Australia: The value of the suburban law association
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Having started my life as a lawyer in a small suburban criminal law firm, I learned the unique sense of community that comes with suburban legal practice early in my career. Years later, and with time in the city in between, I am again practice based in the suburbs. Although now on the other side of town, legal practice in the western suburbs has a familiar sense of connection to the local community.
With the number of Australian lawyers practicing in the suburbs having increased dramatically over the past decade, Lawyers Weekly recently reported as high as 87 percent,1 membership in the local legal association is more important and valuable than ever for suburban practice.
Through suburban law associations, members have an easy way to actively participate and contribute to the local community. The benefits of membership also include opportunities for legal learning and updating, such as attending regular professional development events. Above all, membership provides an easy and enjoyable way to connect with other practitioners and develop a network of local colleagues who specialize in different areas of practice.
With the generous support of the Law Association of Victoria (LIV), there are five suburban law associations in Melbourne. These are professional associations, voluntary and non-profit, committed to supporting their members.
Although each association is unique, the objectives of suburban law associations are generally to:
- Promote positive professional and social relations between local members;
- Educate members and keep them abreast of changes in legislation, policies and procedures through CPD presentations;
- Seek out and maintain avenues to support local community non-profit groups and local businesses;
- Where possible, introduce students and young lawyers to the legal profession and encourage their participation and development.
Appreciating connection with the community appears to be a common trait among those who have chosen to practice law in the suburbs, and with the impact of COVID-19 restrictions being felt by all, maintaining a strong support network by the bias of the local suburban law association has never been so important.
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