Birmingham Law Society is launching three new initiatives to promote gender equality at senior levels of the profession in the region, by improving support for female lawyers and reducing their risk of leaving legal practice prematurely.

While women comprise more than 50% of new entrants to the legal profession each year, those in leadership positions remain in the minority: nationwide, women account for less than a third of partners in private practice. One reason for this is that they are more likely than their male counterparts to leave legal careers before progressing to the most senior levels.

To address this problem of women being ‘lost to the law’, Birmingham Law Society is launching three new initiatives designed to increase support for (and promote visibility of) women practising law, and to enable employers to make informed decisions about the policies and practices they can implement to encourage women to remain in the profession.

The first of these is a peer-to-peer, inter-organisational mentoring scheme, through which female members can access impartial advice and support from mentors from across a broad range of practices.

Secondly, a social media campaign is being launched to recognise and celebrate those who have made a difference to women at all stages of their legal careers. The campaign, which features videos of female lawyers expressing their thanks to their role models, can be found on social media with the hashtag #ThankYou100.

Finally, the Society is collaborating with world-leading academics from the University of Birmingham Law School on a new research project to explore the factors that cause women to leave legal careers, what they go on to do and what, if anything, might have led to them choosing to stay.

“The launch of these initiatives marks 100 years of women being permitted to practice law in England and Wales,” says Linden Thomas, President of Birmingham Law Society. “It is our hope that together, they will go some way towards reducing the rate of attrition of female legal professionals in the West Midlands and beyond, and in doing so will enable us to move towards ever greater equality in the next 100 years.”

If you, or any women you know, have left the legal profession and would like to know more about participating in the research project, please contact the researchers at the University of Birmingham at ceplerresearch@contacts.bham.ac.uk

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