Launch of Pilot Project Report: ‘Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Best Practice’

A report, titled Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Best Practice, on the findings of a pilot research project undertaken by Professor Nan Seuffert, Director of the Legal Intersections Research Centre (LIRC), and Dr Trish Mundy, LIRC member and Senior Lecturer within the School of Law at the University of Wollongong (UOW), and conducted in partnership with the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales (WLANSW), was launched recently in Sydney.

The pilot project investigates current best practices operating within national law firms in Australia that support women lawyers in their advancement to partnership and other leadership positions. Launched by the Honourable Acting Justice Jane Matthews AO, patron of WLANSW and Visiting Professorial Fellow in the LIRC, the project responds to the significant under-representation of women in senior positions within the legal profession, and their higher rates of attrition.

This study reveals that four of the top-achieving national law firms in Australia on gender equity criteria are engaging with many of the best practice initiatives for diversity and inclusion recommended by the current national and international research and scholarship. These best practice initiatives include: a commitment by leaders at the top of the firms; a focus on inclusive cultures; the introduction of retention strategies; professional development opportunities; mentoring; affinity groups; flexible work policies; engagement in evaluation and self-assessment processes; and, in some instances, providing specialised administrative support and the implementation of targets. What is apparent, however, is that the current best practices have yet to achieve significant advancement of women, or to break through the glass ceilings that continue to operate for women in large Australian law firms.

There are plans for the findings of this study to feed into a larger collaborative project, which will respond to calls for research done in partnership between academics, professional bodies and law firms. It will focus on producing new models for partnership that value all competencies necessary for law firm success in the 21st century, for reaching diversity goals, equity and justice, and for shifting firm culture consistent with these changes.

 A full copy of the report can be found here





EVENT: ‘Posting’ the law: Emerging Narratives of Law and Justice within Social Media discourses

Presented by: Cassandra Sharp, Jason Bainbridge, Kieran Tranter, Kate Tubridy, Yvonne Apolo, Olivia Todhunter

Date:               15 September 2017
Time:              12.30 to 5.00pm
Location:         Building 67, Room 202 (Moot Court)

There is little doubt that new digital technologies have performed a dynamic function in metamorphosing culture, both positively and negatively. Public engagement within social media regarding issues of legality, political discourse, and identity serves to shape, (re)interpret and transform cultural expectations of law. This symposium seeks to invite specific reflection on the performance of social media in its role of transmuting or challenging understandings of law. The symposium is designed to particularly explore the work of narrative and/or discourse in the interaction of law and social media in contemporary communication. It will provide a frame within which law and social media scholarship can investigate themes such as: the role of discourse in transforming, mirroring, creating, and sustaining legal consciousness; the way law is framed (or questioned and critiqued) within social media narratives; and the extent to which meaning-making about issues of justice is complicated by social media platforms.

We warmly invite you to attend this event and to participate in discussions arising out the presentations.

Registration is free but places are limited.  Please register your intention to attend.

EVENT: Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Current Best Practice and Future Directions

Presented by Professor Nan Seuffert and Dr Trish Mundy

 Date:         16 August 2017

Time:         1:30 – 2:30 pm

Location:   Building 67, Room 202 (Moot Court), University of Wollongong

This seminar discusses our forthcoming article in the International Journal of the Legal Profession and the findings of a collaborative pilot research project in partnership with the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales (WLANSW). The article argues that a focus on synergies between the competencies and diversities movements, provide the greatest potential for reshaping law firm practice and partnership models to respond to issues of advancement, attrition and lack of re-engagement of women in large law firms. The pilot project investigates current best practices for diversity and inclusion in large Australian law firms, drawing on data produced by the WLANSW to identify the leading firms, and interviews conducted at those firms as part of the pilot project.

 For further information and to RSVP.


LIRC in Mexico

Great food, provocative art and captivating conversations about law and society came together recently in vibrant and fascinating Mexico City.

