people to ‘send the elevator back down’ meaning that we should always help younger people coming up to fulfil their potential- not kick the ladder away! Kevin Spacey did an amazing job at the Old Vic in helping young people access the theatre.
I think the phrase ‘sending the elevator back down’ encompasses my idea of what social capital means.
Are women still facing a glass ceiling in the corporate world?
I think there is still a glass ceiling in certain careers for young women in the Western world but we are coming ever closer to it being shattered once and for all. The difficulty for a lot of young women (which young men do not really have – I have a 23 year old son) is that they will inevitably have to grapple with the age old problem of whether they want children by a certain age. If they do they then have to understand how they combine having children, looking after children and a career. I was interested to read an interview with a Swedish actress who said that in Sweden most women work, partners equally share child care/household chores and good quality child care is available but still a lot of women in their 40’s were under extreme stress and having breakdowns with the strain of it all.
What can you offer your 1WSC Mentees?
I would like to be able to offer guidance and reassurance to young women that it is possible to have it all but it needs careful thought and a degree of self-awareness about what having a demanding career and home life can mean.
What would your ideal 1WSC Mentee look like?
My ideal Mentee would be someone who is open to listening to an older woman who has had life experience and who can offer valuable guidance to help them access the best possible life for themselves in terms of career and relationships.
If you needed to make a powerful statement about networking, what would it be?
The term ‘networking’ can conjure up a picture of a ruthless operator mining anyone or anything for their sole advantage. I like to think of networking as a mentor generously opening up avenues of possibility, in a career or personal sense, for a mentee with the only expectation that the mentee will ‘pay it forward’ to help someone else when they can.