By Christabel Richards Neville
In a recent speech welcoming new women silks to the NSW Bar Michelle Painter SC remarked:
“Each of the women being honoured tonight has achieved on her own terms, but also has received the benefit of the trailblazing work done by the women and men who preceded us… Their legacy and our continuing responsibility is to make the NSW Bar a better place for a woman to practice. Any woman. All women. And by extension a better place for ALL barristers – women and men – to practice.”
The percentage of female silks at the NSW Bar is 9.8%. There are 475 women barristers in total at the NSW Bar. There are 336 male Senior Counsel practicing at the NSW Bar. This means that there are almost as many male Senior Counsel as there are women barristers of any level.
Implementing equitable briefing policies is one method of identifying and briefing women barristers to address this disparity. The Salvos Legal Lecture Series, held on 14 March 2015 has taken a content heavy and serious approach to advocating equitable briefing. The Lecture Series consisted of five panels, each entirely chaired and hosted by women barristers and judicial officers. The topics for discussion were:
- Solicitors’ liability of negligence and advocates immunity – the court of appeal’s recent jurisprudence
- Competition Proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia – Issues for 2015
- Injunctions (Interlocutory and Final)
- Expert Evidence in the District Court of NSW
- NCAT- The Super Tribunal- Overview of Recent Developments
The approach was an effective vehicle for demonstrating the enormous depth of female talent available to be briefed, in an informative and inclusive fashion. The speeches will be available online from Salvos Legal in the upcoming weeks.
 Michelle Painter SC, “Speech delivered at the 2014 Women Silks Function” http://www.sixstjameshall.com.au/blog/2014/11/23/counsel-news-michelle-painter-scs-remarks-at-the-2014-women-silks-function (23 November 2014).