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  • 21 Nov 2017 9:00 PM | Anonymous

    A solicitor in a Victorian government agency is the first winner of the William Ah Ket Scholarship, a $5,000 prize named after the first barrister of Chinese heritage in Australia.

    K Abraham Thomas has won the scholarship for his paper Affirmative Action in Piercing the Bamboo Ceiling within the Australian Legal Profession.

    Abraham’s paper considers the ‘bamboo ceiling’ in the legal profession and whether affirmative action is an adequate means to alleviate any inequalities, ultimately concluding that it would be preferable to harness ‘The Medici Effect’ (developed by Frans Johansson in his 2006 book of the same name) to ensure diversity of thought.

    Abraham, who is of Indian heritage, was admitted in 2015 and is ‘passionate about law and its interaction with society’.

    The winner was announced tonight at a ceremony in Melbourne.

    The judging panel for this year’s scholarship was:

    • Michelle Dixon, CEO, Maddocks
    • Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner
    • The Hon. Michael Kirby, AC, CMG, Former Justice of the High Court of Australia
    • The Hon. Chief Justice Wayne Martin, AC, Chair of Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity

    Chief Justice Martin said each of the essays on the shortlist were very interesting.

    ‘Each was very thorough and reflected a great deal of research and thought. In my view, each would have been a worthy winner of the scholarship.’

    The William Ah Ket Scholarship is an initiative by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) designed to highlight the contribution of William Ah Ket and to encourage debate about issues related to equality, diversity and the law.

    The scholarship is sponsored by Maddocks, the law firm where William completed his articles in 1903.

    William joined the Victorian Bar in 1904, becoming the first Chinese barrister to practise in Melbourne

    AALA vice president William Lye, OAM congratulated Abraham on winning the $5,000 scholarship.

    ‘The quality of entries this year was outstanding, but it was Abraham’s paper that stood out,’ he said.

    ‘This year was the inaugural year for the William Ah Ket Scholarship and our aim is for this to grow into a prestigious legal scholarship.’

    For further information, contact Maddocks Communications Manager Jason Silverii on 03 9258 3509 or at Jason.silverii@maddocks.com.au.


     
       

  • 30 Oct 2017 2:07 PM | Sining Wang (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    As many of you would know, voting for the Law Institute of Victoria elections are now open. Two of our members, Molina Asthana and and Sam Pandya, are seeking election this year.

    If you are an LIV member, we encourage you to support diversity in the LIV council and consider voting for our members. A brief introduction to each candidate is below.


    Molina Asthana

    Our National Executive Committee member Molina Asthana is standing for the LIV Council elections. She is currently serving (since January 2017) on the Council on a casual vacancy and has been working on many of these issues including better services for members by LIV, preventing increased cost of practicing certificates, creating a link between the Australian and Asian legal sectors, better access for Australian lawyers overseas and vice versa, and creating greater diversity in the legal fraternity.

    Molina is a practitioner having significant experience in two legal jurisdictions, having practiced in India for 7 years and over 11 years in Australia. She also has both significant private sector and Government law practice experience.

    Molina is also the Deputy Chair of the International Law Section of the LIV and the President of the Victorian Chapter of the International Law Association and sits on numerous community and other boards.


    Molina was a finalist in the 'Access to Justice Category of the LIV awards in 2016 and am a recipient of various other awards including the Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence - Service Delivery for Community Services 2014 and the VMC Multicultural Award (as Victorian Convenor of the organisation Asian Australian Alliance) 2016.


    Through her charity work with various not-for profits she has been active in lobbying for changes in the law. She would be keen to champion the interests of overseas practitioners, government lawyers, women practitioners and advocate for greater cultural diversity in the profession and cultural training for judges.


    Sam Pandya

    Sam has been an LIV Councillor for the last 3 years and is seeking re-election for the Council for another 3-year term.

    Sam is an AALA member and a lawyer of Indian heritage.  Sam represents a growing segment of the increasingly diverse LIV membership, the legal profession and the community as a whole.

