`Quarter of female solicitors harassed'

A quarter of young female solicitors claim to have been subjected to sexual harassment during their careers, according to a survey published today.

The report, "The Law at Work", by legal recruitment consultancy Reynell, also reports that half of women solicitors feel they have experienced discrimination in their career because of their gender.

But the findings suggest that it is not only women who are suffering. Assistant solicitors,lawyers who are not partners in their firms, feel undervalued. They complain that a "long hours culture" is blighting the profession and just under half of respondents say they feel vulnerable if they are not seen to be working the same hours as colleagues.

They are also pessimistic about their chances of promotion and critical of management, with two out of three assistants unable to say they have full confidence in decisions made by senior partners.

Reynell believes that some of the problems stem from poor internal communications, pointing out that relatively few assistants know enough about the performance of firms which, as partnerships, are not required to disclose financial information.

Stuart Robinson, Reynell senior consultant, said: "British law firms have emerged from the recession providing a range and quality of legal services unrivalled by any other country.

"However, there is evidence to suggest that the higher levels of competitiveness may be having an adverse effect on junior practitioners."

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