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Women solicitors on cusp of majority

Author: Chris Merritt | Publication: The Australian 16/5/2014

IF current trends continue, NSW Law Society president Ros Everett believes women are likely to form a majority of NSW solicitors within 12 months. Women already account for 48.6 per cent of the state’s 27,965 solicitors – less than 400 short of a majority – and regularly comprise up to 60 per cent of law graduates.

“We are hoping that next year we will have the numbers, she said it was simply unacceptable that they still accounted for about 20 per cent of equity partners at law firms. She said the Law Society was trying to ensure that law firms became aware that they would suffer adverse business consequences if they sought to reserve their most senior positions for men.

“They will lose business because they are competing with firms who have seen the light and see that women in management roles are good for business,” she said. “If you have a male-dominated firm in today’s society, women won’t accept that – and not only women, men won’t accept that either. “If some firms want to have women do the subservient work and the males are managers, they will suffer. That is the message we are getting through to them,” she said.

Ms Everett said she would also encourage female general counsel in the corporate sector and the public service to raise gender equity issues whenever male-dominated firms sought to pitch for work.

She said she had recently been on a selection panel and had raised the absence of female representation with six companies that had been pitching for work. The Law Society has been running training programs for law firm managers and supervisors on fair treatment for women solicitors. Ms Everett established her own firm, Everett Evans in 1998 after she came to believe she would never be appointed to partnership at the male-dominated practice where she had been working in western Sydney.

“I decided I did not want to work in a male-oriented firm. It had four male partners and I could see that I never would have a chance of getting a partnership – that was the trend back then. So I left and started my own firm. “I saw the trend in firms I had worked for previously and decided that when I open my firm, it is going to be family friendly. And you know what? That has worked so well.

“I have always said to my people that family comes first and if you need to do something with your children, that’s fine by me. Tell me and make the time up,” Ms Everett said. ‘We are hoping that next year we will have women as 50 per cent of the profession.”

Ros Everett – NSW Law Society President.