New regulation chief goals for extra girls on the bar

The ACT Bar Affiliation’s new president Rebecca Curran… “We wish to make it extra accessible as an actual profession possibility in order that younger legal professionals see themselves on the bar.” Picture: Belinda Strahorn

THE newly appointed president of the ACT Bar Affiliation needs to encourage extra girls to pursue a profession on the bar. 

The primary feminine president within the bar affiliation’s 58-year historical past, Rebecca Curran, factors to the parity of the women and men graduating with regulation levels, but the variety of females practising on the bar nonetheless trails properly behind their male counterparts.

“Ladies are largely under-represented as barristers… statistically, for a few years it was lower than 10 per cent,” stated Curran, 53.

“There are actually extra girls qualifying as solicitors however the statistics present there usually are not extra qualifying as barristers.”

Of the 93 barristers within the ACT, 22 had been feminine, of which 14 had been on the personal bar, and eight held a authorities practising certificates, Curran stated.

“It’s lower than 25 per cent – which is definitely superb – and isn’t {that a} horrible factor to say in 2022 particularly if you look again on the regulation colleges and the speed of commencement is 50/50 or perhaps a little bit in favour of girls,” stated Curran.

A barrister of 10 years, Curran attributed the gender imbalance in bar illustration to various key components together with the lack of many senior feminine barristers to judicial appointments.

The mother-of-four argued that whereas the personal bar is a “great” profession alternative you’re largely self-employed and, as such, the occupation didn’t have the complete vary of maternity depart preparations obtainable elsewhere.

“I communicate to various younger girls and say, ‘come to the bar, it’s fabulous’. However for younger girls, the safety of employment, sick depart and taking paid parental depart if you want it’s a very actual obstacle,” she stated.

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She stated she was not ready to accept such a low feminine illustration on the bar, and wished to proceed the work the affiliation was doing to enhance illustration.

“In our strategic plan there are three issues we are attempting to realize; first is excellence in our advocacy, second is having a voice with the media, courtroom and authorities, and third is to take care of the problems of the dearth of variety and gender stability,” she stated.

Curran was additionally looking for to broaden the illustration of individuals practising on the bar to incorporate higher numbers from culturally various backgrounds.

“There may be an under-representation of individuals from cultural backgrounds and that displays on the varieties of people that have the capability, the monetary backing, confidence and expertise to change into a barrister,” she stated.

“We wish to make it extra accessible as an actual profession possibility in order that younger legal professionals see themselves on the bar.”

Rising up in northern NSW in a farming household with no authorized connection, Curran was inspired to pursue a profession in regulation whereas in school in Armidale.

“I had an exquisite trainer referred to as Brother Fred Sheridan who stated, ‘what do you wish to do?’ and I stated perhaps I ought to be a trainer and he stated, ‘why don’t you apply for regulation?’,” she stated.

“So I did. I received into regulation on the ANU and I beloved it.”

Curran was impressed by the encouragement she acquired whereas in school, later from judges she labored for as an affiliate, after which as a registrar within the household courtroom in Brisbane.

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“On the Household Court docket I used to be working with a few great judges Michael Kent and Peter Murphy – who at the moment are retired – and so they each inspired me to do the bar exams,” she stated.

“I had simply had my fourth little one and was not sure if the time was proper and Michael stated, ‘the time isn’t proper, simply do it’.”

Earlier than becoming a member of the bar in 2012, Curran was in personal follow in Canberra and Brisbane, and was a deputy registrar of the Household Court docket of Australia. 

Like most working mums, she needed to juggle her authorized profession whereas elevating a household – in her case, made all of the harder by the tragic lack of her husband John seven years in the past.

“I wouldn’t have gotten by way of that point with out such an exquisite and supportive group,” she stated.

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Ian Meikle, editor