The Victorian Bar is leading the Australian State Bars in gender equity measures, providing optimism that much-needed further improvement is underway.
The Law Council of Australia’s inaugural Equitable Briefing Policy Annual Report was released today. Victorian Bar figures on equitable briefing compare favourably in respect of briefing recommendations made by barristers to solicitors, or clients directly.
Survey data from the State of the Victorian Bar Report, released earlier this year, shows that Victorian Barristers recommend women junior barristers (less than 10 years at the Bar) 60% of the time, exceeding the Law Council’s 2020 target of 30%.
Recommendations in respect of senior women barristers (including those over 10 years at the Bar and Silk) were reported at 41%. However, actual briefing rates are much closer to the demographic profile of the Bar at 30% women overall and 12% of Silks.
“While there is still more work to be done, the comparison between our figures and the national figures show the Victorian Bar is leading the nation in this area. We urge firms to follow through on recommendations to improve briefing rates in respect of women at the Bar,” said Wendy Harris QC, Victorian Bar Acting-President.
The LCA report also references a national gender pay gap of 72 per cent based on ATO figures from 2014-15. The Victorian Bar’s report, based on gross income data for all members for 2015-16, shows a significantly reduced pay gap of approximately 35 per cent. The Bar’s report also indicates that that the pay gap has reduced significantly since our last survey in 2008. And, women represent around 90% of the overall 9% growth in the $200 – 499k income category during that period.
“Much has been achieved in the relatively short period of time that the profession has been focusing on equitable briefing issues in earnest. The Victorian Bar will continue to encourage progressive change in the way firms and others brief so that women barristers receive a fair proportion of the work and, importantly, a fair proportion of the value of the work.”
The Victorian Bar has been active in implementing measures to improve gender equality since 1998, including its nation-leading parental leave subsidy in place for over 20 years. In relation to equitable briefing, the Victorian Bar has more members signed up to the National Equitable Briefing Policy than all other State Bars combined.
“It is no accident that the Victorian Bar has attracted the highest percentage of women anywhere in the nation at 30 per cent, and that women now represent 45 per cent of all members under 10 years at the Bar,”
We have been deliberate in our endeavours to make the significant inroads achieved to date and will continue to drive further improvements,” Ms Harris said.
The State of the Victorian Bar Report