There was an interesting item in the news today about one of England’s most senior judges, Lord Neuberger, calling for positive discrimination to bring more women into the judiciary. While the JDI team has never had the honour of recruiting a High Court judge, the article did draw our attention to an interesting contrast between the judiciary and the legal sector in general.
While it’s very true that the higher echelons of the judiciary largely remain a male-dominated environment, with few very notable exceptions, our experience shows that this no longer prevails further down the legal ladder. When dealing with our network of legal employers, we find that the emphasis is solely on skills, qualifications and relevant experience of the individual, which is just as it should be.
The myth of male domination in the legal sector as a whole is a simple one to dispel. While there are still more men working in law than women, particularly in senior roles, in the 13 years since JDI was launched we’ve seen a gradual readjustment of the gender balance in favour of women. This may be down to the fact that women make up around 62.2 percent of students accepted onto law courses in the UK.
In 2008, the last year for which figures are available, there were 139,666 solicitors in England and Wales, 45.2 percent of whom were women. With around 59.9 percent of new admissions to the roll in that year being women, can we safely presume that this trend has continued to accelerate?
We will let you make your own judgement on the question of positive discrimination, but the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of these statistics is that women will continue to advance in the legal profession and it can only be a matter of time before the final bastions of male domination are broken down.
In the end, it comes down to whether the profession, with a nudge from central government, want to fast track the process, or simply let things take their course.