Bird Bird Diversity Inclusion story 1

"I’m proud to work at a place that is genuinely committed to making change possible", Jonathon Ellis

I joined Bird & Bird in April 2022 as a partner in the Sydney office. I have been a commercial, disputes and regulatory lawyer since 2004.

"I’m married to my husband, Russell, who is an obstetrician-gynaecologist, and we got married in November 2019. We have been together for much longer, but because marriage equality only came to Australia in 2017, we didn’t get married until later than we perhaps would have liked to.

My personal and professional lives are closely entwined – many of my clients and colleagues (from throughout my career) are dear friends, and I can’t imagine having to keep them separate from each other.

At a personal level, for me, the ability to bring my full self to work and to talk about my husband in an open way is essential to my wellbeing, and I think that’s true for so many others. 

Bird & Bird is a really inclusive space - everywhere that I have visited I’ve felt welcomed, comfortable and enabled to bring my full self to work. There are also really great initiatives like the employee networks, such as StandOUT and Embrace to get involved in, whether as an ally or member of the community.

One of the things that has really struck me is that your colleagues will speak up and step up for you too, and this is something that is ingrained in our culture at Bird & Bird. There are so many people you can turn to for help, whether its partners, your peers, members of an employee network like Embrace or StandOUT or your HR team. They are all here to support with any issues if they do arise, so you shouldn’t hesitate to raise them.

I understand that feeling when you’re at the start of your career journey - you’re not confident and unsure how people will react to things. The amount of energy I wasted in the early stages of my career hiding the fact that I was gay meant that I wasn’t delivering the best I could, both on a personal and professional level, because I was diverting all this energy to hiding who I was. 

I now take a much more ‘just do it’ approach, which I guess came with seniority and a little more life experience. Now I just talk about the things that are important to me, but I understand not everyone can do that or feels ready to, and there’s no right way for individuals to go about this. 

This is why it is so important to me that we have such a welcoming environment here with so many visible and loud allies, so that people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, feel supported and know that they can bring their fullest self to work.

I’m passionate about promoting diversity in all aspects of our business. It is not only a business-critical issue, but it also has a broader importance to the communities in which we operate. Within our firm, we need to reflect the communities in which we work in and work with, as well as create opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds, who otherwise historically may not have had the same pathways to success in the law.

The legal profession generally does still have a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusivity, and I believe it is so important that we as a firm do whatever we can to challenge that dynamic. Bird & Bird is a place where everyone can be themselves and thrive, and I’m proud to work at a place that is genuinely committed to making change possible."

Jonathon Ellis, Australia, Partner