find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Bakers aims to raise number of female leaders

Bakers aims to raise number of female leaders

The Australia managing partner of Baker & McKenzie has revealed that the firm has set an aspirational target to have women make up 30 per cent of its global leaders.

However, Chris Freeland (pictured) told Lawyers Weekly that the firm had not set a date for when they want to achieve this figure.

“We felt you can get caught out by dates and focusing too much on dates, and one of the concerns that was raised was we ... want to make sure we have our best people there and we don’t want to end up in a situation where we’re scrambling around six months before the end date to make sure we get our 30 per cent, to the detriment of having the best people there,” he said.

Bakers has made four promotions to the Australian partnership that will be effective from 1 July, three of which are female (Jennifer Hughes, Kate Jefferson and Anne Petterd, with the fourth new partner being Sebastian Busa). The firm also recently made the lateral hire of Amanda Turnill from DLA Piper, bringing the percentage of women in the Australia partnership to 19 per cent from 1 July.

“That’s not a great result,” admitted Freeland, referring to the 19 per cent figure, “And we know we need to do much better; I think all firms need to do much better.”

He said Bakers has been putting a concerted effort into increasing the number of women in leadership positions within the firm in recent years.

“I don’t for an instant want to say we are absolute best practice on all of these issues; this is a journey we’re on,” he added.

Freeland emphasised the importance of leadership and providing a flexible workforce, pointing out that one of their new partner appointees, Jennifer Hughes, is a part-time partner.

“[Hughes has] always been a part-time associate and she was appointed as a part-time partner. I think that’s really positive ... the part-time arrangement didn’t preclude her from becoming a partner.”

However, he also pointed out that sometimes women fail to put themselves forward for promotion, referring to the book Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“Women often wait until they’re over-qualified before they put their hand up for [positions], unlike men who will often take a punt. We’ve got the [female] numbers now at university but to see them progress through to the most senior positions ... is a challenge,” said Freeland.

Good business

Freeland said the new partner appointments were made on merit and none of the female partners were chosen because they are women, however, he did admit that business concerns are one of the drivers behind the firm’s determination to see more women in leadership positions.

“The business imperative is a key part of it; we’re seeing an increasing number of general counsel who are women, and one of the things that’s talked about in the gender space is unconscious bias; people like to work with people who look like them, so it’s not unusual for female general counsel to want to see women on their teams of service providers.

“It’s [also] important when we have client events ... that we don’t have a table of all men. We need to consciously make sure that we are representative of the firm and of our clients and society and ... we have plenty of women [in the firm], so I think it’s important that we’re conscious of that.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Bakers aims to raise number of female leaders
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
06:04
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97M, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told a NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
06:03
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
06:00
Legal podcasts you have to tune in to right now
The rise of the internet has hailed in a new dawn for storytelling. Here’s our top pick of podcast...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...