The Law Society of NSW, with support from Gilbert + Tobin, is marking the centenary of women in the law with a campaign and video that aims to celebrate the enormous contribution women have made to the legal profession and to inspire the next generation of women lawyers to continue this legacy.

In the video, Gilbert + Tobin partners Gina Cass-Gottlieb and Rachael Bassil each share their personal reflections on coming through the ranks as a woman lawyer and offer advice to those starting out. G+T Co-Founder and Managing Partner Danny Gilbert talks about how talent and capacity are not owned by gender.

The video is part of the First 100 Years inspirational history project. The project charts the journey of women in law since enactment of enabling legislation throughout Australia in the early 1900s.

The First 100 Years coincides with the centenary of the Women’s Legal Status Act 1918 (NSW), which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time in NSW. Laws were changing throughout Australia from the early 1900s onwards. Victoria was the first state to allow women to practice law in 1903, with other states following soon after.

The video includes excerpts from interviews with partners, young lawyers and law students, drawing in voices from across the spectrum of the legal profession.

“I feel incredibly proud of being a woman lawyer,” says G+T Corporate Advisory Partner Rachael Bassil. “I feel a great deal of responsibility as well to ensure that women who are coming through the ranks and progressing in their career have the opportunities that were available to me, and, for many of them, even more.”

Speaking about her career journey as a woman in law, G+T Competition, Consumer + Market Regulation Partner Gina Cass-Gottlieb says, “It’s much better than it was 30 years ago when I started as a legal practitioner. There were many occasions when I was the only woman at the table, and what I decided, quite early, was that I had to make a difference in every meeting.” When asked what she sees for the future of women in law, Gina says, “I would like to see the next 100 years based upon equality.”

For years here more than 50% of graduates coming into Gilbert + Tobin have been women, says Managing Partner Danny Gilbert. At G+T, 43% promoted partners on 1 July this year are women, and this brings female representation on the partnership to 35% and 59% for all lawyers.

Commenting on what’s ahead for women in law, UNSW law student Nayonika Bhattachary says, “This change, it has to start from somewhere. It can start slowly. But we are gunning for it harder and faster and we are refusing to take no for an answer.”

You can learn more about the key milestones for women lawyers in Australia by exploring the timeline on the First 100 Years website.

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