Evolving Perspectives: How LGBTQI+ Law Students and Recent Graduates Perceive and Experience the Western Australian Legal Profession

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Abstract

The legal profession is becoming increasingly diverse. Professional bodies now acknowledge the importance of embracing diversity, including in relation to LGBTQI+ people. However, some research indicates that Australian legal professionals do not consider the profession to be truly inclusive of LGBTQI+ people. In 2017, a Thomson Reuters survey of 653 Australian lawyers found that an overwhelming majority of LGBTQI+ respondents believed the profession as a whole must do more to improve diversity and inclusion for LGBTQI+ people. This finding was replicated in a Lawyers Weekly survey in 2020. That survey also found that ‘legal professionals believe that broader Australian society is performing better than the profession itself when it comes to LGBTQI+ inclusion’.

With this landscape in mind, there are real questions about how the next generation of lawyers – law students and recent graduates – perceive and experience LGBTQI+ diversity in the profession. We received a grant from the Law Society of Western Australia’s Public Purposes Trust which enabled us to explore these issues via an empirical study involving the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. This article presents those findings which are most relevant to the legal profession.

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