A new report from the 2016 National Profile of the Profession shows that the number of women entering the legal profession has doubled that of men in the past two years.

The report indicates that of the total 71,509 practicing solicitors in Australia, women now comprise of 50.1 per cent of legal professionals compared to 49.9 per cent of men, reflecting a 34 per cent increase in female working solicitors.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Law Society of NSW Michael Tidball said the increase in practicing female legal professionals should encourage law firms to adopt strategies which aim to see more women in leadership positions.

“We have made significant advances in all areas of practice to assist the retention and career progression of women in the profession however impediments still remain,” Mr Tidball said.

“The legal profession must assist men and women to better balance their professional and other commitments.”

The 2016 National Profile of the Profession also highlighted the 6% decline in the number of solicitors working in the private sector since 2011.

“This is a result of significant growth in the number of solicitors working in the corporate sector and government,” Mr Tidball said.

“Between 2011 and 2016, there was a 59 per cent increase in the number of solicitors working in the corporate sector, compared to a 17 per cent increase working in the private sector.”

The report also revealed a 24% increase in solicitors over the past five years (from 57,577 in 2011 to 71,509 solicitors as of October 2016), and that of all Australian solicitors the largest proportion are registered in New South Wales (42.2%), followed by Victoria (25.4%) and Queensland (15.3%).

The 2016 National Profile of the Profession is a unique report which represents demographic data about practising solicitors around Australia.

The 2016 National Profile of Solicitors in Australia was commissioned by The Law Society of NSW on behalf of the Conference of Law Societies and was undertaken by Urbis.

To view the full report, visit www.lawsociety.com.au

Image: Cream of the most recent crop – 2016 law graduates receiving The Women Lawyers Association of Queensland (WLAQ) Una Prentice Awards for high achievement at a recent ceremony at UQ