"The sad reality is that although women solicitors outnumber men at entry level, only 19 per cent go on to become partners in private practice.

The reasons for this are, paradoxically, simple and complex. With its current fee-earning structure, private practice has an inherently masculine culture - long hours in the office coupled with time spent networking and developing business. So-called presenteeism is rife, with more focus on the number of hours clocked up than the value of the work done.

It is little wonder that so many women leave private practice for corporate legal departments. When opportunity presents, women move in-house in droves, attracted by the better life balance flowing from the lack of fee-earning responsibility and the opportunity to work in industry."