National Attrition and Rengagement Study (NARS)


This page is designed to provide a range of key information relating to the Law Council of Australia’s National Attrition and Re-Engagement Study.

For information relating to AWL’s most up to date comments in the media regarding NARS please refer to our Publications page.

If you have any information that you would like added to this page please contact us.

Outcomes (To date)

Key Links

Media Articles

Responses from the Profession


Other Resources


Were the findings of the NARS a surprise to AWL?


The findings support the experiences captured by our State and Territory Women Lawyer Associations and reflect what AWL’s national membership has been saying for a long time, that there needs to be cultural change throughout the profession.

What is AWL’s view of the Law Council of Australia Commissioning NARS?

AWL congratulates the Law Council of Australia on commissioning the NARS and strongly encourages all State and Territory legal associations and law practices to adopt the key recommendations outlined in the LCA Discussion Paper and NARS report.

Why are the findings of the research important for AWL and its members?

The findings encourage the profession to re-examine traditional practices relating to working hours, billable practices, recruitment and selection processes and leadership.

The findings also encourage the profession to ask why things are done the way they are. Have practices been adopted because they have always been done that way? Are the current practices achieving the best possible outcome? What is culture? Why is it important? And how do we set a good one?

In particular, the findings encourage the profession to explore diversity as a means to address productivity.

Why is the NARS study significant for women in the legal profession?

The NARS is significant as it is the first national study of its kind in Australia.

The study focuses on the attrition and reengagement of female legal practitioners for which there is a currently a lack of comprative research and captures qualitative data obtained from detailed individual and in-depth interviews with participants.

For AWL, the capturing of this information is vitally important as it provides a direct insight into the actual experiences of practitioners and the reasons why they leave the profession.

Why was the NARS Commissioned?

The research was commissioned by the Law Council of Australia to obtain quantitative data and confirm trends relating to the progression, attrition and re-engagement of female lawyers.

How was the study conducted?

The study was conducted through the release of a national survey targetted at the following cohorts of legal practitioners:

  • current practising lawyers
  • lawyers who have never practised
  • lawyers who are no longer practising

What was the outcome of the study?

The production of a final report proposing a series of recommendations targeted at legal associations and law practices focusing on different cohorts of female lawyers including:

  • women working in small, medium and large law firms;
  • women in early, mid and later stages of their career as a legal practitioner;
  • former, current and aspiring women barristers; and
  • women who have left private practice (to encourage re-engagement with the legal profession).

What are the key findings of the study?

  • 61{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of all solicitors admitted in the last year were female;
  • 58{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of solicitors admitted in the last 10 years were female;
  • Men were twice as likely to be a partner in a firm compared to women;
  • 49{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of female solicitors are aged under 35 years compared to 24{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of male solicitors;
  • 23{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of women are the primary care giver compared to 4{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of men;
  • Approximately one in four women have been discriminated against due to their family or carer responsibilities;
  • 50{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of women working part time reported discrimination due to family responsibilities;
  • Half of all women have experienced discrimination due to their gender (compared to one in ten men);
  • One in four women have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace;
  • One in two women reported having been bullied or intimidated in their current workplace;
  • More than one in three men reported having been bullied or intimidated in their current workplace;
  • Close to one in three women expressed dissatisfaction with accessibility of mentors to support career development;
  • 38{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of women (compared 22{6c0a4e1ac7e55840cfe639ecf4b11dafaf03aa04ee92fd19e6f871f32a3a63fe} of men) were likely to take a break since admission;
  • Over one in three women were considering moving to a new job within the next 5 years.

What are the distingushing aspects of the NARS?

  • The research is the first national study of its kind in Australia;
  • The study focuses on the attrition and reengagement of female practitioners in the profession for which there is a comparative lack of research;
  • The report is not solely reliant on qualitative statistical data obtained  from the survey;
  • The report  findings highlight serious and systemic issues within the culture of the profession;
  • The report findings highlight serious issues preventing men and women from participating fully within the profession.