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Men still dominate higher ranks of profession: survey

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Cite as: (2002) 76(11) LIJ, p.25

The 2002 Practising Certificate Survey shows women form the majority of young practitioners, but are still well behind in the profession’s most senior ranks.

Women make up 62 per cent of practitioners under 30 years of age, but are the minority in practitioners aged over 40, according to the 2002 Law Institute of Victoria Annual Practising Certificate Survey.

Men make up 60 per cent of the practising profession aged 40-49 and 87 per cent of those over 50 years of age.

But there are signs this imbalance could eventually change.

Women dominate within practitioners aged under 30 (62 per cent) and break even in the 30-39 age group.

Overall, men are still in the majority (61 per cent), although that figure has dropped one percentage point since last year’s survey. It has dropped three percentage points since 1998. These figures translate to more men holding the highest positions within the legal profession and, in turn, making more money and working longer hours.

The survey found that 32 per cent of male practitioners are partners compared to 10 per cent of women. It also found that 75 per cent of female practitioners and 36 per cent of males are employee solicitors.

The percentage of men who are sole practitioners is double that of women (26 per cent to 13 per cent).

In regards to wages, the survey found 85 per cent of practitioners making more than $500,000 a year are male, while 84 per cent of lawyers making between $200,000 and $500,000 and 74 per cent making between $100,000 and $200,000 are male.

The only wage group in which women are the majority is in the $20,000 to $50,000 bracket (57 per cent).

While more males hold senior positions and bring in six-figure wages, they also work longer hours. Fifty per cent of male practitioners work in excess of 50 hours a week compared to 33 per cent of females. More women work between 40 and 49 hours a week (43 per cent to 36 per cent) and less than 40 hours a week (24 per cent to 14 per cent).

The survey found the hardest working age group is the 40-49 bracket with 49 per cent working more than 50 hours a week.

The findings stem from the 2002 Law Institute Practising Certificate Survey, which was sent out with the 2002 practising certificate renewals. More than 2700 practitioners responded.

In other major findings:

  • the University of Melbourne has produced 40 per cent of Victoria’s practitioners, while Monash University has contributed 35 per cent. However, Monash graduates are the majority among young practitioners;
  • practitioners earning between $50,000 and $100,000 are doing the most pro bono, with 35 per cent of practitioners doing more than 10 hours pro bono coming from that group;
  • Victorian practitioners do more than $85 million worth of pro bono and reduced fee services each year; and
  • commercial litigation continues to be the most popular area of practice with both males and females, with civil litigation ranking second for both genders. However, the third most popular area of practice for men is conveyancing, while for women it is family law.

JASON SILVERII

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