WOMEN students at the College of Law are gaining a higher percentage of commendations and distinctions than their male classmates on both the Legal Practice Course and the Common Professional Examination.
Figures compiled by the college show that 48 per cent of those who completed the the 1994 CPE course and 53.9 per cent of LPC finishers were women.
On both courses they scored "significantly higher" on their exams, with 22.86 per cent of female students on the CPE receiving commendations or distinctions compared with 19.35 per cent of men. Study results show women also rated between four and five per cent higher than men on the LPC.
Young Women Lawyers chair, Rowley Ashworth solicitor Sam James, says the statistics reflect the commitment women have made to pursuing careers in the law.
"I am not surprised by this," she says. "Women are often shown to be doing better all the way through school and it is no surprise that they seem to be doing better at law school level and CPE level.
"I would hope that we would notice that there would be a corresponding higher number of women who are offered training contracts."
However, James says the group's trainee members continue to report problems in securing contracts and being retained as newly qualified lawyers, and many say jobs in the traditionally male-dominated areas of law are still difficult to win.
"The impression we're getting from all of them is that it is still harder for them to get newly-qualified jobs than it is for men, especially in commercial departments and other, traditionally male areas," she says.