This year’s International Women’s Day (8 March 2022) celebrates the achievements of women and reaffirms a universal commitment to women’s equality.
Women are entering the legal profession in ever increasing numbers in Australia, with female law graduates outnumbering men.
While female participation in the profession is at an all-time high, women in private practice are still severely under-represented in senior roles.
With five female partners making up half of the firm’s partnership, Melbourne law firm Kalus Kenny Intelex (KKI) is leading the way towards the future of private practice in Australia.
“KKI’s gender parity at partnership level is reflective of the firm’s overall culture and commitment to equal opportunity and gender equality,” said KKI Partner Heather Richardson.
“I think we should be acknowledging how far women have come, but we should also acknowledge how far we need to go for gender equality. Women are now much better represented at partnership level, in court rooms, boardrooms and at the Bar, but there is still some imbalance that needs to be addressed” she said.
Fellow Partner Denise Wightman says it’s important to recognise that the key to success is opportunity.
“If the opportunities are there, women have the ability to choose. This is something we should be celebrating as well as the fact we can now have an open conversation about workplace culture, harassment, discrimination and diversity, because these are issues that directly impact women,” she said.
“It’s really nice to see when I go to meetings now, I’m not the only woman in the room. It’s fairly balanced and I think this has been the greatest gain for the profession in recent years,” said Ms Wightman.
Newly appointed KKI Partner, Kimi Shah, says it’s important to celebrate the concept of women supporting and uplifting other women.
“It’s really good to see that more females are in senior positions within the industry and they’re able to help and support the junior lawyers who are coming in.
“It’s exciting to see that women joining the profession today are trailblazers in being able to achieve their professional goals,” said Ms Shah.
This Tuesday 8 March 2022 is International Women’s Day. Reflecting on what this means, KKI Partner Lisa Fowler says we should be celebrating how lucky we are here in Australia.
“We’re able to work in jobs we want to work in. When I think about everything that happened in Afghanistan last year, it’s horrifying. To think that women who were lawyers and judges at the top of their game could not only be persecuted but potentially killed for just doing their job, makes me feel incredibly lucky to be here in Australia where we are free to do what we love,” she said.
“My advice for young lawyers joining the profession today would be try and have fun. This can be a very stressful job and there are a lot of tricky situations and issues to navigate, but if you can surround yourself with colleagues, mentors and clients who you can have a laugh with at the end of the day, you’ll have a much more enjoyable career,” said Ms Fowler.
Denise Wightman says it’s important for young women entering the legal profession to be proactive.
“If you don’t like the culture or you feel that it’s an ‘old boys’ network’ or anything else you don’t like, take action.
“Demand change within the firm or form your own firm. There are plenty of opportunities now for women,” she said.
KKI Partner Natalie Lasek recognises that there are still hurdles when it comes to equality in the legal profession.
“At KKI we’re incredibly proud to say that 50 per cent of our partners are female, but are also well aware that there is more work to do, including in the wider profession,” she said.
As KKI’s newest Partner, Kimi Shah has her own advice for new female lawyers:
“Don’t be afraid to stand out. It’s important to show people what you’re capable of,” she said.