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LIV update

Every Issue

LIV update

LIV Council

Representat ives of the Country and Suburban Law Associations attended the 19 June LIV Council meeting.

LIV Professional Development general manager Julie McCormack provided an update on her department’s activities. Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) marketing off icer Katie Elder presented on the key issues relating to students from rural areas. New Councillor Michael Holcroft gave his maiden speech.

Country and Suburban Law Associations

Eleven representatives from the Country and Suburban Law Associations attended the Council meeting.

They were: Bendigo Law Association president Megan Aumair, Geelong Law Association president Alicia Carroll, Goulburn Valley Law Association president Anthony Coote, North East Law Association president Karen Keegan, Northern Suburbs Law Association president Carolyn Kovac, North West Solicitors Association representative Michael McNamara, Western Suburbs Law Association president Linda Paric, Southern Solicitors Group president Celina Roth, Eastern Suburbs Law Association president Ron Rowe, Mornington Peninsula Solicitors Association president Stephen Shipp and Young Lawyers’ representative Leila Taefi.

Country and Suburban Law Association representatives had attended the annual conference of Council earlier this year, where a number of issues had been raised. LIV CEO Mike Brett Young noted that many of the issues had already been addressed, while others should be finalised by the 2 August Conference of Country and Suburban Law Associations.

CPD

Ms McCormack provided an update on activ ities relevant to the law associations. These included online modules to assist with meeting CPD requirements; podcasting; and the upcoming CPD Regional Compliance Tour.

Ms McCormack also explained the new webinar product which allows people in areas outside the CBD to take part in LIV seminars in real time.

Rural retention

Ms Elder gave a presentation on the key issues relating to students from rural areas. They were: the Relative Funding Model, the introduction of differential HECS, the current funding arrangements of practical legal training, and the introduction of upfront fees for Australian students.

LIV vice-president Danny Barlow, who attended a Rural Professions Summit conducted by the University of New England in May, reported on the summit. About 40 people from around Australia, representing a number of professions, were at the summit which discussed the need to retain professionals in regional areas. Mr Barlow said it was an issue for all professionals, not just lawyers. He said the Law Council of Australia would take up the issue.

Michael Holcroft

Maiden speech

Gallagher Holcroft Lawyers partner Michael Holcroft has been appointed to fill a casual vacancy for the period up to 31 December this year. The Mildura lawyer made his maiden speech at the June Council meeting. The following is an edited version of his speech.

I thank Council for affording me the opportunity of representing the lawyers of my region and of this state by accepting my nominat ion to f ill the casual vacancy occasioned by the appointment of John Bentley as a magistrate.

In 2005 and 2006 I served as president of the North West Law Association and during that time I attended a number of Council meetings at Council’s invitation.

I was impressed with the quality of personnel both on Council and among its staff and was impressed with the work being undertaken.

I was heartened by seeing the continuing work and progress of Council in many of my areas of interest.

As part of the new Councillor information kit I was provided with copies of the Legal Profession Act and the relevant Regulations. The Legal Profession Act is already close to 600 pages, the amendment Act is a further 95 pages and then there are the Regulations on top of that.

We now see a further push for additional regulation over incorporated practices. I have run an incorporated legal practice for 10 years. The conversion of the partnership that I previous ran to an incorporated practice did not cause any decline in professional standards. I did not have a sudden urge to invest my client money from my trust to a private account in Cuba or Vanuatu – although I did receive a visit from the auditor after a family holiday to Vanuatu in 2006.

The push for additional regulation of incorporated legal practices controlled by properly qualified legal professionals is, in my view, ill conceived and unnecessary. Provided that the incorporated entity is so controlled, then the LIV should be emphasising that the quality of service and risk is no different from that of the numerous sole practitioners and partnerships that have operated in Victoria for more than 150 years.

Having lived on the Murray River (figuratively, not literally) for the past 17 years, it would come as little surprise that I am a proponent of a nationalised profession. I would love to see greater consistency in both substantive and procedural law across state borders and offer my services to assist in that area.

I see access to education and employment as a fundamental ideal of a civilised society. Education and employment allow people to realise their potential and provide the ability for people to move out of their existing socio-economic groups, and in so me cases out of poverty.

