100 years since pioneering first woman solicitor
On 18 December 2022, the legal profession will celebrate 100 years since the first woman became a solicitor in England and Wales.
“Carrie Morrison is an inspiration. In 1922, she entered the men-only profession and went on to a career advocating for people facing poverty and injustice in London,” said our president Lubna Shuja.
“She once commented that ‘men say the law is too rough and tumble for women,’ but she tackled these biases head on and showed how women solicitors could play an important role upholding people’s rights.*
“Carrie Morrison – alongside Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes, Maud Crofts, and Agnes Twiston Hughes (the first Welsh woman solicitor) – paved the way for all the women who have followed them to practise law in England and Wales.”**
We have come a long way since these first women solicitors broke the mould.
Lubna Shuja added: “Today, 53% of all practising solicitors are women. And 60% of new solicitors are women, so with committed effort from the profession, we can expect the gender balance in the law to continue to shift at all levels.***
“Women are now working in the City, they are giving legal advice within government, businesses, and charities. They are representing people who are trying to uphold their rights through the courts and advising families as they navigate life’s legal issues.
“There is no doubt women are reshaping the spaces they work in, whether in a law firm or a court room or wherever they may be. They are almost certainly influencing the way the law develops.
“Although women have outnumbered men in the solicitor profession since 2017, a relatively small proportion are in senior roles – for instance just 35% of partners in law firms are women.
“Our Practical Toolkit for Women in the Law provides important insights into the barriers women around the world face and practical tips on how to set up new gender equality initiatives.
“Our Women in Law Pledge also strives to bring gender equality to the forefront of the conversation and calls for firms to hold senior management accountable for progressing gender equality and to set targets for women at senior levels.
“There’s often a sense of urgency to ’do something’ about diversity and inclusion (D&I) in response to events which leads to reactive, short-lived activity that lacks impact. Our D&I framework has three simple steps that will help create a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected and safe.
“Carrie Morrison’s story and those of others after her can inspire us all to have the courage to make real and lasting change.”
Notes to editors
* Carrie Morrison spoke to the Dundee Evening Telegraph in October 1922. An excerpt of her interview can be read here.
** In December 1922, following the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, Carrie Morrison was the first to be admitted to the roll of solicitors, with Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes and Maud Crofts also admitted. In 1923, Agnes Twiston Hughes became the first Welsh solicitor.
*** Law Society’s Annual Statistics Report 2021 found that in the year to 31 July 2021.
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928