New Zealand Law Society - Female Scottish solicitors in majority; NZ closing fast

Female Scottish solicitors in majority; NZ closing fast

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The Law Society of Scotland has announced that for the first time, a majority of Scotland's practising solicitors are female.

The Law Society says that 51% of the over 11,000 solicitors practising in Scotland are now women.

Its President, Christine McLintock, says this is due to an influx of women into the profession in recent years.

"Increasing numbers of women have joined the legal profession over the past decade and it's great that so many women see their future in law," she says.

However, Ms McLintock says that while women outnumber men as newly admitted solicitors each year, they continue to be relatively under-represented in senior positions, for example as partners in private practice.

Scotland follows Ireland. At the beginning of 2015 the Law Society of Ireland announced that the number of female Irish solicitors outnumbered male solicitors.

In New Zealand, the number of New Zealand-based male lawyers still outnumbers women practising law. At 7 January 2016 there were 12,135 New Zealand-based lawyers who held a practising certificate of whom 6345 (52.3%) were men.

However, if the number of lawyers practising as solicitors is considered - not including lawyers who practise as barristers - the gender gap in New Zealand is narrowing.

At 7 January 2016, 5231 - 49.2% - of New Zealand's 10,633 solicitors were women. With over 60% of new entrants to the profession being women, this makes it certain that the number of New Zealand-based female solicitors will exceed males during 2016.

As with Scotland, women in New Zealand's legal profession tend to be under-represented in senior positions.

New Zealand-based Solicitors in practice, 7 January 2016

Role Men Women Total % Men % Women
Directors 452 239 691 65.4% 34.6%
Partners 1480 471 1951 75.9% 24.1%
Employees 1766 2620 4386 40.3% 59.7%
Sole Practice 708 309 1017 69.6% 30.4%
In-house 996 1592 2588 38.5% 61.5%
TOTAL 5402 5231 10633 50.8% 49.2%

For the record, of New Zealand's 1331 barristers in practice at 7 January 2016, 63.3% were male and 36.7% were female.