Equitable Briefing at the Bar

Posted 21 November 2016

In October this year, the Australian Bar Association (ABA) adopted an equitable briefing policy and considered how such a policy would be implemented to promote diversity and inclusion at the Bar. The policy aims to brief women in at least 30 per cent of all matters, and pay 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees by 2020.

A media release by the ABA described conversations at a roundtable forum held at Allens in Sydney to discuss the new policy. At the forum Sue Laver, who is the General Counsel Dispute Resolution at Telstra, noted that while there are more female law graduates them men, women are still under represented at the Bar.

The policy by the ABA represents a version of an equitable briefing policy set out by the Law Council of Australia (LCA) in June earlier this year. This policy sets the same targets as that of the ABA, with the targets dropping to 20 per cent in relation to senior barristers. While the targets are not mandatory, the LCA aims to create accountability by asking signatories to provide a confidential report of their briefing figures. According to a report by the NSW Bar Association Equitable Briefing Working Group from August last year, this new policy aims to ensure that equitable briefing targets are more robustly adhered to.

These policies are just two examples of where an equitable briefing has been adopted, and arguably represent a growing realisation of the importance of tangibly promoting inclusion in the legal profession.