ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


Spotlight on Diversity

Spotlight on Diversity

September 1, 2016 at 9:22 AM

Carmel MulhernCarmel Mulhern, Group General Counsel of Telstra Australia outlines her approach to encouraging diversity in the legal profession.

The following is a summary of the requests that Carmel made of their external law firms regarding (a) gender diversity and inclusion at the Bar and (b) diversity and gender inclusion:

  • I wrote separately on these matters to each of the external law firms on our panel about our joint responsibility to foster diversity and gender equality in the legal profession.
  • I spelt out my and the company’s position on these issues.
  • I set out what I saw as the problem that we needed to address.
  • In relation to gender diversity and inclusion at the Bar I asked that from the new financial year the law firm in question work on two things:
      • The inclusion of at least one female barrister in their list when recommending counsel; and
      • Report to us every six months on the number of files in which counsel has been retained; the number of male and female barristers retained; and the amounts paid to male and female barristers. I also requested a short summary of the policies and practices that the firm adopts internally to encourage equitable briefing and what steps their firm takes to ensure that they identify and actively consider and recommend female counsel when retaining barristers to represent their clients.
  • In relation to diversity and gender inclusion, I invited each firm to:
      • provide feedback in relation to Telstra’s work-practices in dealing with their firm and the extent to which these work-practices support or discourage gender equality and more general diversity in their firm.
      • provide a summary of the policies and practices that their firm adopts internally to encourage gender equality and broader inclusion within the firm.
      • I did not make it an express requirement for our legal partners to have in place policies to support gender equality, however, this information is factored into our considerations of legal panel reviews.