The demographic shift is not a recent trend
For the first time in the history of Victoria, practicing female lawyers now outnumber practicing male lawyers.
That’s according to data released by the Victorian Legal Services Board, which said that this month, there were 10,971 female lawyers in Victoria, outstripping the 10,933 male lawyers in the state.
Women first outnumbered men across Australia’s legal profession in 2016.
“It has been interesting to watch the gradual shift in demographics away from the traditionally male-dominated profession to one where we now have a gender balance – if ever so slightly tilted towards women,” said Fiona Bennett, who chairs the legal services board.
The shift is not a recent trend, however, according to the board’s data.
“Going back to a decade ago, only 40% of Victoria’s lawyers were women. However, since then, the number of practicing female lawyers has grown by 3% annually – double the rate of males,” Bennett said. “In fact, figures from as far back as the late 1990s show the number of women entering the profession being consistently higher than men.”
Women lawyers form most of the state’s 20-50 age bracket, while men still outnumber women in the 51-and-above age bracket.
In 2015, women solicitors first outnumbered male solicitors in the state. However, a relatively low ratio of female-to-male barristers meant the profession stayed majority male, the board said.
‘Over the past decade there has been an approximate 2% increase in female barristers in Victoria, so that women now make up 29% of our barristers. Regardless of gender balance, the continuous growth in the number of practising lawyers in Victoria illustrates that we have a very strong legal sector and a thriving job market for lawyers in this state,” Bennett said. “It undermines suggestions that there are too many law graduates entering the profession, because the data clearly shows more lawyers are being employed every year.”