Last week the Law Council of Australia revealed that a large number of law firms have committed to briefing more women barristers by signing its equitable briefing policy.
The Law Council of Australia’s National Model Gender Equitable Briefing Policy, which was launched earlier this year, aims to boost the number of briefs to women barristers.
It includes interim and long-term targets, with the ultimate aim of women being briefed in at least 30 per cent of all matters and paid 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees by 2020.
On Friday 4 November a number of law firms signed up to the policy, including Allens, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, DLA Piper, Henry Davis York, Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, MinterEllison and Norton Rose Fulbright.
The LCA president-elect Fiona McLeod SC said it was extremely encouraging to see organisations signing on and support for diversity measures building rapidly.
“The policy is intended to support the progression and retention of women barristers, address the pay gap and the under-representation of women in superior courts,” Ms McLeod said.
“The preparedness of the legal profession and the Australian business community to adopt the policy signals a significant cultural shift in our support for equality.”
As a new signatory, Ashurst will report its target outcomes to the LCA annually.
“The adoption of the refreshed policy demonstrates our commitment to fostering and supporting women at the firm and in the profession more broadly,” Ashurst global managing partner Paul Jenkins said.
“The agreement will ensure the most exceptional barristers are available to our clients, and it is a testament to our continued efforts towards achieving Ashurst's diversity strategy and gender targets.”
The LCA also announced the support of three large corporates, with Telstra, Woolworths and Westpac the first of the ASX 200 to signal their support for the policy.
“The Law Council is grateful indeed for the leadership of the profession and these businesses in recognising the importance of diversity measures by signing up to this commitment.
“With this momentum, I am confident the national equitable briefing policy will provide the incentive for long term change within bars,” Ms McLeod said.
The new signatories join the Australian Bar Association, various Australian bars and law societies, as well as numerous individual legal practitioners who have committed to the policy.
The LCA will continue to promote the equitable briefing policy and support signatories in their implementation of it through ongoing events and reporting templates.