Mcleod (pictured), executive director of the Law Council of Australia (LCA) and vice president of the Australian Bar Association, was recognised for her contribution to women last week (5 March).
She was one of 20 women awarded the honour at a lunchtime ceremony at Parliament House scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Speaking at the event, McLeod told attendees that, like many women, she was motivated by “seeing a need, the hurt or an injustice and feeling I might be able to assist”.
She also said she felt lucky to have been surrounded by many outstanding women throughout her life, including her former school principal Joan Montgomery OBE, also an Honour Roll appointee, who had encouraged her to make a significant contribution to others.
“The greatest happiness in life comes from kindness and generosity to others, from sharing ideas that fire the imagination and embolden us to take risks in pursuit of worthy goals and by simple expressions of friendship, community and love,” McLeod added.
Agent of change
In addition to regularly acting for victims of injustice, McLeod has held a number of senior positions within the profession where she has been an advocate for diversity and equality. She has led both Australian Women Lawyers and the Women Barristers Association in the past.
She is also the former chair of the Law Council of Australia’s Equalising Opportunity in the Law Committee, which has oversight with regard to the National Attrition and Reengagement Study (NARS), due to be released this Friday (14 March). The study investigated the causes of female attrition from the legal profession and the factors which impede re-engagement.
Last month, Lawyers Weekly reported on initial findings of the NARS, including the revelation that half of women lawyers claimed they had been bullied or intimidated in the workplace.
“Women still face unconscious bias in the professional world, including the law, and are denied the opportunity to shine,” McLeod told Lawyers Weekly in July, after being named the 2013 recipient of the Lawyers Weekly Advocate Award.
“It is time for us to use our voice as men and women and to refuse to be content with benign pursuits.”
McLeod is also one of Australia’s foremost campaigners in seeking to eradicate human trafficking and received the Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Award in 2011.
LCA president Michael Colbran QC said McLeod has “a strong belief that addressing systemic issues which affect both men and women would serve to benefit the diversity, productivity, health and sustainability of the legal profession as a whole”.
McLeod joins Felicity Hampel SC (now a judge) as the only other woman to make the Honour Roll while practising as a barrister.