Objects and Governance
WLWA is a not for profit unincorporated association, governed by our Constitution. The organisation is run by a committee of volunteers and we rely heavily on members to join our Working Groups to keep the organisation running.
Our objects are:
- to further understanding of and support for the legal rights of women;
- to achieve equality for women working in the law;
- to achieve equality for women seeking access to justice and the law;
- to identify, highlight and eradicate discrimination against women in the legal system and in the community generally;
- to work towards reform of the law and of the administration of the law, in order to achieve those objects above;
- to provide a professional and social network for women in the profession;
- to promote and maintain the highest possible standards of conduct by lawyers, in order to protect the interests of women, prevent discrimination against women and gain access for women to justice.
To achieve these objects, we have a number of ongoing projects and programs, including:
- CPD focussed on issues relating to women and the law and women in the profession;
- Mentoring for women lawyers and law students by women lawyers;
- A calendar of social events to bring women lawyers together;
- The production of submissions for law reform inquiries (for recent submissions see our projects);
- The development and promotion of best practice guidelines for workplaces to remove barriers to women’s achievement of seniority in the profession;
- Celebrating the achievements of women in the profession through the annual Honours Dinner and Woman Lawyer of the Year awards;
- Working with other organisations including the Law Society of WA on projects to promote equality for women in the law.
The 2020-2021 Committee as elected on 1 October 2020 (and co-opted therafter) is:
- President: Clare Thompson
- Vice President: Jenny Thornton
- Treasurer: Ann Spencer
- Secretary: Michaela Stanton-Cook
- Rebecca O’Brien
- Liza van der Westhuizen
- Isabel Inkster
- Leanne Allison
- Monica Choi
- Charmaine Tsang
- Sam Hemachandra
The Committee welcomes expressions of interest from members to join the various working groups.
The Working Groups of WLWA are the engine room where our projects take form. We have a number of working groups focussed on different areas and are continually seeking to add members. For more information visit our working groups page.
History of WLWA
WLWA was founded as an unincorporated association in 1982 by a group of women determined to change the position of women in the profession for the better.
The members of the inaugural WLWA committee were:
- Vivien Payne (1st President);
- Antoinette (Toni) Kennedy AO (1st Vice President);
- Diana Bryant SC (1st Secretary);
- Anne Payne, daughter of Vivien Payne (1st Treasurer);
- The Hon. Dr Christine Wheeler AO QC;
- Rhonda Griffiths;
- Kim Rooney; and
- Becky Vidler.
Several of the inaugural committee went on to receive judicial appointments. Antoinette Kennedy became a member of the District Court of WA and later Chief Judge of that court), Christine Wheeler became a member of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and Diana Bryant the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.
Since then WLWA has actively lobbied for and achieved a number of changes in the legal profession, such as the introduction of flexible work practices, the inclusion of sexual harassment as a breach of the professional conduct rules, consultations with the State Government and the Chief Justice concerning appointments of Judges and Senior Counsel and the introduction of a model briefing policy to promote equal opportunities in briefing practices.
WLWA remains a not for profit organisation that is funded by membership subscriptions and income from events.
Throughout its history WLWA has been supported by leading women in the profession, and has had the honour of several of those women acting as patrons to the organisation.
The Honourable Justice Janine Pritchard
The Honourable Justice Janine Pritchard became the Patron of WLWA in 2017.
Justice Pritchard began her career at the then Crown Solicitors Office (now State Solicitors Office) in 1991. She later served as Deputy President of the State Administrative Tribunal after her appointment to the District Court of Western Australia in June 2009, before her appointment to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1991.
Justice Pritchard has always shown a keen interest in the advancement of women and also has a Graduate Diploma in Women’s Studies from Murdoch University. WLWA is honoured by her patronage.
The Honourable Justice Carmel McLure
The Honourable Justice Carmel Mclure, former President of the Court of Appeal of Western Australia was the patron of WLWA until 2017, passing on the role upon her retirement from the Supreme Court.
Justice McLure is a role model for women in the profession in many respects. She is one of only a handful of women in Western Australia to take silk (1997), was appointed to the Supreme Court bench in 2001 and has the honour of being appointed one of the inaugural members of the Court of Appeal (2005). Justice McLure was appointed President of the Court of Appeal in 2009.
Justice McLure’s considerable achievements and her superb intellect, tenaciousness, reason and ability as a judge make her a role model for both men and women in the profession.
WLWA is very fortunate to benefit from Justice McLure’s commitment to the profession, and particularly to women lawyers, as our second Patron.
WLWA’s Patron Emeritus
The Honourable Antoinette Kennedy AO
The Hon. Antoinette (Toni) Kennedy AO, former Chief Judge of the District Court of Western Australia, is WLWA’s Patron Emeritus, and one of the founding members of WLWA.
The Hon. Toni Kennedy AO has been a leader and mentor in the legal profession throughout her distinguished career which included achieving many firsts, including being:
- The only woman from her year at high school to attend university;
- The only woman from her graduating class at UWA to gain articles of clerkship;
- The second woman to join the Independent Bar in Perth to practice as a barrister (following The Hon. Valerie French);
- The first woman judge appointed in WA, when appointed to the District Court in 1985 at the age of just 39; and
- The first woman appointed Chief Judge of the District Court in 2004.
Having hung up her judicial robes in 2010 to pursue other interests and ventures, we are delighted that The Hon. Toni Kennedy AO continues her involvement with WLWA as our Patron Emeritus.
In 2012, The Hon. Toni Kennedy AO was inducted into the WA Hall of Fame as one of the most outstanding women to have served as a member of WA’s legal profession. To link to Thomas Mackay’s biography of Toni Kennedy AO published in 2013, entitled Justice in Jeopardy: The Life Trials of Chief Judge Antoinette Kennedy, click HERE.