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New guidelines outline ways legal workplaces can improve cultural diversity

Scale of justice Source: Getty Images/Julius Adamek/EyeEm

The Law Society of New South Wales has launched a new guide that outlines a range of measures legal workplaces can take to improve cultural diversity. While it's hoped it will help to make the profession to become more inclusive and representative of Australian society, lawyers from diverse cultural backgrounds say it's just part of the solution.

The most recent data from the Law Society of New South Wales shows the number of practising solicitors in the state who were born overseas has increased from 22.5 per cent in 2003 to 28 per cent in 2020.

But it's still much lower than the general New South Wales population, with the 2016 Census showing 35 per cent of people living in the state were born overseas.

And while 3.4 per cent of the New South Wales population identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, they only make up 1.1 per cent of the state's solicitors.

Similar patterns of the lack of cultural diversity in the legal profession are reported across Australia.

The Law Society of New South Wales, which represents around 43 per cent of members of Australia's legal profession, has launched a new guide outlining steps firms and other workplaces can take to become more culturally diverse and inclusive.

Yuin woman, Sonja Stewart is C-E-O of the Law Society of New South Wales.

She's the first Indigenous person and the first woman to hold the position.

What this guideline seeks to do is to help the profession around improving their inclusivity and cultural diversity of their staff. The principles are: to commit to cultural diversity, to measure it, advice about recruiting widely and reducing barriers to entry, and then looking for opportunities to support cultural diversity in the wider community, developing an inclusive culture, and then the sixth one is about evaluating measures. So the guideline gives advice about how firms of any size could go about implementing those principles.

 

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