Dear Members and Friends
We wish to thank you for your kind support during the 2019-2020 financial year.
It has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to harrowing impacts on our physical and mental health, jobs and livelihoods, not to mention the impact of racism and discrimination against our Asian-Australian communities.
In these trying times, AALA will continue to provide support to Asian-Australian lawyers, law students, and supporters of AALA's vision of promoting cultural diversity in the law, whatever their background. AALA recognises that it plays an important role in supporting our community in the current crisis.
We will now rely, more than ever, on your support and the support of our friends and colleagues in the broader legal profession and beyond to continue our work. We will continue to provide the professional support, programs and representation that our members need in these trying times.
We thank you for your responses to our inaugural AALA National Members’ Survey. Your National Executive Committee is responding to this survey in rolling out AALA’s programs and initiatives for the new financial year. We are focussing on providing more benefits to AALA members, improving the value and quality of our events (most of which are now being held online), and being more inclusive of all our members. We have developed an AALA COVID-19 Policy to guide our work.
We are currently planning an inaugural AALA National Summit to be held entirely online later this year for our members. This exciting event will feature some of the most important issues and projects to advance cultural diversity objectives in the legal industry. We are developing a terrific program of speakers and forums – please stay tuned.
In relation to the range of professional development benefits that we offer to members, in May we launched our inaugural AALA National Digital Events Series, comprising high-quality online CLEs and interactive forums. We aim to provide sufficient annual CPD points to meet the requirements in most jurisdictions. We also launched our flagship AALA Mentoring Program online and are planning an interactive Mentoring Workshop, the details of which will be announced soon.
As to furthering your career opportunities, we will shortly launch an online AALA Members’ Blackboard, which is an interactive portal that will build our member-to-member engagement, establish a forum for knowledge sharing and career opportunities and circulate industry news. It will also provide a platform to support members’ wellbeing.
AALA is steadfastly committed to its overarching objective to promote cultural diversity in the law. In these critical times, we aim to support you by protecting and safeguarding your interests, sharing opportunities, advancing your wellbeing, and effectively championing you to grow in difficult times and find your own pathway forward. If you have any comments or feedback, please e-mail us at email@example.com – we would love to hear from you.
Please take this moment to renew your AALA membership for the financial year 2020-2021 by logging in to your account and renewing your membership from our AALA home page. Please note that if your membership fees are not paid, your membership may lapse and we won’t be able to provide our member benefits to you.
If you are a corporate member of AALA, your membership will apply for one year from the date of application for the corporate membership, which may not be the financial year. Please ensure that your membership is up to date. If you have any queries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, if you are not yet a member of AALA, we warmly invite you to join!
Let’s share our unity on the AALA vision.
Asian Australian Lawyers Association
Deep cultural shifts required: open letter from 500 legal women calls for reform of way judges are appointed and disciplined by Gabrielle Appleby, Professor, UNSW Law School, UNSW; The Conversation, 6 July, 2020
In an open letter to Attorney-General Christian Porter, about 500 women working in the law from across Australia have sought changes to the way judges are disciplined and appointed.
The letter comes after former High Court judge Dyson Heydon was found by an independent investigation to have sexually harassed young female associates of the court, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The letter was also sent to Susan Kiefel, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, along with another letter to thank her
for her strong, decisive and compassionate responses to the complaints in the Heydon matter, and ask her to work with the government to see these reforms implemented in a way sensitive to the protection of judicial integrity and independence.
The full text of the two letters are below, along with the names of signatories: https://theconversation.com/deep-cultural-shifts-required-open-letter-from-500-legal-women-calls-for-reform-of-way-judges-are-appointed-and-disciplined-142042
Recognition of the Advancement of AALA Members: January-July 2020
As a new financial year has dawned, many of our members have had the privilege of being promoted by their current employer, or promoted to a higher position with a different employer.
As AALA is focussed on advancing cultural diversity within the legal profession, AALA would like to release a public statement on our web site and on our social media channels celebrating our members who have advanced in their careers.
