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Lawyers lean to the left

Lawyers lean to the left

There are nearly twice as many lawyers standing for the Labor Party compared to the Liberal Party for seats in the

There are nearly twice as many lawyers standing for the Labor Party compared to the Liberal Party for seats in the House of Representatives at this year's election.

A Lawyers Weekly analysis of the 849 candidates contesting 150 lower house seats shows that 55 of those candidates are lawyers or paralegals (around 6.5 per cent). Nearly half of those (26) are standing for the Labor Party, while 14 are standing for the Liberal Party. A further six lawyers are running for The Greens, with nine legal professionals running as independents or for minor parties.

In the seat of Wentworth in Sydney's eastern suburbs, three lawyers are running. The incumbent, the former leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull, faces a challenge from Steven Lewis, head of Slater & Gordon's commercial dispute resolution practice in Sydney who is running for the ALP. Matthew Robertson, a legal researcher for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, is running for The Greens.

Lewis is optimistic about his prospects in Wentworth, a seat the Labor Party has never held.

"I am a third generation resident in the area, and am campaigning on local issues, such as supporting gay marriages, which Mr Turnbull doesn't support," Lewis told Lawyers Weekly. "I am aware that Labor has never won the seat, and that it will be a difficult campaign against a well known candidate, but I will continue to campaign on local issues."

Lewis is one of four current or former lawyers with ties to Slater & Gordon running for a lower house seat with the Labor party at this election.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was a former partner at Slater & Gordon, while Richard Marles, the current Member of Parliament in the Victorian seat of Corio, also had a previous stint with the firm. The Labor candidate for Swan, Tim Hammond, was a solicitor in the firm's Perth office.

A number of other candidates across the political spectrum also have ties to corporate law firms.

Julie Bishop, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, was the managing partner of the Perth office of Clayton Utz before entering Parliament, with Paul Fletcher, the current MP for Brendan Nelson's old seat of Bradfield, having formerly pursued a legal career with Mallesons Stephen Jaques. Liberal Party veterans Philip Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop were also solicitors before entering parliament. Other Liberal Party candidates who worked in the legal profession include Kevin Andrews, the former minister for employment and industrial relations, who was a barrister, and Greg Hunt, the current shadow minister for the environment, who was once an articled clerk at Mallesons. Kelly O'Dwyer, who replaced Peter Costello in the Melbourne seat of Higgins, was previously with Freehills.

On the Labor Party side, both the minister for health and ageing, Nicola Roxon, and the parliamentary secretary for disability and children' services, Bill Shorten, spent time with Maurice Blackburn.

David Bradbury, the member for the hotly contested seat of Lindsay in Sydney's west, was a senior associate at Blake Dawson, while in the nearby seat of Greenway, Gilbert + Tobin telecommunications lawyer Michelle Rowland is standing for the ALP.

Other candidates with a legal background include the ALP member for Eden Monaro, Mike Kelly, who was a former director of Army Legal Services, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, a banking and finance lawyer who faces a challenge in his seat of North Sydney from Leta Wess, an environmental law lecturer at Sydney University.

Kate Davis, the former managing solicitor of the Womens Law Centre in Western Australia, is running as The Greens candidate for the seat of Fremantle.

>> What do the election promises mean for lawyers? Click here to read the latest legal-related election news

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