On December 8, 2021, 72 legal professionals were sworn in as Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Out of this number, only two were women—from the academia category. For women aspiring to be Senior Advocates of Nigeria, the journey continues to be marred by sticky floors and concrete ceilings. In Nigeria, being called to the bar and referred to as a lawyer or an advocate in the legal profession is probably the first stage in one’s legal career. A subsequent prestigious rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, commonly referred to as SAN conferred on legal practitioners is perhaps the peak of the legal profession. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) title is an award for excellence in the legal profession and can be equated to the United Kingdom’s rank of the Queen's Counsel.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria is deemed to have been admitted to the "Inner Bar", as distinguished from the "Outer" bar, consisting of junior advocates. Like most areas of our lives in the world today, there is a gender imbalance among the holders of the rank of SAN, where women are fewer as compared to men. The purpose of this report is to shed light on the gender imbalance in the rank of SANs and to provide recommendations on how gender parity may be achieved.
Using a purposive sampling approach, the report interviews five women SANs and combined with secondary data sources, it adopts a historical analytical approach to understand how one becomes a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. It also analyzes the women who have been awarded the title, their areas of practice, why fewer women are Senior Advocates, and challenges inhibiting women from becoming SAN. It concludes with recommendations on how the number of women Senior Advocates can be increased.
IAWL FLAGSHIP REPORTS
Women Senior Advocates of Nigeria:
Sticky Floors or Concrete Ceilings?
You can also watch our video series speaking to Women SAN about the strategies and wisdom they have acquired through their experiences. Watch below or click here to watch.