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NI’s Thriving Solicitor Sector Working Hard to Break Glass Ceiling

Posted By:
Law Society of Northern Ireland

26th Sep 2022

The President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland is challenging the profession to redefine its future by embracing diversity, opening access, and tackling inequality.

Speaking before an audience of 350 solicitors at its ‘Shaping our Future Together’ conference, celebrating 100 years of the Society, Brigid Napier lauded the progress made by the profession over the last century and called for a pioneering approach to ensure it continues to evolve.

To mark its centenary, the Society commissioned two major reports to help it better understand how the profession is addressing issues such as Diversity & Equality, and to establish its impact at an economic level.

Directly supporting over 6000 jobs, and worth £460m to the local economy, the solicitor profession is now firmly established as a key driver of growth for the region.

Belfast is now an internationally renowned centre for legal technology and is host to more top international law firms than any other UK city outside of London. In Belfast and beyond, the network of solicitors, serving local communities remains a vital component to life in NI.

The profession is now majority female and almost three quarters of the 2022 intake of trainee solicitors are women. But there remains a profound gender gap when it comes to leadership with of the majority of partners in private practice being male.

The gap between genders is also significant in terms of salary – with the survey suggesting male solicitors are paid more than their female counterparts.

The research examined wider issues affecting the profession including LGBTQ+ representation, social mobility and ethnic minority participation.

Launching the Society’s first Diversity & Equality Action Plan, Brigid Napier said:

“Our centenary milestone gives us the opportunity to celebrate all that the solicitor profession contributes to Northern Ireland society and our economy, but also to ensure we are putting down solid foundations for the next hundred years.”