The term ‘feminisation of the legal profession’ is used often to describe changes in the legal profession, particularly the increase of women in it. This is both a misnomer and misleading. While women generally outnumber men in law schools and often as junior associates in law firms, men continue to outnumber women in senior positions and do so significantly.
The IBA’s LPRU undertook the women in business law project to secure information as to why women continue to experience barriers to the most senior positions in commercial law firms. Our findings are disheartening. Women’s representation as partners in law firms remains low, particularly as equity partners where it is often less than 20%. Discrimination against, and sexual harassment of, women continues to be a significant problem. These findings are remarkably similar in both common law and civil law countries.