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LIV President's Blog
May 27, 2011

New Lawyers Encouraged to Go Bush

Guest post today is by acting president Michael Holcroft.

It was my privilege last night to preside over a function in the elegant Supreme Court library for new lawyers admitted between December last year and May 2011. I was standing in for president Caroline Counsel who is overseas. I was keen to tell the 200 mainly young lawyers of the many benefits of country practice, as my own firm is based in Mildura. This was particularly timely as federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Law Council of Australia president Alex Ward have just released an initiative aimed at attracting more lawyers to rural, regional and remote areas.
 
The LIV has been working on encouraging lawyers to “think country” for several years. We are pleased to see that this project has been adopted at a national level and has received funding support from the federal government.
 
This has led to development of www.rrrlaw.com.au a key resource to link people to job opportunities in rural, regional and remote (RRR) Australia. It includes a range of training programs and incentives for RRR practitioners, including a DVD.
 
The website contains real life case studies of lawyers practising in a diverse range of locations, including young lawyer Ali Rees who is working for Riordan Legal in Shepparton.
 
Segments of the RRR DVD are profiled at www.rrrlaw.com.au or members can directly request a copy of the DVD by emailing info@rrrlaw.com.au.
 
I know from experience that practice in regional and rural Australia offers much. Professionally there is a wide and interesting array of work, also there are no traffic jams, affordable housing and vast sporting and recreational opportunities.
 
In my case, living in a large regional city has involved me in a great variety of local activities. I chaired Australia’s world ballooning championship organising committee and local football regional appeals board, and act as honorary solicitor for the Riverside Golf Club. Working in the country also gave me the opportunity to learn to fly.
 
Last night’s newly admitted lawyers also heard from the LIV’s Young Lawyers’ Section president Jonathan Elliot about the activities of our largest and most active section. They also heard about the varied activities of the LIV.

President of the Court of Appeal His Honour Justice Chris Maxwell also spoke to the lawyers. He reminded them of their duty to the court, but also encouraged them to engage in pro bono work, which he said he had personally found very rewarding. 
 
I told them that their professional work, professional participation and community participation could and should be socially rewarding. I encouraged them to become involved in our committees, our social groups and our continuing education services.
 
And I’m looking forward to meeting many more of them in my term as president next year.
 
 
May 20, 2011

Caring for Our Older Australians

The increasing number of older Australians will result in further responsibilities for our profession and our clients as we seek to protect their legal rights. The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) reports there are already nearly 80,000 people with significant cognitive impairment in Victoria and that is predicted to grow to nearly 125,000 by 2030. The VLRC is currently reviewing guardianship laws and submissions to the review close today. In addition, the LIV will provide the latest information for all practitioners who have older clients at our LIV Elder Law Conference next Friday, 27 May.

VLRC consultation paper on guardianship laws proposes the introduction of new guardianship laws rather than amending the current Guardianship and Administration Act, which has been amended nearly 30 times since 1986.

The LIV will make a submission on the paper, and the final report to the Attorney-General including recommendations for new laws is due in December.

As our lawyers, particularly those practising in family law, property law and succession law and country and suburban practices, are acutely aware, we are seeing more and more clients with capacity issues including dementia, Alzheimer’s and acquired brain injuries, as well as people with intellectual disabilities.

Next Friday's LIV conference on elder law will include a welcome from LIV Elder Law Committee chair Phil Grano OAM from the Office of the Public Advocate. There will also be sessions with the CEO of the Council on the Ageing Victoria, Sue Hendy, and the Productivity Commission on its draft report on caring for older Australians. Legal and financial planning for lifestyle changes due to ageing, grandparenting issues and child protection will also be covered.

I'm sure our hypothetical discussion on preventing elder abuse, moderated by former LIV president Bill O’Shea, will be informative and entertaining. The panel includes a magistrate and representatives from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Australian Bankers Association, Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria Police’s elder abuse awareness program and a trustee company.

Issues to do with ageing will confront us all, personally and professionally. I recommend our Elder Law Conference as a one-stop shop for information and further advice.

 
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