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Legal career success may depend on where women live


Research released by the Law Society to mark International Women’s Day in March has suggested that, how far women go in their law careers may be influenced by where they live in England and Wales.


The report Influencing for impact: The need for gender equality in the legal profession: Women in Leadership in Law report - Findings from the women's roundtables finds that, country-wide, a total of 62.2% of new solicitors in 2018 were women, but overall, only 30.8% of partners in private practice were female.


The reports also finds that, in the East Midlands, Wales, East and South East, law firms have a higher than average proportion of female partners, with London having the lowest proportion of partners who are women – just over a quarter at 27.9%. Out of all law firm partners in London, just 6.5% are BAME.


Law Society president, Christina Blacklaws, said:


“2019 is the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which allowed women to train as solicitors, serve as magistrates and sit on juries.”


“The profession has made great strides over the last hundred years – but there is still a long journey to gender equality, particularly at senior levels in certain regions of England and Wales.


“We hope our new Women in Leadership in Law report will assist legal businesses with the insight and tools to drive diversity right up to the most senior levels – and create equal opportunities for all.”


In the East Midlands, 34.5% of partners are women and in the West Midlands, 30.4%.


In the South East, 37.0% of partners in law firms are female, with Wales having the third highest number of female partners in law firms, at 34.3%.


Law Society president, Christina Blacklaws, added:


“More than half of the respondents we interviewed in our survey on women in the law cited perceived unconscious bias as the greatest barrier to women’s career progression, with an overwhelming 91% saying flexible working is critical to improving diversity.


“As a profession which endeavours to uphold justice, the legal profession needs to lead the way in the fight for equality in the workplace.


“To create a more diverse senior leadership, diversity and gender equality must be placed at the heart of business decisions. The profession needs to come together to combat unconscious bias, encourage flexible working and meet both men’s and women’s working needs.”


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