On the eve of International Women's Day, the Law Society of Ireland has launched a new task force to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Last year 37% of new partners in Irish law firms were women.
Leading the way
The task force comprises sixteen members from various minority, disability, LGBT+ and socio-economic backgrounds. The task force will make recommendations to encourage more female solicitors and solicitors from diverse backgrounds to seek leadership roles in the law society’s council and committees. It will also create useful tools solicitors can use to help achieve equality, diversity and inclusion within their firms. The law society president Patrick Dorgan has made diversity and inclusion an important theme for his year in office. Director general of the law society Ken Murphy said the Irish solicitors’ profession is already leading the way in gender equality. Mr Murphy said, ‘in 2014, we became the first legal profession in the world to have a female majority. Last year 52% of our members were women.’ He added, ‘currently 34 per cent of partners in the largest seven firms in the country are women. In one firm this figure is 44 per cent. Last year 37 per cent of new partners in Irish law firms were women.’ Mr Murphy explained these figures show some improvement for gender equality but there is more work to do.
Mentoring and access
Since 2016 the law society has run it’s a mentoring programme which to date has led to 57 successful solicitor mentorship pairs being created. The law society has a well-established access programme supporting access to legal education and careers for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. More than 200 trainee solicitors have received financial support through the programme. Mr Murphy explained, ‘an inclusive, diverse profession that reflects the clients we serve is one that will be more effective and successful. Solicitors know that implementing policies of diversity and equality is not just the right thing to do; it is also good for their businesses, the profession, and the public.’