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CLAC & SLAC: Ballarat & District Law Association

Every Issue

Cite as: April 2014 88 (04) LIJ, p.87

Last year was a big year for the Ballarat & District Law Association (BDLA). I assumed presidency in July 2013 after the torch was passed from my friend and colleague, Phillip Lynch, who had served for almost a decade on the executive and as president since 2011.

Some new faces joined the executive committee in 2013 and I am confident the current executive has the youngest average age in the 150-plus year history of the BDLA.

Some highlights from 2013 included April’s farewell to our revered regional co-ordinating Magistrate Peter Couzens. His promotion to the County Court and presidency of the Children’s Court, although sad for us, was a deserved and appropriate appointment for Victoria, and his well-attended farewell was celebrated accordingly.

In May, the Court of Appeal came to town for the first time in roughly a decade and we held a dinner in their honour. Those present were entertained and enlightened by the wit and wisdom of our guests of honour.

In June, we started our first Friday of the month networking event. This event is an opportunity for members to get together, get to know one another and build professional relationships. It’s also an opportunity to invite members of other associated professions. It has proven to be a successful innovation with court staff, police members and a cross-section of other professionals attending. It resumed in February 2014 and will be a regular fixture on the events calendar this year.

In October, we celebrated Regional and Suburban Young Lawyer’s Week with dinner and a comedy debate. A panel of local lawyers took on our local police to debate the topic “Crime doesn’t pay . . . or does it?”. The coppers took out the inaugural trophy and the lawyers are keen for a re-match planned for later this year.

In December, we hosted our first annual Christmas Party continuing a fine tradition established by our local court staff. We saw out 2013 with a bang and the Christmas party is back on the calendar for 2014.

In March, we welcomed our new magistrate Cynthia Toose to Ballarat and we are looking forward to a number of exciting upcoming events in 2014.

The BDLA executive meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Members are always welcome to attend and we are looking forward to a visit later in the year from the LIV Council. At the recent Conference of Council, LIV president Geoff Bowyer, pledged his support to country law associations and the BDLA gratefully accepts that offer.

One of the great things about our profession is its collegiate and fraternal nature. Lawyers have long appreciated knowledge is a precious commodity to be shared and passed on. The primary aim of the BDLA is to preserve and promote this wonderful tradition in our region. You may also be pleased to know that most of our events involve beer, wine and a variety of culinary delights (or, at the very least, sausage rolls and deep-fried dim sims).

If you practice in Ballarat or nearby, you should be a member of our association. If you’re not on our mailing list or to find out more about our upcoming events, contact me at and I will make sure you are added to our mailing list.

2014 is shaping up to be another big and exciting year for the BDLA. We want you to be part of it.

ROB GRAY is president of the Ballarat & District Law Association and senior associate and accredited family law specialist, Heinz & Partners Lawyers.


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