Young lawyers in top-tier firms are on the New South Wales Young Lawyers' (NSWYL) radar as the number of big law lawyers involved in the organisation continues to disappoint.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, barrister and new NSWYL president Daniel Petrushnko said top-tier lawyers are still elusive when it comes to membership.
"Young lawyers have been more involved than ever before, I think, especially with NSWYL. We have had greater support from firms as well, [but] there is still a lot of work to be done," he said.
"Ultimately, it is really important for us to have a greater majority of people from big firms. It needs to come from the partner level down, with them encouraging junior lawyers to join NSWYL, rather than the other way around. If we can achieve a point where the partners are telling juniors to join NSWYL, and that if they're doing work for NSWYL, they've got the total support of the firm ... that is something we have to achieve."
Immediate past president Pouyan Afshar believes top-tier lawyers are less involved in the organisation because of the nature and pressure of their working lives.
"We have a lot of difficulty just engaging with large law firm lawyers. Because of the work they do and so on they are not necessarily engaged," he told Lawyers Weekly.
"We want to tell them what we do. We want to say to them that we are not just about social events. That's an important part of what we do, but we also have publications that help young practitioners do whatever they do during the course of the day. We have services for people who have mental health issues, for example. We have a very big mentoring program, so if someone feels they're a bit lost they can take it up. That engagement is something we have focused on this year and we want that continuing."
Despite the lack of top-tier lawyers among their ranks, the number of young lawyers getting involved in the organisation, particularly as part of a committee, has more than doubled in recent years.
"Young lawyers have become more involved ... in things like pro bono and in volunteer organisations, such as our organisation," said Afshar.
"We now have 16 committees, whereas a few years ago, we only had seven or eight. So we are talking about people who have said; 'I want to set up a committee, I want to be involved'. It's an adjunct to what you do at work, but that involvement in the community and in the profession is actually very important and it is a positive sign that people are willing to become engaged and involved."