May 08, 2018
- In 2013, there were only 10 licensed female lawyers in Saudi Arabia
- As of today, 221 women are officially registered with the Saudi justice ministry
The Saudi Ministry of Justice on Monday issued figures showing a steady increase in the number of female lawyers in the Kingdom.
“In 2013, there were only 10 licensed female lawyers in Saudi Arabia,” said the ministry. “As of today, 221 women are officially registered with the ministry and are representing clients in the nation’s courts.”
The ministry encouraged Saudi women across the Kingdom to pursue law as a career. According to the ministry, the number of legal practice licenses granted last year represents a 34 percent increase compared with the 2016 figures. The ministry expects this upward trend to continue.
“We have issued 1,988 licenses for legal practice since the beginning of 2015,” said the ministry.
“Around 45 percent of these were issued in 2016 alone — that is 775 licenses, 692 for male lawyers and 83 for female lawyers. This ongoing trend is a welcome boon to our justice system, particularly as it relates to the ministry’s efficiency drive, in line with the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030.”
As Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy away from oil, through the NTP and Vision 2030, the government has looked to its legal apparatus, calling on the Ministry of Justice to optimize its processes and soften bureaucracy in favor of individuals and businesses.
Many of the ministry’s reforms have included the establishment of specialized courts that require legal practitioners with niche skillsets. The ministry believes these needs have driven the demand for, and subsequent surge in the number of lawyers in the Kingdom.
On completion of their law degree and subsequent professional training for three years, Saudis are immediately eligible to obtain a practice license from the Ministry of Justice. The licensee then has the authority to represent clients in Saudi courts and provide legal services.
To support the increased demand for lawyers that can operate in specialized courts, the ministry launched the Law Training Center. Many of the center’s trainees have founded specialized law practice offices across the Kingdom, a trend that the ministry believes has made it easier for individuals and organizations that need legal assistance.
One area in which demand for legal assistance has been growing is commercial disputes.