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  • 26 Apr 2018 10:57 AM | Jing Zhu (Administrator)

    AALA encourages its members to register for the HKABA Young Professionals Event on 2nd May 2018. 

    For more information, please see click here. Registrations to Gary Cheung at garcheung1080@gmail.com

  • 12 Apr 2018 2:20 PM | Anonymous
    The Victorian Bar has released "The State of the Victorian Bar" survey, which includes diversity statistics for the Victorian Bar.

    In particular, the statistics reveal 15% of surveyed members were born overseas, 37% had at least one parent born overseas, and 9% spoke a language other than English at home. The most common of those languages were Greek, Italian, French, German and Hebrew. 

    To read the survey reports, please click here.

    Further, the Australian Human Rights Commission has recently released its updated report "Leading for Change", which follows its previous report released in 2016. 

    The report finds, for instance, that only 1.6% of Chief Executives in Australia have an Asian cultural background, compared to 21% of the Australian population that has an Asian cultural background.

    The report includes statistics from the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (at pages 16-17, 20 and 28).

    To read the report, please click here.

  • 12 Apr 2018 2:05 PM | Anonymous

    The New York Times has recently published an article on the lack of cultural diversity in Australian Parliament.

    To read the article, please click the link below:


  • 19 Feb 2018 6:04 PM | Anonymous
    The Dual Identity Leadership Program is as an initiative of the Vietnamese Community in Australia - Victorian Chapter, funded by the Victorian Government, and aims to support young Vietnamese and other Asian Australians between 18-35 years old who are interested in understanding their dual heritage, enabling their leadership, and making a difference in the community. The program explores a range of themes including leadership styles, self awareness, history, diaspora and identity and belonging.

    For more information and to apply, see https://lnkd.in/feAMcMe

  • 19 Jan 2018 9:03 AM | Anonymous
    The AALA would like to congratulate member Arvind Dixit on his recent promotion to Partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. According to research conducted by the AALA in 2015, Asian Australians accounted for only 3.1% of partners in Australian law firms.

    The AALA also wishes to congratulate member Tim Wong and his team at Luxottica for being nominated as finalists for the Lawyers Weekly FMCG Lawyer of the Year and FMCG Team of the Year awards respectively. More details about the Lawyers Weekly 2018 awards can be found here.

    The AALA further wishes to congratulate Suresh Rajkumar Senathirajah and Minal Vohra on their appointment as Senior Counsel for Victoria late last year. Suresh and Minal join a small but growing number of Asian Australian silks. Research conducted by the AALA in 2015 revealed that, of some 6160 barristers in Australia, only 94 were Asian Australian - and of that 94, only 7 were Senior Counsel.

    In a previous speech by Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, to the AALA, Dr Soutphommasane noted that "invisibility" of Asian Australians in leadership positions creates cultural assumptions and stereotypes about Asian Australians, which contributes to the issue of unconscious bias. The AALA therefore believes promoting the achievements of Asian Australian lawyers is an important part of promoting cultural diversity in the law. If you know of any Asian Australians that have made notable recent achievements, please let us know at info@aala.org.au.
  • 28 Nov 2017 9:18 PM | Anonymous
    The AALA committee has been contacted by Amy Choi, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, who is conducting research on culturally diverse leaders in the legal profession.

    Ms Choi is seeking participants in Melbourne to be interviewed for her research. The interviews will be kept confidential, and the identity of the participants and their firms/organisations will be kept anonymous. It is anticipated that the interview will take approximately 1 hour. 

    The participant criteria are as follows:

    - Working in the legal profession

    - 'Emerging leader' such as Senior Associate or Senior Legal Counsel

    - 'Senior leader' such as Partner, Barrister, Judge or Head of Legal Counsel

    - Has an Asian cultural background (this includes Central Asia, such as Indian or Sri Lankan). They can either be a 1st generation migrant or born in Australia (2nd and subsequent generation).

    The AALA would encourage members who meet the criteria to participate in the research. Studies such as this one play an important role in advancing cultural diversity in the profession.

    For more information and to express your interest in participating, please click here.

  • 22 Nov 2017 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    The AALA's inaugural William Ah Ket Scholarship was featured on ABC Radio's AM program.

    The report features comments from:

    • Paul Ah Ket, grandson of William Ah Ket
    • William Lye OAM, barrister and national Vice President, AALA
    • Patrick Ibbotson, Chairman, Maddocks
    • K. Thomas Abraham, winner of the inaugural William Ah Ket Scholarship
    • Jenny Wood, distant relative of William Ah Ket

    Click here to listen to the excerpt.

  • 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.

    Mr. 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.

    Mr. 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 | Anonymous

    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.




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