EXCLUSIVE: Freshfields Celebrates International Women’s Day With Cake-Baking Competition

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which has one of the lowest percentages of female partners (12%) of a City firm, gave a hint at its views about a woman’s place by choosing to celebrate yesterday’s International Women’s Day with a gender stereotype-affirming bake-off.

Freshfields' female lawyers yesterday

To commemorate the achievements of women through the ages, and campaign for fairer attitudes towards gender in the future, the magic circle law firm asked its lawyers to do what women were seen as best at in the pre-Suffragette era: bake cakes at home.

The lawyers then brought the cakes into the office where they were judged by a panel of experts, including London managing partner Mark Rawlinson.

It wasn’t just Freshfields’ female lawyers who got involved; chief executive Ted Burke and senior partner Will Lawes baked cakes, too.

The event was part of Oxfam’s ‘Raising Her Voice’ project, and raised £12,000 for the charity.

When I asked whether a bake-off was an appropriate way to celebrate International Women’s Day, a spokesperson for Freshfields said: “That’s a question for Oxfam. They are running a campaign based on coffee and cake initiatives which we got involved in.”

He added: “Everyone at the firm was asked to bake.”

A female associate at a City law firm told Legal Cheek: “I think womanhood is about much more than baking.”



Bit of a contrived article. What else were they meant to do, ban women from Oxfams fundraiser?!


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Katie Abbotts

Alex, International Women’s Day is not all about cakes and coffee and neither is Oxfam. Last week thousands of men and women across the UK got together to raise awareness and funds to tackle gender inequality. Fundraising events such as those organised by Freshfields play a very important part in raising awareness, support and funds for women around the world.

The ‘bake off’ at Freshfields was very successful and involved teams of partners, lawyers and other staff, men and women, coming together to raise over £14,000.

It’s a shame to muddy the waters and criticise generosity and good intention, it might put others off.

Freshfields are genuinely supportive of our work and have been for several years, this is one of many things they have done with Oxfam.

As a final note, I challenge you to join celebrations for International Women’s Day next year. I think you’ll find fundraising is incredibly hard work – especially if you don’t build an element of fun in to it. More details here

Katie Abbotts, Oxfam


Cheryl Jones

There is nothing wrong with baking! I do it a lot and often take the results to solicitors and into Chambers. I did my own 24 bakeathon last year for my young relative who had to have both legs and hands amputated as a result of menoccoccal septicaemia – and forced, with menaces, the results on everyone I could think of. I do not consider it diminishes me as a professional. But that is a personal choice. If I were asked by a predominantly male group to bake cakes for them to judge I would take a very dim view indeed. Someone failed to think things through. Next year why don’t the 88% male partners offer to do an iron-o-thon? Now that I would pay good money to see.


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