Between 20 – 23 June some of LIRC’s members attended the Law & Society Association’s annual conference Walls, Borders, and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter-Connected World, which was held in Mexico City. LIRC hosted a round table titled Justice and the Art of the Wall: The Politics of Mexican Muralism, which was presented by Luis Gomez Romero (LIRC/UOW), Madeleine Kelly (UOW) and Desmond Manderson (ANU). Mural painting has been central to the visual representation of both Mexican modernity and the restructuring of Mexican society from the 1920s onwards. The first great masters of the mural movement – “los tres grandes” Siqueiros, Orozco and Rivera – created art that was meant to be seen by everyone in public places. The mural thus appeared as a form of public art aimed at structuring and criticising ideological discourses in the process of Mexican institutional consolidation after a devastating revolutionary war (1910-1920).

The round table delved into the nexus between discourses around and about justice and the mural art form – as developed in the building of the Mexican Supreme Court-, both in Mexico and beyond Mexican borders. The round table discussed how the meanings of the murals in the Supreme Court both shape and are shaped by the utopian promise of justice and the Janus-faced realities of crisis and judgement.

LIRC members Professor Nan Seuffert (Director) and Dr Niamh Kinchin presented as part of a panel on Narratives of Mobility and Protection. Professor Sueffert presented a paper titled Queering International Law at its Inception: Excavating Narratives of Hospitality and Sodomy in the Right to Travel and Dr Kinchin presented a paper on Administrative Justice and ‘the Right to be Heard’ in UNHCR Refugee Status Determination. LIRC member and HDR candidate Rajendra Ghimire presented a paper titled Improving Access to Justice: An Analytical Study of Traditional Justice (a Case Study of Nepal). LIRC Visiting Professorial Fellow Professor Elena Marchetti (Griffith University) presented a paper on Building Bridges between Australian Indigenous Partner Violence Offenders and their Victims by Using Culture in Sentencing Court Hearings. Thank you to the Law and Society Association for a fantastic conference.

LIRC is pleased to announce that it will host the 2018 Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ) Conference at the University of Wollongong in December 2018. The conference will be co-hosted by SLSA (UK) and CLSA (Canada).  More information to come!


Law Literature and Humanities Association Conference – Public Art, Public Law?

Our 2016 LIRC Visiting PhD Scholar, Laura Petersen, is one of the organisers of the 2017 Law Literature and Humanities Association Conference, to be held in Melbourne in December. She is also organising a stream called Public Art Public Law, with Dr Olivia Barr. They welcome scholars from diverse disciplines such as public art, jurisprudence, art history, visual cultures, history, Indigenous studies, geography, memory studies, cultural studies, architecture, criminology and any other interested areas. Proposals for panels or individual proposals or expressions of other ideas need to be submitted by 30 June 2017. For more details click image of flyer below:

Supporting the Unification of Refugee Families (SURF)


LAUNCH OF SURF – Supporting the Unification of Refugee Families

Please click to enlarge view

Supporting the Unification of Refugee Families (SURF) is a collaborative project between UOW’s Legal Intersection Research Centre, Wollongong City Council and Illawarra Multicultural Services that links law students with refugee families to provide volunteer assistance with family reunification.

The launch of this wonderful project will be held on 6pm, Friday 12 May at the Hope Theatre. The launch will include a screening of the acclaimed documentary ‘Constance on the Edge’, followed by a Q&A with a panel of speakers.

Please click here to RSVP by WEDNESDAY 9 MAY 2017


Law, Crisis and the Cultural Imaginary in Weimar Germany (1919-1933) – LIRC Seminar Presented by Dr Stephen Howe

12.30-1.30pm, 12 April 2017 Building 67, Room 202, University of Wollongong

The image of Weimar Germany as a ‘crisis culture’ has long-since taken root in the popular historical consciousness. Emerging from the crucible of war and revolution, and pockmarked by erratic patterns of cultural experimentation, economic turmoil and political flux, Germany’s first republic is frequently styled as a single prolonged moment of trauma and transformation that enveloped social life. The perception of crisis was widespread among contemporaries and found resonance not only in cultural media but also across the disciplines of economics, history, philosophy and medicine. In law, too, it was similarly pervasive – while socialists and liberals denounced the politically-driven practices of the courts, giving rise to what was publicly referred to as a ‘crisis of confidence in the judiciary’, legal theorists debated the ‘crisis of law’ that attended the radical transition to constitutional-social democracy.

Scholarship on such issues has to date tended to privilege disputes between legal luminaries and high- profile politicians, or to focus on discussions in the journalistic press. Yet the cultural texts of the era – literature, theatre, art, film – are also remarkable for the wealth and variety of their depictions of legal concerns. More than mere representations, these texts invite analysis as a form of popular jurisprudence that fosters new opportunities for productive negotiations of the contemporary crisis of law and justice outside the parameters of legal procedure, politics and academia. The aim here will be to survey the contours of this cultural discourse via analysis of a series of exemplary narratives that not only put the institutions of law and order in Germany on trial, but which also circulate back into the popular imagination as a point of reference for thinking about the stakes of law and crime.

Dr Steven Howe is a Senior Teaching & Research Fellow at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow with the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

For more information and to register your attendance, please visit the LIRC website.

W(h)ither Feminist Legal Theory? A Retrospective – LIRC Seminar Presented by Susan Boyd

12.30-1.30pm, 15 March 2017, Building 67, Room 202, University of Wollongong

This paper reviews shifts and trends in feminist legal theory since the 1980s and is based on a work in progress. By 1990, the field of feminist legal theory was well established but it also was undergoing numerous challenges. An appreciation of the complexity of women’s inequality and the intersecting nature of oppressions, along with the influence of poststructuralism, prompted the trend away from universalizing theories focused on gender and law or “the state”. Less publication space is now devoted to works exploring more abstract questions about feminist legal theory per se than was true in the 1980s and the 1990s, as grand theories about the sources of, and remedies for, women’s oppression were challenged, fragmented, and sometimes dismantled. That said, the insights of feminist legal theory continue to be relevant, even if less space is devoted to overarching questions such as the roots of inequality. Moreover, feminist legal thought often takes the form of praxis or “applied” theory because it uses theory to critically assess practical areas of activity or law reform. Even as feminists have subjected new fields of law to critical analysis, many topics of long standing interest to feminism continue to sustain interest. This retrospective offers examples from the author’s own work as well as the journal Social & Legal Studies and focuses on themes such as Strategic Engagement, Intersectionality, Women or Gender, and Choice and Constraint. Recent calls for a return to a focus on socialist or materialist feminism and the nature of the state are assessed.

Susan B. Boyd is Professor Emerita at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is also a Visiting Professorial Fellow with the Legal Intersections Research Centre at the University of Wollongong.

For more information and to register your attendance, please visit the LIRC website or see the Events page.


‘Lives Lived with Law’ Law Text Culture Volume 20 (2016) – and Call for Proposals

‘Lives Lived with Law’ Law Text Culture Volume 20 (2016) 

Edited by Ann Genovese, Shaun McVeigh and Peter D. Rush University of Melbourne Law School

The 2016 edition of Law Text Culture, ‘Lives Lived with Law’, edited by Ann Genovese, law-text-culture-lircShaun McVeigh and Peter D. Rush  of the University of Melbourne Law School has just been published. Volume 20 grew out of a symposium and workshop held by the Legal Biographies Project of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne Law School in December 2014.

Legal Biographies, as constituted through this project, considers the way in which the legal self is shaped, and how, in turn, that self becomes responsible for law. The editors have coined a new term – jurisography – to  comprehend an expanded jurisprudence that is shaped beyond the limits of ‘jurist, judge and jurisprudent’ to also consider the ‘fragmentary sources and forms of jurisprudence that people live with everyday’ that constitutes this form of biography. The jurisographer engages in the ‘studied acknowledgment of the relational duties of the writer and the jurisprudent, and the experiences of a life lived with law’ (p2).

