How women lawyers gained entry into the legal profession

Is there such a thing as WOMEN LAWYERS?

Throughout the history of the legal system, there was no women evident in the legal profession.
When attorneys, proctors and solicitors joined together in 1739, they founded the Society of Gentleman Practitioners in the Courts of Equity.

Women had to fight hard to be allowed entry into the profession, and it was not until the 20th century until they’ve made it.

Take for example, re Edith Haynes [1904] 6 WALR 209, according to the writer of English Heritage.
Issues that arose with the admission of women into the legal profession for all sorts of reasons such as that they did not really dare to be different from their male colleagues and did not dare to be women lawyers.
To be different, to change the codes of conduct derived from rules developed on the playing fields of Eton for the male members of the British aristocracy, would have been to invite ostracism (see 1), and the attention of the Ethics committee; to assert that women were different with different needs would be an acknowledgement of incompetence: to question the bias of the law would have been to invite judgement as to one’s fitness to be a member of the profession.

The writer of English Heritage believed that they deserved the comment of the graffitist who wrote
‘Women who want equality lack ambition’.

In his ‘State of the Judicature’ Speech today, the Chief Justice acknowledged, as did Sir Anthony Mason four years ago, that:

‘[o]ther things being equal, it would strengthen the judiciary to have an increase in the proportion of women judges and judges drawn from minority groups.’

This statement is to be treated as directed to the maintenance of public confidence in the judiciary, although it is a matter of great importance.
Justice is done only if irrelevant distinctions are disregarded , and proper account is taken of the genuinely different needs and circumstances of those who come before the courts.

That is the task that can properly be undertaken only if members of the profession and the judiciary ignore those irrelevancies and are sensitive to those differences.

In fact, Burnside J referred to the time ‘before women were recognised in any legal capacity’. He is referring to the fact that married women were regarded as having no legal capacity to sue or be sued or to own property or even their own wages until the Married Women’s Property Acts of the 1890s.

However, his statement was false, and the disability in law applied to those under the age of majority and to married women.

1 Ostracism: was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years.


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