Equitable Briefing Policy
The Equitable Briefing Policy (Policy) developed by the Law Council of Australia (LCA), was endorsed by the Western Australian Bar Association (WABA) in 2016. The policy has also been endorsed by the Australian Bar Association.
The Policy is, at its core, about equality within the legal profession. It seeks to make people, both within and outside of the Bar, think about how barristers are briefed. It seeks to broaden the approach taken to briefing so as to maximise choices for legal practitioners and their clients and to open up access to suitably qualified barristers.
The aims of the Policy are to:
- drive cultural change within the legal profession;
- support the progression and retention of women barristers;
- address the significant pay gap, and under-representation of women in the superior courts.
The Policy includes interim and long term targets with the ultimate aim of briefing women in at least 30 per cent of all matters and paying 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees by 2020.
The WABA launched its endorsement of the Policy at a function for in-house corporate counsel in 2017 at the Federal Court in Perth with the intention and hope that corporate counsel will join the WABA in transforming briefing habits to effect real and lasting change for women barristers.
Endorsement of the Policy is an affirmation of the WABA’s commitment to a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Bar and profession generally.
Barristers who adopt the Policy should –
- make all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all recommendations they make of other barristers include at least one woman, unless there is no qualified woman;
- provide a confidential report to the LCA addressing the following information, by reference to gender:
(a) the number barristers briefed as their junior or as their leader during the year;
(b) the number of barristers who were briefed as junior barristers as a result of a recommendation by senior barristers (if known);
(c) the number of barristers who were briefed as senior barristers as a result of a recommendation by junior barristers (if known); and
(d) The number of barristers recommended to briefing entities in new matters.
The LCA has developed an online portal to assist organisations and Counsel to provide their annual report following the end of each financial year. Members who have adopted the Policy may provide their annual report through the LCA portal.