    Sam has a strong passion for and commitment to Diversity and Inclusion within the legal profession in Victoria and nationally. He is Chair of the LIV’s Diversity Taskforce and work very closely to support and promote gender, cultural and LGBTI diversity initiatives, associations and from a policy perspective.

    Sam has this year been appointed to the Law Council of Australia’s Equal Opportunity Committee and is currently working with the LCA on an initiative to collect ethnic and cultural diversity data on a national level, to build on the work the AALA has undertaken in this space.


    Voting is currently open and closes on 8 November 2017.
    To vote, please visit the LIV's website at: https://www.liv.asn.au/CouncilElections

     

  • 24 Oct 2017 9:23 AM | Jing Zhu (Administrator)

    On 9 October 2017, the AALA and Women Barristers Association hosted the diversity event "Diversity- my experiences in the law" which included a unique opportunity to hear from Tuan Van Le (Executive Direction, Dispute Resolution of the ATO), Rochelle Castro (Principal at RC & Co Lawyers) and Judicial Registrar Tran of the County Court to provide their insights and experiences of working in the law.

    ‘Oh he’s one of those Asian lawyers’

    ‘Aren’t you going to be intimidated? You’re so small!’

    It is hard to believe these comments are familiar to the esteemed lawyers that joined  us to share their experiences and insight about diversity in the law as part of Herbert Smith Freehills’s Diversity Week.

    Rochelle recalled the bewildered expression on her client’s face when she introduced herself as the principal solicitor at her firm. Registrar Tran highlighted (with amusement) the erroneous use of male pronouns in correspondence addressed to her and emphasised that gender discrimination is not always obvious.

    When asked for tips for younger professionals in practice areas or in roles with a lack of diversity, Tuan answered ‘whatever you do, do it well’. His response may be a return to the Asian stereotype of ‘working hard’ but as Judicial Registrar Tran highlighted, such attribute should be championed, regardless of its ethnic roots.

    Our panelists demonstrated that achieving diversity at senior levels is possible and in fact, even favorable. It was clear that our panelists had to overcome gender and ethnic barriers to reach their position. For young practitioners, we are not only grateful for their perseverance to stand for who they are but we were also inspired by their passion and strive for diversity in the legal profession.

     

  • 21 Sep 2017 11:42 PM | Sining Wang (Administrator)
    The William Ah Ket Scholarship is an annual prize open to all lawyers admitted to practice in Australia and with up to five years post admission experience.

     

    The $5000 scholarship is designed to foster the development and promotion of cultural diversity in the legal profession.

    The scholarship is named after William Ah Ket, the son of Chinese migrants who was admitted to practice in Victoria in 1903. William completed his articled clerkship at Maddock Jamieson (now Maddocks) before signing the Victorian Bar roll in 1904. He practised as a barrister until his death in 1936.

    William is believed to be the first person of Chinese background to practise as a barrister in Australia.

    The William Ah Ket Scholarship has been devised by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association and is proudly sponsored by Maddocks.

     

    WILLIAM AH KET


     

    ‘William Ah Ket did not ever sit on the Bench, though he would have been a very competent judge. He was a phenomenon at the Victorian Bar, a full-blooded Chinese born in the north-east of Victoria. He was a sound lawyer and a good advocate.’ – Sir Robert Menzies, barrister and Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

    The story of William Ah Ket is a significant one in the history of the Australian legal profession.

    William was born in the Victorian country town of Wangaratta in 1876, the son of Mah Ket, who arrived from Canton during the gold rush, and his wife Hing Ung.


    Fulfilling his father’s wishes, William studied law at the University of Melbourne. While there he won a prize of 40 pounds from the Supreme Court in 1902. He served his articles under Richard Cross of the firm then known as Maddock & Jamieson (now Maddocks) in 1903. 

    He joined the Victorian Bar in 1904, reading with Stewart McArthur – who later went on to be a Supreme Court judge – and became the first Chinese barrister to practise in Melbourne. He is also believed to be the first Chinese barrister to practise in Australia.

