Embracing a world that is diverse, inclusive and gender equal
#EmbraceEquity – this is the rallying cry for everyone as we mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March.
This highly-celebrated global day recognises the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year, it calls for a world that is diverse, inclusive and gender equal. One where difference is valued and celebrated.
In England and Wales today, more than 52% of lawyers are female – we’ve come a long way since Carrie Morrison, was admitted to the roll of solicitors by the Law Society of England and Wales on 18 December 1922. Three more women followed in her ground-breaking footsteps in 1923.
Previously, women could not join the profession as they weren’t classified as ‘persons’ under the Solicitors Act 1843. It wasn’t until the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act in 1919 that the profession was opened to women.
But while acknowledging the huge impact that has been made by women solicitors over the decades since then, there’s still no room for complacency.
The SRA’s 2021 diversity survey found that there are significant differences, according to the size of the law firm and by type of work.
Sadly, many highly skilled, experienced and dedicated women solicitors are still leaving the profession before making it to partner. Various reasons, such as long hours and targets, make it impossible for them to achieve a harmonious work-life balance – and so they quit.
So, this International Women’s Day – and moving forward – we urge the legal profession to commit to making meaningful efforts and introduce initiatives that will attract and encourage more women solicitors to stay for the long term, enabling them to make it to the top of their profession.
By embracing equity, we can create a more inclusive profession where women and men will be empowered to achieve so much more.
The Solicitors’ Charity is proud to have five esteemed women as trustees, who each contributes their individual skills to the proactive and positive interventions that ensure our solicitors in need receive the life-changing support they need.
Our current chair of trustees is Ginny Cannon, a retired in-house commercial solicitor, and a steward of the City of London Solicitors’ Company.
Former chair Christl Hughes is a retired High Street practitioner. She currently chairs our Awards Committee and is Chair of Association of Women Solicitors, London. Christl isa former President of Leicestershire Law Society, and East Midlands Representative on The Law Society Council Membership Committee.
Kirsty McEwen, chairs our People and Development Committee and has been the Charity’s Honorary Treasurer. Kirsty is a partner at leading Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons.
Tanya Dunbar practised as a solicitor at Ashfords LLP until 2016 when she joined the Post Office as an in-house Commercial Lawyer. She now works for EY.
Rebecca Litherland, a barrister and tribunal judge, specialises in welfare benefits law and has significant experience of criminal and family law, as a practitioner and volunteer.
You can find out more about at https://thesolicitorscharity.org/about-us/our-trustees/
Our charity helps to ease solicitors’ practical, emotional and financial difficulties brought about by challenges such as job loss, low income, debt, bereavement, mental and physical health issues.
In every year but one, we have needed to provide help to more female than male solicitors.
Our most recent Big Report illustrated how this charity helped over 400 female and male solicitors and their dependents in 2021 – with awards totalling £1m helping with personal and economic hardship.
In addition, the funding we provided to LawCare helped them support the mental health and wellbeing of 342 solicitors; 17 solicitors in need of career counselling were referred to Renovo and 43 were given financial and debt advice.