It’s been a long and winding road. In 1922, Maud Crofts, Carrie Morrison (pictured), Mary Pickup and Mary Sykes became the first women to qualify as solicitors in England. Sadly, however, the next 35 years of history of women’s achievements in the profession are a little sketchy. It was not until 1957 that the Law Society began archiving details of gender.
What we do know is that in the year that President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to guard the rights of African-American children to go to school, and Patrick Moore presented the first episode of The Sky at Night, 356 women had practising certificates in England.
Since those days, we have noticed some changes in racial politics in the US (though not to the presenter of The Sky at Night). Likewise in the numbers of female solicitors in England: women now make up 43% of the profession – some 47,070 practitioners – and account for a majority of those entering it.
To celebrate this achievement and to mark International Women’s Day, the Law Society is holding an exhibition on the rise of women in the profession. It will highlight one of the earliest attempts by women to gain permission to sit Law Society examinations and the implementation of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which gave women access to the legal profession.
‘From minority to majority: the rise of women in the solicitors’ profession’ opens on Monday, 9 March in the Law Society’s reading room. It runs to 24 March.