There are more women who are lawyers in Quebec than men. Women represent 50.4 per cent of the Quebec legal society’s roll, the most of any North American jurisdiction. The spread is going to be much larger in the near future since far more women are taking up the legal profession than men. At present, the overwhelming majority of lawyers between 20 and 39 are women, a figure that is going to grow since more than 64 per cent of the students at the law society’s law practice program are women. That is one of the tantalizing glimpses provided by a 55-page report recently published by the Barreau du Québec.
Men are by and large older, and edging closer to retirement. Men make up the majority – 62 per cent — of Quebec lawyers over the age of 45. While the average age of Quebec lawyers is 45, for men it stands at 49, and for women 41. A whopping 38 per cent of Quebec lawyers are older than 50 years old, most of whom are men. 8.3 per cent of members of the Quebec roll are over 65 years old, a figure that has steadily grown over the past five years from 5.5 per cent in 2009 to 6.2 per cent in 2010 to 7.3 per cent in 2012. All told, 47 per cent of Barreau members are over the age of 45.
Here is a brief breakdown of Barreau members by age:
- 88 per cent of lawyers older than 70 are men.
- 80 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 65 and 69 are men.
- 72 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 60 and 64 are men.
- 61 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 55 and 59 are men.
- 53 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 50 and 54 are men.
Now here’s where it becomes interesting, a reflection of the changing profession.
- 51 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 45 and 49 are women.
- 57 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 40 and 44 are women.
- 61 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 35 and 39 are women.
- 63 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 30 and 34 are women.
- 67 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 25 and 29 are women.
- 70 per cent of lawyers between the ages of 20 and 24 are women.
The number of Quebec lawyers has grown an average of 1.7 per cent over the past five years, from 22,989 in March 2009 to 25,095 in March 2014. Membership grew by 2.6 per cent last year compared to the previous year.
But the overwhelming majority of Quebec lawyers are white. Aboriginal people shy away from law, at least in Quebec. In 2014, there were 111 lawyers who were aboriginal, 10 more than in 2009, a figure that represents 0.4 per cent of the total Barreau roll. Multicultural groups fared better, and the numbers have been improving, but there is still much room for improvement. In 2009, there were 648 Quebec lawyers in 2009 who were from minorities, representing 2.8 per cent of the total roll. In 2014, it increased to 1,548, representing 6.2 per cent of Barreau members.