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LSB April 2018_Web

THE LAW SOCIETY: WORKING

THE LAW SOCIETY: WORKING FOR YOU The role of the Women Lawyers Committee SHELLEY O’CONNELL, CHAIR, WOMEN LAWYERS COMMITTEE AND SENIOR ASSOCIATE, CLELANDS LAWYERS Whilst the numbers of women practising law in SA have increased markedly in recent years to the point of exceeding 50% of the profession, female practitioners remain grossly under represented at senior levels and at the bar, with far higher rates of attrition than their male counterparts. The gender pay gap and reports of discrimination and harassment are unfortunately still issues which loom large in the legal profession. The Women Lawyers Committee (WLC), as a long standing and valued Committee of the Law Society of SA, aims to promote equality for women in the legal profession and the wider community, to increase awareness of the contribution which women make to the practice and development of law, and to encourage greater understanding and support for the legal rights of all women. We liaise closely with the Women Lawyers Association of SA (WLASA) and Australian Women Lawyers Ltd with regard to issues facing women in the profession nationally. We also liaise closely with the Equal Opportunity Committee of the Law Council of Australia, and the Women at the Bar Committee. The WLC plays a role in assisting with social events and networking, such as the highly successful annual event the Hon Margaret Nyland AM Long Lunch (at which recently appointed Hon Justice Judy Hughes will be speaking this year). This is run with WLASA and previous speakers include the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Professor Gillian Triggs, the Hon Justice Michael David, Fiona McLeod SC, and of course the Hon Margaret Nyland AM herself. In addition, less visible but perhaps more importantly, the WLC plays a significant part in contributing to submissions made on behalf of the LSSA for legislative reform on matters affecting women in the profession and the wider community, such as most recently: 1. Births, Deaths and Marriages (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill 2016; 2. Select Committee on the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Law Society President Tim Mellor meeting with Women Lawyers Committee members (from left): Leah Marrone, Shelley O’Connell, Caitlin Hartvigsen-Power and Kymberley Lawrence Work) Bill (including 2 WLC members attending the Select Committee to give evidence on behalf of the LSSA, and later contacted for further assistance by the Select Committee Chair); 3. Senate Standing Committee inquiry in relation to the Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2017; 4. Parliamentary Inquiry into a Better Family Law System to support and protect those affected by family violence; 5. State and Territory Responses to Domestic and Family Violence to the Law Council; 6. State Framework for Altruistic Surrogacy; 7. Revision of the LPEAC Rules and how they impact Mandatory CPD for practitioners taking parental leave; 8. The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2017 and the Family Law Amendment (Parenting Management Hearings) Bill 2017; 9. Review of Equal Opportunity Act; and 10. Submission in relation to pay transparency. The WLC also successfully delivered the Law Society’s inaugural Women Lawyers Mentoring Program in 2017. The Program was developed as a practical response to the 2014 National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (NARS) and as anticipated, it has contributed significantly to the personal and professional development of participants. It is sure to be an ongoing programme which will benefit the whole profession. Other issues on the WLC agenda at the current time and into the future include the following: • Reaching out to regional/isolated female practitioners; • Promotion of Unconscious Bias training; • Promotion of the Equitable Briefing Policy which has been adopted by the LSSA and many other organisations/ firms nationally; • Addressing the Gender Pay Gap – we previously made a submission regarding the Fair Work Amendment (Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2016; and • Addressing sexual harassment in the profession. We enjoy strong support from the Judiciary and senior members of the profession and thank them for their continued and valuable involvement. If you have any suggestions for issues to be addressed by the WLC, or would like to be involved in our important work, please contact me. B 24 THE BULLETIN April 2018

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