Adopting a care ethics approach to fill the void between formal and substantive equality for women solicitors : an analysis of policies of the Law Societies of Scotland, and England and Wales

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

This research explores workplace policy at the sectoral level which is intended to provide gender equality in a professional setting. More women have been entering the legal profession than men for decades, and more than half of solicitors in the UK are now women. However, there is a leaky pipeline as many women leave the profession, or move in-house, or to other legal roles outside of private practice when they become parents and/or require flexibility. Those women that remain, are not making it to partnership in the same proportion as men, as only 28% of partners are female.This study is based on the premise that employment laws in the UK provide formal but not substantive equality, so specific workplace policies are required to deliver substantive equality. This study provides a critical analysis of the relevant policies of the Law Societies of Scotland, and England and Wales. It seeks to uncover whether and, to what extent, the regulators are committed to improving substantive equality by way of equal outcomes for women solicitors compared with their male counterparts, seeking promotion to partner. The findings will be of use to the national regulators and to law firms in determining their strategic approaches to gender equality and to those in other jurisdictions and professional sectors.Firstly, this study sets out a theoretical framework using care ethics based on a cross-disciplinary analysis of relevant literature. Secondly, it uses this framework to provide a content and critical discourse analysis of the relevant policies of the two Law Societies. These are compared and contrasted to identify examples of 'good practice' and areas requiring development according to the theoretical framework. This analysis determines whether the approaches adopted by the regulators are likely to lead to substantive equality for women solicitors and whether lessons can be learned from adopting a care ethics approach to policy-making.
Date of Award17 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorSylvie Da Lomba (Supervisor) & Claire McDiarmid (Supervisor)

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