    William was well regarded as a barrister. He specialised in civil law and acquired a considerable reputation as a negotiator of settlements.

    A report in the Victorian Bar News of Winter 1984 records that he enjoyed “an excellent general practice” and “was recognised as an able cross-examiner with a superb command of language”.

    However, as Sir Robert Menzies, who was a friend and practised with Mr Ah Ket in Selbourne Chambers, observed “[a] certain prejudice among clients against having a Chinese barrister to an extent limited his practice”.

    Despite this, between 1905 and 1928, he appeared before the High Court on at least 12 occasions. This included a number of cases, Bishop v Chung Brothers, Potter v Minahan and Ingham v Hie Lee, that involved challenges to legislation that discriminated against those of Chinese origin. Indeed, as his daughter Toylaan noted in a paper on her father,  this was an issue that he was passionate about, having been involved in forming a committee to agitate against the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 and the unreasonable conditions imposed, such as the infamous dictation test.

    William was a member of the Chinese Empire Reform Association of 1904 and the Anti-Opium League of Victoria, organisations which supported modernisation and social reform among Chinese at home and abroad. He was also a delegate to the first interstate Chinese convention held at Melbourne in 1905 and was co-founder and president of the Sino-Australian Association, considered to be the first Australian-Chinese club.

    He visited China in 1912-13 as the delegate of the Victorian Chinese Chamber of Commerce to participate in the election of overseas Chinese to the new parliament of the Republic. He was also the acting consul-general for China in 1913-14 and in 1917.

    William died on 6 August 1936.

     

    THE WILLIAM AH KET SCHOLARSHIP

    The William Ah Ket Scholarship is an annual scholarship of $5000 to be given to the young lawyer who produces the most outstanding research paper in the field of equality, diversity and the law.

    An initiative of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association and sponsored by law firm Maddocks, the scholarship is designed to recognise the historical contribution of William Ah Ket to the legal profession as the first Asian Australian lawyer in Australia.

    The William Ah Ket scholarship is aimed at lawyers with no more than five years post admission experience.

    To apply for the William Ah Ket scholarship, lawyers will need to submit an unpublished paper of no more than 10,000 words (including footnotes, appendices and tables) on a topic dealing with equality, diversity and the law, by 1 November 2017.

    In 2017, the judging panel for the William Ah Ket Scholarship will be:

    ·         Michelle Dixon, CEO, Maddocks
    ·         Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner
    ·         The Hon. Michael Kirby, AC, CMG, Former Justice of the High Court of Australia
    ·         The Hon. Chief Justice Wayne Martin, AC, Chair of Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity


    You can download an application form here.

    For more information, please email scholarship@aala.org.au


  • 21 Sep 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Executive Committee of the AALA is seeking expressions of interest from members to volunteer to assist with the day-to-day administration of the AALA, including membership, administration and corporate secretarial tasks. The role will involve providing administration assistance to the AALA National Secretariat and Treasury, which are key parts of the organisation and its Executive Committee.

    The AALA National Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the organisation and providing general administrative support to the national Executive Committee. Specific duties include:

    • coordinating meetings, including meetings of the Executive Committee, and annual and other general meetings – preparing agendas (set by the President and Committee members) and taking minutes for Committee meetings; and
    • perform duties or functions as required under legislation and rules pertaining to incorporated associations and not-for-profit organisations, and the AALA Constitution – including recording, maintaining and making accessible relevant registers, minutes, securities and other relevant books and documents.

    The AALA Treasury is responsible for the day-to-day membership administration and the finances of the organisation, including sponsorship and membership administration relating to events. Specific duties include:

    • liaising with prospective and current members about membership and responding to membership queries;
    • assisting with processing membership applications and renewals; and
    • perform duties or functions as required under legislation and the AALA Constitution relating to membership and finances.

    You will be assisting and working under the guidance of the Secretary and the Treasurer to assist to discharge the above tasks, responsibilities and duties.

    Individuals interested in applying for the role will need to demonstrate excellent organisation and time-management skills, attention to detail and be able to work autonomously and proactively.

