On Thursday 28 February 2019, the NSW Branch of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association marked the commencement of the Law Term by celebrating Females to the Front. Hosted by Baker McKenzie, this event welcomed NSW Law Society President, Elizabeth Espinosa and AALA National Vice President, Molina Asthana to launch the 2019 Law Term on a path of strength, humility and inclusiveness.
Opened by Baker McKenzie’s Gillian Woon and hosted by Lawyer’s Weekly 2017 Female Student of the Year and AALA NSW Secretary, Marija Yelavich, the event embraced the many brilliant hats we all wear: we are parents, sons and daughters. We are partners, the wedding ring-kind and the bossy, sign your pay cheques-kind. We are solicitors, barristers, students and academics. We identify with the binary and fluidity of gender and sexuality. We know multiple languages and overcome the daily beauty and challenges of living in a connected city like Sydney. The message was clear: we are diverse and we have to continue to help the legal profession from the inside out.
Special guest speaker and trailblazer, Molina Asthana shared with the audience of over 50 guests, her personal story from studying and practising in India to transferring her life and practice to Australia. Molina emphasised that we must continue to push for change in the leadership echelons- welcoming more diversity is not only imperative to reflect the demographic but is a decision that benefits the entire workforce and community.
The audience’s response to the keynote speaker Elizabeth Espinosa’s story showed how valuable and cherished storytelling is. The legal profession has moved beyond diversity as a set of statistics and we want your story: we want to learn, develop empathy and grow in our common understanding. This touched on the key purpose of AALA: an association that advocates for intersectional diversity, a network of shared values and experiences whose common goal is to advocate for cultural equity and equality. Espinosa made a poignant statement: the Law is as expressive as it is disciplined. Diversity is a help. Not a hindrance. AALA welcomes Espinosa as the NSW Law Society President and applauds the inclusive approach to advocacy and policy. As Espinosa noted, ‘diversity is no longer the buzz word,’ and change is happening. It is up to all of us to engage in personal reflection and professional training that will create and promote a more inclusive community.