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Divergent debate on LCA change

Briefs

Cite as: (2006) 80(9) LIJ, p. 15


New Law Council of Australia (LCA) president Tim Bugg has called for a prompt end to debate about the restructure of the national body.

At meetings with con-stituent bodies earlier this year, Mr Bugg received differing views about remodelling the LCA to become a truly national representative body.

“There’s going to be quite vigorous debate and there’s going to be quite significant disagreement with some issues,” he told the LIJ after attending the July Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) Council meeting.

“We need to get a con-clusion to this debate and a conclusion in which there is a consensus,” he said.

Mr Bugg expects discussions will continue in state and territory law societies following the analysis of feedback from constituent bodies to a LCA consultation paper released in May.

LIV president Cathy Gale said representatives from the LIV, New South Wales Law Society and major law firms had agreed to meet to discuss the future of the national body.

Eager to see a conclusion reached during his 15-month presidency, Mr Bugg said finding a consensus was not going to be easy.

“There’s no doubt that the larger law societies such as the LIV and New South Wales Law Society are notic-ing that a fair proportion of their memberships, made up of the big firm members, are saying ‘we want to see real movement towards a truly national structure’.”

Mr Bugg said the factors influencing the constituent bodies varied a great deal and there was no doubt that the state and territory Bar associations did not experience the same pressures.

As an increasing number of practitioners work across state and territory borders their interests changed, Mr Bugg said.

“They look at things from a national perspective and in many instances from an international perspective. Because of that they need a body at the national level which is truly representative and more effective in responding to issues.”

Two models have been tabled for the proposed restructure, a half-way house approach and an individual membership model.

Under the half-way house approach Mr Bugg said lawyers would join their constituent bodies, and by doing so would automatically receive individual recognition at the LCA.

“There are suggestions that you could have individual membership of the LCA so people join it first and then they filter down,” he said.

The LCA held discussions at its executive meeting on 29 July and they will continue at its next meeting of directors on 16 September.

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