Irish solicitors’ profession reaches major landmark in gender balance

In a first for any legal profession in the world, female Irish solicitors now outnumber male solicitors practising in Ireland.

The Director General of the Law Society of Ireland, Ken Murphy, said, “There were exactly 4,623 female practising solicitors and exactly 4,609 male practising solicitors at the close of 2014. It was just 92 years ago that the first woman solicitor was admitted to the profession. Since then the race to equality has been incredible.”

Teri Kelly, Law Society of Ireland’s Director of Representation and Member Services, explains in an article for the Law Society’s Gazette, “To our knowledge, this is the first time a female majority has existed in any legal profession anywhere in the world.”

The milestone is particularly striking in the context of the profession’s historical background; the first woman solicitor, Mary Dorothea Heron, was only admitted as a solicitor 92 years ago, in 1923.

Gender balance in the realm of law and justice in Ireland has come a long way since that time. “Women currently dominate the State’s senior appointments in law and justice. Last year saw the appointment of the first female Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, and the third female Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald. These appointments can be added to the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Susan Denham; the first woman Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus; the first woman Chief State Solicitor, Eileen Creedon; and the first woman Attorney General, Máire Whelan,” says Teri Kelly.

For more information, read the full article excerpted from the January / February 2015 Gazette.