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Norwich lawyer shares her desire to be a 'role model' for city's young women

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 28 November 2017

Naomi Newell, a civil litigation solicitor at Cozens-Hardy in Norwich. Picture: Cozens-Hardy

Naomi Newell, a civil litigation solicitor at Cozens-Hardy in Norwich. Picture: Cozens-Hardy

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Naomi Newell, a lawyer with Cozens-Hardy in Norwich, says she wants to show the city's young women what they can achieve.

Domestic Abuse - The Reality, by Laura Dodsworth, commissioned by Scottish Womens Aid. Copyright Laura DodsworthDomestic Abuse - The Reality, by Laura Dodsworth, commissioned by Scottish Womens Aid. Copyright Laura Dodsworth

The civil litigation solicitor, who graduated from the University of East Anglia in 2013, volunteered with Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) as a student and is still a pro bono solicitor for its advice service.

During her time doing domestic advice and advocacy she encountered many vulnerable people – typically women.

“I had quite a sheltered upbringing in the south west of Bristol,” she said.

“People were still dying from domestic abuse and it really brought it home to me. Since then I have tried to educate myself on issues like this, on women and their place in society and their workplace. But even people who are educated about this are suffering from it.

“Sometimes these women would only have half an hour because that is the time their partner gave them away from the house. There is such a heavy ‘dot dot dot’ over their lives.”

Ms Newell saw the battle some women fought to break the cycle. “With domestic abuse, to qualify for legal aid you had to have been to your GP or been to the police three times, and I lament that because the amount of courage it takes to pick up the phone and ask for help is phenomenal.”

Through visits to schools including Notre Dame and Norwich High School, where she speaks about her job, Ms Newell said she had seen a lack of confidence in some of the city’s young women. “I think it stems from a societal issue, that young women at school are not necessarily directed to sciences or the law. I get the impression from them that they do not have the confidence to consider themselves good enough to study those subjects.”

She added: “I am lucky to be at a firm like Cozens-Hardy, where a majority of our partners are women. I have such incredible role models and I want to be that role model for young women.

“Being with NCLS and seeing the lack of confidence the women have and how they are completely controlled by another person, maybe that is why when I go to schools and see girls who think they are not capable of doing things, I want to be the person who tells them ‘yes you can’.”

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