    To apply, please send your CV and a short covering letter to info@aala.gov.au.

  • 12 Sep 2017 10:30 PM | Anonymous


    The Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) stands for and celebrates diversity and equality in Australia. Our members come from all walks of life and our doors are open to lawyers and other members in the legal community no matter their race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. The AALA Executive Committee stands with the Law Council of Australia; the Human Rights Law Centre; our patron, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG; and numerous other legal industry luminaries and organisations in Australia, and unanimously affirms that freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right.

    Many of our leaders within the Asian Australian community support this change for good because it will greatly enhance the lives of the LGBTIQ community, some of whom are integral members in the AALA. Our Vice-President and current Acting President, William Lye OAM, recently stated in his acceptance speech at the Australian Law Awards 2017 that, as beneficiaries and champions of diversity in Australia, we must press on for equality for all.

    The Yogyakarta Principles, a set of human rights principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity developed in Asia, clearly state that sexual orientation is integral to an individual's dignity and goes to our shared humanity. Similarly, the Supreme Court of India recently held that "discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform."

    Accordingly, the AALA Executive Committee considers our support for marriage equality to flow from a shared value of inclusion that seeks to enhance the dignity of our own members. A change in the law to allow same-sex marriage is the right public policy outcome that will allow two people (regardless of gender) to make a strong and recognised commitment, strengthening the institution of marriage and making our society more inclusive.

    The AALA Executive Committee is comprised of leaders from different cultural backgrounds and of many creeds. But on this issue of inclusion and progress we are unanimous: it’s time for change. The AALA Executive Committee encourages all those in the Asian Australian and legal communities to consider their support for marriage equality and vote 'yes' if they so choose in the upcoming postal survey.



  • 05 Sep 2017 10:16 PM | Anonymous


    Congratulations to AALA Vice President and acting President William Lye OAM who was awarded both the Barrister of the Year 2017 Award and the Lawyers Weekly Excellence Award 2017 (top gong for the night) at the recent Australian Law Awards. Members of the AALA National Executive Committee were on hand to celebrate this incredible achievement with William.

    Executive Committee Member Brydon Wang (Allens) represented the Queensland Branch and flew into Sydney for the Awards ceremony. Here's his social story on Storify of the incredible night.

  • 05 Sep 2017 11:27 AM | Wai Kaey Soon (Administrator)


    The Annual William Lee Address, named in honour of NSW's first barrister of Chinese descent, will be held at the Law Society of NSW, 170 Phillip Street, Sydney, on 13 September 2017 from 6:00pm.

    There will be a panel of distinguished speakers - Lee-May Saw, Vice President of Australian Women Lawyers and Immediate Past President of the Women Lawyers Association of NSW; Professor Andrew Lynch of the University of NSW and The Hon. Melissa Perry, Judge from the Federal Court of Australia.

    Registration and other details can be found in the link to the flyer below:

    Cultural Diversity in the Law (Final)

  • 05 Sep 2017 11:17 AM | Wai Kaey Soon (Administrator)

    Amrita Goel of the AALA NSW Committee will be speaking at the University of Western Sydney in Parramatta on Cultural Diversity and the Legal Profession on 7 September 2017 from 5:30pm.

    Details of the event, including registration can be found here: https://www.daretoknowpublications.com/community-event-2017

  • 24 Aug 2017 1:45 PM | Anonymous


    ENGAGING CHINA:  Reflections on lessons from four decades of legal and professional engagement with China

    The Queensland Branch has invited Mark Day to speak on his observations on the differences in legal practice from his 40 years of legal and professional engagement with China. Our free knowledge session will be held at Level Twenty Seven Chambers on Thursday 7 September 2017 at 6pm (for a 6:30pm start).

    The session will cover:

    • Exploring the cultural & legal trends in Chinese commerce
    • Guanxi: doing business in China - networking and cultural IQ
    • Q&A session
    Find out more on the event and our speaker, Mark Day, here.
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