Minister for Women
The Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP
The Hon Christian Porter MP
The Turnbull Government will for the first time set all Commonwealth agencies specific targets to brief senior and junior female barristers from 1 July 2018.
All Commonwealth entities are bound by the Legal Services Directions, which encourage the briefing of a broad range of barristers and, in particular women, based on their skill, experience and expertise.
To continue the Turnbull Government's strong efforts to increase representation of women across all Commonwealth-related entities, amendments have been made to the Directions to require them to make all reasonable endeavours to brief or select senior female barristers for at least 25 per cent of all briefs and junior female barristers for at least 30 per cent of all briefs.
The Directions from 1 July will specifically encourage Commonwealth agencies to use all reasonable endeavours to select female barristers with relevant seniority, expertise and experience in the relevant practice area, with a view to:
- senior female barristers accounting for at least 25% of all briefs or 25% of the value of all brief fees paid to senior barristers; and
- junior female barristers accounting for at least 30% of all briefs or 30% of the value of all brief fees paid to junior barristers.
The Commonwealth's targets for briefing female barristers support the objectives of the Law Council of Australia's Equitable Briefing Policy. However, to reflect the Turnbull Government's strong commitment to briefing more female barristers, we have chosen to adopt a higher target for senior female barristers than the 20% target in the Law Council's Policy.
The Turnbull Government strongly supports the progression and retention of female barristers for Commonwealth legal work, as well as across the broader profession. In 2016-17, female barristers received 29.6% of all briefs and 26.2% of the value of all briefs for the Commonwealth.
The Government is confident that the new targets will put the Commonwealth in a strong position to further increase the briefing of female barristers in future years to ensure a more equitable, diverse and inclusive legal profession in Australia.