Maddy Harrington

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

At work I spend my days not only drafting and reviewing legal agreements and contracts on behalf of the University, but am also a staunch advocate for LGBTI acceptance and inclusion (especially for those who are transgender such as myself).

I am the Chair of the University’s Pride Committee, and am passionate about ensuring that Griffith is a safe place to work and study for people of all backgrounds. I believe that one can’t be what they can’t see, and so I use my visibility as an openly transgender woman to show (both in my personal life and at work) that being in the law is not off limits to people of transgender experience, and that being transgender isn’t a life sentence as many make it out to be.

In the community, I’m a volunteer with Out for Australia, one of Australia’s largest organisations for LGBTI professionals.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I had always had a passion for politics, and I believed that to make the most effective change, politicians needed to have a deep understanding of law. When I started my degree back in New Zealand in 2013, I was doing a double degree of law and political science. After trying my hand at politics at University I decided that it wasn’t for me, and instead threw myself into my legal studies more.

To this day I’ve always viewed the law, and the wider legal industry, as having the ability to drive change, not only in political, but also social, circles and I ensure that as much as possible, that flows into my work.  

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

Inclusion, acceptance and future.

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

Traditionally, the legal industry has not been known for its diversity – however, I believe that this is slowly beginning to change, and that we can achieve diverse thinking through the adoption of some simple very processes.

Most importantly, I believe that diverse thinking will come as a natural consequence of ensuring that we consult widely and have people with characteristics and experiences (different from the “norm”) in positions of influence. This may be through having different factors to the majority in terms of gender, ethnicity or, different cultural backgrounds, ages, disability, or sexuality/gender identity. Importantly however, the legal industry must ensure that their hiring practices fully support people from all of these backgrounds and don’t treat them in tokenistic ways.

Maddy is a Solicitor at Griffith University (In-House Legal).