The Northern Ireland Law Society has refused to help women pay for research on discrimination in the profession – despite anecdotal evidence of its presence.
The Lawyer's latest NI statistics reveal that only 14 per cent of partners in law firms are women and half the firms have no women partners at all. But women account for half of newly-qualified solicitors.
The 200 members of the NI Association of Women Solicitors (AWS) will bear half of the £3000 cost of a planned survey, while the Equal Opportunities Commission will pay the rest.
AWS spokesperson Margaret Magennis pointed out that while the English Association of Women solicitors was financed by the Law Society of England and Wales, no help came from the NI Law Society.
Many female solicitors said they experienced sexism from male colleagues and clients. The AWS reports that a number of its members have asked for information to be sent to their homes, lest membership of the group affects their prospects.
Magennis said: “There would seem to be a major problem but firstly, unlike England, people here are not listening; secondly, they are not believing; and thirdly, they are not taking it seriously.”
See NI feature pages 38-45