On 10 December, the Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office held a roundtable discussion on Women in Leadership in Law.
In 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act made it legal for women to practise as solicitors. Three years later, Carrie Morrison, Maud Crofts, Mary Pickup and Mary Sykes were the first four women admitted.
Since 1990, women have represented more than 60% of new entrants into the profession. As of last year, they are the majority of practising solicitors. And yet, women comprise only 28% of partners in private practise.
There is a vast amount of research that shows equality to be good for business. Furthermore, tackling inequality in the profession has positive ramifications for the rest of society.
So, to mark the anniversary, the Law Society are focusing on the empowerment and leadership of women in the profession both nationally and internationally, and the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality.
The Law Society have already completed an international survey, and are now collecting qualitative data in the form of notes from roundtables held under Chatham House rules. These roundtables are either women-only or men-only, and discuss barriers to progress such as unconscious bias, the gender pay gap and flexible working.
Participants are then asked to use our toolkit, with tools that focus on a specific area where real change can be made, to formulate some calls to action which each participant can use to effect change in their workplace. The findings will then be compiled into a comprehensive report, to be released in 2019.
The Brussels Office feels passionately about equality in the profession, so our current trainees, Hayley Ainsworth and Alina Bailey, organised a roundtable with women in the city to discuss these issues. The participants took part in a very productive, respectful conversation about their experiences and goals for the coming years, followed by a drinks reception. The team would like to thank those that made the time to attend and made such valuable contributions. We hope to hold a further roundtable events, for both men and women, in Spring 2019.
More information on the project can be found here.