How that acknowledgement is shaped opens the collection, which begins with a conversation between John Docker and Ann Genovese ‘Places Lived: An Ego-Histoiriste and Jurisographer Discuss Living with Law in Sydney’, as a preface for the concerns of place and the position of the scholar in Australia. John Docker, the Australian literary scholar and historian, and friend and mentor of Ann Genovese, in ‘Of Pearls and Coral: Jurisography and Ego History’ engages with the productive capacity of jurisography to expose and critically engage with law. Ann Genovese, in ‘About Libraries: A Jurisographer’s Notes on Lives Lived with Law (in London and Sydney)’, reveals something of the scholar, and her exploration of the modes of training that shaped her work as a feminist jurisographer, and the telling of lost lives and stories in law through her engagement with Mr and Mrs MacKenzie, and their role in the formation of a proto-feminist legality in Australia.

Kim Rubenstein’s article  ‘Alive in the Telling’: Trailblazing Women Lawyers’ Lives, Lived with Law’ continues the thematic of self and the examination of a lives lived in law, through her account of the extraordinary legal life of her much older cousin, Peg Lusink, the daughter of the more celebrated Joan Rosanove. Deploying the dramaturgical device of the ‘nodal knot’ Marett Leiboff engages with lives in law past to animate concerns about law now, in ‘Theatricalising Law in Three, 1929-1939 (Brisbane)’. Julie Evans explores lawful relations associated with indigenous people in Victoria, theatricalised through ‘The Ethos of the Historian: The Minutes of Evidence Project, and Lives Lived with Law on the Ground’. Indigenous scholar C.F. Black  considers the harms done to indigenous lives in law based on the continuation of past injustice, drawing on the land   in ‘On Lives Lived With Law: Land as Healer’. Shaun McVeigh examines the concept of office and the role and responsibility of the jurisprudent, through an encounter and response towards an exhibition of indigenous objects at the British Museum in ‘Jurisprudent of London: Arts of Association’. Peter Rush concludes the collection with his photo-essay ‘the forensic precinct – notes on the public address of law’ that considers the ways in which lives lived with law are enfolded in the courts and the city, through a practice of visual ethnography. This visual curating of a jurisprudence of place and self in law is also captured in Peter Rush’s photograph  that forms the cover image of Volume 20.

The next issue of Law Text Culture Volume 21 (2017) is being edited by Professor Chris Tomlins from UC Berkeley Law. Professor Tomlins is a renowned legal historian. The issue is entitled“Law As …”:  Minor Jurisprudence in Historical Key’ and will be available late in 2017 or early in 2018.

Call for proposals for Volume 22 (2018)

Law Text Culture is seeking proposals from potential guest editors to edit Volume 22 of the journal, to be published in 2018. Details about the application process can be found on the journal site, as well as information for guest editors.

Next Deadline for Proposals

30 May 2017 for Volume 22 (due for publication in 2018)

Information about the journal and its scope and purpose can be found here, along with links to current and past issue.

Marett Leiboff, Managing Editor Law Text Culture

Member, Legal Intersections Research Centre

March 2017

ABC Interview with Dr Luis Gomez Romero on US Immigration Policies regarding Mexico

American and Mexican researchers have proven that Mexican immigration to the United States (US) has been hitting a historical low since 2009. Since the last years of Barack Obama’s administration, more Mexicans have been leaving the US than coming into it. Donald Trump, the President of the US, has nonetheless implemented aggressive immigration policies that could cause great harm to both Mexico and the United States. Dr Luis Gómez Romero commented on these issues on Thursday on ABC’s ‘The World’:

If you are interested in learning more about the complexities around the migratory realities and policies at the Mexican-American border, you may find the following op-ed articles by Dr Gómez Romero quite instructive:

How the US is outsourcing border enforcement to Mexico

Just who are the millions of ‘bad hombres’ slated for US deportation?

The wall and the beast: Trump’s triumph from the Mexican side of the border