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Don’t just focus on the negatives: Chief Justice

According to this article by Lara Bullock which appeared in Lawyers Weekly on 1 December 2015, the Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court has recently spoken about the importance of remembering how far the legal profession has come rather than just focus on the negatives. Chief Justice Tom Bathurst spoke at the NSW Bar Association’s Tipping The Scales event, celebrating equality and diversity alongside fellow speakers Jane Needham SC and former Chief of Army David Morrison. “In 1982 there were hopeful predictions from Justice [Jane] Mathews, as she then was, that the image of the law as a male-dominated profession could not last much beyond the 1980s,” Justice Bathurst said. “It is somewhat depressing and frustrating that such prediction is yet to come through in 2015.” However, Justice Bathurst said it’s important to remember that the legal profession now is very different from what it was at the time.

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Women Business and the Law 2016

As societies become more equal and every individual’s productive capacity is valued and engaged, economies become more resilient.To build such a society, the key is inclusiveness—to make sure that no group is kept at the margins and subjected to exploitation. One particular group that deserves special attention, if for no other reason than its constituting half the world’s population, is women. It has often been pointed out that an economy cannot grow to its full potential if its women are not treated on par with men. This is likely true. But even if it were not, there is a case for treating men and women equally. We cannot forever remain victims of the idea that the agenda of inclusion and equality (pertaining not just to women but to any group) has to be justified as a means towards the end of higher economic growth. Indeed, what we need to argue is that, even if we had to sacrifice some economic growth in order to achieve inclusion and greater equality, the trade-off would be well worth it.

This is taken from the forward to The World Bank Group's report Women Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. For the complete report, go to

‘Independent voice’ of the Bar has a place in politics: Needham

According to this article by Felicity Nelson which appeared in Lawyers Weekly on 19 November 2015, NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham SC has signed off with a call for the council to continue to “fight the good fight” on behalf of its members and the public. After four years in executive and 18 months in the top job, Ms Needham leaves the council with significant achievements under her belt. Among other achievements, during Ms Needham’s presidency, the Bar turned its attention squarely to issues of equality and diversity and several concrete changes were made. In 2014 the Bar approved best practice guidelines, which included bullying and harassment. The Bar also implemented a childcare program for members and prompted the courts to acknowledge family carer responsibilities when scheduling extended sitting hours.

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Firms back equitable briefing initiative

According to this article by Stefanie Garber which appeared in Lawyers Weekly on 11 November 2015, more than 10 firms and government agencies have committed to equitable briefing targets under a new program launched by the Victorian Commercial Bar. The initiative, spearheaded by CommBar in conjunction with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC), will see signatories make a three-year commitment to briefing policies encouraging gender equity in commercial litigation.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman now allocates more than half of its legal work to female barristers.

According to its media release issued 19 November 2015, the Fair Work Ombudsman now allocates more than half of its legal work to female barristers. Last financial year, the Agency briefed 56 female barristers and 34 men for its legal work. This compares to its use of 50 female barristers and 18 men in 2013-2014. “We have been pushing hard to achieve gender equality in the number of briefs allocated as well as the value of the cases,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Chief Counsel Janine Webster. The Fair Work Ombudsman spent $876,200 in 2014-15 briefing barristers for its legal work. Commonwealth agencies are bound by Legal Services Directions which encourage gender equity in the allocation of work. A recent analysis by the NSW Bar Association acknowledges that the Fair Work Ombudsman has led the way in its approach to equitable briefing.

The media release is available here: