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Governing for the times

Governing for the times

By Stuart Webb

Communication Leadership 

Your responses to an LIV member survey have given us valuable feedback that we have incorporated into our strategic planning. The LIV celebrated its 160th anniversary in March. As detailed in Simon Smith’s article in March LIJ, 26 men came together to form a society to set standards for the local profession and established relevant practice areas for solicitors in Victoria. Originally Melbourne based, the LIV became Victoria-wide as travel and communication became more accessible. It took almost 50 years for the first woman to be admitted to practice in Victoria and join the LIV, yet now more women are in practice as lawyers than men. A welcome change. Now the LIV must continue to grow and reflect the diverse community that makes up our legal profession. The LIV has evolved over in its 160 years. It has developed as an ethical adviser, educator, regulator, advocate and change agent. We have had different homes, now residing in a purpose led fit-out on level 13 of 140 William Street – please come and visit us when you have the chance to look around. We are continually seeking to ensure we remain relevant to the membership, giving you what you want from your professional membership association. We value your feedback. Late last year we were privileged to have about 1000 members respond to a survey we conducted, which gave us feedback that we have incorporated into our strategic planning. The LIV Council has approved a new strategic plan, vision and purpose for the LIV (see p20). Approving the strategy is one of the key tasks for LIV Council, it will guide the LIV in its decision and priority setting for the future. Relevance and value for members is at the heart of the strategic plan. It was developed by listening to your opinion about your membership organisation. The Council has worked to ensure that the vision and purpose of the LIV match the bold promise of our new home, premises that we want you to use and feel a part of. As CEO Adam Awty says, the engine under the bonnet needs to complement the shiny new chassis. That is what this strategic plan aims to do. In reviewing the LIV, it would be remiss not to look at our own governance structure. The onus on boards and directors to remain relevant, future focused and ready for the opportunities and threats that arise is more pronounced than ever. We are ultimately responsible for the successful running of the LIV, overseeing management as it implements operational plans that have been agreed. We must make sure that the culture of the LIV, for staff and members, is respectful, inclusive and conducive to achieving the goals we have set. The corporate governance lessons from the Banking and Finance Royal Commission are relevant for not-for-profit organisations like the LIV. Are we fit for purpose to deal with the challenges that contemporary boards face? The Council has established a taskforce to investigate and review our current practices, and make recommendations on whether reform is required. We have given the taskforce a broad remit, with the clear guidance that consultation with the membership is essential for the success of any recommendations that arise from its work. The Council is expecting a preliminary report to be provided in December 2019, with further work to continue in 2020. We want to get this right so have given it time to consider all the options. Member input can be provided in various ways, including using the board email address of for suggestions and comments. 2019 is an exciting time. I will be travelling around Melbourne and Victoria meeting with members, discussing the strategy, and encouraging suburban and regional law associations to develop their own strategic plans informed by the LIV’s activities. I look forward to hearing from you all about the exciting activities here at the LIV. Stuart Webb Email: Twitter: @livpresident 

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