REPRESENTING THE fairer sex, the Australian Women Lawyers Association (AWL) last week welcomed the move by the Law Council of Australia to adopt a national model briefing policy for female barristers.
As Lawyers Weekly reported on 19 March, the Law Council of Australia was to set the standards for addressing equal opportunity imbalances in the Australian legal profession at its meeting of directors the following day.
At the meeting, the Law Council agreed to adopt a national model briefing policy for female barristers and advocates. The move was the first in a series of measures the Law Council will take to ensure a level playing field for the Australian legal profession.
Arguing it was good to see the Law Council take a leadership role on this issue, AWL president Jennifer Batrouney SC said the issue was “of enormous importance to women lawyers everywhere”.
The next step for the Law Council, it indicated, would be to promote the policy and encourage law firms to implement the measures in their day-to-day practice. The AWL would work closely with the Law Council to encourage law firms to implement the policy, “particularly those with national practice groups”, said Batrouney.
AWL had recently adopted a similar policy with Mallesons Stephen Jaques across the firm’s practice groups.
“This is a very balanced and considered approach to the issue of briefing practices in firms generally,” Batrouney said. “We are confident that with the endorsement of this policy by the Law Council, other law firms, like Mallesons, will follow suit.”
According to the AWL, the next step was to ensure that all state and federal government agencies adopt equality of opportunity briefing practices.
The Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls had led the way in changing the culture of government agencies, the AWL said.