Joint Law Society/Women Lawyers of WA

2015/16 Annual Report

The Committee is a liaison group between Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc.) (WLWA) and the Law Society. Members include representatives from the Law Society’s Young Lawyers Committee, the Western Australian Bar Association and the Law Council of Australia’s Equal Opportunity Committee, all of whom report on local and national issues.

In April 2015, the Law Society established a working group to respond to the WLWA 2014 20th Anniversary Review of the 1994 Chief Justice’s Gender Bias Taskforce Report. This work continued between 2015/16 with the preparation of a report which identified the gaps between what the Law Society is currently doing and the recommendations in Chapter 2 (Career Paths for Women in the Legal Profession) and the practical proposals for the Law Society to address those recommendations. The preparation of this report has been the Committee’s priority and primary task. The report has recently been finalised and the Committee looks forward to the implementation of its recommendations in the next financial year.

The Committee hosted the International Women’s Day Keynote Address and Luncheon to celebrate International Women’s Day. A special thanks to the Honourable Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC and Dr Ros Worthington OAM as the speakers for this successful event.

In April 2015, Victorian Women Lawyer’s launched its new Flexibility Protocols. The Committee reviewed the new protocols and in September 2015 recommended that the Law Society adopt the protocols as a best practice guide for productive and engaged legal workplaces. The protocols are available on the Law Society’s website.

The Committee had the opportunity to review the Law Council of Australia’s National Model Briefing Policy. The Committee expressed its support for the policy, as it encouraged the briefing of female barristers and established reporting requirements to assist with monitoring gender equality at the Bar.

The Committee conducted the scheduled review of the Law Society’s ‘on leave’ membership. The review showed that the initiative was working well with a good uptake by members who need to take unpaid leave, for example, maternity/parental/carer’s/study leave, from their employment for a period between six and 12 months.

The Committee recognises the contribution of past Convenor, Elizabeth Needham and its members who resigned from the committee during the financial year.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au