Karen Trainor

Karen Trainor

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I lead a talented national team of more than 30 environment and planning lawyers who provide legal solutions to government and private sector clients throughout Australia. I help my clients in securing environmental and planning approvals for major projects in industry sectors including energy and resources, transport, manufacturing, master planned communities and tourism. I am a member of the firm’s Diversity Council which provides leadership and strategy to drive initiatives to build an increasingly diverse and inclusive culture. I am also a mother of 2 boys and love to walk and travel.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

A curiosity and interest in emerging environmental law in Australia. I studied environmental law subjects during a Bachelor of Environmental Science and decided to take the next step and study law. I was looking for a way to develop my knowledge and an opportunity to combine a working career with my love of environmental science. Luckily for me, my current workplace gave me freedom and support to develop a speciality practice around this field.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Difference, Insight, Egalitarian.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

• Education to increase self-awareness, cultural competence and to break down inherent bias. This has to be incorporated into law school curriculum;
• Diversity has to be entrenched in the values of the legal profession;
• Organisations to have a top down commitment to diversity;
• I am a strong believer in targets;
• Policies that are directed towards “inclusivity”.

Karen is the National Practice Group Leader, Environment and Planning, at Clayton Utz. 

Linda Ryle

Linda Ryle

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Advocate for and with First Nations Women. I share knowledge and support and network contacts in attempting to level the Justice and Equity and Access Playing field in Queensland and across the country. I work to create opportunities not just optimism. I teach Cultural Humility in Professional Practice and I promote and coach Culturally Principled Practice (in both professional and business- as an employee or an employer/entrepreneur).

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

To even the justice and equity playing field, to provide platforms where the voices and perspectives of First Women voices are heard and suitably and authoritatively regarded.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Inclusion, intersectional, authoritative.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Self Awareness, humility, willingness to learn from others, generosity of spirit, Culturally Principled Practice (across the Professions and the entire Business and government sectors), and substantial resourcing.

Linda is the Founder, Executive & Managing Director at CALM – Cultural Advocacy & Legal Mediation. 

Hannah Barbour

Hannah Barbour

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I advise farmers and graziers on a wide range of legal issues including buying and selling rural properties, negotiating access arrangements with mining and gas companies and establishing carbon offsets projects on their land.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Initially, my mother who subtly suggested that I should reconsider my plans to become a nutritionist and instead try law given my ability to argue a point until I am blue in the face! But what has kept me in the industry and particularly in the rural industry is the wide variety of work that comes across my desk and the wonderful rural clients who I have the pleasure of dealing with and helping on a daily basis.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Break glass ceilings.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Focus needs to be given to developing diverse thinking at a grassroots level. It is great that many workplaces now have “equal opportunity/equity and inclusion policies” but until each and every member of that workplace truly understands what it takes (at their individual level) to make the workplace diverse and supportive, the policies and planning will fall on deaf ears.

Hannah is an Agribusiness lawyer at Thynne + Macartney.

Yooree Lee

Yooree Lee

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I currently work in the United States and Indo-Pacific Strategy Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. My work contributes to Australia’s regional maritime security engagement in Southeast Asia, which involves extensive legal capacity building and advocacy work in the region.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I wanted to be an advocate for vulnerable people.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Inclusion, barriers, scary.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

The evidence is clear. Diversity in ethnic, racial, gender, background, sexual orientation in the workforce leads to better ideas and better outcomes. Those in position of leadership should ensure that we create inclusive organisations in which diversity is not only tolerated but embraced. It requires a consistent and conscious commitment to addressing the barriers that stand in the way of this (affinity bias, resistance to change, suspicion).

Yooree is a Policy Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Vimbainashe Chitsunge

Vimbainashe Chitsunge

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Currently I am pursuing my passion for law and helping people by completing my university degree. Through my degree I have been blessed with the opportunity of participating in the Disrupting Law Hackathon in which my team and I designed ‘On Your Side’. ‘On Your Side’ is an app which aims to assist both victims of sexual assault or harassment as well as members of the Criminal Justice System by providing:

  1.  A checklist in the form of a questionnaire to differentiate whether conduct was Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment
  2. A reporting and evidence section in which people are prompted to provide details of the incident such as date, location, photos of any wounds etc
    o Users will have the option of saving the details they have entered for future or immediate usage
    o The information saved as well as the results and answers to the Sexual Assault or Harassment Checklist would provide lawyers and police with details that may be forgotten if a person does not report the conduct immediately
  3. A breaking myths section which discusses common thoughts regarding sexual assault or harassment as well as the validity or invalidity of those thoughts
  4. Contact to relevant State and Territories services

Due to our desire to make a difference, my team and I are working on further refining and developing our app so that we may actually launch it for public use.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I became interested in the legal industry after my mother took me to the library in year 4 and forced me to get one non-fiction book because I was “a big girl now”. The book I chose was Great Australian Women and I remember being wowed reading about the first women to venture into male dominated careers. As my maternal grandfather was a policeman, my paternal grandfather was a soldier, my maternal uncle is a policeman and my paternal uncle is a lawyer, reading about the first female lawyers and politicians quickly gained my interest.

