This week marks four-years since the Women in Law Pledge was launched to bring gender equality to the forefront of the conversation, as announced by The Law Society of England and Wales.
Last year saw the celebration of 100 years since the admission of the first woman solicitor in England and Wales. In 2022, 53% of all practising solicitors and 60% of new solicitors were women.
The Women in Law Pledge asks organisations to commit to seeing gender balance at all levels across the legal profession, tackling the gender pay gap and other inequalities that still affect women in law today.
Since the Pledge was launched, there have been positive signs of progress. Workplaces have started analysing their pay gap data in greater detail and publishing further data on partner pay, The Law Society states.
“The four-year anniversary comes at an important time for the profession,” said Law Society President Lubna Shuja. She added:
“In December 2022 we marked 100 years since Carrie Morrison was admitted as the first woman solicitor in England and Wales. Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes, Maud Crofts and Agnes Twiston Hughes (the first Welsh woman solicitor) have also paved the way for all the women who have followed them to practise law in England and Wales.
We know, however, that we must continue to work collectively to enact positive change for gender equality in the profession.
Women make up 53% of the practising profession and there has been slow steady growth in women partners over the past few years. Despite this, women continue to experience barriers when attempting to reach senior levels.”
Shuja also added that “unfair allocation of work, unfavourable promotion structures, unacceptable work-life balance, and the lack of visible senior women role models need to be addressed if we want to see women in law thrive”.
Reflecting on the next 100 years of women in the profession, the Law Society of England and Wales is calling for organisations to:
- Sign up to the Pledge and show collective public commitment needed for change to happen;
- Use their own data to set ambitious, yet realistic goals considering individual positions, resources and other business priorities;
- Adapt and embrace those who take career breaks, work in non-traditional ways (part-time, flexibly, job shares) or who have less linear career paths (returners, second careers, sector moves).