Karen Bower–Brown is the firm’s Senior Partner and Head of the Commercial Department.
Karen was born in London and attended Haberdashers’ Aske's School for Girls. In her final year, she was an exchange student in a high school in Montclair New Jersey and from there won a scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York. Having spent four wonderful years in New York and having obtained the equivalent of a BA Hons, on her return, Karen obtained a law degree and attended the College of Law at Lancaster Gate to take her solicitors’ final exams. Karen obtained her law degree at evening classes while supporting herself and working full time and then went on to do her articles (now known as a traineeship) at the Mayfair firm of Janners for two years.
Karen initially thought she wanted to work in non-contentious commercial work but found that this was not really for her and therefore changed the focus of her career to a mix of civil litigation and matrimonial law, working for five years at Halsey Lightly near St James's Park prior to moving up to Lincolnshire when she was expecting her first child.
Since moving to Lincoln, Karen has had three children and three career breaks between each child. The reason for her career breaks is that at the time, it was not possible to take a full year off and have a right to have your job back. The law is much more flexible in this regard now. Karen started working at Sills & Betteridge when her youngest child was one, which was in 1999.
One reason Karen came to Sills & Betteridge and did not go back to the firm she worked for before the birth of her third child is that Sills & Betteridge were prepared to allow her to work four days a week rather than insisting on me taking a post full time. All the other job opportunities for solicitors locally were full time and none of them offered any flexibility. She was very pleased therefore to be offered that opportunity as this helped her to spend more time with her young family but also to devote sufficient time to her career. When Karen’s youngest child was of school age, she worked five days a week but school hours which again was extremely helpful in enabling her to have a balance between family life and her career.
When Karen started working at Sills & Betteridge, she was initially an assistant solicitor in the commercial department dealing with commercial litigation matters. Very early on, she developed an interest in contentious probate work. She had not done any of this work before working at Sills & Betteridge but found that there was an enormous amount of human and legal interest in such cases and over the years has developed a specialisation in this area of work. Approximately 10 years ago Karen became a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) membership of which allows her to refer to herself as a specialist in this area of work. Some clients choose to instruct her because of her membership of ACTAPS.
Karen has supervised many trainee solicitors during her time at Sills & Betteridge. This is something she enjoys enormously because she remembers how difficult it is when you are training and trying to gain experience to enable your career to move forward. There is a huge difference between being a trainee and a qualified solicitor and she also enjoys supervising and providing guidance to newly qualified solicitors.
Karen said “I have worked my way up from being an assistant solicitor to being an associate, a salaried partner and then an equity partner in 2006. I am currently head of the commercial department and have recently been appointed as senior partner following the retirement of Stephen Wilson. I am very proud to be the first woman in the 260 year history of the firm to be appointed to that role and I hope that my appointment helps other female staff at Sills & Betteridge to see that they too can shatter the glass ceiling. I also hope that my appointment encourages all staff at Sills & Betteridge to feel confident that appointments are made on the basis of merit rather than due to any preference due to informal membership of the “old boys’ network".
"Looking back on my career to date, the flexibility offered to me by Sills & Betteridge was extremely helpful. The firm has become even more flexible recently and I embrace this as a step forward. More flexibility means a more inclusive firm and my personal and professional experience allows me to appreciate the value in this. My view is that this will help the firm continue to move from strength to strength in the future”.