NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham has announced she will not stand for re-election after 18 months in the job.
The announcement follows a period of controversy for the Bar Association with tensions high over a range of issues including the restoration of the QC title. Now, various candidates for the association’s leadership are battling for control in two factions, circulating emails to secure votes, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“I'm trying hard not to be distracted by it and so, as I can see, are the majority of councillors and barristers,” Needham told the the Herald, saying she is happy to be stepping down as president.
Needham said that while it had been a valuable experience; she would never do it again, explaining recent shots fired over the association’s knitting club and commissioning of childcare centre.
“It was interesting that the two things that were picked out in that email were two things that might be thought to interest women rather than men,” she said.
“There is no criticism, for example, of the bar having a soccer team.”
An equitable briefing policy has been Needham’s latest controversial move, a policy including best practice guidelines on bullying and an equitable briefing policy to give a greater share of work to women.
“The statistics show that while we have 20 per cent of women at the bar, they're not getting 20 per cent of the work and you cannot tell me that our women are less competent, or less effective, or less anything,” she said.
But the policy has been criticised by members, stating the association should not be expressing public views on current issues.
Needham, who has eight-year-old twins and a teenage daughter, said she is not the only one to be celebrating her departure.
“The joy on my boys' faces when I told them that I would be able to read Harry Potter to them in the very near future was just worth it,” she said.