19 July 2017

The 2016 National Profile of the Profession reveals that of the total 71,509 practising solicitors in Australia, female solicitors make up 35,799 or 50.1 per cent of the legal profession compared to 35,710 or 49.9 per cent of male lawyers.

The report shows the proportion of women entering the profession has doubled that of men. In the five years between 2011 and 2016, the number of women increased by 34 per cent compared with the number of men at 16 per cent. 

In the two years between 2014 and 2016, the number of women increased by 11.5 per cent compared with the number of men at 4.7 per cent. 

The Law Society of NSW Chief Executive Officer Michael Tidball said the growth in number of female lawyers emphasized the need for law firms and law societies to increase their efforts and strategies to boost the number of women in leadership positions. 

"We have made significant advances in all areas of practice to assist the retention and career progression of women in the profession however impediments still remain," Mr Tidball said. 

Mr Tidball said most employers now had policies for flexible working but a failure to translate those policies into reality was often cited as a main barrier to the advancement of women. 

"The legal profession must assist men and women to better balance their professional and other commitments." 

The 2016 National Profile of the Profession also revealed significant changes in employment trends in the legal industry with a fall in the proportion of solicitors working in private practice from 75% to 69% in the past five years. 

"This is a result of significant growth in the number of solicitors working in the corporate sector and government," Mr Tidball said.

"Between 2011 and 2016, there was a 59 per cent increase in the number of solicitors working in the corporate sector, compared to a 17 per cent increase working in the private sector."

The 2016 National Profile of the Profession is the only report of its kind and captures a demographic profile of practising solicitors around Australia. Data is compared to that of the first national profile which was released in 2011.

Other key trends revealed in the report include:

 The 2016 National Profile of Solicitors in Australia was commissioned by The Law Society of NSW on behalf of the Conference of Law Societies and was undertaken by Urbis.

It can be viewed at: https://www.lawsociety.com.au/resources/surveysandstatistics/index.htm

Media Contact: Marianna Papadakis 02 9926 0288 or 0413 440 or media@lawsociety.com.au

Follow The Law Society of NSW on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn