We recently submitted our latest briefing data to the Law Council of Australia, as a signatory to its Equitable Briefing Policy.
The high-level data shows that of the 428 barristers briefed by our in-house practitioners across civil justice, criminal, family and children’s law in the last financial year:
- 46.26 per cent of barristers briefed were women (18.22 per cent of women briefed were counsel with 10 or more years’ experience at the Bar)
- 53.74 per cent of barristers briefed were men (21.96 per cent of men briefed were counsel with 10 or more years’ experience at the Bar)
- our data did not indicate whether any gender diverse counsel were briefed, but we are working on improving our data capability to include this in the future.
This 2021–22 data means we have met the first target of our Equitable Briefing Strategy, to have at least 30 per cent of all VLA in-house briefs going to women counsel by the end of this year.
Work progresses to improve data capability on other types of diversity indicators, including gender, to enable the profession to make informed briefing decisions.
The strategy, launched in March, is aimed at delivering fairer briefing practices and overcoming longstanding gender and diversity inequality within the legal profession.
Executive project lead and Chief Counsel, Julia Munster said while the data demonstrated positive progress, there was still a long way to go.
‘We still need to unpack what sits behind the gender breakdown, look at who is briefed and in what matters (number of briefs and value of briefs),’ she said.
‘There are some concerning features of these statistics – for example, in criminal law only 28 per cent of briefs went to women across all our funded matters.’
‘Equitable briefing also means supporting true diversity so that women barristers, gender diverse counsel, those with disability and those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are appropriately represented in the legal sector.’
We have committed to improving our data collection to better respond to inequalities faced by diverse counsel.
We will continue to monitor and be transparent about our data, in line with one of six strategy objectives
We are committed to leading by example as we roll the strategy out to practice partners from early next year.
Reviewed 04 October 2022