Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Diversity in business increasingly seen as a strength

Looking ahead, there is a “huge opportunity” for firms led by women and/or diverse backgrounds to flourish, with more and more professionals appreciating the benefits of diversity in law, says Leah Cameron.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 11 February 2021 SME Law
Leah Cameron
expand image

Speaking recently on The Boutique Lawyer Show, Marrawah Law founder and principal Leah Cameron – who won Indigenous Lawyer of the Year and the Excellence Award at the 2020 Women in Law Awards – said that, for Indigenous-owned businesses such as hers, as well as female-owned law firms, there is a “huge opportunity” to scale and thrive in the post-pandemic marketplace, given how the benefits of diversity in law are becoming much better known.

“We’ve had the Black Lives Matter movement, we had the Rio Tinto Juukan Gorge disaster…all those things are really turning the table on the traditional system of who provides advice for these sorts of legal issues. I feel like, for the first time, people are understanding our value,” she said.

“In reflecting on running a female-owned business, and having a family myself, I know that its always been difficult to get in front of big companies and pitch if youre not based in major cities or you don't have those traditional connection, but I really feel like now we do have that ability, and now more than ever, I am absolutely pitching our services to those big corporates without needing to front up for great expense and ceremony, its terrific and its putting us on an even playing field.”


Ms Cameron has worried, in years past, that as a Trawlwoolway (Palawa) woman, she might not be taken seriously in court and other professional realms. However, she noted, “people get it now”.

“I think that was just a hang-up for me, and its not actually an issue at all. Its a huge strength. And I think its a huge strength because, as women and as Indigenous people, we have, a lived experience which is quite different to a lot of people, and that brings strength and understanding and all of the above, that really adds, I think, such a great understanding of the world and diversity of perspectives that clients really like. And they want people that they can connect with as we move forward,” she argued.

For her, such progression serves to reconstitute what she might consider to be a success on her vocational journey: “Success is different for all sorts of people. For me, I think success is seeing an ever-increasing pool of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers working in areas that they havent traditionally worked in, so in the commercial space, for example. Thats a really big win.”

“And then, for my firm, success for me is the fact that we are going toe-to-toe with top-tier firms and on working for big corporates, government, et cetera, were in supply chains, people understand our value. And I think thats been a significant shift. I think thatll be continued success – not just for us, but for other smaller boutique firms. The opportunity is absolutely there with our unique skill sets,” she proclaimed.

This all said, Ms Cameron ceded there remain challenges for some in fully flourishing as we head towards the new normal post-pandemic, including the “huge digital divide”, which in some cases might prevent a level playing field for regional law firms.

The aforementioned personal hang-ups, however, may also hold back legal professionals from diverse backgrounds.

“What I’d encourage you to do is connect with your colleagues and friends and just ask them, ‘What do you think of me as a member of the profession?’. If youre female or from a diverse background, you will be blown away by what people think of your capability and what you can offer your workplace and the community as a whole,” she posited.

“It was really useful for me to seek out mentors, for those tough times when I really did question whether I was an imposter. They absolutely had my back in giving me that security to say, ‘No, youre on the right path, even though you might be a bit wobbly at the moment’. Thats crucial.”

To all female lawyers, and those from diverse backgrounds, Ms Cameron said it is also essential to connect with each other, so that everyone can be supported and therefore thrive.

“There’s no better time to put your best foot forward and try something new, whether it’s opening your own business or trying for a promotion,” she advised.

“The world’s your oyster right now.”

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly late last year, Ms Cameron went into greater depth about Marrawah Law, how it operates and its approach to access to justice, in the face of more traditional practices across the board.

During NAIDOC Week in 2020, Ms Cameron joined four other Indigenous legal professionals to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers in the wake of COVID-19.

To listen to the full conversation with Leah Cameron, click below: