As reported by Australiasian Lawyer and published online on 21 July 2015 here by Samantha Woodhill,  a study by the American Bar Association has revealed that women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the courtroom. 

The study, which took a random sample of cases from a district in Illinois, found that only 24 per cent of lawyers appearing as lead counsel were women.

Jane Needham SC, president of the NSW Bar Association, said that in Australia, female representation in speaking roles in the courtroom is significantly lower.

“Women at the bar only make up one in five, a greater number of women are in the junior ranks, only 10 per cent of silk are women. I think having a third of women in speaking roles would be surprisingly good,” she said.

The report suggests a number of reasons for the low representation of women, one of which is likely due to overwhelming number of male lawyers briefing other male lawyers.

“People like to brief people they feel comfortable with and generally they feel comfortable with people who look and sound and act like them and that’s for everyone I think,” said Needham.

The report found that in some types of cases, women in speaking roles were better represented than in others, for example women were higher represented as lead counsel in criminal cases than civil ones and very poorly represented in class actions. Courts, associations and firms are only just beginning to pay closer attention to such data, Needham revealing that she knows of even a judge who keeps his own tally of the number of women who appear in court before him.

“We’d really like to see more statistics kept in the private firms and by the bars themselves about whose being briefed for what and that way people can actually look at their patterns and address their unconscious bias,” she said.

It is reported that the NSW Bar Association is tackling the small numbers of women entering the bar from a number of different angles. One strategy the NSW Bar is using is bringing female law students to meet with women already practising at the bar.

“The perceptions are that it’s not particularly family friendly, it’s perceived as being a bit of an old boys club and it’s perceived as being aggressively competitive. While each of those things has an element of truth, they are not the only aspects to life at the bar that I think are important,” Needham said.

Click here to view the original article on Australasian Lawyer website. 

WLWA will soon be holding its annual Meet the Judiciary event in order to give all female graduates and newly admitted practitioners the opportunity to meet the members of the judiciary of the various courts in which they practice. 

As the American Bar Association study confirms, it is often very daunting for women, and particularly for women new to the profession, to appear before a member of the judiciary. This function is a great opportunity for women graduates and newly admitted practitioners and our members to be able to meet the members of the judiciary in a more relaxed setting and to get to know a little bit about them.

This year along with the usual Meet the Judiciary Function we are also arranging a group photo of women in the profession to take place just prior to the event on the Federal Court steps. The last group photo of women in the profession was taken on the balcony of the Federal Court. We encourage all female members of the judiciary to come along and take part in this historic event.

The event will take place in the Federal Court on Tuesday 6 October 2015 from 5.15pm to 7.30pm and I encourage both junior and senior members to attend. Further details about the event and registration will be sent through shortly.

As published on the Australasian Lawyers website by Samantha Woodhill on 27 July 2015, a survey conducted by the Women Lawyer’s Association of NSW has found that only 61 per cent of law students want to practice as lawyers.

The Careers Intentions Survey Report was seeking to measure the effectiveness of initiatives targeting diversity,

According to association president Lee-May Saw, mentoring matters relevant to engagement is fundamental to the success of any mentoring program. Effective mentoring, she said, should be an area of emphasis for firms.

“Initiatives and programs targeting diversity should be responsive to the intersection of gender, ethnicity, age of lawyers, and regional versus metropolitan work environments,” she said.

WLWA agrees that the results of the survey emphasise the real need for quality initiatives targeting wellbeing and mental health of lawyers as well as programs seeking to support lawyers under stress both from lawschool through to their profession lives. 

Twenty-eight per cent of lawyers part of the survey were not sure whether they wanted to practice as a lawyer and 11 per cent said they didn’t want to practice. Women were more likely to study law because of an interest in social justice, while men were more likely to study due to good income or having an interest in government or politics.

The study surveyed 1,403 students across NSW who were either in their final year or undertaking practical legal training.
“Research such as the 2013 national Survive Law survey indicates that the numbers of students who intend to practice as a lawyer decrease from the first year to final stages of law school,” said Saw.