Improve education and employment opportunities and you will strike at the heartof the cause of many social ills. With this in mind, I am a proponent of making available additional study places forregional and disadvantaged groups.

I am a strong advocate of removing pay roll tax. I find it offensive that government discourages business from taking on extra staff by imposition of this and other regressive taxes.

Although my legal practice only employs 12 to 14 people, I am confronted with payroll tax adding 5.15 per cent on top of any additional person that I employ.

Land tax and stamp duty also require philosophical review and their impact on business must be re-measured. I would expect that all legal practitioners support access to justice.

Legal aid cuts continue to diminish access to justice for many in our community. For too long governments (state and federal) have allowed legal aid to function only as a result of the ever-increasing generosity of the legal profession. This cannot continue.

The state government has profited for years by collecting interest from the balances in lawyers’ trust accounts. It is time that some of this money was “put back” and used to support legal aid, which was one of the justifications for government setting up the Statutory Deposit Scheme in the first place.

We have issue with:

  • the cumbersome introduction to Victorian water law reform. Twelve months on, the LIV has been working hard to improve the legislative reform. I know that [LIV vice president] Danny Barlow has been active in this area, and I offer my assistance as required.
  • attracting professionally qualified people to regional, country and suburban areas. This problem is not just in the area of law, but also in the areas of medicine, engineering and almost every career requiring university study. My regional area is not, of course, unique in suffering these skills shortages.
  • the declining condition of the state’s physical infrastructure, such as rail and a lack of investment in infrastructure such as water storage and public transport. While this is not strictly a legal issue, the matters that affect business and our communities affect us all.

I see the areas set out above as some of the areas where the LIV can and should play a role.

Finally, I have strong objection to the government decision to move forward with the appointment of acting judges at the expense of perceived judicial independence. I believe that the LIV should support the stance of the Victorian Bar in relation to this issue.

I commend the LIV Council for its work to date and look forward to contributing towards Council.

LIV GOVERNANCE AND REPRESENTATION
LIV EXECUTIVE
President Tony Burke 9822 8588
Vice-president Danny Barlow 5823 7600
Immediate Past President Geoff Provis 9609 1555
Treasurer Steven Stevens 9288 1241
5th Executive Member Caroline Counsel 9328 5810

LIV COUNCIL MEMBERS
Cathy Gale 9620 0088
Iresha Herath 9607 9372
Michael Holcroft 5022 2622
Aurora Kostezky 8602 9208
Anthony (Tom) May 9670 6123
Conor O’Brien 9351 1455
Bruce Pippett 9592 7800
Dominique Saunders 8345 1881
Patrick Sweeney 9672 5800
Reynah Tang 9672 3535
Elissa Watson 9603 7666
Stuart Webb 9269 0416
Mark Woods 5174 6311

LIV SUBURBAN LAW ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS
Eastern Suburbs Law Association
Ron Rowe 9888 6088

North West Solicitors Association
George Conlan 9370 3636

Northern Suburbs Law Association
Carolyn Kovac 9462 2608
Southern Solicitors Group
Celina Roth 9592 7744

Western Suburbs Law Association
Linda Paric 0422 961 005

LIV COUNTRY LAW ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS

Ballarat & District Law Association
Sarah Edwards 5333 8871

Bendigo Law Association
Megan Aumair 5444 0906

Geelong Law Association
Alicia Carroll 5273 5281

Gippsland Law Association
Mark Woods 5174 6311

Goulburn Valley Law Association
Anthony Coote 5821 4144

Mornington Peninsula Solicitors Association
Stephen Shipp 9783 7700

North East Law Association
Karen Keegan (02) 6056 8210

North West Law Association
John Roccisano 5021 6227

Western District Law Association
Anthony Robinson 5562 1044

Wimmera Law Association
Phil Babic 5382 4455

To find out more about LIV Governance and Representation see http://www.liv.asn.au/about/structure and http://www.liv.asn.au/directory/lawasns or phone the Secretary to the Council on 9607 9372 or email preid@liv.asn.au.

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