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Smashing the glass ceiling – 21 women who have done it!


Michel Lawrence's group portrait of some of Australia's leading women lawyers, jurists, academics and legal administrators

A group portrait of 21 of Australia’s most prominent legal minds gathered for the Law Institute Journal’s special landmark issue: 21st century Leaders in Law. Photo by Michel Lawrence

Michel Lawrence has added an epic 21 woman group portrait to his folio of important portraits.

The Law Institute of Victoria commissioned Michel to undertake the large group portrait for the August 2017 edition of the Law Institute Journal featuring 21 women in a number of the most influential positions in Australian law. Included in the portrait were the Chief Justices of the High Court of Australia, Susan Kiefel; The Victorian Supreme Court, Marilyn Warren; The Family Court of Australia, Diana Bryant; and the Victorian Governor, Linda Dessau.

The President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, Judge Amanda Chambers said: “This wonderful photo celebrates the contribution of a range of remarkable women in the vital work of the judicial system.”

The commission was a major exercise in logistics, managing the extraordinary timetables of Chief Justices, CEO’s, Law School deans, the most senior solicitors and barristers and organisation heads.

The 21 were photographed in groups and then put together in post-production to achieve a seamless single portrait of the 21 women: “It was a major production with hair and makeup, a stylist, technical assistants – it was more like a film shoot than a single stills shoot'” said Michel.

Fiona McLeod, President of the Law Council of Australia photographed by Michel Lawrence.
The President of the Law Council of Australia – Fiona McLeod SC – got into the swing of the mega shoot for Australia’s leading women lawyers and legal administrators. Photograph by Michel Lawrence for the Law Institute.

The Managing Editor of the Law Institute Journal Carolyn Ford managed the project for the Law Institute and Bryan Gracey, prinicpal of CPL Digital managed all technical aspects of the shoot and oversaw the extensive digital manipulation during the post production phase with a team of three specialist retouchers.

“Everyone who was invited to participate agreed and everyone seemed to really enjoy the experience. It was very much a fun event and perhaps not quite what you might expect of the most senior judges in Australia as well as Victoria’s Governor Linda Dessau – a former judge herself.” said Michel.

Photographer Michel Lawrence prepares to photograph Marilyn Warren, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for her individual portrait which is featured in a 20 page section of the Law Institute Journal.

The portrait project was the brainchild of the Law Institute CEO, Nerida Wallace, who wanted to record an important moment in time where so many women are in positions of the the utmost importance to Australia’s legal system.: “We took the photograph to acknowledge and celebrate how far women have come since Flos Greig…” said Nerida. (Flos Greig was the first woman admitted in 1897 to the University of Melbourne Law School – the first woman in Australia to enrol to study law. A statute called the Legal Profession Practice Act 1903 (Vic) had to be passed to ensure that Flos Greig could practise as a lawyer.)

“Now Susan Kiefel has been appointed the first woman Chief Justice of the High Court , while both Diana Bryant and Marilyn Warren are nearing retirement. In 2017 women hold many of the most senior positions in law in Australia and women graduate in higher numbers from Victorian law schools than men.” said Nerida.

Nerida said she was delighted with the end result: “Michel did a fabulous job” she said.

The commission also included 21 individual portraits of the participants in the historic shoot. Above, Nerida Wallace, CEO of the LIV.

Below Louise Anderson, CEO of the Victorian Supreme Court (top) and Marlo Baragwanath, the first woman appointed the Victorian Government Solicitor.

For more, The Law Institute of Victoria: https://www.liv.asn.au

The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/historic-photo-signifies-rise-of-women-to-the-most-powerful-positions-in-law-20170731-gxm89q.html

The Age/1 August 2017