Today is known globally as International Women’s day, a day that’s a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress — join together in pushing global attention towards achieving the ultimate goal of gender equality. A cause in which the Irish legal profession is leading a global change.
It’s appropriate that we acknowledge the achievement of women in the legal industry. In a world’s first, the number of female solicitors practicing in Ireland has overtaken the number of male solicitors: this is a monumental moment for the profession. Female solicitors are now outranking men with 52% of practicing solicitors now women. In Donegal, solicitor numbers are 129 practicing, composed of 61 men, and 68 women. 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.
The Law Society Director general Ken Murphy mentions that being a solicitor takes intelligence, determination and hard work – gender doesn’t come into it, nor should it. However, I do think this current balance is something we can be proud of – that within 90-odd years, women have moved from being excluded from our profession to a point of perfect equality”……” It is something of a global phenomenon, but Ireland has led it.
One of our trainee solicitors Sorcha Duffy gives her view on becoming a solicitor. Sorcha joined the firm in November 2013 having completed a Bachelor of Corporate Law degree in 2009.
What area of law are you interested in?
I’ve been mostly working in the areas of conveyance and probate at the current time. My goal after I qualify is to move into litigation law.
What are you looking forward to most in 2018?
“I’m taking my final exams this year so it’s been a challenging studying and working but I hope to be qualified as a solicitor before the end of the year. I’ve recently got engaged so it’s also been an exciting year for making plans.
What attracted you to the legal profession?
“I’ve had an interest in law from an early age; I knew this was what I wanted to do. I do like a challenge and working in law, I knew that I would be pushed. I like working with and helping people too, that was another aspect that drew me to the profession.”
Who is your inspirational lady?
“There are so many, that I don’t know where to start. Mary Robinson for one, first female President of Ireland, I find her inspirational in many facets of her life from her legal, then political career to her work for the UN as a commissioner of human rights.
Judge Judy…haha… because she is straight, and to the point. She gets what she wants. And of course, my Mum.”
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the profession?
“The biggest challenge now I think for solicitors is the way technology is changing the industry at such a fast pace. It’s not enough now to be good at law, you must have the ability to change and learn new technology skills now to succeed”.
Finally, what advice would you give a young inspiring solicitor? Or advice tips for anyone thinking of studying law?
“Be prepared to work hard. Nothing comes easy. If you like a challenge, this is the right career for you. Focus on the goals you want to achieve, and you will be highly rewarded”.