This interest was furthered throughout my schooling with year 7 being the year I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer, so that I could help people. I think that lawyers are people who have been blessed with the opportunity to make a significant difference in people’s lives which is exactly what I want to do. I also believe that as a lawyer, you are constantly learning new things and challenged to go above and beyond. This aligns with an important lesson my grandfather taught me before he passed away, which is “Always keep learning, you will never learn enough or too much so always keep learning”.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Community, Culture and Acceptance. 

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Given my limited exposure and experience within the legal industry, the only suggestion I can name is continued mentoring. This mentoring can take many forms such as:

  • Senior members of the profession actively encouraging young practitioners to aim for higher positions, running skill swap workshops in which more people can have access to the industry as well as share and develop their skills.
  • Law firms or organisations engaging more with high-school students to break stereotypes about the industry, nurture interest in various legal roles and open discussion about the future of the legal industry

Through mentoring, not only would the new generation be learning from experienced role models, our role models would be challenged to think in new ways to align with or further progress societal developments. This collaboration of various generations may foster a diverse environment as ideas, issues and solutions which affect different groups are analysed and improved upon from several perspectives.

Vimbainashe is a Law and Commerce Student at the University of Wollongong.

Anne-Marie Rice

Anne-Marie Rice

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Problem solver, peace maker, thinker, feeler. 

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Intellectual stimulation and a desire to help.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Creativity, inclusion, opportunity.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

A move from adversarial, gladiatorial thinking to a more inquisitive, problem-solving focus.

Anne-Marie is the Director of Rice Dispute Resolution. 

Jessica Popple

Jessica Popple

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Empowering and rewarding. Every day I am given the chance to help someone. By doing that, not only am I able to empower someone else to make a change in their life, but I also feel extremely rewarded to be able to help someone in a small way.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

To help people change their life and to always be learning. There is no better career than one that you can do both in. Even as an early career lawyer, I am constantly learning new ways of thinking and doing, whilst helping my clients (hopefully) achieve the best outcome they can get.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Empowerment, Strength, Change.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Champions of the profession like Ann-Maree David and Margaret McMurdo give young practitioners something to aspire too. Women like them have paved the way for the new generation. We do not see and are not exposed to the “obstacles” that once would have been in our way, because of them and many others. Having people like them continue to be trailblazers and role models allows young practitioners (men and women) to follow in their footsteps, and help those coming up behind us.

Jessica is a solicitor at Cooroy Legal Centre, social chair at the Sunshine Coast Law Association and social secretary at the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland. 

Jodi Palmer

Jodi Palmer

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I help people and businesses to be better participants in society.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Growing up in regional Qld, when I achieved good results at school I was asked “Are you going to do Medicine or Law?” I didn’t enjoy my visit to an anatomy lab, so law it was. I enjoyed my legal studies and have now found the part of the industry that fits for me – but I didn’t even know this was an option when I started in the industry.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Equality, balance, potential.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

A truly diverse leadership base, with strong ties into the diverse membership base, and constant listening. The way it has always been done will not serve the industry in the next 10, 20, 30 or 100 years and leaders need to be not just open to change, but driving for change.

Jodi is Vice President Legal & Compliance at Volvo Group Australia. 

Rachel Scanlon

Rachel Scanlon

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I connect people, manage legal risk, promote women in law, and support the arts.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I always enjoyed debating at school so thought I might become a barrister, but ended up taking the law firm route upon qualification and have now been in-house for most of my career.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Acceptance, humanity, decisions.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

An ability to see things from others’ points of view, and an innate understanding of the business and societal benefits of having people of different talents, backgrounds and mindsets in an organization.

Rachel is the Asia-Pacific Lead at D2 Legal Technology. 

Nikki Robinson

Nikki Robinson

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I lead an amazing market leading team of 100 people at work and at home I do crowd control, ethics and logistics management with 3 school aged children ranging from 10 to 14. I feel that my greatest skill is problem solving (in both areas) and try to show that by acting honestly and by being accountable – for the good and the not so good, you build a team and a family that is open, honest and ready to pitch in and work together to be the best that they can be.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

To make a difference in the world – I just didn’t realise it then, but this would be primarily through working on projects that create better places – both physical and socially, that are safer and more liveable for all of the people that occupy that space. This has also given me an opportunity to take on a leadership role that has allowed me to effect changes within a number of the organisations that I worked in to ensure they were more able to take up the benefits of a diverse and inclusive work force.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Talent, value, perspective.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Fully recognising the financial and social benefits of providing an environment that fully unlocks the talent of all of the individuals within it.

Nikki is the National Practice Group Leader of Real Estate at Clayton Utz.