Wednesday 18 July 2018

Women outnumber men in solicitors profession, new figures show

(stock image)
(stock image)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The gender tables are being turned in the legal profession, with the majority of solicitors now female.

Once a career largely dominated by men, new figures published by the Law Society reveal 52pc of practising solicitors are now women.

Some 5,001 female solicitors had practising certificates in Ireland at the end of last year, compared to just 4,664 males.

While the trend towards increased feminisation of the profession has been an international one, the rate of change has been more pronounced in Ireland than elsewhere.

It was particularly seen in Dublin, where there were 3,235 female solicitors, significantly outnumber 2,831 male practitioners.

Dublin accounted for much of the female dominance nationally. Other counties where women were in the majority were Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Longford and Monaghan.

Male solicitors still outnumber women in 17 of the country’s 26 counties. However, in many cases the gap is very close.

Tipperary has the most striking male majority, with 103 male practising certificate holders, compared to 60 female, giving the county and 63pc male majority.

Law Society director general Ken Murphy said the number of female solicitors slightly edged in front of males for the first time in 2014, and since then the gap has continued to grow.

"It is something of a global phenomenon, but Ireland has led it," he told the Irish Independent.

The figures, published in the Law Society Gazette, demonstrate how much attitudes have changed since 1960, when under 4.5pc of solicitors were female.

Mr Murphy said the majority of those training in the society’s law school to become solicitors had been female since 1992, but it had taken some time for the proportion of women actually practising to catch up with and overtake the number of men.

The data published by the Law Society also gives a county by county breakdown of where solicitors are practising.

"The number of practising certificates in an individual county is an indicator of the demand for legal services, together with the level of economic activity, in that county," said Mr Murphy.

Unsurprisingly, 63pc of Irish solicitors are registered in Dublin. Some 6,066 of the country’s 9665 solicitors are based in either Dublin city or county.

Populous counties near Dublin also have large concentrations of solicitors, with 179 in Kildare, 135 in Wicklow and 120 in Meath.

Taken together, the 12 counties of Leinster have 7,089 practising solicitors, or 73pc of the national total.

The country’s largest county, Cork, has 855 practising solicitors, accounting for 9pc of the State’s total.

The six counties of Munster have 1,711 practising certificate holders between them, representing 18pc of the national figure.

Co Galway has 351 practising certificates. Taken together the five counties of Connacht have 640 solicitors, or just 7pc of the country’s total.

The county with the smallest numbers of practising certificates is Leitrim, with 33. Above it is Laois (34), Longford (42), Monaghan (44) and Carlow (46).

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