Lawyer Victoria
A positive note

A positive note

26 June 2017

Lawyers, like most professionals, are often stereotyped and criticised, not always with good reason. However, Beaton Research + Consulting's
latest annual survey of more than 10,000 clients showed an overall increase in a client service measure known as Net Promoter Score.

While since 2005 lawyers have consistently rated ahead of other professional services surveyed, clients for the first time provided positive, more likely to promote, rather than negative feedback on lawyers' services.'

The 2016 Annual Report of the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner stated that since the introduction of the Uniform Law in Victoria and NSW in 2015, there had been a 15 per cent decline in complaints about lawyers.

Law also remains a good choice for students, despite claims of a glut of law graduates. Law students do well compared with their peers in other disciplines, as reported by Carolyn Evans, Chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans and Dean of Melbourne Law School.

However, the reality for women in the law, especially as barristers, is not so rosy. The recent analysis by George Williams, Dean of Law at the University of New South Wales, revealed the lamentable numbers of female barristers appearing before the High Court (an improvement on 1997 but still woefully below the numbers of male barristers).

Victorian Court of Appeal President, Chris Maxwell, expressed similar concerns with civil appeals, describing progress as appalling. The Law Council of Australia's Equitable Briefing Policy is an essential development in this respect.

Nevertheless, her Honour Judge Tsalamandris sounded a more positive note during a recent Victorian County Court hearing:

"On a personal level, I have to make this comment. It is the first time in my career that I've been in a court room where the judge is female, the associates are female, the barristers are female, and the solicitors are female ...

Women have been the majority of people at law school for a number of years now, but this is the first time I've seen [this in] a court room. Like many court rooms over many years where the men have been the only people doing legal jobs. It is a bit of history ... I think it's a day the women professionals in the room will remember ..."

Furthermore, the percentage of women on ASX Top 20 boards has grown from 23.8 per cent in 2012 to 30.9 per cent in 20166 - a trend at least in the right direction.

I have been extraordinarily honoured to have been the National President and have enjoyed working with all our staff atthe national office. We are well served by them and I thank them all for their support over the past year.

I remain in awe of what we do in terms of parliamentary submissions, lobbying and advocacy. All our members should rightfully be proud of our exemplary work on issues of access to justice, fairness and equity. Long may the ALA prosper to protect access to common law, a fundamental right and protection for us all, as well as pursuing issues related to freedom of expression, liberty and equal rights for all.

I warmly welcome Laura Neil as the incoming President and do so with confidence that not only will Laura be a champion in the role, but that the ALA will be in good hands. Laura is not only a passionate advocate for fairness but a strong supporter of our Alliance, with a keen concern for our members and their interests.

Finally, to all our members, thank you for enabling me to serve in the role as President, I thank Greg Phelps for his previous kind words. I know I will miss the role. The ALA is integral to the legal fabric and must remain so.

I trust I have positively contributed.

By Tony Kenyon
03 8657 8888