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LIV President's Blog
February 23, 2011

Leave no lawyer behind

‘Leaving no lawyer behind’ is my presidential credo this year, and at the LIV Annual Conference of Council last week I had the opportunity to explain what it means.
I fleshed-out the presidential platform by looking to the past and to the future, by discussing the current scene in which lawyers have to operate and what we anticipate is coming at us.
The conference program covered a diverse range of subjects as they related to the legal profession and lawyers: economic trends, reputation and community standing, gender diversity, outsourcing low-end work, stakeholder engagement, political lobbying in 2011 and, of course, social media.
Social media, its power and its potential in the law, was examined by US lawyer Adrian Dayton, who is an expert in the field of social media for law practices. He explained how social media can attract new clients, increase the exposure and reputation of law firms and enhance the capabilities of the modern lawyer.
From my perspective, the future is incredibly exciting but also incredibly intense for legal professionals. We’ve all got a great deal to take on board on top of the rigors of daily practice. So I was very glad to see three of the 13 conference sessions devoted to body and mind.
Mental health, Meditation and Health and Well-being were discussed in terrifically interesting detail by health experts. Dr Quasi Hussain of Psylegal talked about building resilience of lawyers through mindfulness and stress management and Katie Round, general manager of Human Resources at the LIV spoke on the various health and well-being services offered by the LIV. Kay Dyson talked about the positive benefits of meditation which include improved concentration, health and creativity and reduced anxiety. As an eight-year veteran of meditation, I can vouch for the value of quieting the mind.
Lawyering is such cerebral work. Many of us read the equivalent of a small novel most days. It’s crucial to clear away the cobwebs. I think many of us left the conference determined to take a more holistic approach to lawyering, to carve out regular quiet time or hit the gym or eat healthier or in some way look after ourselves a bit better.
It was an inspiring weekend and I’ve come back to the President’s office reinvigorated and very much looking forward to the year ahead – and beyond.

What are your priorites for this legal year and beyond? Add a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
February 17, 2011

Protection from discrimination and Review of the Charter of Human Rights

The LIV would be very concerned if the Coalition government removed the additional powers of the VEOHRC to initiate investigations into systemic discrimination. This is a measure that was introduced into the new Act, which is due to come into effect in August this year to promote a positive duty on employers to achieve equality and eliminate discrimination in their workplaces. We strongly supported this measure in our submission on the Equal Opportunity Bill 2010.
We would also be very concerned if the Coalition Government proposed to make the exception under the new Equal Opportunity Act for religious bodies any broader. Under the new Act, religious bodies can legally discriminate where the action conforms with the doctrines of the religion or is reasonably necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of the people in the religion. Religious bodies can also discriminate in employment where conformity with a given religion is an ‘inherent requirement’ of the position.
This week we also hosted the first meeting of the steering committee for the Charter Survey Project. With funding from the Victoria Law Foundation, the LIV is conducting a significant research project to assess the impact of the Charter on legal practice in Victoria. The project aims to assess the knowledge and use of the Charter by legal practitioners and identify how the Charter is being used in decision and policy making. The project will include a survey of lawyers; interviews with a sample group of lawyers and result in a report on how the Charter has affected legal practice. The results should be published by the end of July 2011. You can contact Alice Palmer for more information.

The LIV is also interested in what you have to say, what are your concerns regarding this issue?
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