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Go on – join in

Go on – join in

By Izak Rosenfeld and Niko Kordos

Networking 

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There are many professional development benefits associated with joining committees.

Opportunities for young lawyers and law students are generally considered scarce, especially when it comes to volunteering. Community legal centres are inundated with applicants and law students often feel as though they could be doing more.

An often overlooked avenue for extracurricular commitment is committees. The LIV Young Lawyers (YL) is made up of eight committees (Executive, Community Issues, Editorial, Later Lawyers, Law Reform, Professional Development, Social, and Regional and Suburban Young Lawyers). YL was started in recognition of the needs of law students, graduates and young lawyers, as distinct from those already entrenched in legal practice.

YL committees

Law students, graduates and young lawyers can join any six of the eight YL committees (outside the Executive Committee and the RSYLC). The Executive Committee is limited to those LIV members elected to the Committee, including the YL president, vice-president, immediate past-president and the chairs of each of the seven other YL committees. The RSYLC is made up of elected YL representatives from suburban and regional law associations. However, interested RSYLC members can contact the YL and be put in touch with the relevant YL representative for their region or suburb.

Joining any one of the six committees has extensive benefits. With meetings being held only once every six weeks at the LIV during lunch, the commitment and flexibility offered is perfect for someone who wants to engage without overburdening their workload. Lunch is also provided.

Benefit 1: Engagement with topics that broaden legal knowledge

Committees can be a great platform for expanding your practical knowledge and experience. For example, the Law Reform Committee (LRC) gives its members the opportunity to develop skills in drafting law reform submissions on a variety of topics. This allows members to closely engage with contentious legal issues and current affairs that affect the public Australia-wide.

Working with the LRC means that members have the capacity to shape the legal climate surrounding a topic.

This opportunity for engagement is also available through the Community Issues Committee (CIC) which raises awareness on key issues affecting the community at large through targeted events and initiatives that promote young lawyers’ involvement in community-based ventures. The CIC is valuable for young lawyers for many more reasons explored here.

Benefit 2: Professional networking

Do you want to meet people in your profession without feeling like the only reason you’re there is to get something from them? Well, when you join a committee, without realising it, you will not only meet people with similar interests, but you will be expanding your personal and professional networks. Joining a committee gives you the chance to meet with professionals and, more importantly, provides opportunities for ongoing collaboration.

Some committees are especially geared towards bringing people together from similar backgrounds, such as the Later Lawyers’ Network Committee (LLNC) and the RSYLC. Both hold social events throughout the year for LIV members.

Here, there is no need for awkward follow-up emails or ice breakers – just be yourself.

Benefit 3: Appealing to prospective employers

An undeniable benefit of any form of volunteer work is the appeal to prospective employers. Any law student/young lawyer who is familiar with law firm recruitment processes will understand a firm’s fascination with volunteer work. YL committees appeal to this interest.

For instance, the Editorial Committee gives law students, graduates and young lawyers the opportunity to have their work published. In addition to an array of employable skills for young lawyers and law students involvement with the Editorial Committee:

  • allows members to work on topics of interest to them, as young lawyers, with the ability to conduct detailed research into topics of choice
  • immerses members in hands-on experience in editorial and publication work, including the peer-review of articles being submitted for publishing
  • grants members the power to shape the direction of key YL publications including the YLJ and the YL weekly blog.

If you are passionate about a particular issue and believe your fellow law students, graduates or young lawyers will also be interested, why not submit an article or blog?

Benefit 4: Expansion of practice beyond the workplace

Lawyers or even law students may often feel as if they have limited time for contributing to the community outside their rigid work schedules. Fortunately, the YL has committees such as the Community Issues Committee (CIC). The CIC presents opportunities to:

  • draw on your knowledge of the law to help support something you are passionate about
  • work with a group of like-minded professionals and students on a wide range of social justice initiatives
  • tap into legal skills to support a cause you care about.

Not everyone in the workplace will see eye to eye on all community issues and the CIC is the perfect place to meet like-minded people who want to make a difference in both the legal and non-legal communities.

Past projects of the CIC include mental health and wellbeing seminars, advertising legal and non-legal volunteering opportunities to YL members, and running a seminar on sexual violence and its portrayal in the media.

So if you want to escape the billable hour or the line for the office microwave for a chance to contribute to the legal profession’s engagement with the wider community, then joining the CIC is a great place to start.

Benefit 5: Building leadership skills

Joining a committee provides students and young lawyers with a chance to be a leader in more ways than one. There are traditional leadership roles available, such as chairing or co-chairing a committee, or being part of the YL Executive Committee. However, even YL Committee members are given the opportunity to enhance and build on their leadership skills:

  • for students or graduates who may not have had exposure to leadership experiences before entering the profession, this is one possible way to improve skills in executing projects in a fun and friendly environment while doing something rewarding
  • even simply learning how a meeting should be run in a professional manner (with agendas, minutes and formal processes) is a useful skill for any young lawyer.

Many law students and young lawyers who have had experience on YL committees have been able to return to their university or workplace and implement the skills there.

How do I join?

If you have been intrigued by any of the above benefits, you can register your interest in joining any six of the eight YL committees by emailing younglaw@liv.asn.au or following this link to our website for more information: http://www.liv.asn.au/LIV-Young-Lawyers/Get-Involved

 


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