While the number of female lawyers in NSW has increased by more than 400 per cent over the last 22 years, the proportion of female partners is still small.
According to statistics released by the Law Society of NSW, the number of female lawyers in NSW increased 452 per cent between 1988 and 2010.
But despite 46 per cent of lawyers in NSW now being female, the statistics also reveal that just over 23 per cent of principals in law firms with more than 20 partners are women.
The proportion of female partners is even lower for firms with two to 20 partners, where just under 18 per cent of senior positions are held by women, up from around 13 per cent in 2005.
"Despite this rapid equalisation in the male to female ratio, it's important to point out that change has been slower to reach the rank of partners and principals," said Law Society President Stuart Westgrath when addressing a conference in Sydney yesterday.
While the Law Society was encouraged by the increasing numbers of women to the profession, Westgarth said promoting women to senior positions in the profession would be a priority for the Society.
"We want to build on this and have set ourselves the task of identifying any remaining impediments or disincentives to the advancement of women in the profession," he said.
Other statistics from the Law Society reveal that the number of part-time lawyers has increased from nine percent in 2003 to 15 per cent in 2010, with 21 per cent of women lawyers and 10 per cent of male lawyers working part-time.