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YLS Ready to rumble

Briefs

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.15


The legal profession would be enriched by better recognising the diversity within its ranks and that of the society it serves, according to 2010 LIV Young Lawyers’ Section (YLS) president Julie Fraser.

The YLS this year will “foster the diversity” in the legal profession and promote the full range of opportunities a law degree presents graduates.

Ms Fraser said issues relating to gender, age, language, personal background, maternity leave and race occasionally still presented insurmountable hurdles for some lawyers in the workplace.

“A diverse profession that is more representative of the community can better serve the legal needs of the community. Diversity would also enhance and enrich the legal profession itself.”

Ms Fraser, an Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) lawyer who graduated in arts/law from Melbourne University in 2006, believes all students should be made aware of the full range of employment options in the law.

“When coming out of university I did not really know about the available opportunities, which range from inhouse and government policy work to boutique city criminal firms and general practice firms in the regional and remote areas.

“I only knew about the big firms but I was not interested in them,” Ms Fraser said.

“I want to get the message out that there are some great opportunities that do not have crazy hours and billing, and can give you advocacy experience and client contact right away.”

She said attraction, attrition and retention remained key issues for the YLS and more understanding was required by both employers and employees in supporting flexible work practices.

“Being a lawyer is stressful, and that will always be the case. As young lawyers this can be a little frightening to deal with and many do not speak up. However, this is a conversation that needs to come out in the open and be dealt with.

“We are losing good lawyers and issues like billing, managing stress, managing hierarchy and transition and avenues of support need to be put on the table.”

Ms Fraser has taken the reins of a YLS which aims to focus on issues affecting society in general, along with its core responsibility of helping young lawyers.

She said the YLS would begin to work closely with other niche groups on issues impacting both the profession and wider community, such as Victorian Women Lawyers, Victorian Indigenous lawyers and law students association Tarwirri, Later Lawyers Network and suburban and country law associations.

Ms Fraser won the 2009 LIV President’s Green Initiative of the Year Award after initiating the use of the KeepCup, a 100 per cent recyclable, reusable mug, at the AGS.

For more information on the YLS, visit www.liv.asn.au/Membership/Practice-Sections/Young-Lawyers.

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