The Association of Women Solicitors (AWS) has spoken out against the high attrition rates among female lawyers, identifying inadequate childcare and inflexible working arrangements as the major causes.
A reception was held last night together with the Law Society to mark the 85th anniversary of the admission of Carrie Morrison, the first female solicitor. At the event AWS chairwoman Susha Chandrasekhar told The Lawyer: “The high attrition rate hits men as well as women but it hits women disproportionately. Women are off the radar when they take maternity leave and when they come back they are seen as less committed.”
“You are twice as likely to make partner as a man. More women go into in-house and government, because these are places offering flexible working,” she added.
Fiona Fitzgerald, partner at Colemans-CTTS and incoming AWS chair, admitted that flexible working was a challenge for employers, but one that could bring benefits. “Where people work part-time they are more efficient, extremely focussed, its like working towards a deadline,” she said.
Head of legal services at Network Rail Alison Parkinson was presented with an award during the event in recognition of her work as the first Law Society council member specifically representing women members. The AWS fought to secure the post that Parkinson held from 2001 until July of this year.
Parkinson believes that that members should be paid and that the council should be shrunk to reduce costs.
“The problem that women and ethnic minorities face is that many of them are not partners, so firms don’t support [their involvement in the council] because they feel they are losing money,” she said.