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Report Highlights Challenges Facing Female Lawyers

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Fifty percent of women working the law have experienced bullying or intimidation in their current workplace and one in four has experienced sexual harassment at work, according to a new survey.

Last week the Law Council of Australia released the results of its National Attrition and Re-engagement Study which investigated the causes of attrition and ways to retain and re-engage lawyers. Approximately 4,000 members of the legal profession were surveyed, including current lawyers, admitted lawyers who have never practiced, and lawyers who had left the profession.

The survey showed that female solicitors make up a large and growing proportion of Australia’s legal industry, comprising 61% of all solicitors admitted in the last year, and 58% of admissions from the last 10 years. However, there exists a significant disparity between the number of women who enter the law, and the number who remain in it.

Half of all women surveyed reported experiencing gender discrimination, and a quarter of female respondents said that they had been discriminated against due to family responsibilities. More than one third of the women surveyed said that they were considering moving to a new job within the next five years.

Male lawyers surveyed by the Law Council also reported a higher satisfaction with their work than women.

The report also included recommendations for law firms and other legal organisations to help tackle the high attrition rates among women lawyers, and to re-engage women lawyers who have already left the profession.

The Law Council of Australia is the national representative body of the Australian legal profession. The Law Council also sponsored Survive Law’s 2013 Australian Law Student Satisfaction Survey.

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