AWL Research

Senior Counsel and Judicial Officer Appointments

Research conducted by AWL (in 2012)  to explore the advancement of women at the independent bar 50 years since the appointment of Dame Roma Mitchell, as the nation’s first female Queen’s Counsel, showed that despite the exponential increase of women practising law only 121 women in Australia had been appointed silk in the last 50 years.

This lack of advancement was reflected in follow up research conducted by AWL (in 2013) relating to female judicial appointments which showed that only 33.53% of judicial officers in Australia were women and that some jurisdictions had only appointed 3 female Supreme Court judges out of 20 positions.

It is unacceptable to AWL that these figures exist despite women constituting more than 60% of all law graduates since 2001, more female than male solicitors being admitted to practice in the last 12 years and female solicitors out numbering male solicitors for the first 10 years of practise.

Media

The Australian -Men and women are leaving the profession in equal numbers - 28 September 2012

The Australian - Forget silk and aim for robes if you're a female looking ahead - 14 September 2012

The Australian Financial Review - Few Women in Silk - 7 September 2012

AWL Media Release - Gender in the Australian Judiciary 2013 v 1995 - 4 July 2013

AWL Media Release - After 2012 Appointments, Only 9.3% of Australia’s Silks Are Female - 5 December 2012

AWL Media Release - Only 7.92% of Female Senior Counsel Practising at the Independent Bar Are Female, Fifty Years After Australia’s First Female Silk Appointed  -4 September 2012

Findings

Senior Counsel (2012)

Only 9.3% of women practised  at the independent bar as senior counsel (64/808 people)

Less than 10% of silks currently practising in Australia were female

Only 81 Senior Counsel practising in Australia were female

Senior Counsel Appointments 2012

 

Number of Women Appointed

Total Number of Appointments

NSW 

12

26

Vic

3

20

Qld

1

3

SA

1

5

WA

0

2

Tas

0

1

NT 

0

1

ACT 

0

1

TOTAL 

17

59

Female SC Appointments New South Wales

2010 - 4 out of 20 appointments
2011 - 2 out of 24 appointments
2012 - 12 out of 26 appointments

Female SC Appointments Victoria

2010 - 3 out of 15 appointments
2011 - 2 out of 15 appointments
2012 - 3 out of 20 appointments

Practising Female Senior Counsel in Australia 2012

 

Number of Practising Female Senior Counsel

Percentage (%) of all Practising Senior Counsel at the Independent Bar

NSW 

34

9.4% (363 in total)

Vic

26

10.1% (258 in total)

Qld

6

4.6% (129 in total)

SA

8

20.5% (39 in total)

WA

2

6.4% (31 in total)

Tas

1

7.1% (14 in total)

NT 

3

30% (10 in total)

ACT 

1

4.3% (23 in total)

TOTAL 

81

9.3% (867 in total)


Judicial Officers (2012)

33.53% of judicial positions in Australia were occupied by women ( 340  out of 1014 people)

Some jurisdictions had only appointed 3 female Supreme Court judges out of 20 positions

Total number of  presiding female judges in Australia 2013

 

Total  No

Women

% Women

All jurisdictions 2013

 

1014

340

33.53%

All jurisdictions 1995 

810

71

8.77%