Australian legal profession records strong growth as more women enter the profession
Wednesday, 14 July 2021
The 2020 National Profile of Solicitors in Australia, released in Sydney today on behalf of the Conference of Law Societies, shows that there are 83,643 solicitors practising in Australia, an increase of 26,066 solicitors or 45% since 2011 across all states and territories.
The President of the Law Society of Western Australia, Jocelyne Boujos, said the National Profile of Solicitors provides important demographic data about solicitors in all states and territories, as well as changes observed over time.
“In 2011, when the first National Profile was published, women accounted for 46% of the nation’s 57,577 solicitors,” Ms Boujos said.
“Women now make up 53% of the 83,643 solicitors in Australia and, for the first time, female solicitors outnumber male solicitors in all states and territories.”
Over the past nine years, the growth nationally of female solicitors (+67%) has been higher than that of male solicitors (+26%) and in Western Australia females make up 52% of the profession compared to males 48% of the profession, further indicating that more women are continuing to enter the profession.
“This particular trend underscores the importance of ongoing initiatives such as the Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession, which was developed by the Law Society of New South Wales and adapted by the Law Society of Western Australia in 2020 to reflect current Western Australian law,” Ms Boujos said. This is because women are still not represented in the higher levels of the profession in numbers that are reflective of their percentage in the profession. It is pleasing to note that of the seven Presidents of Law Societies in Australia in 2021, six of those are women who represent a cross section of practice areas and structures.”
The Charter is published on the Law Society’s website here and is also a guide for all Western Australian law firms to use.
The highest proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander solicitors was in the Northern Territory (2.0%), followed by New South Wales (1.1%), Western Australia (0.8%) and the Australian Capital Territory (0.8%).
Queensland had the highest proportion of solicitors working in private practice (73%), followed closely by Western Australia (70%).
New South Wales had the highest proportion of solicitors working in the corporate legal sector (20%), followed by Victoria (16%).
The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of solicitors working in the government legal sector (49%), reflecting the concentration of public servants living and working in Canberra.
The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of solicitors working in the community legal sector (20%) and in ‘other’ sectors (20%).
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The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4,000 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.