The Reality of Women in Law
Ada Evans, Grata Flos Greig, and Christian Jollie Smith. These women, for those of you who do not know, are the names of powerful, strong and fearless female lawyers, solicitors and barristers. These women, along with many others throughout the centuries have fought tirelessly to obtain extraordinary roles in the law.
This fight comes from a place deeper than a law degree, years of practical legal training or ongoing educational courses. This fight is one against societal standards, gender conforming norms, and prejudice against being first and foremost, a woman in the law.
In my time as a law student, I have heard stories of powerful, educated, confident women, who were belittled, oppressed, mocked and slandered in one way or another to varying degrees. Comments such as, “Could I please have a second opinion?” and “What would you know?” It can be argued that this could be for a myriad of different reasons. It could be for reasons as simple as people genuinely wanting a second opinion or not trusting any lawyer, and I could safely say male lawyers would have experienced the same thing. However, sexism within society continues to be an ongoing issue that stems from hundreds of years of women being belittled or spoken down to.
There is hope! As of 2018, the number of female solicitors has doubled, while almost exceeding the number of male solicitors. In the last decade, the number of female solicitors, barristers and lawyers have increased by 3% per annum. This rise is a celebration as a career in the legal profession was said to be ‘male dominated’.
Currently in 2021, there are three powerful women that hold seats in the High Court of Australia, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, Justice Michelle Gordon and Justice Jacqueline Gleeson. At one of the most powerful pinnacles in the country, women are supported and encouraged to make fruitful careers in this industry.
This battle is ongoing as women in New South Wales make up only 16% of equity partners at a seniority level. As woman require maternity leave, society began to view this as a weakness. However, in recent years the ability for women to multitask motherhood, education and a successful career is one of the biggest driving forces individuals are able to portray. Though it is an uphill battle, we will continue to fight each and every day to pave the way for future generations.
If anyone reading this is looking for a sign to start studying, practicing or striving for a career in law, this is it.
I urge you to surround yourself with powerful, strong, and fearless women. Our team at Galea & Faustin Solicitors are a forceful unit made up of powerful women and powerful men. Our diversity in age, race, sexual orientation, and gender is our strength, and our inclusivity of everyone is something that anyone can be proud to be a part of. Surround yourself with the best of the best and be fearless and brave. The world is counting on you.