I attended the signing of the Victorian Bar Roll for my brother last week, and the Chair of the Bar Council Mark Moshinsky SC made some interesting points in his speech;
The first woman to sign the Victorian Bar Roll was the late Joan Rosanove QC. She signed as number 207 on the 10th of September 1923. Of the 47 Readers signing the Roll this evening, just under half are women – 21 of the 47. They will join the 425 women on the practising list, bringing the total to 446 – a little under a quarter of the total practising list of 1,849.
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Joan Rosanove QC was quite a character, she is reported to have said
To be a lawyer, you must have the stamina of an ox, and a hide like a rhinoceros, and when they kick you in the teeth, you must look as if you hadn’t noticed it.”
Now Marilyn Warren AC QC is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Diana Bryant QC is the Chief Justice of the Family Court, there are 3 women on the High Court Bench (Susan Crennan AC QC was called from the Victorian Bar) and Pamela Tate QC
is was the Victorian Solicitor General, now a Justice of the Court of Appeal; there are many more I should mention.
In an earlier post I recalled the story of how when the women of the Victorian Bar sought to establish a Women Barristers’ Association they were met with the comment that maybe there should be a “Male Barristers’ Association”. But isn’t that what the Bar already is?
As an aside, there is a nice part of the Vic Bar website that explores the history (herstory?) of women at the Victorian Bar, click here.
So the question is this, with nearly a quarter of Victorian Bar being lady lawyers, is the Bar a good place for a woman? Are you a female barrister? Do you enjoy the work? Can you control your time and workload in an appropriate manner? Are you briefed on a wide range of matters by a wide range of solicitors? Why did you join the Bar? Let us know your thoughts.