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Equality needed in legal field: NSW govt

AAP logoAAP 8/11/2016

A successful push to engage more female senior lawyers in NSW government work could soon be rolled out across all state agencies.

The proportion of female Senior Counsel barristers briefed by the NSW government surged by 20 per cent in the past financial year, to a record-high of 40 per cent of all briefs.

NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said more than half the state's law graduates were female, but many women still faced significant barriers when vying for senior roles.

"A genuine commitment to equitable briefing is crucial to keeping women in the legal profession and creating a stronger Bar," Ms Upton said.

"I am closely considering whether the new policy (on briefing female barristers and advocates) is appropriate for adoption by NSW government agencies."

Australian Bar Association president Patrick O'Sullivan said it was important to give female silks the chance to apply their trade.

"It's about making sure clients have access to the largest pool possible of specialist advocates," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"It's not only about the talent already there but ensuring the talent coming through is developed."

Around 90 per cent of Senior Counsel at the NSW Bar are men, with women making up just more than 20 per cent of barristers across the state.

"While I am pleased with the progress we have made in relation to briefing Senior Counsel we know much more needs to be done to achieve gender equality at the Bar," Ms Upton said.

"I hope the NSW government will continue to be part of the solution."

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