A NEW policy aimed at giving equitable briefing a much-needed leg-up has received widespread backing from some of the country's top-tier law firms, as well as big corporates Telstra, Woolworths and Westpac.
The National Equitable Briefing Policy, launched this year by the Law Council of Australia, aims to boost the number of briefs to female barristers by 30 percent, and pay at least 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees by 2020.
Law Council of Australia President-elect, Fiona McLeod SC, says the policy will work to further the progression and retention of female barristers, close the pay gap and ensure woman are properly represented in superior courts.
"The Law Council is grateful indeed for the leadership of the profession and these businesses in recognising the importance of diversity measures by signing up to this commitment," she says.
"With this momentum, I am confident the National Equitable Briefing Policy will provide the incentive for long term change within Bars."
Signatories include major legal powerhouses Allens, Ashurst, Clayton Utz, Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons and Minter Ellison.
They join the Australian Bar Association, along with several other law societies and individual legal practitioners in their commitment to the policy.
Head of the Women's Law Association of Queensland, Cassandra Heilbronn, says the industry's positive reaction signals an important shift in support of gender equality.
"This commitment by the firms shows an understanding of their clients' needs, as many corporate clients require equitable briefing and diversity practices as part of panel arrangement," she says.
"This is a significant step forward and I congratulate the work of the Law Council and the firms involved."
The Law Council says it will continue to promote the policy and support signatories in their implementation of it across Australia.
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