There are now more women than men practising as solicitors in England and Wales, the Law Society of England and Wales says.
The Annual Statistics report for 2017 shows there were 139,624 solicitors with practising certificates at 1 July 2017. For the first time there were more women - 50.1% - than men holding practising certificates.
The report says women made up 61.6% of new admissions in the year to 30 June 2017. Women practising certificate holders were younger on average (40 years of age) than male practising certificate holders (45 years of age).
Representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups among practising certificate holders rose to 16.5%. Asian solicitors were best represented of BAME groups, making up 8.2% of all practising certificate holders.
The report says almost two-fifths of those accepted onto first degree law courses for the year to 30 June 2018 are BAME students.
"However, ethnicity was unknown for 69% of new admissions to the profession. This follows a move to online self-provision of ethnicity by new solicitors through the Solicitors Regulation Authority website," the report says.
"The lack of complete data on ethnicity has an increasing impact on the ability to monitor diversity within the profession."
In other information:
- While the in-house segment continues to expand at a sharper rate than private practice, more stability in the respective shares of the two areas has become evident.
- Partnerships, including sole practices, accounted for 45% of firms, down from 60% five years earlier. The limited liability structure continues to grow in popularity.
- The number of private practice firms overall has increased for the second year in a row, to 9,488. This modest increase over the previous 12 months (58 firms) is entirely due to the growth of firms with a sole owner. Three-fifths (60%) of firms’ total revenue was from business to business work
- 600 Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) made up 6.3% of all firms. The number of ABSs rose by 125 in the year to July 2017, after increases of 116 and 102 firms over the previous two years.
The New Zealand profession
New Zealand Law Society information shows that at 11 June 2018 there were 11,715 New Zealand-based barristers and solicitors (as opposed to barristers sole) with practising certificates. Of this number, 6,033 (51.5%) were women.
For the record, there were 1,389 barrister practising certificate holders (542 - 39.0% - of whom were women).
Women made up 62.4% of the 985 admissions in New Zealand in 2017. The average age of female lawyers at 1 February 2018 was 38 years, while the average age of male lawyers was 45.9 years.
The New Zealand Law Society has required lawyers to provide information on ethnicity since 2017. At 1 February 2018, 78.9% of New Zealand-based lawyers identified as New Zealand European, 6.1% as Māori, 5.7% as Other European, 3.3% as Chinese, 2.2% as Indian, 1.3% as Samoan and 1.8% as Other Asian. Lawyers may identify with more than one ethnicity.
At 1 February 2018, 29% of all New Zealand law firms were incorporated, while partnerships made up 71% of all firms.