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LIV update

Every Issue

Cite as: Cite as: March 2012 86 (03) LIJ, p.86

LIV COUNCIL

The LIV Council meets each month to debate and decide issues of importance to members, the overall legal profession and the community. Topics discussed at the January meeting included the LIV key goals for 2012.

LIV president Michael Holcroft presented his presidential platform to “communicate, inspire and benefit” and newly elected councillor Jessica Kerr presented her maiden speech.

2012 goals

The LIV key goals for 2012 are to enhance the reputation of the LIV as a leader of the legal profession. The initiatives include delivery of the reputation management campaign, practising certificate online renewal, to complete and submit a business plan for the Mediation, Arbitration & Conciliation Centre for Victoria, succession planning roadshows and implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan. The LIV will also review and re-scope its delivery of information to the legal profession concerning the national legal profession reforms and implications for legal practitioners.

Maiden speech

An edited version of Jessica Kerr’s maiden speech follows:

I have been involved with the Young Lawyers’ Section of the LIV since 2009. I was born and raised on the Gold Coast and completed my law degree at Bond University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2009 and undertook my traineeship at Clayton Utz. Following my admission in December 2010, I moved to Norton Rose where I am currently working on the Victorian Bushfire litigation.

I am an active member of the International Law Association which I assisted in establishing the Victorian Chapter. I have also been involved with the Victorian Women Lawyers and the International Commission of Jurists and have recently accepted a position as a resident tutor at St Mary’s College at the University of Melbourne.

I believe an important aspect of being a member of the legal profession is giving something back. As lawyers we have an ability to advocate for people who are unable to advocate for themselves. Being a member of the LIV Council provides the ability to make a change and assist in making our profession more sustainable.

Since being involved with the LIV and meeting a diverse range of young lawyers, I have become acutely aware of a number of issues in the legal profession that need to be addressed to ensure sustainability of the profession and the wellbeing of those who are a part of it.

During my time on Council, I have three key issues I would like to see addressed.

First, I hope to address the issue of retention rates among junior lawyers. We need to examine why the attrition rates within the first five years of practice are so high. The LIV has done important work in this area but there is still more that can be done. We need to find out from those who are facing the issues what we can do to assist in implementing a more positive environment. From my interactions with new lawyers, it seems that a number feel they are bullied by their superiors or that they aren’t given a great deal of support or mentoring by them. Also, junior lawyers are often dissatisfied with the type of work they are doing. Leaving university, our expectations are high. We want to be able to make a difference and to get involved. If the reality is removed from that, it leads to dissatisfaction among junior lawyers who often struggle to stay in the profession, particularly in private practice.

The second issue I would like to see addressed is in relation to billable hours. There is endless literature about the negative effects of billable hours on the profession. Lawyers often feel that billing targets are unrealistic and unreasonable, particularly given that it is inevitable a number of hours of non-billable work are required to achieve them. Billable targets are not assisting the mental health of our profession.

The third issue is making the justice system more accessible to the ordinary person. Access to justice should be a right afforded to everyone, not just those that can afford it.

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