Major imbalance between men and women for legal representation of higher courts – investigation

New research shows that despite the fact that there is an equal number of male and female lawyers, women lawyers account for just over a quarter of the gigs for the highest courts in the country.

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The research was conducted for six years by the New Zealand Bar Association and was funded by the Law Foundation.

It turned out that women barristers and lawyers represented 27 percent of the lead counsel performances for both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

The figure drops to 16 percent female representation when the Crown Law Office is excluded.

The co-authors of the report, NZ Bar Association Council members Jenny Cooper QC and Gretta Schumacher, said that although they expected to be wrong, the results were worse than they had expected.

"The most shocking aspect is the absence of any material improvement during the six years that the study covers," said Ms. Cooper.

"This shows the fallacy of the argument that it is just a matter of time and that gender inequality takes care of itself."

The data on Queen & # 39; s Counsel show that only about 9 percent of the appearances made by QC & # 39; s by women.

Generally, there is an approximately 80:20 distribution of male / female QCs in New Zealand.

Gretta Schumacher said that there is a risk that the shortage of women in senior advocacy would discourage young women from entering or remaining in the profession.

"Both male and female juniors should have the opportunity to work with senior female lawyers and learn from them." We must make conscious efforts as a profession to ensure that advocacy is not seen as a male domain. "

NZ Bar Association president Clive Elliott QC said the research results were grim and disappointing.

"Although many of us thought there was a gender imbalance for the legal representation of higher courts, this investigation certainly confirms it." There has been a focus to address this issue through gender equality briefing, but the legal profession must clearly do more, " he said.

Crown Law adopted the Gender Equitable Briefing policy of the NZ Bar Association in 2009 and, at the launch in 2017, the Joint NZ Bar Association and New Zealand Law Society for Gender Equitable Engagement and Instruction Policy were adopted.

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