The new ‘Wollongong Chapter’ was formed “to better engage and support women lawyers outside of CBD areas”, according to WLANSW president Lee-May Saw.
The branch was created on 15 October last year through the formation of a local subcommittee.
Deb Langton, principal of Carter Ferguson, will chair the subcommittee, with Melinda Griffiths as vice chair.
The subcommittee will also include Lorelle Longbottom, Kathryn Grimshaw, Karina Murray, Trish Mundy, Anne Mowbray and Natasha Pearson.
“Having a local presence in regional areas allows WLANSW to better monitor and respond to issues affecting women lawyers in regional areas, and ensure [our membership] continues to be of benefit to regional members,” said Ms Saw.
The 'Wollongong Chapter' is the second regional subcommittee created by WLANSW, the other being the 'Newcastle Chapter'.
Nada Vujat, partner at Emery Partner and previous chair of WLANSW Newcastle Chapter, told Lawyers Weekly that having a local women’s group was important for a variety of reasons.
The practical difficulties of attending events in Sydney CBD when based in a regional area is the main reason to have local events.
Before the 'Newcastle Chapter' was established, WLANSW “was very much a Sydney thing”, said Ms Vujat.
“It was something that the regions couldn't really identify with or engage with because their meetings are always held at about 6pm in Sydney.”
While isolation is an issue for lawyers outside metropolitan areas such as Newcastle, women lawyers in regional areas face “exactly the same challenges” as city lawyers, according to Ms Vujat.
“What the regional chapters allow you to do, I guess, is to introduce some of those wonderful discussions, workshops, women interacting and actually talking amongst themselves.”
While younger lawyers might use Women Lawyers events to grow their networks, Ms Vujat said senior lawyers were more interested in “sharing the war stories” about difficult practitioners or judges.
“It allows the regions to access that and to have their own voice and to feel that wonderful collegiality.”
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