On 7 February, sunny skies and more than 550 members of the legal fraternity opened the 2018 legal year at Victoria Law Foundation’s annual Legal Laneway Breakfast in Hardware Lane. Those in attendance heard the inside word on Victoria Law Foundation’s future directions, details of new VLSB requirements for principals of law practices, and the Attorney-General’s response to recent discussions around elected judges.
Lynne Haultain, Victoria Law Foundation’s Executive Director, outlined the Foundation’s new direction in her welcoming remarks.
'With legislation in the pipeline we will build a research and analysis function to support better service delivery and policy in the sector.' She said the new venture is largely about better understanding Victorians’ legal needs and adapting to changing demographics and technologies.
Ms Haultain said the Foundation will continue its work in grants and education, including Law Week, the schools program, the annual oration and information workshops on improving legal communication
Legal Services Commissioner and CEO for the Legal Services Board Fiona McLeay announced a new approach to practising certificates for senior lawyers.
From 1 January 2019, people who want to become principals of law practices will need to demonstrate to the Board that they have the skills and experience necessary to run the business side of their legal practice, as well as the legal side.
Ms McLeay said one way that lawyers could satisfy the Board that they are properly prepared to run a legal practice is to complete a practice management course which meets the Board’s guidelines. These courses will be available through the College of Law, Leo Cussen Centre for Law and the Law Institute of Victoria in the next three months.
The policy will only affect those lawyers who want to change to a principal practising certificate from 1 January next year. It doesn’t apply to existing principals who are renewing their principal practising certificates.
In his address Attorney-General the Honourable Martin Pakula MP outlined the Government’s legal initiatives over the last three years including the Access to Justice Report, the Melbourne Drug Court, IT upgrades to the Magistrates’ and Children’s Court as well as the introduction of a statutory duty of care on organisations to prevent the physical or sexual abuse of children.
He also responded strongly to recent comments on the idea of elected judges. 'Our system relies on and is strengthened by the fact that we have an independent judiciary, an independent justice system, and may that always be the case.'
On a lighter note and with reference to the election year, he said, 'I don’t know that having more people focussed on their election prospects is going to be a positive for the administration of justice.'
It was the 15th Legal Laneway Breakfast, bringing together the diversity of the profession, including people from legal firms of sizes and specialties, solo solicitors, in-house counsel, barristers, judges and magistrates and many others involved in the justice system.
Guest speakers were Attorney-General the Honourable Martin Pakula MP, Legal Services Commissioner and CEO of the Legal Services Board Fiona McLeay, Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director Lynne Haultain, and the Honourable Hartley Hansen QC, chair of the Foundation’s board.