According to the State’s Attorney-General, 40% of all government briefs for the 2015-2016 year were received by female senior counsel – a jump of almost 20%.
Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said that she has been actively working to close the gender gap between senior female barristers and male barristers when it comes to government work.
“A genuine commitment to equitable briefing is crucial to keeping women in the legal profession and creating a stronger Bar. More than half of the state's law graduates are female, but many of the brightest minds still face significant barriers during their career when vying for senior roles,” she said.
While pleased with the increasing proportion of female senior counsel briefed by the government, the Attorney-General indicated there is more to be achieved. Currently, around 90% of senior counsel at the NSW Bar are men.
“I am closely considering whether the new Policy is appropriate for adoption by NSW Government agencies,” Upton said.
“Clearly cultural change is needed across the broader legal profession and in business to increase opportunity for gifted female practitioners, and I applaud the Law Society of NSW, NSW Bar Association and large law firms for their support of equitable briefing,” she added.
The NSW Government adopted the Law Council of Australia
's Equitable Briefing Policy for Female Barristers and Advocates
in 2009 and Upton welcomed the Law Council's revised Policy released in June this year.
“While I am pleased with the progress we have made in relation to briefing Senior Counsel, we know much more needs to be done to achieve gender equality at the Bar,” Upton said.
“I hope the NSW Government will continue to be part of the solution.”
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The NSW government is proving it is committed to equitable briefing, producing a record-high proportion of female lawyers engaged in the past full year.