‘Having a diverse and inclusive legal profession puts us in stronger position’

‘Having a diverse and inclusive legal profession puts us in stronger position’

25 October 2021 By Lauren Croft
Juliana Warner

More effort is needed to make the legal profession more culturally diverse, according to a new guide from the Law Society.

The Law Society of NSW has launched a new guide for law firms and legal executives, outlining how they can become more culturally diverse and inclusive.

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According to the most recent Law Society data, the number of practising NSW solicitors who were born overseas has increased from 22.5 per cent in 2001 to 28 per cent in 2020. This is lower than the general NSW population, with the 2016 Australian census showing that 35 per cent of all people living in NSW were born overseas. 

Of the NSW solicitors who were born overseas, in 2020, 44 per cent were born in Asia, 15 per cent were born in the UK/Ireland, 11 per cent in Oceania, and 10 per cent in Europe. However, the proportion of practising solicitors born in Asia has increased by nearly 10 per cent over the past decade – growing from 35 per cent in 2011 to 44 per cent in 2020.  

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President of the Law Society of NSW Juliana Warner said that while law firms and legal practices have worked to boost cultural diversity in recent years, more work is required to ensure cultural diversity in the legal workplace.

The Law Society’s Cultural Diversity Guidance outlines a range of measures that workplaces can take to improve cultural diversity, including committing to and measuring cultural diversity, how to recruit widely and look for opportunities to support diversity within the wider community, and how to evaluate diversity measures.

According to Ms Warner, there are a number of reasons why diversity and inclusion make “sound economic sense” for a law firm or legal practice.

“Creating an environment where every person, regardless of their background, has opportunities and support to reach their professional potential can result in better outcomes for the community at large, and better business outcomes for the profession,” she said.

“Firms and solicitors with diverse and inclusive workplaces and practices can expect to benefit from an enhanced reputation in the broader community and improved access to a diverse client base.

“Having a diverse and inclusive legal profession puts us in a stronger position to serve our state’s vibrant and diverse citizenry.” 

‘Having a diverse and inclusive legal profession puts us in stronger position’
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