Woman's seat on the agenda after Chancery Lane debate

THE creation of the Law Society's first designated woman's seat will be on the agenda at the next Council meeting on 5 June.

Last Wednesday's Law Society policy meeting discussed making one of the 14 seats allocated to particular groups on the 75-strong Council a woman's. The new seat would be regarded as a step towards removing sex discrimination in the profession.

A Law Society spokesman said that although the idea of a woman's seat had been floated before in discussions about other specialist interest seats, this was the first time it had actually been placed on the council's agenda.

Women, as well as men, have foiled previous attempts to create the seat, said Law Society president Tony Girling, who supports its creation. Speaking as chair of a Young Women Lawyers and the Association of Women Solicitors discussion on equality last Tuesday held at Chancery Lane, he said: “Whenever the idea is suggested, it is opposed by successful women solicitors saying that they don't need it,” said Girling.

Lady Howe, chair of Opportunity 2000, also speaking at the meeting, said: “This is because of women reaching the top and thinking: 'I don't want my last act to be because I am a woman.'”

For the 60 women who attended last Tuesday's debate, the creation of a woman's seat would be a “welcome step” towards equality, said Young Women Lawyers chair Clare McGlynn. She added that more women on the committees would be ideal.

The Law Society is to publish more statistics on pay in the profession in the summer, and Girling is also considering writing to law firms to remind them about the Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on equal pay and to urge all practices to adopt its recommendations.

“This is part of a rolling programme of research and review that is being carried out by the Law Society,” said McGlynn.