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2020/21 Membership Year

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From the president:Working together

From the president:Working together

By Sam Pandya

COVID-19 Opinions 

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We are your voice and your advocate.

In the midst of a global pandemic and the uncertainty it brings, it is tempting to retreat into our small communities of close family and friends. While this is understandable, the pandemic may be with us for an extended period and it is important that we reach out to our professional and broader community and work together for the benefit of all. My role as LIV president in a highly unusual year has opened my eyes to the breadth of critical work the LIV does, and the influence we can and do have, with respect to the operation of the legal profession and the laws affecting the community in Victoria and nationally. 

Members often ask LIV Council members, management and staff what the organisation does to assist them personally in their practices. There is a long list of individual membership benefits (such as free ethics CPD, specialist accreditation, free wellbeing sessions, library services, bookshop discounts, member lounges, meeting and mediation rooms, the referrals service and ethics advice line, the list goes on). However, particularly in times of crisis and societal change, membership and belonging is far more than an individual transaction, it is an expression of belonging and collective contribution to a like-minded community of professionals that has influence in shaping the law and our profession to benefit us, our clients and our community in providing them with access to justice and upholding the rule of law. Every member can contribute to enhancing our influence by amplifying our strong voice to government and across the community. 

LIV members can boast a proud history of shaping the law in Victoria through their involvement in drafting submissions and correspondence to government, law reform bodies and others. Currently, the LIV has more than 80 committees and 13 sections with more than 2500 members contributing to high quality submissions on policy and reform in many areas of law, from succession law to human rights. One of my duties is to review and approve every submission and letter to government, every submission to the Law Council of Australia and every media release in response to the changes to legislation and matters that affect our profession and the operation of the law. LIV presidents approve approximately 180 submissions a year advocating with respect to the concerns and issues you raise within the LIV’s sections and committees. 

Over the last few weeks, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, our members’ issues formed part of our letters to federal and state attorneys-general, which have resulted in tangible change. Nearly all our members’ recommendations put to government have been addressed in the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act and subsequent Regulations. It should be a source of pride for LIV members that your submissions have influenced and shaped the laws under which our practices have continued operating, our clients have had their wills and other documents finalised, our solicitor advocates and clients have appeared virtually in court and the wheels of justice have kept turning. While we may personally appreciate that the time we spend attending committee and section meetings and drafting submissions and correspondence satisfies our substantive law CPD points (please check the relevant regulations as they apply to your circumstances), the lasting benefit arises from the satisfaction we experience from contributing collectively to the professional association to which we belong for the betterment of the community. I thank you all for  your contributions and continuing to be part of our LIV community. 

You will also read in this LIJ news about my advocacy for the voluntary collection of cultural diversity data (p17). In the spirit of contributing to the profession, I strongly encourage all members to answer the optional cultural diversity questions in this year’s practising certificate renewal forms. Your responses will give us a better understanding of how the profession is constituted and how we can ensure it reflects the community in which we live. ■

Sam Pandya

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