Gender Equality and Diversity at the Bar

Thursday 12 June 2014 @ 11.20 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure

Jane Needham SC from 13th Floor St James’ Hall has placed gender issues at the top of the Bar Association’s agenda for 2014, after being newly elected as the NSW Bar Association President.

The newly-elected president is also the chair of a working party that is looking at the findings of the Law Council of Australia’s National Attrition and Re-engagement Study, which Needham claimed has “far reaching implications for the Bar”.

The study found that female barristers had experienced both conscious and unconscious bias. Conscious bias included female barristers being denied briefs because clients preferred male counsel.

Needham, a mother of three, said she has:

“a conviction that inflexible or family-unfriendly environments should not … be the practice norm...Flexible practice is not simply a ‘women’s’ issue, nor even a ‘parenting’ issue – almost every barrister has other calls on his or her time, and I would like to focus on greater acceptance of individual approaches to work.”

Needham has also highlighted reviews of:

Needham replaces Phillip Boulten SC, who had been the Bar Association’s president for the past 18 months.

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