We look forward to working with the profession and providing the best support we can to assist law firms to develop ways of nurturing all their talent, both in metropolitan and regional areas
The Law Society of NSW will commission a thorough examination of inequality in the legal profession, after recent findings revealed that, despite women outnumbering men, they earn less overall than their male counterparts in all age groups.
The 2021 Annual Profile of Solicitors released in July found the gender pay gap remains evident, and is most noticeable for those over 30, with a greater proportion of full-time males earning over $150,000 compared to their female colleagues. This finding was consistent across all practice sectors.
The gap isn’t restricted to pay, it’s also reflected in the low proportion of women in practice leadership roles, despite their making up 53 per cent of NSW’s solicitors.
The Law Society of NSW will engage with leading law firms, individual practitioners, legal academics, and signatories of the Charter for the Advancement of Women, to gather information about how equal pay and flexibility are in addressed the workplace.
President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat said the annual report provides an invaluable opportunity for NSW law firms to share “best practice” on remuneration and retention of legal talent. “The Profile shows pay gaps emerge with early career lawyers with the disparity increasing in line with seniority. The Law Society intends to examine this trend in detail and consider how best to address gender equality in senior roles,” van der Plaat said.
For the fifth consecutive year, female solicitors outnumber males, but fewer females occupy senior roles. Male law firm equity partners outnumber their female counterparts by almost three to one.
“Remuneration and career opportunities are vital to retaining high performing staff, which can improve productivity, performance, competitiveness and growth,” van der Plaat said.
“The Law Society can play an important role in sharing approaches across the profession, providing firms with practical guidance as we’ve done already with our publications on , Creating a Disability Inclusive Workplace and our Workplace Guide and Model Discrimination and Harassment Policies.
“We look forward to working with the profession and providing the best support we can to assist law firms to develop ways of nurturing all their talent, both in metropolitan and regional areas.”
Further, van der Plaat is concerned at data in the report showing only 12 per cent of NSW solicitors practise in regional areas.
“As a regional practitioner myself, I’m keenly aware of the potentially devastating consequences of people in these areas not being able to access justice. The most recent Australian Census revealed a third of the NSW population lives outside greater Sydney,” van der Plaat said.
Armidale hosts legal leaders
Leaders of the legal profession, including more than 30 councillors and Regional Presidents, are in Armidale this week to discuss the future for practising law in NSW.
The meetings, held across two days, were planned for last year but were postponed due to COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns.
“I’m delighted that we’re at last able to gather together members of the Law Society Council and the Presidents of our regional Law Societies here in Armidale,” van der Plaat said.
“Despite the chilly temperatures this time of year, Armidale always offers a warm welcome to visitors. I’m particularly looking forward to spending some time at the University of New England (UNE) Law School.”
The visit of the Law Society’s councillors and Regional Presidents will be the first since UNE Law School introduced its ground-breaking subject, Technology in the Law, in 2020.
The subject draws together aspects identified in the Law Society’s Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) report, which van der Plaat said will be central to the practice of law and delivery of justice into the future.
Leaders will also visit NEGS, an independent school, to encourage students to include the law among their ambitions for a career.