Recent figures suggest that top law firms are still struggling to meet gender diversity targets. PwC's 2015 law firm survey revealed that only 17 per cent of partners in the top 25 law firms are women. This is despite the implementation of extensive recruitment practices to boost their numbers.

Strong student interest not reflected in later careers

According to figures from The Law Society, there is no shortage of interest in law from female students. The Solicitors Regulation Authority reported that 63 per cent of their 2012/2013 intake was female; plenty of women are undertaking to train. Career opportunities, it seems, remain less promising once the training is complete.

Women underrepresented at the top

This lack of female professionals is particularly noticeable at a high level. Janet Legrand, partner at DLA Piper has suggested that this may come down to confidence: 'if you put the same job description to a man and a woman equally well-qualified for a role, the chances are the woman would look at it and think: "I don't know if I can do that. "Whereas a man would be thinking: "I can do that, but the money isn't good enough."'

Writing for The Lawyer, career coach Emma Spitz emphasises the importance of avoiding gender stereotypes in the workplace and focusing instead on one's true strengths in order to be taken seriously as a professional. Women need to speak out more about their achievements, she believes, to ensure they get the recognition they deserve and need in order to progress.

Sexist behaviour must be challenged

The unacceptability of sexist behaviour in Law firmsAmong other pitfalls, a lack of female representation carries the risk of enabling an overly masculine culture. In one egregious example, a barrister was fined £1,800 in May after being found guilty of sexual harassment at a chambers social evening, surrounded by his professional peers. Appropriately challenging sexist behaviour can have an important place in creating environments where more women can gain a substantial foothold in law.

Continuing concerns over work–life balance

It will come as little surprise that family considerations factor in. In a discussion of the impact of long hours and late nights for LexisNexis, top female lawyers describe the ongoing pressure to choose between remaining at the office and returning home to spend time with children. Balancing family commitments and finding compatible childcare remain challenges, but modern practices may entail some flexibility. '… We need to start thinking that it might be possible for people to work in a more agile way', says Linda Jones of Pinsent Masons, 'and for people to be more productive than if they are stuck in front of a desk.'