“Both the Career Intentions Survey and the 2013 national Survive Law survey suggests that a lack of information about the skills required to practice as a lawyer and a lack of access to work experience opportunities may be influencing the numbers of students intending to practice as a lawyer.”

Click here to read to read the article on the Australasian Lawyer website. 

Law CPD recently published the below Infographic on their website depicting the current state of the picture of women in law. 

As reported by Law CPD and confirmed in the results of our Gender Bias Report, women are entering the law in greater numbers than ever before but they remain underrepresented at senior levels of the legal profession. Women also tend to leave the law in higher numbers than men. But why do women leave the law? And what can we do about it?

The below infographic explores these issues, and more. You can share this infographic to raise awareness of the issues and read the NARS Report and the WLWA Gender Bias Report to find practical ways law firms can address this issue.


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As reported by ABC Radio National Program online  when Michelle Gordon, our newest High Court Justice, takes her place on the bench she'll participate in a rich tradition of speeches at her welcome ceremony.

Although held in court, the usual rules of legal argument and evidence don't apply so the celebration welcoming a new judge can be both entertaining and revealing.

The Attorney General gives a speech as well as heads of legal bodies and then the new judge gives their acceptance speech.

Heather Roberts, from the ANU College of Law, has discovered some eye-opening differences between the welcome speeches for male and female judges.

You can hear the whole interview here: 

WLWA are excited to announce that all those attending our Fashion Night tomorrow will be in the running to win a Perfect Black Dress as a door prize!

The winner will get to choose one Perfect Black Dress in your size from amongst four selected styles absolutely FREE! The winner will also receive 15% of any Perfect Black Purchases made before 31 December 2015!

PERFECT BLACK DRESS is a Western-Australian boutique specialising in quality all-day dresses for professional women.

All our PBD’s have been designed with a combination of three key criteria in mind:

  • professional appearance;
  • comfort;
  • timeless elegance.

PERFECT BLACK DRESS was founded in 2013 and now has passionate clients all over Australia. Because of our unusual philosophy, we have been interviewed on Today Tonight and in national media outlets, but we barely ever advertise: we grow through word-of-mouth and repeat visits.

Our secret strength is in our fabrics— specially developed and not available outside PBD— and our non-standard sizing system which loves the female body. We are good at fitting people remotely or in person (Perth only). Your PBD will be perfect, or your money back: to this end, all standard alterations are offered free of charge.

We also offer a custom design service. For more information about ball gowns (black or not), wedding gowns and other garments, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our typical client is Australian, aged 30-60, employed in managerial, legal or highly public fields and based in Sydney or Melbourne. She hates polyester, bling and fads, and needs to go from office to function without changing. She needs to be comfortable in a way that allows her to forget about her clothes while working, but she does not want this comfort obvious.


Facebook: Perfect Black Dress

Contact: Danijela Kambaskovic (Creative Director)

Mobile: 0413 491 342

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Special offers for those attending the WLWA Fashion Night:

  •   A flat-rate of $210.00 per dress (representing a discount of 25-40% off, depending on the style of the dress) for all dresses purchased or earmarked on the night, will be made available on the Perfect Black Dress website and stand, from 3:30 pm to midnight on 24/07/2015 (the night of the event);
  •  A 15% discount for unlimited and transferrable future purchases, with the special on-line code available from the Perfect Black Dress stand on the night of the event;
  •   A free PBD as a door prize for one lucky guest;
  • Permanent Membership benefit for WA Association of Women Lawyers (to be negotiated and announced by the Association in the future).

pbd Banner for facebook

We have now opened up the Fashion Wonder event to encourage members bring your friends! So please spread the word and forward this email to all the women in your life.

Why not invite your mum? I'm sure she is after that perfect black dress...

Non-members are welcome to register here:


We will try to persuade you to join on the night!!

