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Alison Coyne, a PhD student at UCD is the winner of our 2019 blog contest. Our President, the Honourable Ms Justice McGuinness selected Alison’s entry after careful consideration of the worthy contenders.

0, 2, 9, 27, 44, 62, 71, 359, 946, 2141, 3924, 5001.

These numbers are the evolution of Irish Women Lawyers from 1919 to 2019. These numbers represent the continuous increase in female lawyers in this country over 100 years. In just one century, this island went from women being unable to participate in the legal profession, to the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act in 1919, to women representing the majority of lawyers in the country in 2019.

This change was not a miracle, inevitable, nor a mere evolutionary occurrence. This change was the result of a battle for equality. A battle fought peacefully and without bloodshed. A battle instigated by Frances Kyle, Averill Deverell, and Mary D Heron; mothers, sisters, daughters, heroes, women, lawyers. These women spoke up, not just for themselves but for our careers, for our presence and equality in the legal profession. This battle is far from over.

2019 and I read this letter aloud to an industry that is only beginning to take women seriously, to allow women to be heard, and to grant women the equality that we deserve. 2019 and I am proud to have studied among the future female leaders of the legal industry. 2019 and I am honoured to have been taught and mentored by inspirational female lecturers and professors. 2019 and I work in an industry where I am surrounded by female role models, female lawyers, female leaders. Senator Ivana Bacik, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, Justice Catherine McGuinness, Justice Susan Denham, Eileen Kennedy, Eileen Creedon, Catherine Duffy, Siofra O’Leary, Emily Logan, and Sinead Kane; an endless list of formidable professionals, not labelled just as great women but as great people. These women have paved the way for the world you are now living in. These women fought to allow you to take your careers and opportunities for granted.

By 2119 let there be female lawyers occupying positions at the top of every firm, company, committee, organisation and court in Ireland. By 2119 let the legacies of Frances Kyle, Averill Deverell, and Mary D. Heron be alive and thriving. By 2119 let every female in Ireland feel empowered to have a voice in the legal world, an equal voice, a powerful voice, a voice which falls on the listening ears of men and women internationally. Strive for your education to be a right and not a privilege. Strive for your voice to be a right and not a privilege. Strive for your equality to be a right and not a privilege. Take pride in your career, take pride in your opportunities, take pride in advocating for other women in law, take pride in our place in society. Admire the women that have come before you but, most importantly, pave the way for the women who will come after you. Expect equality, expect education, expect a voice.

We, the Irish Women in Law of 2019, will do all that we can to pave the way for your future. To the Irish Women in Law of 2119, please do all that you can to pave the way for the Irish Women in Law of tomorrow. Expect equality, expect education, expect a voice.

Set our limits, we will prove we are limitless.

Set our boundaries, we will show you we have no bounds.

Tell us we can’t, you will fuel our fire to try harder.

Tell us we won’t, and we will.

Tell us to give up and we will give even more to succeed.

Keep your expectations, because in the end, we will continue to exceed each and every one.