Change, continuity and crisis in the legal profession: the role of gender

‘Change, continuity and crisis in the legal profession: the role of gender’ is a case study which forms the UK element of the overall project termed Continuity and Change in the Legal Profession, led by Salvatore Caserta and funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and Dreyers Foundation.  With the aim of addressing the most pressing contemporary issues facing the legal profession, such as patterns of stratification and gendered segmentation, internationalization, digitalization, and the crisis of liberalism, this project has commissioned a number of international case studies.

The study led by Hilary Sommerlad considers the complex interaction between the disruption of the traditional professional field and women’s (changing) positioning within it.  

This is explored through an analysis which draws upon over two decades of research into women (including BAME) lawyers in England and Wales, supplemented by a qualitative study and data from corporate law firm websites to trace the ways in which this sector of the profession signals its commitment to diversity and inclusion through “aesthetic demographics” and “transparency metrics.


I will be presenting a draft of the paper including at an international conference at the University of Copenhagen, 12th January 2023, which members of the Law Faculty will attend so that the contributions will inform new curricula and teaching strategies.

Publications and outputs

The paper will appear in a special issue  in an international journal, edited by the project convenors.