Reading time: 3 minutes

Women in the legal profession have historically been disadvantaged and underrepresented. As we have reached the mid-point of 2016, we examine the recent key milestones and developments of women’s roles in the legal workforce and whether these developments are enough.

Reaching 50/50

In March 2016, the Queensland Law Society reported that the percentage of women in the legal industry was nearing 50%, comprising 47.9% of its members and up 0.7% from the year before. The last National Profile report by the Law Society stated that in 2014, 51.5% of solicitors were male, and 48.5% were female. Interestingly, where the gender ratios of most states were similar, both the NT and ACT reported a higher proportion of women solicitors. This increase of female lawyers in the profession has dramatically increased since 2011 with far more female solicitors entering the profession than male in the last ten years.

The fairly recent increase in numbers for women also means that the majority of female solicitors have five years or less of post-admission experience behind them. While the almost equal gender split is encouraging, each state and territories’ law societies should also take steps to ensure that the gender balance is equally strong at a higher career level.

New Domestic Violence Units

On 15 March 2016, Sydney received its first Legal Aid domestic violence unit as the first of a series of 12 federally funded domestic violence units. It operates as a ‘one-stop’ shop for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, allowing them access to lawyers who will represent them for hearings at local courts and further provide them access to social workers for support and advice. This shows a stronger focus by the government on addressing women-centred issues in the law as well as reflects a priority on women’s safety.

More recently in April 2016, the National Legal Aid has revealed a widespread endemic of domestic violence in the last year with 79% of its family law cases involving domestic violence. It has called for more funding in light of this new data. The statistic shows that more is needed to combat the issue of domestic violence and that while particular domestic violence units under Legal Aid is a good first step, evidently more resources are needed to be distributed to the issue.

Two Years of Female Judiciary Appointments

In March 2016, the Women Lawyers Association of NSW celebrated 14 female judicial appointments in the Federal and NSW courts in the last two years. In her keynote speech, Justice Beazley stated that women made up around one-third of Australian judges, notably a larger gap than the gender split in solicitors.

While the judiciary has been slower to change and welcome women to the bench, the last few years has shown a marked increase and encouraging numbers. Just as it is important to have women equally represented as professionals in the workforce and court, female judges also play a major role in the judiciary itself, and having an even split in this area will lend credibility and legitimacy to Australia’s legal system.

***

Positive developments can be seen to have emerged in all aspects of the legal profession regarding women’s role and the representation of women. While still not perfect, it is important to take note of what has changed, the distance the law has come, and what areas still require attention.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on LegalVision’s Twitter page.

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards