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From the CEO: A beneficial partnership

Every Issue

Cite as: (2004) 78(4) LIJ, p.6

The Law Institute has been listening, and responding, to its members’ needs.

Former High Court Justice Mary Gaudron gave the keynote address at the Dame Roma Mitchell Luncheon early last month. Her speech highlighted the importance of the rule of law, particularly in the context of the threats of international terrorism and the treatment of asylum seekers.

In her address, Ms Gaudron said that there would be no rule of law and no guarantee that human rights would be protected without an independent and fearless legal profession.

It was an inspiring speech and reminded those in attendance of the reasons they became lawyers.

It also echoed what the Law Institute strives to do on behalf of its more than 10,000 members.

The Institute, as a professional association, organises such events (the luncheon was jointly hosted by Victorian Women Lawyers and the Institute) so the important underlying foundations of the legal system are discussed and debated in the context of current events.

But publicly raising and discussing such issues is only part of the focus of a professional association.

The Institute has made a determined effort over the past two years to meet as many members of the Victorian legal profession as possible, listen to what they have to say, and then act.

This has been achieved by the Institute Council holding its meetings in suburban and regional locations, and the regular attendance by myself and Council members at law association meetings and other legal events.

What the Institute has learned from these consultations is that lawyers look to their professional association to add to the experience of being in the law.

They expect their professional association to provide vital practice information in an efficient and timely manner.

They expect to be provided with networking opportunities, career and professional advancement.

They want their professional association to represent the interests of the legal profession and the justice system to government and the public.

During the past year, the Institute Council and staff have been working hard to ensure it meets these needs.

I believe this work has led to a highly responsive Institute that now offers the highest ever standard of member services.

For example, the Institute’s professional development department provides a comprehensive range of educational opportunities. In recent times, the department has responded to the introduction of mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) by developing a suite of programs that meets the needs of all practitioners. And with the increased use of video and telephone-conference facilities, these educational seminars are no longer confined to the central business district.

The Institute’s other information services, such as the LIJ, Section newsletters and alerts and Friday Facts, all provide first-rate and timely practice information.

The Institute library is another invaluable practice tool. A training librarian is available to attend firms to assist in teaching lawyers the techniques of legal research, a service widely used by the profession.

The Institute continuously responds to particular changes in the law that will have an impact on the profession. An example of this is the recent guide to assist practitioners in responding to the financial services reform legislation.

In addition, the Institute spends significant resources and energy on ensuring that the interests of the profession are conveyed to government and the public on important law reform issues and issues affecting the justice system. In the past year many hundreds of submissions were made to government in response to particular legislation.

Whether it is serving on committees, attending public interest events, participating in suburban and country law associations or relaxing at social events, the Institute provides a diverse range of networking opportunities for its members.

The introduction this year of the Regional and Suburban Young Lawyers’ Network, the Later Lawyers Network and the Government Lawyers Committee are further instances of the Institute’s response to the changing make-up of the profession and the demands of the membership.

The Institute also understands that financial considerations are extremely important in deciding whether or not to join a professional association.

As a result of strong financial performance we have been able to reduce the membership fee to $315 plus GST for membership of your professional association. Given the range of benefits and opportunities that it provides, it is excellent value.

When you receive your membership renewal together with your practising certificate renewal application, I urge you to consider carefully the considerable benefits of membership and participation in your professional association. As with any organisation, the greater the participation the better it is able to meet its members’ needs.

The Institute looks forward to fulfilling its crucial role for and within the legal profession and, in turn, receiving the support of the profession in helping to carry out that role.

John Cain


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