Nerida Josephine Cohen

Nerida Josephine Cohen

(1912 – 8 May 2002)

Nerida Josephine Cohen was the second woman to practice at the New South Wales (NSW) Bar, being admitted in 1935.

Entering the University of Sydney at the age of 15, Nerida studied Arts and Law and was dedicated to advancing women’s rights in the domestic and industrial settings.

She campaigned for equal pay for women, and during the Second World War, left the bar to work with the Women’s Employment Board. Nerida went on to chair the Council for Women in War Network.

Grata Flos Matilda Greig

Grata Flos Matilda Greig

(7 November 1880 – 31 December 1958)

Grata Flos Matilda Greig, Australian lawyer, was the first woman to be admitted to practise as a barrister and solicitor in Australia.

At her swearing-in ceremony, Chief Justice John Madden described Flos as “the graceful incoming of a revolution”.

He also expressed some scepticism about her future success:

“Women are more sympathetic than judicial, more emotional than logical. In the legal profession knowledge of the world is almost if not quite as essential as knowledge of the law, and knowledge of the world, women, even if they possess it, would lie loth to assert.”

Flos would go on to prove him wrong.

Katie Richards

Katie Richards

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now (whether at home, work, in the community, etc.)?

I use my software platform Law On Earth and my online law firm Virtual Legal to ensure every Australian has the ability to access legal help no matter what their background, where they live or what they earn.

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

Togetherness, Appreciation, Future

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

I think it’s already happening and it will take the community to support those putting forward the diverse concepts, so the rest of the profession are compelled to change if they aren’t yet onboard.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I wanted to be a doctor but I knew I could have a far greater impact if I tackled the legal industry. I grew up in a tiny town with minimal resources so I was determined to find a way to make sure every person had the same rights to help like we do with medical care.

Katie is a Managing Director at Virtual Legal

Caryn Sandler

Caryn Sandler

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now (whether at home, work, in the community, etc.)?

Smart delivery of legal.

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

Inclusion, difference, excellence.

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

Time and continued effort.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Fascinated by the law and loved business / commerce – was a great way to combine these two passions originally in M&A law.

Caryn is a Partner and Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer at Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers

Jo Alilovic

Jo Alilovic

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now (whether at home, work, in the community, etc.)?

I work with employers who want to go from people problems to teams that get results. I use my natural curiosity to ask a lot of questions to determine the ideal outcome and then guide them through identifying and creating fair principles of work, and how to communicate them successfully.

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

Equals better thinking.

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

Ensuring that those who are making decisions are from diverse backgrounds – not just consulting with those who are. This needs to be at all levels, particularly in the Court system and Government.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

The desire to help improve people’s lives and businesses by helping them understand the legal system.

Jo is a Director at 3D HR Legal

Belinda Winter

Belinda Winter

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now (whether at home, work, in the community, etc.)?

I help employers navigate the complexities of running a business. I help junior practitioners to become great lawyers. I help the legal industry understand the importance of mental health and how we can protect it.

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

Substance not token.

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

The younger generation demanding change and having the ability to influence change (usually by way of seniority).

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

As a small business owner myself back then (bakery) to help employers understand the rules of business. Also, to earn enough money to support my child as a single parent.

Belinda is a Partner at Cooper Grace Ward