Vic female lawyers outnumber male lawyers for first time

By Emma Ryan|25 March 2018

The number of female lawyers in Victoria has surpassed the number of male lawyers for the first time in the state’s history.

The Victorian Legal Services Board has confirmed that the number of practising female lawyers has exceeded the number of male lawyers for the first time in Victoria’s history.

The latest statistics show that in March 2018 there were 10,971 practising female lawyers in the state compared with 10,933 males.

“It has been interesting to watch the gradual shift in demographics away from the traditionally male dominated profession to one where we now have a gender balance – if ever so slightly tilted towards women,” said board chairperson Fiona Bennett.

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The stats also revealed that female lawyers now dominate the 20-50 years age bracket, while men still make up the majority of lawyers aged 51 years and older.

“Going back to a decade ago, only 40 per cent of Victoria’s lawyers were women, however since then the number of practising female lawyers has grown by 3 per cent annually – double the rate of males,” Ms Bennett said.

“In fact, figures from as far back as the late 1990s show the number of women entering the profession being consistently higher than men.”

Ms Bennett acknowledged that while female solicitors first outnumbered their male counterparts in Victoria in October 2015, because of the comparatively low ratio of female to male barristers, the Victorian profession remained majority male.

Ms Bennett said the steady growth in the number of female solicitors meant women now made up 52 per cent of all solicitors, while female barristers have also increased.

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“Over the past decade there has been an approximate 2 per cent increase in female barristers in Victoria, so that women now make up 29 per cent of our barristers,” she said.

“Regardless of gender balance, the continuous growth in the number of practising lawyers in Victoria illustrates that we have a very strong legal sector and a thriving job market for lawyers in this state.

“It undermines suggestions that there are too many law graduates entering the profession, because the data clearly shows more lawyers are being employed every year.”

A report from the Law Society of NSW found that on a nationwide basis women outnumbered men in the Australian legal profession in 2016 for the first time ever, although found they still hold far fewer senior leadership positions.

The Society's National Profile of Solicitors 2016 report found that female lawyers slightly outnumbered males in 2016, with 35,799 (50.1 per cent) compared with 35,710 (49.9 per cent).

This was up from the 46.3 per cent female representation in the profession in 2011. The report said women are entering the profession at a higher rate than men, with a 34.2 per cent increase in the number of female lawyers since 2011 compared with 15.6 per cent for men.

Vic female lawyers outnumber male lawyers for first time
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