We encourage members to log in before registering. All members who log in to register will receive a $10 voucher off our next event in 2015.

Now featuring perfectblackdress and Rana clothing, wine tastings from Cullen Wines and a night of class, sophistication, fashion and socialising.

Attendees will be greeted with champagne on arrival and will be dazzled by showcases from exclusive WA designers.

There's something for everyone.

We prefer you to register first, but will have laptops at the front door for those wanting to register on the night. Note, there will be a delay in gaining entry if you have not pre-registered.

We look forward to seeing you for a fabulous winter evening of wine, cheese, fashion and sophistication.

WLWA encourages members running their own business to register for the upcoming Access to Finance Perth Workshop presented by the Department of Local Government and Communities on Tuesday 11 August 2015.

The workshop is for WA businesswomen who lead established, export-ready local businesses and are interested in learning more about finance options to support their international expansion plans.

DLGC, through the women’s interests’ portfolio, is partnering with Women in Global Business (WIGB) to deliver the highly successful Access to Finance Workshop in Perth.

Access to finance is fundamental to developing successful export businesses. A recent report found most women-led businesses use their own savings or loans from friends and family to finance the business. Other funding sources are usually required to realise the potential growth of these businesses, particular into overseas markets.

At the Access to Finance Perth Workshop on Tuesday 11 August 2015, West Australian business women can learn more about finance options to grow their businesses into successful export businesses. Attendees will hear from industry experts in banking, accounting, venture capital and angel investing and also government advisors expert in overseas markets. The presenters will share their inside knowledge and industry confidences to maximise the chances of securing funding for international growth ambitions.

For further information and to register please visit the WIGB website 

women in business

WLWA congratulates Western Australian lawyer Judith Fordham of Fordham and Roast for taking out the prestigious title of 2015 Telstra WA Micro Business Award winner.

Professor Judith Fordham, Barrister and Joint Business Owner will now proceed to the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards that will be announced in Sydney on 20 August.

As stated on the Telstra Business Awards website, Judith Fordham and Steve Roast worked on opposite sides of Perth’s criminal law system for 30 years. Coming together in 2012, they formed a unique multi-disciplinary law practice, Fordham & Roast. As a trial lawyer and forensic scientist, Judith’s skill-set perfectly complements Steve’s background as a detective superintendent. The practice provides a one-stop-shop for clients with criminal law problems, offering 24-hour assistance for those who need it. By taking a proactive approach the duo avert litigation, minimise expense and optimise outcomes. Their passion for justice means Judith and Steve’s firm supports clients – and their long-term wellbeing – as they journey through the court process and criminal justice system. By assisting with referrals to specialist support such as drug rehabilitation, Fordham & Roast make holistic care a welcome addition to the legal profession

For further information about the awards please visit  

NAIDOC Week amongst us and events are being held across Australia during July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Take five minutes to click on the link below and discover some famous and not-so famous indigenous women who have shaped the policies and laws in Australia for indigenous people.  

SBS TV through its National Indigenous Television (NITV) has put together an article which highlights 20 inspiring black women who have helped change Australia.

Many of these women were active in political and legal circles. Women such as Shirley Colleen Smith (1924 – 1988) who was active in establishing the Aboriginal Legal Service, or Nova Peris who was the first indigenous woman in Australia to be elected to parliament.

It’s just a shame our very own Dr Sue Gordon is not amongst this list. However, the WLWA and the legal profession in Western Australia salute her and the incredible contribution she has made to the legal profession and indigenous peoples of Western Australia.

Dr Sue Gordon








Retired Magistrate, Dr Sue Gordon (source )

For further information about NAIDOC week visit: 

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this web site may contain images of deceased people.



To mark the occasion of the visit to Perth of the High Court of Australia, the Bar Association and the Law Society will jointly host a dinner on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at the Government House Ballroom. 

WLWA encourages members to attend and support this important event.

 Please RSVP by 17 July 2015 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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