CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF WOMEN PRACTICING LAW

 

The Benussi & Co Ltd team were delighted to be one of the main sponsors of The Birmingham Law Society networking event held on Thursday 13 June at Marco Pierre White’s Cube restaurant.  Solicitors from all over Birmingham and the Midlands joined together for the centenary celebrations of women being able to practice law.

As a niche, all-female, divorce and family law practice, this made the celebrations a double delight for the Benussi & Co Ltd team.

Diane Benussi, founder and Managing Director considered this landmark event an excellent way to celebrate the ongoing journey for female lawyers – one that will pave the way for future generations.

Diane comments, “Despite women receiving the right to practice law in 1919, the admission of women at the time was still an exceptionally small number.  The legal profession continued to be a male dominated stronghold and repeatedly women were turned down for jobs by firms who were looking for male solicitors.”

Frequently, women were offered positions as legal secretaries where they had to copy-write legal documents, in the belief by male counterparts that it was ‘lighter work’ and more suitable for women. Eliza Orme was the first woman to pass a law degree in the UK at the University College London, after which she set up chambers in Chancery Lane preparing legal documents. Her degree still did not entitle her to practice law in her own right.

It wasn’t until the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was passed that women were allowed to enter the legal profession for the first time to practice.

Diane continues, ‘In many ways much has improved, but there is still a long way to go, with only a very small percentage of women being managing partners in a law firm.

Today’s female solicitors continue to reshape the legal profession across the UK. Two years ago Lady Hale became the first female president of the Supreme Court – she was the first woman to achieve such a high level in the judiciary.

Women such as Elizabeth Truss who became the first female Lord Chancellor, as well as Lady Justice Macur, who was appointed as the first female Senior Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, are shining examples to everyone.  Along with countless others, women are setting benchmarks across the legal sector and this celebration serves as a reflection of the professionalism, diligence and success demonstrated by those women who began practicing law over 100 years ago.”

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