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Associations: From suburbs to regions

Associations: From suburbs to regions

By Law Institute Journal


Victoria's 15 regional and suburban law associations are highly valued LIV partners. Profiled here, each group outlines their aims and activities.

Ballarat and District Law Association

President Toby Permezel

The committee recently held its AGM by Zoom which was a first for the oldest law society in Victoria. We welcomed some familiar faces as well as some new members with varying levels of legal and life experience. Clearly 2020 was not without its challenges for our members, and as a result the BDLA has been relatively quiet. One of our strengths has been our ability to bring our members together socially at networking events, judges’ receptions and on the local trivia circuit. While not set in stone, our plans for 2021 will focus on reconnecting with each other and our community. The Greater Ballarat area is experiencing a huge surge in growth – why not see for yourself and make the move? You won’t regret it.

Bendigo Law Association

President Juliana Smith

The Bendigo Law Association (BLA) is one of the oldest law associations in Victoria – The Argus announced its formation on 14 April 1896 at the Shamrock Hotel. The BLA worked hard in 2020 to keep in touch with members by email and organising of CPD events. Our main concern has been the wellbeing of members and how we might support them. We have a well-established and collegiate legal community making the Bendigo area an ideal location for new graduates and those seeking to escape city life and enjoy all that regional Victoria has to offer. A key Victorian infrastructure project is the Bendigo Law Courts development which is now underway. In the next few years Bendigo will be the site of the most modern court precinct in Australia. 

Eastern Solicitors Law Association Inc

President Zubair Mian

The Eastern Solicitors Law Association Inc (ESLA) represents solicitors working or living east of Melbourne CBD. The northern boundaries are the Eastern Freeway, Thompson's Road, Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road. It is the second largest LIV suburban law association. It had operated for more than 30 years as a voluntary association, was incorporated in March, 2016 and changed its name from Eastern Suburbs Law Association. From humble beginnings it has grown to be a strong and vibrant association due to its past and present executive’s hard work and commitment to excellence. Members meet eight to 10 times a year, plus our annual Christmas dinner – due to COVID-19 restrictions not possible in 2020. We are now looking to expanding events for members.

Geelong Law Association

President Aaron Jolly

The Geelong Law Association (GLA) has a membership of more than 300 lawyers, students and others associated with the law living and working in the Greater Geelong region. It is represented by its committee, a group of lawyers dedicated to supporting members so they can best serve the needs of their community. The core focus is promotion of member wellbeing through an inclusive and supportive network for members to share their experiences of working in the law. The importance of wellbeing has been highlighted by the changes to work and study brought about by COVID-19, and the GLA has taken an active role in keeping members connected. The GLA looks forward to resuming its usual calendar of events in 2021 to support members to build professional skills and relationships.

Gippsland Law Association

President Nicola Gilford

Our membership area extends from Pakenham in the west to Mallacoota in the far east, north to towns like Omeo in the Great Dividing Range and south to beachside communities. The make-up of our members is diverse; from those who work in regional branches of international firms to sole practitioners, employees and owners of small-to-medium-sized firms plus government and in-house lawyers. The executive is just as varied, consisting of volunteers who advocate on behalf of our members on a local, state and national level.

Networking events are regularly organised by our executive including dinners for visiting members of the judiciary, welcomes and farewells for our presiding magistrates, CPD events and just-for-the-fun-of-it activities like trivia nights and Oktoberfest.

Goulburn Valley Law Association

President Charles Hart

The Goulburn Valley Law Association represents lawyers in a large geographic area which includes Shepparton, Echuca, Cobram, Kyabram and surrounding towns. Due to the tyranny of distance it is difficult to arrange frequent meetings but we endeavour to arrange an extensive annual CPD day which is always well attended, a social function and events with court staff on circuit and new or departing magistrates. Unfortunately the COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult to arrange events and we look forward to some normality in 2021 to enable the legal fraternity to re-engage with colleagues.

Mornington Peninsula Lawyers Association

President John Oswald-Jacobs

Those of us who live and/or practise on the Peninsula are extremely fortunate. We have on our doorstep breathtaking country and coastal scenery, beaches, equestrian activities, bushwalking, wineries, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and more. The area also manages to produce its fair share of interesting legal work, whether in the larger multi-partner practices in Mornington or Rosebud, for example, or for the increasing number of sole practitioners working from home. The committee organises four dinners/CLE sessions each year, alternating between the many restaurants available, whether in the various villages and towns or at one of the world-class wineries. In 2021 we will be considering some new initiatives.

