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Being a woman in the business of law is not easy, as issues related to
gender parity and diversity seem to plague the legal industry. And despite some
laudable efforts, law firms are a long way off from closing this diversity gap
an interview with Mrs Naz Juman Schinder by Asian Legal Business
A self-described “art lover” and former dance teacher, Schinder didn’t set out to be a lawyer. But while helping friends a Mandarin-speaking attorney in Jakarta, the law found its way to her, and she ended up owning and running her own trilingual firm.
What are some of the unique challenges you’ve faced?
Early on, I knew I had a talent for understanding customers’ needs and expectations. I was often challenged by attorneys I sourced because I insisted on giving specific directions on how to fulfil client requirements.
And because it came from a woman who didn’t have a law degree at the time, this was not always received well.
What are the pros and cons of your approach to work?
My initial exposure to the business side of the legal profession has been a significant benefit. By understanding that a firm is a business first, I’m able to employ logical, big-picture thinking without the common pitfalls associated with over-analytical legal thinking as is common with some lawyers.
One disadvantage, however, is my honest and direct nature. While other firms may entice a client with promises, I’m very clear about risk and believe in earning a client’s trust results and delivery. This has certainly cost me a client or two.
What advice would you offer for women in the same profession?
There is a balance to be found in being a woman, mother, wife, attorney, and boss. If you truly desire equality in the workplace, then be prepared to strike a balance between arrogance and confidence, close-mindedness and assertiveness, femininity and sexuality, etc.
It’s true that in Indonesia, the legal profession is predominantly male, but that doesn’t give any woman the right to wear this as a chip on her shoulder. Never let gender limit you, but never wield it as entitlement, either.