Adjunct Law Professor Dr Bridget Cullen has been recognised for her work in supporting women in the legal profession.
Dr Cullen, an appointed member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), received the 2019 Leneen Forde AC Woman Lawyer of the Year from the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland (WLAQ) last month.
Dr Cullen’s acceptance speech focused on creating a supportive, guilt-free culture which encourages balancing parenting and career development in legal workplaces.
“In singing the praises of other women, we build – one voice at a time – a choir that everyone hears,” said Bridget.
Barriers to the success of young women lawyers
Dr Cullen said junior female lawyers often need help but are afraid to ask for assistance.
“While we work at the challenges of systemic change it is important to support women in an individual capacity,” said Bridget.
Dr Cullen gave a personal example from her early career working as a single mother for the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“I had three children under the age of ten and a disabled child who needed 24/7 care. I was sent to Townsville for a week, the logistics on the home front was difficult and expensive, I didn’t ask for special treatment and just made it work.”
Things quickly turned around after Dr Cullen mentioned in passing that the cost of her childcare for that week had cost her in excess of two thousand dollars.
“Magistrate Kerrie O’Callaghan then arranged with my other colleagues to put me on local circuits that did not require extensive time away from home. I will never forget that,” she said.
Senior lawyers need to lead by example
Dr Cullen also encouraged senior women lawyers to visibly model embracing parental responsibilities at work.
“Don’t hide the juggle, parental responsibilities are a fact of life, our girls are frequently in my office at the AAT after school,” she said.
“I’m not apologetic about this and when someone with my responsibility does this, it makes it easier for younger women to do the same.”
Dr Bridget Cullen has a long association with the Griffith Law School teaching law students the finer points of Queensland’s evidence law.