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
Gender agenda for Broderick

Gender agenda for Broderick

GENDER is on the agenda at the nations’ top law firms, but new federal sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick hopes that it won’t even be an issue at the end of her five-year term.…

GENDER is on the agenda at the nations’ top law firms, but new federal sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick hopes that it won’t even be an issue at the end of her five-year term. If she has her way, a more flexible workplace will bring benefits for both male and female lawyers.

The traditional business model of law firms is one of the main structural barriers for female professionals, “I do still think that for most law firms there is a one principle model of success and that is the transactional model that’s 24/7 and increasingly that has difficulties not just for women but also for men,” Broderick said.

Commissioner Broderick is well placed to question the “one size fits all” approach to career advancement in the legal sector. She has first-hand experience of the demands of a senior legal role at one of the country’s top law firms, Blake Dawson. Broderick was named partner at Blakes in 1995, was a board member from 2003—06 and remains an alumni and regular visitor to the firm since her appointment as commissioner earlier this year.

At Blake Dawson she developed a business case for flexibility in the workplace. This effectively demonstrated that without flexible work practices, the firm’s business performance, profitability and productivity would be severely impacted by many millions of dollars.

Her experience is already being put into practice — Broderick commenced a national “listening tour” last week, starting in South Australia.

Of course, her talents lie not only in listening, but in her ability to engage with issues raised, and implement a plan of action. While explaining the aims of the listening tour, she peppers her conversation with rapid fire suggestions about ways to research, implement and monitor workplace flexibility across different industries.

In the legal sector, the first issue in her sights is the gap between the high number of female university law graduates and the number of female partners, or more specifically, female equity partners.

“I’ve been really pleased to see that the actual issue of gender is on a lot of law firms’ agendas if I can put it that way, and it’s good to see that a law firm [Mallesons] won an EOWA achievement award for the advancement of women for organisations with over 500 employees just last week. I suppose it tells me that these issues are starting to receive attention in organisations, but I think for law firms it’s really a business issue,” Broderick said.

“But, I think as with [other] business issues, we need to measure this. The chief executive women have got their CEO toolkit for measuring women’s participation in organisations. It’s a benchmarking tool which would allow you to see where is it that we’re losing really highly-talented women, and then introducing some targeted programs, and a very robust evaluation model.”

Broderick is realistic about the demands of the top jobs in the legal profession, but believes that change is still possible. “That’s [the] starting point, very high expectations for men and women. And maybe there are some roles that can’t be re-engineered to be done in any other alternative work practice, but have we actually done the thinking to make that decision?

“I don’t think we actually have. I don’t think that many firms have done the thinking around that in a really systematic matter,” she said. “Time is the currency of relationships, so how can [the profession] integrate that need to care with the desire to want to succeed in their business and reach the highest levels of law? What I would like to see is a variety of different models of success — we need to redefine what success means.”

See table: Career timeline: Elizabeth Broderick.

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

Gender agenda for Broderick
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Oct 19 2017
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97m, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told an NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
Oct 19 2017
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
Oct 19 2017
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...
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'...
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...
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 & ...