Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Women Lawyers Association

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:12): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the minister inform the chamber about the recent function with the judiciary event hosted by the Women Lawyers Association?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question, and I certainly will inform the chamber about the recent function with the judiciary event hosted by the Women Lawyers Association of South Australia. I had the pleasure of attending that recent event. The Women Lawyers Association is comprised of members from all sectors of the legal profession, and does much good work through their aim of promoting justice and equality for all women in and out of the law, and their commitment to improving the career prospects for women within the legal profession.

Among many things, the association regularly prepares feedback and submissions on a myriad of legal issues relevant to women, representing the view of their members from women in the legal profession. It also creates a supportive and vibrant community for women lawyers practising in and working towards practising in the profession, and that strong network was certainly on display at the event a couple of weeks ago. I heard from some of the event organisers that this event was one of the best ever attended that the association has held in recent years, which shows the strength of the community and that women lawyers in SA can enjoy the support of the association.

The function with the judiciary was an opportunity to be able to meet and celebrate some of South Australia's finest female lawyers and the judiciary, and it was especially pleasing to see so many female practitioners having the chance to talk to more senior practitioners and members of the judiciary at the event.

The annual Hon. Dr Robyn Layton AO QC Award was presented on the night and is presented to honour a practising female lawyer in South Australian in recognition of their outstanding efforts in the law. This year the award was presented to Michelle Barnes KC, a very highly respected barrister from Len King Chambers.

As a longstanding and valued member of the Women Lawyers Association, Michelle has a breadth of experience working in the law, having practised at the DPP and at the commonwealth, with a significant practice in migration law. Michelle is the chair of the Women at the Bar committee, which she was also previously a member of, and is a member of the SA Bar Association and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

She is an adjunct lecturer at the College of Law, which is a provider of legal practice education for law graduates, including the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, which law students must complete in order to become a practising lawyer. At the college, Michelle lectures in advocacy, criminal and family law, helping to teach the tricks of the trade to our future lawyers.

In her role as chair of Women at the Bar, Michelle has been a real driver for the committee's aims of greater inclusion, diversity and equality at the SA Bar, with a focus on increasing the number of women at the bar, and is currently putting together a working paper on issues attracting and retaining female barristers at the SA Bar.

On top of all this, Michelle continues to play a central role in the silks consultations, which in an historic first for SA saw an equal number of female silks being appointed as males this year. I personally, and on behalf of the government, congratulate Michelle on this fantastic achievement and to all others involved.