Reading time: two minutes
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have made a landmark discovery. Following recent survey, they revealed that there are currently more women than men practising as solicitors in England and Wales. The number of women with practising certificates has reached an all-time high of around 52%, suggesting that a slim majority of solicitors are currently female. In a profession that used to be predominantly occupied by men, this discovery has shown that the legal industry is becoming more diverse, with more career options for women.
Over the past few decades, women with practising certificates have been growing at a faster rate than men. Despite this, the legal industry has always seen a majority male solicitors holding a majority position. However, for the first time, women are holding the majority position in the legal industry. This is huge news for female solicitors and a move that challenges tradition in law.
Despite this, senior positions at law firms tell a different story. Women are underrepresented at a partner level in firms of all sizes, but this is particularly prevalent in the larger firms. Although women make up 52% of lawyers in firms, they only account for 35% of partners. This statistic highlights the disproportionate ratio of men in senior positions.
The report by the SRA also unveiled some interesting statistics regarding gender and role in the legal industry. For example, just female solicitors and women undertake 39% criminal work make up 46% of corporate legal work. In other areas, such as work with private clients, as much as 56% of lawyers in the practice area are women!
The report does not specify the reason for these emerging patterns in practice areas and perhaps more research into this relationship will be necessary in the coming years. To me, the fact that women are choosing to become solicitors shows that times are changing, and the legal industry is becoming more diverse – moving away from its traditional roots.
As a woman and aspiring lawyer, I’m inspired by the fact that so many women are committed to a career in law, despite the adversities they may face. Although women do not hold a high proportion of stakes in senior positions, I hold out hope that as the number of women in law rise this statistic will change for the better.