Changes to Equitable Briefing within the Legal profession

A very significant milestone has been reached in the legal profession, with more female practitioners practicing law than ever before and now outnumbering men on the High Court, but are we at a point of full equity in the legal profession? 

The legal profession has the greatest divide between men and women of any profession in Australia. To support the growing issue of equity in the legal sector, the Law Council’s Equitable briefing policy was introduced in 2016. The policy aims to provide equal opportunity for female barristers while also driving cultural change within the industry.

The policy specifies that firms that have signed up are committed to briefing women on 30 percent of all matters and paying 30 percent of the value of all brief fees and recommending at least one female every time they are asked for a recommendation. In the past six years since the policy’s introduction, there has been an increase in the number of women barristers being briefed, but the major highlighted issue of women being paid significantly less than men overshadows the improvement.

With women now outnumbering men in the high courts across the country, there is a major need for companies that have implemented the strategy to be held accountable if they are not meeting the policy guidelines. Evidence shows that because briefing practices and submissions  are confidential, it is difficult to ensure the policies’ guidelines are being fully met.

This highlights the need for firms to promote internal initiatives such as networking and workshops that provide information on equal opportunities for women. This will highlight the significant impact that these practices can have on being part of the solution and not the problem.



Though it will be a slow process to achieve full equity within the legal industry, it is important for firms to begin taking accountability and start making internal changes and putting them in place, which in turn will strengthen female representation and career retention within the legal and other fields of work. 

As the end of 2022 edges closer, it is evident that small improvements have been made in bridging the gap between men and women in the legal realm, but there is still a long road ahead to reach equity for women in the industry.