Accordingly, if you are an AALA member and have been promoted by your current employer or promoted to a higher position with a different employer between January 2020 and July 2020 (inclusive), please fill out the following form by 5pm Friday 17 July 2020:
Congratulations to all AALA members who have been successful in the recent round of promotions.
Asian Australian Lawyers Association
Special interest law associations are coming together supported by the Law Institute of Victoria to promote the inclusion of members from different cultural backgrounds at all levels of the legal profession.
The Law Institute of Victoria is backing special interest law groups to amplify diversity in law says LIV president Sam Pandya, the first lawyer of Indian heritage to lead the LIV.
The LIV Network of Cultural and Diverse Association Presidents comprises the African Australian Legal Network, Asian Australian Lawyers Association, Australian Italian Lawyers Association, Diverse Women in Law, French Australian Lawyers Society, Hellenic Australian Lawyers, Jewish Australian Lawyers' Association, LIVOut, Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’Association, Muslim Legal Network, North American Australia Lawyers Alliance, Victorian Christian Legal Society, and Victorian Women Lawyers.
The 13-group network will coordinate the LIV's efforts to create a strong voice to advocate for greater cultural diversity in the profession. As Mr Panya states "diversity contributes to the vitality of our community. We want the legal profession to reflect that. We want broad representation across the profession, from the bottom to the top.”
Twenty-eight per cent of the Australian population was born overseas and 32 per cent has a non-Anglo Celtic background, but this is not proportionately represented in leadership of organisations. A 2015 Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) report found Asian Australian lawyers account for 3.1 per cent of partners in law firms, 1.6 per cent of barristers and 0.8 per cent of the judiciary.
“We continue to tackle the bamboo ceiling and sticky floor,” says AALA Victorian president Daniel D Nguyen.
Inclusivity is vital for the sustainability of the legal profession, says Mr Pandya, adding diversity in workplaces positively impacts performance, innovation, risk reduction and client satisfaction.
To read full article, go to: https://www.liv.asn.au/Staying-Informed/LIJ/LIJ/July-2020/Diversity--LIV--welcomes-13-group-network
Gen A | Firm Futures in the Legal Sector: Gen A Masterclass with Wayne Spanner hosted by the Asia Society
An industry steeped in tradition; will COVID-19 transform the legal sectors modus operandi and how will this impact early career lawyers? While borders remain closed for the foreseeable future, are international careers in law still an option?
Over the span of a few weeks, many of the Australia’s leading law firms have drastically changed their way of working. The WFH shift coupled with significant cuts to draws, pay, and hours and the freezing on non-essential spending, have left many young people in legal services feeling uncertain of what is to come.
Asia Society Australia warmly invites you to Gen A masterclass with our Board Director and Managing Partner of Norton Rose Fulbright, Wayne Spanner, for an update on the current state of play for the legal services sector, and opportunities for the future of the industry in the “new normal” era.
Wayne will also speak to his career in Law and leadership and offer his insights on building an Asia-focused career in this sector.
This event is by invitation only. Registration is essential, places strictly limited. For further enquiries contact: email@example.com
Date: 7 July 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. AEST
Gen A | Firm Futures in the Legal Sector: Gen A Masterclass with Wayne Spanner A | Firm Futures in the Legal Sector: Gen A Masterclass with Wayne Spanner
Diversity & Inclusion Forum: Bar, BAME (British Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) and Covid-19
On 30 June 2020 Lincoln's Inn, London, held the second of their Diversity & Inclusion Forums.
Panellists Natasha Shotunde, Jo Sidhu QC and Professor Leslie Thomas QC discussed their experiences at the English Bar as barristers from ethic minorities, the impact of Covid-19 on diversity at the Bar, and what changes could be made by the Bar to address issues faced by BAME barristers, as well as the appropriateness of the acronym "BAME".
The event was co-chaired by Brie Stevens-Hoare QC and Neil Chawla of counsel.
Go to: https://www.lincolnsinn.org.uk/media/diversity-inclusion-forum-bar-bame-and-covid-19/
Asian Australian Lawyers AssociationStatement from the National Executive CommitteeSexual Harassment in the Workplace
The National Executive Committee of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association supports the statement by the President of the Australian Bar Association in relation to the recent findings of an independent investigation regarding former Justice of the High Court the Hon Dyson Heydon AC QC.
