The New Zealand legal profession now has more women lawyers than male lawyers.
The New Zealand Law Society says that of 13,103 lawyers currently practising in New Zealand, 6553 are women and 6550 are men.
“I’ve been waiting with bated breath for a couple of years. I’m thrilled that we’re here”, says Law Society President Kathryn Beck.
Since the early 1990s the number of women admitted as lawyers has exceeded men, but it’s only in the past few years that women lawyers closed the gap.
“This reinforces just how important it is that we address the issue of equity and retention and promotion of women in the profession,” Ms Beck says.
“I don’t think the lack of the 50/50 parity was holding things back, but we all knew that we needed to be doing better than we were. Milestones like this serve to remind us and refresh our commitment to change – I really feel like we are gaining some momentum; we need to make sure we keep it going.”
Having a profession with women in the majority is timely as the New Zealand Law Society will soon introduce the Gender Equality Charter to the profession.
“The Charter is about all of the legal profession making a voluntary commitment to meeting a series of equality objectives to ensure that women lawyers, whether full time or part time, are given the same opportunities as men to reach senior levels in the legal profession,” says Ms Beck.
“We can and we will do better.”