The latest news from Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc.).  If you would like to submit an article or news item, please Contact Us.

board event


WLWA reminds members and friends to register for the WLWA CPD Event: Lawyers on Boards on this Wednesday 19 August 2015!

Join WLWA for an evening of networking focused on the contribution lawyers make in the boardroom. Experienced director and WA representative for Women on Boards, Lianne Cretney-Barnes chairs an interactive and informative panel discussion involving three legal professionals with diverse boardroom experience.

Attendees earn 1 CPD point - 0.5 points in each of Competency Areas 1 & 2 (Practice Management and Professional Skills).

Panel members:

• Alison Gaines, Global Practice Leader of Board Consulting, Gerard Daniels

• Ante Golem, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills and Director, Ronald McDonald

• Sue Wilson, Head of Company Secretariat, South32 and Non-executive Director,
Western Power

The panel will give you insight into:

• how to achieve your first directorship;

• the benefits of having lawyers on boards;

• the value of diversity in the boardroom;

• balancing legal risks with commercial imperatives in board decision-making; and

• the skillset required to be a successful and influential director.

Please come prepared with questions and comments for the panel and ready to engage with the WLWA network to make some great connections.

When: Wednesday 19 August, 5.30pm for a 6pm start

Where: Herbert Smith Freehills, Level 36, QV1 Building, 250 St Georges Terrace

Cost: $29 (members) $49 (non-members)

Drinks and nibbles will be served. Please see attached flyer for more details.

Register here:

Make sure to sign in if you are a member before registering.

Proudly sponsored by:

herbert smith freehills

Written by Daniela Ion

On Tuesday 4 August 2015 the AHRC launched new resources to help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities about pregnancy in the workplace.

The resources were developed following the completion of a National Review undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s into pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

In July 2014, 15 years on since the AHRC’s last inquiry into pregnancy discrimination, the AHRC released the final report from its ‘Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review”

The review, which began in 2013, analysed the nature and the result of discrimination in the workplace related to pregnancy, parental leave and returning to work following parental leave. Women Lawyers WA made a submission to the review in January 2014.

Notably, the final report found that 49 per cent of pregnant women and working mothers encountered discrimination at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work. It also determined the strategy which would have the highest impact in reducing this type of discrimination would be addressing the gap that currently exists between the law and its proper implementation within organisations.

In response to these outcomes, it was pleasing to hear in October 2014, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had provided funding to the AHRC to develop resources for employers and employees on obligations, rights and entitlements in relation to pregnancy, parental leave and return to work in the workplace. The aim of the project being to maximise the involvement of women in the workforce through providing strategies to employers on how to manage and support working mums through pregnancy, parental leave, and on returning from maternity leave – thereby addressing the said identified gap!

As part of this project the AHRC identified existing resources and important practices and strategies for supporting working mums. The AHRC also intended to work with businesses to test the resources for aiding working parents.

For further information on the launch go to AHRC’s latest news page. To check out the new resources available go to the AHRC Supporting Working Parents initiative and new Employee Toolkit.

Overlap with findings from WLWA’s GBFT Report

On another parallel matter, it is fitting that at the same time that AHRC’s resources work was being conducted Women Lawyers WA released earlier this year the Executive Summary to its 20th Anniversary Review of the 1994 Chief Justice’s Gender Bias Taskforce Report. The report was published in September 2014. This report similarly shows that a gap remains between flexible working policies and how they work and are implemented in practice. The Report’s recommendations included:

  • The Law Society is requested to publish examples of best flexible work practices, to offer training to practitioners returning to the profession after extended periods and to request courts to list matters strictly between 9:15am to 4:30 pm;
  • Legal employers should have a reintegration training for women to assist those on leave or returning from leave to maintain their skills and knowledge, particularly in relation to areas of law, practice and technology;
  • The Law Society of WA should promote their mentoring programs, particularly to women returning from leave;
  • The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and State Solicitors Office should adopt more flexible conditions for promotion and support for women to progress their careers.

A report card is to be announced in March 2016 to indicate how implementation of the key recommendations of the 2014 Gender Bias Taskforce Report is tracking.

In the meantime, WLWA is always on the lookout for more member’s stories and ideas to promote reform regarding this topic. Please tell us about your experience and how would you like to see the legal profession change to further address these issues.

Please contact us at: 


WLWA would like to thank all those that attended our first ever Fashion Wonder on Friday night at Perth Town Hall!

The membership drive event was a great success with lots of new and existing members mingling with guests, enjoying champagne and canapes on arrival, and networking with some of WA's most unique designers. All those in attendance were able to explore the designer's pop-up stalls and access exclusive discounts on the designer's fashion, jewellery, beauty and lifestyle products.

The night would not have been such a success without the support of the fantastic range of WA designers and local retailers and their generous donations. WLWA were excited to be able to give away the following fabulous door prizes to 12 lucky guests: 

•Candle Box from Bridget Black 

•Piece of Jewellery from Killari Jewellery

•Piece of Jewellery from Envy Jewellery

•Ava handbag worth $100 from Ava Design

•$200 gift voucher from J Cartel

•Two Silk Scarfs handwoven from Fabric Social

•Clutch bag from Amanda Kaye Handbags

•Bangle from Sarah Del Chescoe

• Bottle of wine from Cullen Wines

•Recycled resin set valued at $104 from Dames and Divas

•Long-sleeved dress in the size of the winner from Perfect Black Dress

WLWA were also grateful for all the retailers offering discounts on the night including Bridget Black, Killari Jewellery, Envy Jewellery, Ava Design, J Cartel, Fabric Social, Amanda Kaye Handbags, Sarah Del Chescoe, Green Smoothie Co, Perfect Black Dress and Rana Clothing and Cappelli de Moda

The following retailers were also able to offer exclusive giveaways to members. Thanks to Bridget Black, Envy Jewellery, Ava Design, J Cartel, Cappelli di Moda, Amanda Kaye Handbags, Sarah Del Chescoe, Green Smoothie Co, Perfect Black Dress and Rana Clothing and Marshmalloz

Thanks to Cullen Wines for providing wine tasting all night and to the talented Paul Giola for entertaining guests on the piano  

Thank you all again for attending the event which really was a fabulous winter evening of wine, cheese, fashion and sophistication! We encourage all members to visit the websites of these retailers and support the amazing local talent we have right here in little old Perth.

Visit our Facebook Page to see some photos from the evening. Further photos will be uploaded shortly and we encourage anyone that has posted photos to tag WLWA!

Members who missed out on attending this event should check our member benefits page for member only discounts provided by local designers and retailers.



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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

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