Irish Women Lawyers Association will continue to work towards gender equality

Aoife McNickle BL
Aoife McNickle BL

The new chairperson of the Irish Women Lawyers Association (IWLA) has said the voluntary organisation will continue to promote gender equality in Ireland’s legal profession in 2016.

Aoife McNickle BL recently took over as chairperson from solicitor Maura Butler, who she said had led the IWLA “from strength to strength”.

Ms McNickle said that her goal as chairperson is “to continue the momentum by ensuring a high quality offering to our members of seminar and networking events throughout the year and to increase the profile of IWLA”.

The Association’s next event, a panel discussion based on the UN International Women’s Day theme of “Pledge for Parity”, takes place on Thursday 10 March 2016.

Outgoing president Ms Justice Maureen Clark, who stepped down in 2015, has been replaced by Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness.

Aoife McNickle BL, Maura Butler, Judge Maureen Clark and Judge Catherine McGuinness
Pictured (l-r): Maura Butler, Judge Catherine McGuinness, Judge Maureen Clark and Aoife McNickle BL

Ireland made history at the close of 2014 when the number of practising women solicitors outstripped the number of men.

The Law Society of Ireland said it was the “first time a female majority has existed in any legal profession anywhere in the world”.

However, the milestone does not mean the IWLA’s work is over.

Ms McNickle told Irish Legal News: “There may be a question as to whether there is a need for a women lawyers’ association now. A large number of public positions in law and justice are occupied for women for the first time in history. This is a fantastic step forward.

“However, there is plenty of work to be done in the private sector with regards to the rate of attrition of women in legal careers and a significant lack of women in senior positions.

“These are only some of the issues which IWLA will continue to highlight and continue the debate. The day that there is no need for a women lawyers’ association is the day we will have achieved gender equality in the legal profession in Ireland.”

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