Over 400 members from across the legal sector joined us online to celebrate the new legal year at our 18th Legal Laneway Breakfast, our first to be held remotely.
While we couldn’t celebrate in person, the event was an opportunity to reflect on the past year and explore what’s in store for 2021, with contributions from Attorney-General of Victoria Jaclyn Symes MP, Victorian Legal Services Board CEO and Commissioner Fiona McLeay, Victoria Law Foundation’s Executive Director Lynne Haultain and special guest speaker Benjamin Law.
Attorney-General praises the adaptability of the legal sector
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes MP thanked the legal community for welcoming her to the role and offered praise for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘The past year has been an enormous test for all of us – as individuals, as a government and as a society… I want to acknowledge the willingness of the profession to adapt and respond to the undeniable challenges.’
The Attorney-General went on to outline her areas of focus in 2021, including working through court backlogs, safe access to courts, banning LGBTQI conversion practices, abolishing the public drunkenness offense, responding to family violence and the expansion of drug courts.
Legal Services Commissioner commends the sector’s resilience and encourages innovation and diversity
Legal Services Board CEO and Commissioner Fiona McLeay also praised the resilience of the legal sector in the past year and looked to the challenges ahead.
‘2020 showed that many things can be done when they must be done, and when client’s needs are prioritised. For example, we’ve seen virtual access to courts and other legal processes be implemented very swiftly, with benefits for clients, lawyers and the community.’
‘I hope that lawyers remember this, both to hold on to the good changes but also to tackle issues which are seen as intractable or capable only of incremental change – for example sexual harassment, under-representation of women in senior roles, and lack of diversity of the profession generally.’
Benjamin Law shines a light on the importance of diversity and inclusion
Special guest speaker, writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law, shared his personal experiences and insights into the positives in embracing diversity and inclusion in the profession. He emphasised the benefits this brings, not only to the workplace but to our society as a whole.
‘We have a unique position in Australia given our multiculturalism, given how diverse we are, given we have one in five Australians with a disability of some sort, to exploit those skills and take advantage of their perspectives, and why wouldn’t you when you have those opportunities?’
Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director shares our 2021 plans
Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director Lynne Haultain looked back on the year that was, and how the VLF and the sector adapted.
‘Like all of us I have been so impressed by what has been achieved under challenging conditions over the last 12 months. At the VLF we haven’t missed a beat in delivering on our work in research, education and grant-making.
Ms Haultain highlighted the support that the VLF provides the sector and the opportunities available including community legal grants, online plain language training and participation in Victorian Law Week.
‘We did some fancy footwork in 2020 to deliver programs online and this year we’re taking the good bits and we’re reshaping some of our activities so more people can participate.’
Supporting Igniting Change – donations open until mid-February 2021
In celebration of the first virtual Legal Laneway Breakfast, the Victoria Law Foundation is raising funds for Igniting Change.
Igniting Change is a deliberately tiny charity, passionate about sparking big, positive change for people doing it tough in our community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Igniting Change has been providing essential support to vulnerable community legal centre clients, prisoners re-entering the community, people on bridging visas and others without access to essential resources.
Your donation will make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people and will help Igniting Change support people and organisations who are working towards social change.
You can donate to Igniting change through our Pozible page until mid-February 2021.