The Career Intentions Survey, released this August found criminal law, closely followed by commercial law were the two most popular hot-spots aspiring lawyers hoped to break into in the future.
Supreme Court Judge, Justice Jane Mathews noted the increased popularity of criminal law is in stark contrast to the attitudes of barristers in decades past. “When I was at the bar, aeons ago now, criminal law was the poor relation. Most barristers, certainly the more prominent ones, wanted nothing at all to do with it”, she recalled.
Survey Result Highlights
- The survey results show 29% of aspiring lawyers wished to specialise in criminal law, closely followed by commercial.
- 30% of those legal students planning to go-on and practise, intended to pursue the bar.
- As it turns out 31% of women are likely to choose criminal law as their specialised field, whereas only 26% of male legal students opted for specialising in this field.
- Over-all 37% of men expect to consider a career at the bar, compared to only 26% of female law students.
‘Women’s Issues’ to Address in the Legal Field
Justice Mathews believes misconceptions prevalent within law hampering women becoming barristers include:
1. That the bar is too intimidating and stressful for women.
2. The culture & work environment is not family-friendly.
3. There are simply too many barriers in the way.
“It is extremely important that law students be made aware of these matters, and of the fact that the bar is not necessarily the intimidating, difficult environment that some of them clearly perceive it to be. Over recent years a number of initiatives have been introduced to address this very issue, particularly under the leadership of the current president of the Bar Association, Jane Needham,” said Justice Mathews.
Justice Mathews believes diversity within the legal field is not the problem. For the last few decades, male legal graduates have been well outnumbered by women. "The real problem today relates to what happens to the women after they have completed their studies."