In 2019, Supreme court president Lady Brenda Hale issued a rallying cry to increase the number of women studying law. As Britain’s most senior judge, and the first woman to ever hold the role, she was well positioned to demand a change. At the time, only 29% of senior judges were women, and she said at least half of UK judiciary should be female to better represent the population.
Today in 2022, despite a rising number of women taking positions as solicitors and chartered legal executives, only 39% of barristers are female and the number of High Court judges remains stubbornly unchanged. Creating a more diverse culture at the top of a profession starts, of course, at the bottom and increasing the number of women looking to study for undergraduate degrees in law.
Lack of diversity is not a new problem of course, the 2012 Council of Europe report found that Britain had the lowest employment levels in Europe for female judges. In 2021, this picture had improved a bit and by April of last year, 34% of court judges and half of tribunal judges were female. The proportion of women has continued to increase but remains low in senior court roles.
Is it hard for women to start a career in law?
The legal profession is changing and becoming both more receptive and easier to access. Diversity is critical in any sector but particularly law, where it must be as varied as the community it serves – best reflecting and representing the people within it. An attitude that is becoming more widely accepted. Enabling new applicants from a range of backgrounds and experiences only stimulates energy and innovation.
There is no doubt that public perception of the law is that it is a sector dominated by white, middle, and upper-class men but statistics show that diversity is high on the agenda now for most legal employers. According to data from the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA), published earlier this year, 52% of lawyers in the UK are now women, 17% are from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic background and 5% classified as having a disability. This shows a slow but steady improvement and new opportunities to enter the sector. For women, there remains a significant seniority gap however, and they are consistently underrepresented at partner level in firms of all sizes but particularly in the largest law firms.
So, why should more women want to study law now? Because it is a changing sector with real potential for advancement. The positive change underway needs help to maintain its momentum and new female applicants will open doors and drive more women into senior roles.
How can I get started in studying law?
Whether you are interested in the legal system as a whole or have a particular area that stands out to you, such as Family Law, getting started is easy. Researching an undergraduate degree is a fantastic way to see if it is right for you and we have a range of material to help. You also might be surprised at the host of other benefits a law degree can present.
- An undergraduate law degree is both flexible and well respected. A BA (Hons) degree in Business and Law can unlock a vast range of career opportunities.
- Studying law includes many transferable skills that are commonly desired by employers such as critical thinking, research, and organisational skills.
- A BA (Hons) or LLB degree shows prospective employers you are a capable applicant who can handle complex subject matter and high-pressure environments.
Check out some of our popular undergraduate law degrees HERE and get started today.
Alternatively, read our article ‘Should I study law?’ for more on why it could be the right choice for you.