Shabarika Ajitkumar

Shabarika Ajitkumar

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 clients across a wide range of industries, helping them to solve complex problems, including to structure, negotiate and implement significant transactions for their businesses.

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

Strength, talent, outcomes.

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

The adoption of diversity as a priority and core value by the legal industry and our clients.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I was motivated to study commerce and law to better understand the world and its institutions. From there, I was particularly drawn to commercial law because it offered a dynamic, varied and challenging career path.

Shabarika is a Partner, Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets at Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Meg Morgan

Meg Morgan

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

I would describe the work that I do as part advocacy and part problem solving. I have clients who ask for my assistance to navigate their business through tricky legal arrangements. Sometimes they ask for my assistance to navigate their business through tricky commercial arrangements. Usually it is a combination of both. I have colleagues who ask for my assistance with their clients for the same reasons. Team work is definitely a big part of what I do now and one of the parts of my job that I love the most. I have colleagues who ask for my assistance to help them navigate the legal industry itself. For better or worse (a bit of both in my opinion) the legal industry is still a rigid profession and wending your way through the industry is less overwhelming with some guidance.

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

Listening, empathy, positivity.

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

The legal industry gains its strength through its history and its stable foundations. We are an industry built on precedents. However if we just stick with this as the model it can also be a limitation when it comes to facilitating truly innovative and diverse thinking. I would like to see the legal industry maintain its foundation and, with a bit of focused planning and targeted initiatives, use this as the basis upon which we build up a profession that attracts, retains and engages with people across all sections of the community. The legal industry will remain a pillar of society where it represents all parts of society.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I love advocacy and problem solving! I feel so lucky to have found the industry that is right for me. The complexity of the way the law interacts with business was the main driver to enter into the legal industry. The main driver for me to stay is helping people navigate the law to succeed in business.

Meg is a Senior Associate at McCullough Robertson

Tessa van Duyn

Tessa van Duyn

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

My role is to enable and empower people to be their best selves and work together as a team to create a positive impact in the community around us.

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

Equality, creativity, courage.

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

In order to properly embrace diversity in all it’s guises, we need courage to shift our mindset as well as true cultural and structural changes.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I wanted to use my privilege to contribute to a more equal and just society and create a positive impact in the community.

Tessa is the CEO at Moores

Amanda Fajerman

Amanda Fajerman

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 people; I help clients understand pain points and solve problems, I help connect teams by acting as a conduit between law and technology, I help create efficient and data driven systems and processes to improve lawyer satisfaction and well-being, and I hope to inspire, develop and educate the legal tech industry.

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

Potential through difference.

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

Change from the ground up; to the language used in job descriptions to attract diverse candidates, to the recruitment process to avoid hiring based on like for like, to ensuring that organisation is driven by strong and purpose led values which instils inclusiveness, flexibility, transparency and openness. This has to be created at the top and actioned by everyone – from the leadership team for leading by example with fairness and integrity and ensuring that every staff member has a safe environment to ask questions, to every staff member to speak up when things are not right and to question the status quo.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I studied computer science and law through a combination of a passion for data, systems and analytics as well as reasoning, problem solving and judgement. However, I have always enjoyed the data and process behind the giving of legal advice more than the practice of law itself, so have used my legal subject matter expertise in the legal tech industry. I thrive on the opportunity to help create systems and solutions for legal teams based on efficiencies and structured data.

Amanda is the Head of Legal Technology at LOD

Melissa Lyon

Melissa Lyon

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 people and organisations design ways of working, processes, services and strategies which provide a better user experience. I do this by using a human centred deign thinking framework we developed at Hive called HiveThinkP.

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

Hope, respect, opportunity. 

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

A change in mindset to be more collaborative and to respect the skills of other professionals in the legal ecosystem who have a valuable role to play to improve the experience for clients and all of those who work in the legal ecosystem.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Initially… to have a fulfilling career. Now that I have one my driver is to help others have the same, no matter what role you have in the legal industry.

Melissa is an Executive Director & Experience Designer at Hive Legal

Renee Eglinton

Renee Eglinton

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

Providing expertise and compassion to my clients when they are often at their most vulnerable and assisting them to achieve a positive outcome and fresh start.

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

Perspective, respect, education.

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

A commitment to educating lawyers to truly appreciate and respect others peoples’ differences and opinions. I strongly believe the younger generation of lawyers will be game changers when it comes to diversity within the profession.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

My Year 11 English teacher suggested I look at law as a profession. I think I make a better lawyer than I would have dentist, which was another career choice I considered.

Renee is a Director at Kare Lawyers

International Women’s Day is more than a day – there are 101 reasons to celebrate

Year 101 Women in Law

International Women's Day is more than a day — there are 101 reasons to celebrate

Celebrating women in law

‘Women in law’ as a term has come a long way, while early trailblazers lit the path, it is the modern workforce that has kept the flame burning and developing – pioneering innovations and bringing fresh perspective to a once male-dominated industry.

In fact, according to URBIS 2018 – National Profile of Solicitors, in 2016 the profession had, for the first time a balance of genders (50% female and 50% male) and 2018 saw a shift to 52% for the former, positioning males at 48%.

“As talented and strong individuals we impact, disrupt, challenge and improve the law in equal standing with our male colleagues, the clear and unequivocal empowerment from our employers to be changemakers in the face of the antiquated views of the old-industry, has seen significant legal advancements across a global scale” – Kristan Conlon shared.

2018 celebrated the 100-year milestone of women practicing law across the majority of Australian states, in response McCullough Robertson created the Year 101 project – highlighting 101 women in the legal profession. Three years on we have seen 61 incredible legal professionals profiled, with many more to come.

Nominations are open and in the spirit of today, if you have a female industry colleague who has impacted your career, please submit their details here. We will review and continue sharing additional inspirational stories with you.

Wherever you are celebrating today, from all of us at McCullough Robertson Lawyers, best wishes for International Women’s Day.