Header graphic for print
Legal Leaders Blog Building Strength, Confidence and Well-Being

Women lawyers in Australia – how you can possibly help

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Legal Profession, People Strategy, Trust & Respect, Values

The President of the Law Council of Australia today published a column in the ALMJ along the lines of the title of this blog post – as a request was made for readers to complete an important survey, and given the importance of the subject-matter and the tight time-frame I have taken the liberty of repeating the column verbatim below. Links to the surveys have been provided. [See also the recent LLB post referencing Jordan Furlong’s article in the latest Edge International Communiqué on this subject]:

You can possibly help women lawyers in Australia by completing the surveys referenced in this post – please see the clickable links (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

“In my first column for the January edition of the Australasian Law Management Journal I referenced addressing the high attrition rates of women lawyers as a priority for my tenure as President.

Since this initial column, the Law Council has made significant progress in this regard. On May 6, the Law Council officially launched the National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (NARS). Research shows that there are significant gaps in diversity in more senior roles in the legal profession. Although women are graduating with law degrees and entering legal careers at higher rates than men, significantly fewer women continue into senior positions within the legal profession.

The Law Council of Australia has engaged Urbis to undertake a national research study to address diversity within the legal profession. Through this study, the Law Council is seeking to obtain quantitative data and confirm trends in progression of both male and female lawyers, and produce a report outlining practical measures which can be implemented to address the causes of high attrition rates among women lawyers, and re-engage women lawyers who have left the profession.

The results of the study will help guide future policy directions on how the profession can better retain its members. The study aims to improve understanding about the respective experiences and motivations of male and female legal practitioners as they progress through their careers; and to improve understanding of the reasons why lawyers choose to leave the legal profession or choose a different career path. This will lead to the development of retention strategies for law firms and legal associations.

The national survey is one of a number of research activities being undertaken as part of the study. The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete, and will collect information relating to current employment, career moves and progression since admission and future career aspirations.

The survey will close at 6pm on May 31, 2013.

  • Current practising lawyers can complete the survey here.
  • Lawyers who are no longer practising can complete the survey here.
  • Those who have studied law but never practiced can complete the survey here.

The survey is being administered and managed by an independent research agency (Urbis). All information is confidential and specific information provided about individuals and organisations will not be identified or disclosed to the Law Council of Australia or any other party. All results will be de-identified and aggregated for analysis and reporting. Nothing participants say will be attributed to them or their organisation.

I encourage all readers of the ALMJ to participate in this survey and to encourage other present and former members of the legal profession to participate in this initiative to help the Law Council guide future policy on how the profession can better retain its female members.                            

Reporting back
Following the conclusion of this national survey, the objective of NARS will focus on producing a report. This report will include recommendations for legal associations and law practices and will outline practical measures that can be implemented to address the causes of high attrition rates among women lawyers, and strategies to assist in re-engaging women lawyers who have left the profession. These recommendations will encompass strategies targeted at different cohorts of women lawyers, including:

  • women working in small, medium and large law firms
  • women in early, mid and later stages of their career as a legal practitioner
  • former, current and aspiring women barristers
  • women who have left private practice (to encourage re-engagement with the legal profession).

Supporting women
Female lawyers should be able to participate in the profession to the fullest extent and the NARS project will provide a significant step towards ensuring the profession has the correct processes in place to better support its female cohort.

On a final note, this will be my last column for the ALMJ. In March I announced I will be taking up the position of Vice-President of the Fair Work Commission. While I am very honoured to receive this appointment, I am saddened to leave the Law Council prior to the conclusion of my presidential term. I officially take up my appointment on June 4, 2013, and will continue in my duties as President until this date.  The Law Council President-elect, Mr Michael Colbran QC, will be assuming the duties of President following my departure and will author future ALMJ columns.

It has been a great honour and privilege to serve as Law Council President and an experience I will remember very fondly. It has been a pleasure to regularly contribute to the Australasian Law Management Journal this year. I would like to thank the staff and readership of the ALMJ for inviting me to be part of this publication and look forward to reading with interest future editions.

Joseph Catanzariti
President
Law Council of Australia”