What is required at this juncture, Ms Fishburn posited, are ways to “capture data on the proportion of fees paid, as well as drive up wider awareness and adoption of the policy”.
Ms Marrone and Ms Haban-Beer supported this, noting that when it comes to the value of briefs, “we are not there yet”.
“We know that there are women briefed of the same seniority and experience as men, who are getting briefed at lower rates than their male counterparts for the same work. There’s no obvious reason why, apart from decades of entrenched gender pay inequity. We’ve often argued for more transparency in brief fees so both the market and the bar can calibrate fees accordingly,” they outlined.
“There is also significant work to be done in ensuring women juniors have speaking roles, and I know there are a few people looking into this at the moment in term[s] of seeing the current statistics, but from work that has been done in the past, we have a long way to go there also.”
When asked what more should law departments and other key stakeholders do to push parity forward, including and especially with regards to fees paid, Ms Fishburn said that in-house teams should be regularly reviewing their list of potential counsel.
“At least twice a year, two new reader courses commence in NSW. So, lists of counsel should at a minimum be revised every six months,” she advised.
Ms Marrone and Ms Haban-Beer added: “If they have not already signed up, please do, via the LCA website. Be transparent about fees that are paid for particular briefs, at each level of barrister seniority.”