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Members’ needs drive strategy

Members’ needs drive strategy

By Carolyn Ford

COVID-19 

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The LIV continues to support its 18,500-plus members and the community during these unprecedented and challenging times.

On 1 August, Melburnians and some regional Victorians are approximately half way through the six-week stage three lockdown imposed by the state government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While not underplaying the burden, economic and otherwise, of a second, longer lockdown, the legal profession is well placed to deal with it having quickly got up to speed with remote practice at the start of the pandemic.

As then, the LIV continues to meet with leaders in the sector and participate in specific forums such as the COVID-19 criminal justice sector stakeholder meetings led by Judge John Cain. The LIV listens to members and firms and raises feedback to ensure the issues are considered and resolved as they emerge. The collaborative effort ensures the courts and the profession continue to operate, in so doing delivering for clients and on access to justice for the community.

The LIV continues to support members through the challenges of COVID-19. There have been many hundreds of calls to the LIV Ethics and Practitioner Support Line for guidance on remote practice. The volume of calls invariably spikes after government announcements and distressed practitioners are helped on the phone and/or referred to Converge, the LIV’s employee assistance program (EAP).

Equally, there have been more queries from members of the public about rental arrangements, consumer rights, the workplace and executing legal documents remotely. They are assisted immediately or referred on.

Members also get answers to critical questions from the COVID-19 Hub on the LIV website. There have been about 40,000 visits to the hub with members seeking information and guidance on everything from electronic signing to personal wellbeing. A repository for information about the profession, courts and the LIV, it is constantly updated so members can be assured information is current.

Submissions on remote witnessing and signing of legal documents were made by the LIV to the federal and state attorneys-general. A major body of work, the submissions contributed to legal practice in Victoria continuing while practitioners and clients fulfilled social distancing requirements and stayed safe. 

Many other urgent COVID-19-related submissions – the Omnibus Bill, retail leasing, criminal law, tax – were also made among dozens of other important submissions across all areas of law in the first half of 2020. Spearheaded by LIV Legal Policy, most of this significant work was done by dedicated LIV committee members in the spirit of community service. 

As promised in the LIV strategy 2018–2021, members’ interests drive what the LIV does. 

The LIV continues to provide unwavering and uninterrupted support to members during this extraordinarily difficult time. Recent LIV initiatives for members include:

  • dropping the price of LIV membership to $99 for 2020–21
  • uninterrupted digital delivery of CPD programs, conferences, webinars, LIVE Chats and dedicated series’ for metropolitan, regional and young lawyers, with sessions recorded and available on the LIV website for viewing. Activities included 19 COVID-19 specific webinars, wellbeing webinars, the first government lawyers conference, Young Lawyers careers festival and the Practice Management Course. Close to 10,000 members and practitioners attended COVID-19 webinars and webchats April-June.
  • COVID-19 Hub on the LIV website, publishing regular updates on all aspects of practice from across the profession
  • Ethics and Practice Support Lines for members wanting professional and other support
  • remote LIV library access
  • LIV member cards for court access allowing members to avoid waiting in line and maintain social distancing
  • continued access to Law Books via post
  • continuation of accredited specialisation (AS) program with digital exams, and a review of the AS scheme completed with recommendations for future implementation
  • uninterrupted delivery of the LIJ via flipbook and PDF as well as on the LIV website
  • virtual networking events
  • EAP for members and their employees
  • appearing by invitation before the Parliamentary inquiry into the government’s response to COVID-19

LIV Media has ensured members and the public are kept informed, with COVID-19 updates and other industry news delivered on social media and in LawNews, the daily email to members.

LIV CEO Adam Awty said he was proud of the profession, the LIV and its staff, for the way all had risen to the challenges of COVID-19.

“We understand members, and their clients, are incredibly challenged by the current circumstances. Our aim is to assist members in any way we can.

“We want all legal practitioners, whether they be sole practitioners, corporate counsel, firm employees or government lawyers to emerge stronger, and sustainable into the future. 

“The future of the Victorian legal profession is certain. It might look different in the future, with more remote, flexible working arrangements, but the central role of legal professionals in the community is undiminished.” ■


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