On 9 October 2017, the AALA and Women Barristers Association hosted the diversity event "Diversity- my experiences in the law" which included a unique opportunity to hear from Tuan Van Le (Executive Direction, Dispute Resolution of the ATO), Rochelle Castro (Principal at RC & Co Lawyers) and Judicial Registrar Tran of the County Court to provide their insights and experiences of working in the law.
‘Oh he’s one of those Asian lawyers’
‘Aren’t you going to be intimidated? You’re so small!’
It is hard to believe these comments are familiar to the esteemed lawyers that joined us to share their experiences and insight about diversity in the law as part of Herbert Smith Freehills’s Diversity Week.
Rochelle recalled the bewildered expression on her client’s face when she introduced herself as the principal solicitor at her firm. Registrar Tran highlighted (with amusement) the erroneous use of male pronouns in correspondence addressed to her and emphasised that gender discrimination is not always obvious.
When asked for tips for younger professionals in practice areas or in roles with a lack of diversity, Tuan answered ‘whatever you do, do it well’. His response may be a return to the Asian stereotype of ‘working hard’ but as Judicial Registrar Tran highlighted, such attribute should be championed, regardless of its ethnic roots.
Our panelists demonstrated that achieving diversity at senior levels is possible and in fact, even favorable. It was clear that our panelists had to overcome gender and ethnic barriers to reach their position. For young practitioners, we are not only grateful for their perseverance to stand for who they are but we were also inspired by their passion and strive for diversity in the legal profession.