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updated on 19 October 2022
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Long since labelled a ‘male-dominated industry’, the legal profession is having its gendered division challenged by female solicitors joining at three times the rate of men.
The Law Society’s latest figures indicate that the number of solicitors has doubled in the past 25 years, with 153,282 solicitors in England and Wales practising as of July 2021. These figures also reflect the staggering rise of female solicitors within the profession, with women now accounting for 53% of practising solicitors, as reported in The Times.
Stephanie Boyce, ex-president of the Law Society, said: “It is encouraging to see the number of women working in the profession, for a long time the solicitor profession was male dominated, but in just one hundred years women have shown how much they have to offer the sector.”
In the past 30 years the number of female solicitors has expanded from 14,179 to 80,881 – a five-fold increase. One reason for such significant growth is attributable to female students being high achievers, according to the University of Exeter’s law professor Richard Moorhead who says that women entering law school are “significantly brighter than men, and ready to work harder”.
He added: “It’s no surprise they do better in the market for jobs.”
It's not only the number of women joining the legal profession that’s significant, but also the age at which they qualify. The number of young women holding practising certificates between the age of 26 to 30 stands at 10,698 compared to men at 5,796. This number bodes well for the future of female solicitors, with 29 being labelled the magic number, standing at the average qualifying age for solicitors in the UK.
Although at current the number of female partners hasn’t matched this surge in growth, standing now at 8,930, this increase remains steady and overall numbers signify an evolving industry. As quoted in The Times, Prisca Wharton, associate with White & Case LLP said: “From a young age, I was encouraged to believe in myself and know that if you want something enough and work hard then you will get it, regardless of background.”
Find out more about the closing gender gap in this LCN Blog post.