Gender, Choice and Commitment: Women Solicitors in England and Wales and the Struggle for Equal Status, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Gender, Choice and Commitment

Women Solicitors in England and Wales and the Struggle for Equal Status, 1st Edition

By Hilary Sommerlad, Peter Sanderson


348 pages

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Paperback: 9781138385061
pub: 2020-02-01
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pub: 2019-01-15
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First published in 1998, this volume is the first full-length discussion of women’s experiences in the solicitors’ profession in the UK. It provides an account which is grounded in historical research and a contemporary research study. The authors explore this material to analyze both women’s own experiences and the mainstream culture and structure of the profession. Following a treatment of the struggle against the formal exclusionary barriers to women’s entry to the profession, this book then seeks to identify the informal obstacles which were subsequently erected to women’s participation and career progression, and examine their persistence, in a modified form, into the contemporary era. The analysis draws on perspectives from feminist jurisprudence to the sociology of the professions to shed light on the processes which support women’s continued subordination in employment as lawyers.


’If the status of woman solicitors is to be improved, the profession must not shirk from recognising how difficult the task is and how radical reforms must be. Anyone who is serious about taking on such a task must read this book if they are to have a clear picture of the experiences of women solicitors…’ Law Society Gazette ’…a tour de force, seemingly weaving economic theory, feminist theory, the sociology of professions, others’ findings, and their own data into a powerful argument powerfully presented…it is the most comprehensive, persuasive, and important contribution to the expanding literature on woman and the legal profession that I have read…anyone…who has not read this book has not done their homework.’ Journal of Law and Society ’…thorough, detailed and persuasive…makes an important contribution to our understanding of some of the constraints facing women developing careers as solicitors in large, commercially orientated, law firms.’ Work, Employment and Society ’…a sophisticated analysis that advances our understanding of women’s career patterns and the legal profession itself in important ways…an important contribution to understanding the gendered nature of the legal profession, women’s entry into the professions as a whole, and the persistence of women’s subordination more generally.’ Law and Politics Book Review

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Gender and the Legal Labour Market. 3. ‘The Common Sense of Mankind’: the Common Law and the Historical Exclusion of Women from the Legal Profession. 4. ‘Bonds of Trust’: From Informal Exclusion to Full Participation? 5. The Men’s Room: Cultural Capital and the Fraternal Contract. 6. ‘She’s All Right for a Bird’: The Accommodation of Women. 7. The Meaning of the Career Break: Human Capital, Cultural Capital, Social Capital. 8. Conclusion.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General