Law Week is an annual event designed to make the legal system easy for Victorians to access, understand and use. The theme is Law and Justice in the Community and it will be held from 14 to 20 May. It’s an opportunity for you to do something with your community to improve the standing of our profession and dispel the myth of the unscrupulous TV lawyer. What do you have planned?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Legal Services Australia, 2009 Report, lawyers provide an estimated 955,400 hours (approx. value of $238.2m) of pro bono work for their communities nationally.
Yet LIV research notes that while the general public is satisfied with the level of competence of lawyers, there is a perception that lawyers are unscrupulous and driven by financial gain.
What can the profession do to address this perception?
In the longer term, the LIV is undertaking a reputation management program to understand and respond to this misapprehension. We want to educate the community about the contribution that we make to the community, most significantly through pro bono work. This is most graphically demonstrated by our immediate and on-going provision of free legal advice during disasters such as the Bushfire Legal Help service.
Activities like Law Week offer us a prime opportunity to engage with our clients and communities in a positive way and develop better relationships.
Getting them while they are young – Mock Trial: The LIV and the Victorian Bar have joined together again to run an extremely popular mock trial in the Supreme Court. Young legal studies and other students get an insight into how a trial is run, with volunteer lawyers in a criminal trial of a defendant charged with cocaine possession.
Young Lawyers – Thinking Outside the Commercial Box: Our Young Lawyers section is also hosting a session to encourage those staring out in the practice of law to think of different areas of practice. They will hear from young lawyers who work at in house counsel; community legal centres; legal and as policy officers and criminal lawyers. There’s a whole world of law beyond commercial and corporate law firms for practitioners to consider.
What can you do?
• Offer a Law Week promotion
• Conduct a seminar on your area of practice
• Write an article or letter on your area of law for your local paper
• Offer to speak to your local school about “Careers in law”
• Start a legal blog
• Add the Law Week logo to your email footer (email@example.com can help)
Walk for Justice
I’ll be doing the annual PILCH Walk for Justice on 15 May to celebrate National Pro Bono day. I’d love to see a huge crowd join us on the steps of parliament.
What’s going on in Law Week
Law Week is coordinated by the Victoria Law Foundation. Have a look at the calendar of over 70 events.
If you need assistance planning a Law Week event or if you want us to promote your local event contact firstname.lastname@example.org
And let’s make Law Week mean something this year.