Women now make up more than 40 per cent of the solicitors' profession, as the number of English and Welsh solicitors with practising certificates broke through the 100,000 barrier for the first time.
The new figures were published by the Law Society in its annual statistical report. The total number of solicitors with practising certificates rose by 4 per cent between 2004 and 2005, reaching a high of 100,938 in July last year.
The number of female solicitors went up by 7 per cent to 41,967. Ethnic minority solicitors rose by 9 per cent to 8,775, accounting for 8.7 per cent of the total practising certificates held.
But the number of female partners in English and Welsh firms fell by 70, down to just 6,095. In comparison, there are 20,851 male partners in solicitors' firms.
The Law Society found that there are more female lawyers aged 30 or younger than males of the same age, but this changes once solicitors have passed 31. In the 41-50 years age bracket, there are more than 15,000 males with practising certificates and fewer than 10,000 women.
However, women continue to account for a majority of new admissions to the profession. More than 60 per cent of newly qualified solicitors and transfers from other professions were female in 2005, and 18 per cent of the 7,356 new admissions were from an ethnic minority.