North East Law Association

President Amanda Toner

The North East Law Association has dubbed 2020 the year of disruption. We entered the year in the midst of devastating bushfires, navigated our way through the COVID-19 pandemic with the rest of the nation, and now prepare with muted optimism for a different and better 2021. As NELA president, practising family lawyer and director of Toner & May Legal, I have felt the full effects of all that 2020 has thrown at the profession. Yet through it all, NELA members have continued to get up, dust themselves off, and adapt to the circumstances. Looking to 2021, NELA will maintain its focus on supporting and advocating for its members and the local profession. 

North West Suburbs Lawyers’ Association

Secretary Rachel Cox

The North West Suburbs Lawyers’ Association covers the geographical area encompassing a wedge running along Sydney Road and the Maribyrnong River and extends as far as Sunbury. It has seen steady growth, particularly among newer practitioners. We meet bi-monthly. Our meetings include dinner and drinks at a local venue. Meetings are an excellent opportunity for members to network. Referral networks are often built, and each meeting also provides attendees with 2 CPD points. We endeavour to cover CPD topics of interest to our member base, however with an increasingly broad membership, topics are becoming more diverse. We encourage practitioners who practise in our area to contact the NWSLA. 

North West Victorian Law Association

President Ryan Maddox

The North West Victorian Law Association Inc (NWVLA) covers the border of South Australia to the west, the NSW border to the north, the regional city of Swan Hill to the east and regional town (and one host of the Silo Art Trail) Sea Lake to the south. Most members work and live in the thriving regional city of Mildura. The continuing focus of the NWVLA Committee will be to seek appropriate opportunities to engage more actively with its widely dispersed membership base and promote services and activities available to the local profession. Re-scheduling a number of activities planned for 2020 not held given COVID-19 restrictions will become a priority for the NWVLA in 2021. 

Northern Suburbs Law Association

President Antonella Terranova

The Northern Suburbs Law Association (NSLA) is constantly looking to the future and finding new ways to bring its members together. There is a stronger focus for 2021, coming out of a hard lockdown. The NSLA executive committee has come together to plan what we believe will be an exciting 2021 with a focus on bringing everyone together again. We are planning Christmas in February, a regional conference in May, not to mention more young lawyer events. We will continue to provide bi-monthly networking and CPD sessions. We are a strong and innovative group with strength in our membership. I am looking forward to 2021 and hope you can join me.

Southern Solicitors Law Association

President Celina Roth

We normally hold monthly CPD dinner meetings and run annual conferences in Bali and on the Gold Coast. Since March 2020 our members have been relying for their CPD points on the generous support of the LIV through Zoom seminars, organised for SSLA and those tailored for regional and suburban associations. The aim of SSLA is not only providing CPD points but also to support each other professionally and personally. Last year’s events have negatively impacted our members, many of whom run sole or small practices. The LIV communications with members have helped alleviate some of the distress and isolation. SSLA’s hope for 2021 is to continue to support our members, both through high standard of CPD presentations, personal assistance and friendship. 

Western District Law Association Inc

President Jessica Dowdy

The Western District Law Association Inc (WDLA) invites LIV members, lawyers, law students and others associated with the law who live or work in the Western District to participate in our association. The Western District includes Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Colac, and the areas in between. The WDLA strongly advocates for members and hosts regular continuing professional development (CPD) and networking events. We welcome suggestions for CPD topics or other events. The WDLA is operated by a voluntary committee of leaders in the profession located in our region.

Western Suburbs Law Association

President Danielle Leo

Our focus is to be a pillar of support to our colleagues in the west, by providing legal education and networking opportunities. We are excited to see what 2021 looks like as we embrace the positives that have come from the unprecedented year we have all had. Being a member of the WSLA will make you feel more connected with fellow west siders and ensure you are kept abreast of our ever-changing legal landscape.

Wimmera Law Association

President Patrick Smith

The Wimmera Law Association covers a large territory including the areas of Horsham, Nhill, Ararat, Edenhope, Hopetoun, St Arnaud and Stawell. We advocate on behalf of Wimmera lawyers through our affiliation and regular reporting to the LIV. Our focus is on making practising law in the Wimmera easier. We do this by facilitating the sharing of ideas and concerns between lawyers and by providing the opportunity for lawyers from different entities to build friendships. We have social drinks in Horsham on the last Friday of each month (put on hold during COVID-19 restrictions) and often hold events for visiting judges. We also assist with the planning of CPD events. ■

See p79 for LIV law association presidents contact details.

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