Sydney, Oct 25: More effort is required to make legal profession more culturally diverse.
The Law Society of NSW has launched a new guide outlining steps that law firms and legal workplaces can take to become more culturally diverse and inclusive.
President of the Law Society of NSW, Juliana Warner, says that while law firms and legal practices have worked to boost cultural diversity in recent years, more work is required to ensure cultural diversity in the legal workplace.
According to the most recent Law Society data, the number of practising NSW solicitors who were born overseas has increased from 22.5 per cent in 2001 to 28 per cent in 2020.
This is lower than the general NSW population with the 2016 Australian census showing that 35 per cent of all people living in NSW were born overseas.
Of those NSW solicitors who were born overseas, in 2020, 44 per cent were born in Asia, 15 per cent were born in the UK or Ireland, 11 per cent in Oceania and 10 per cent in Europe.
However, the proportion of practising solicitors born in Asia has increased by nearly 10 per cent over the past decade (from 35 per cent in 2011 to 44 per cent in 2020).
In 2020, a total of 376 solicitors identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, representing 1.1 per cent of all solicitors in NSW, which is much lower than the general NSW population.
According to the 2016 Australian census, 3.4 per cent of all people in NSW identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
Warner noted that diversity can be improved throughout the legal profession.
According to Warner the Law Society’s Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession identifies examples where diversity and inclusion make sound economic sense for a law firm or legal practice.
“Creating an environment where every person, regardless of their background, has opportunities and support to reach their professional potential can result in better outcomes for the community at large, and better business outcomes for the profession,” Warner said.
“Firms and solicitors with diverse and inclusive workplaces and practices can expect to benefit from an enhanced reputation in the broader community and improved access to a diverse client base.”
“Having a diverse and inclusive legal profession puts us in stronger position to serve our state’s vibrant and diverse citizenry,” she said.
The Law Society’s Culturally Diverse Guidance is available here.
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