Law firms agree to up female participation

Some of Australia’s biggest companies and law firms are promising to use female barristers more often.

Several large firms, as well as Telstra, Woolworths and Westpac, have signed up to the Law Council of Australia’s new national equitable briefing policy.

It aims to boost the number of court cases being handed to women barristers, with a long-term target of at least 30 per cent of all matters by 2020.

“The policy is intended to support the progression and retention of women barristers, address the pay gap and the under-representation of women in superior courts,” the council’s president-elect Fiona McLeod SC said.

Telstra’s Sue Laver said despite there being more female law graduates than men, there are fewer women at senior level within the industry and at the bar.

“The profession, and society as a whole, benefits from giving men and women equal opportunities,” the company’s general counsel for dispute resolution said.

The new signatories, including Baker & McKenzie, Clayton Utz and Henry Davis York, join the Australian Bar Association and other law societies and individual legal practitioners who have already committed to the policy.

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