find the latest legal job
Partners and Senior Specialist Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Australia
· Earn 70% of billings and fixed referral incentives · Full practice flexibility & freedom
View details
Partners and Senior Specialist Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Australia
· Earn 70% of billings and fixed referral incentives · Full practice flexibility & freedom
View details
Litigation Associate / Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· 4 years + PQE · Varied work
View details
Commercial Litigation Lawyer
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· 3 - 7 years PAE with very strong technical skills · Technical and personal development
View details
Senior Lawyer
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Haymarket NSW 2000
· Play an integral part in launching Employsure's law firm
View details
Boldness pays dividends for calling to the bar

Boldness pays dividends for calling to the bar

Female lawyers contemplating their calling to the bar have been urged to give it a go by barrister Michelle Painter SC.

Speaking at a Law Week event hosted by the NSW Women Lawyers Association, Ms Painter urged female lawyers considering the bar to be bold and lead their own ambitions.

"What’s the worst that could happen if you come to the bar?" Ms Painter asked an audience at Martin Place Chambers.

"The worse that will happen is that you fail for a six-month period of your life and you’ll go and do something else. Well, that’s not so bad.

"Ultimately, the important thing is to do what makes your heart sing – even if it’s a bit scary."

For all lawyers, the decision to sit bar examinations raises big personal and professional questions. Many seasoned solicitors flirt with the idea of becoming a barrister over the course of their careers, but the choice often boils down to the right combination of circumstance and bravery.

"It’s a decision that only you should make. Don’t be talked out of it if that’s what you really want to do," Ms Painter said.

However, she acknowledged the barriers holding back women from becoming barristers.

"We understand that there are some very sensible, good and benign reasons for the lower participation rate of women [barristers] but there are also many other reasons that are less benign," she said.

"When I started as a barrister back in 1998, there were three women silks – the numbers were pretty depressing. Today, of about 2,500 practising barristers in NSW, there are about 400 silks and only 36 of them are women," Ms Painter said.

Ms Painter, who took silk in 2013, drew on her 18 years at the bar to share insights into the autonomy that is enjoyed and stamina which is demanded of a barrister.

"There is independence, job satisfaction and you get to control your working environment in a very real way. It can be very demanding and tiresome," Ms Painter said.

On making the decision to pursue professional life as a barrister, lawyers sign up for very public wins and failures – but that should not be a deterrent to women in making their choice, Ms Painter said.

"Your client will rely on you to be the ‘mouthpiece’, the communicator between them and the court. That is a very serious thing and there’s a real, immense satisfaction from doing good work.

"The exciting cases that make your career and your eyes light up are the ones where it was evenly balanced and it was your work, your brilliant advocacy which made a difference. If you can have one or two of those every couple of years, you’re doing well," Ms Painter said.

Sandra Duggan SC of Martin Place Chambers and Talitha Fishburn of 7 Wentworth Selborne Chambers also spoke at the Coming to the bar event. Norton Rose Fulbright partner and head of office Felicity Rourke also shared her career journey and extensive experience briefing barristers.

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Boldness pays dividends for calling to the bar
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
new role with SA judicial appointment, scales of justice
Jan 15 2018
Worker's comp expert takes on new role with SA judicial appointment
An Adelaide barrister has been appointed deputy president of the South Australian Employment Tribuna...
Scales of Justice, NSW Bar Association
Jan 16 2018
New case management approach won’t beat backlog: NSW Bar Association
The New South Wales Bar Association says a new case management approach will fail to make a signific...
Jan 12 2018
E-discovery predictions for 2018
Promoted by Law In Order The outlook for early adopters of e-discovery in legal looks bright in 2...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...