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LIV update

Every Issue

Cite as: September 2012 86 (09) 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 July 2012 meeting included the LIV Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) (see page 28) and an inquiry into Access by Donor-Conceived People to Information about Donors (see From the CEO, August LIJ, page 6).

Special guests were Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) representatives Meredith Zantuck, manager, assignments and legal policy and Meagan Keogh, director of legal practice.

LIV RAP

Following two years of development and consultation, the LIV RAP Working Group was pleased to present the final LIV RAP to Council members for approval. Council was told that the LIV RAP was developed by listening to Indigenous Australians and that its objectives are to strive to respond to community views about issues faced by Indigenous Australians, as expressed by Indigenous Australians. In this sense, the LIV RAP seeks to promote and foster self-determination for Indigenous Australians and their organisations.

The LIV RAP recognises that as the peak body for lawyers in Victoria, it can play an important role in promoting self- determination, by taking steps to increase cultural awareness across the diversity of the legal profession, by harnessing the expertise of our members to contribute to reconciliation with Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and by increasing opportunities for Indigenous people to participate equally in the ranks of the profession. The LIV RAP was scheduled to be launched on 4 September.

VLA presentation

VLA director of legal practice Meagan Keogh addressed the LIV Council on the Panels project which has been established to review the provisions of s29A specialist panel and s30 general referral panel. In order for a private practitioner to act for a legally aided client they must be employed by a firm that is a member of VLA’s s29 or s30 panels. The aim of the project is to review the quality of legal aid services by members of the panel to ensure that the way that private practitioners deliver legal services remains consistent with VLA objectives and is of a high standard.

Ms Keogh reported that there were many legal firms that deliver quality service to clients and these would be used as best practice methodology and as a gauge to acceptable practices and processes.

The project is seeking the expertise of the legal sector to provide feedback and inform panel entry requirements, ongoing practice standards and processes for firms and practitioners undertaking legal aid work.

To this end, project representatives have already approached and consulted with a number of private practitioners and key stakeholders including a number of heads of jurisdiction, the Legal Services Commissioner and committees of the LIV.

She said the project objectives were to ascertain professional competencies of practitioners providing services to clients subject to a grant of legal assistance; to ascertain the ability of VLA to effectively monitor and enforce panels requirements and practice standards; and recognise the importance of the client experience as the motivation for VLA to continuously improve legal aid services.

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