Victoria firms rapped for lack of female input

Victoria attorney-general Rob Hulls is writing to his government’s panel law firms demanding that they increase their use of female barristers.

When Hulls formed the government’s first legal panel last year, he insisted that the panel firms and the Victorian Government Solicitor must adopt the Victorian bar’s ‘equality of opportunity in briefing practices policy’.

However, a report released on 14 November showed that in the past year private practice firms’ use of female barristers remained low. It also revealed that while female barristers received 17 per cent of briefs, they earned just 6 per cent of the total fees.

“Such a… disparity raises questions as to whether some firms are serious about meeting the government’s commitment to equal opportunity briefing practices, or are merely handing out the odd junior brief as a token effort,” said Hulls. “That’s why I’m writing to the 33 private law firms, reminding them that they signed contracts with the state government committing to equal opportunity briefing practices, and putting them on notice that I expect better results next year.”