AALA is in full agreement that sexual harassment has no place in any workplace, including the legal profession, and that all members in the legal profession must work together to ensure that the legal profession is a safe workplace for everyone.
In 2018, the International Bar Association and Acritas conducted the largest-ever global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession with responses received from nearly 7,000 individuals from 135 countries. The results showed that approximately one in three female respondents had been sexually harassed in a workplace context, as had one in 14 male respondents. The results provided empirical confirmation that bullying and sexual harassment are rife in the legal profession.
In 2019, the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner conducted a survey on sexual harassment in the Victorian legal sector with responses from over 2,300 lawyers and 259 law practices. The Victorian survey found that more than one in three lawyers had experienced sexual harassment at work, with close to two third of female respondents having experienced this behaviour, compared with just over one in ten male respondents. In many cases, the harassment was highly destructive to the respondents’ personal wellbeing, and often their careers.
It is encouraging to learn that the High Court has now implemented a range of policy changes designed to ensure that “the experiences of these women will not be repeated”*.
AALA hopes that similar improvements in workplace policies are made across the legal profession as a whole.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace, in addition to accessing your workplace’s policies, you may wish to lodge a complaint with the relevant anti-discrimination or equal opportunity Board or Commission in your State or Territory, the Australian Human Rights Commission or contact Safe Work Australia.
*For the full text of the Chief Justice Kiefel’s Statement, go to:
COVID-19 WELL-BEING SEMINAR FOR ADAPTING TO A NEW NORMAL: A CHANGE BRAIN FOR A CHANGING WORLD"
Covid-19 has created many changes, uncertainty and even chaos in our lives.
A true reminder of the old saying that: the only constant in life is change. What if this is not just a philosophical statement to guide us through the trials and tribulations of life? What if this is the essence of who we are?
By the time you finish reading this post, your brain has been changed (even may be just slightly) by you because of the new neural connections being formed with the injection of new information and learning. This is the 21st century understanding of our brain thanks to neuroscience.
When: 09 Jul 2020, 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM
Location: Online Zoom Session; Registration:Free Registration
Go to: http://aala.org.au/event-3879243
Black Lives Matter: a challenge to the law A webinar presented by the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
Join the Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, in conversation with David Lammy, Ulele Burnham and Matthew Ryder QC, to discuss the ways in which the justice system perpetuates systemic racism in the UK and beyond, and the role legal systems must take in dismantling it.
Go to: https://www.ibanet.org/Black-Lives-Matter-a-challenge-to-the-law.aspx
Statement from the National Executive Committee
Black Lives Matter
The Asian Australian Lawyers Association stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging that racism is still prevalent in our society. In America and elsewhere, Black communities have been affected by displacement, violence and systemic racism for hundreds of years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities have been affected by misunderstanding, ignorance, displacement, violence, mistreatment and racism ever since Europeans entered the country. These acts and omissions have resulted in considerable injustice and inequity, much of which is yet to be seriously addressed.
This global movement has brought Australia’s attention to the flaws in our own justice system. As a body that represents the legal profession, we stand proud of our diversity, and aware of our privilege as members of the legal profession. We acknowledge our experience is different, but we come from a place of a shared understanding that racism should not be accepted in any form and we are committed to the transformation that is required of us all.
We can start by actively calling out racism when we see it, standing with our African American, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends and colleagues and all other Australians of a culturally diverse background, informing the misinformed and spreading awareness among our communities of the many injustices that still exist.
We will listen. We will build the knowledge, empathy and respect required to have the courage to speak out and act when we see injustice. We will invite others to the table to discuss their experiences and continue to build a collective network. We are humble and mindful of the history that has brought our communities together.
We will seek to be champions of equality and diversity in our workplaces, our communities and our homes by actively playing our part in Australia’s reconciliation journey. We also call on the Law Societies and Bar Associations of each State and Territory to implement compulsory cultural competency training as part of the profession’s continuing professional development requirements as a baseline standard.
To achieve fundamental, intersectional and inclusive change in our systems, we as lawyers must grow and become more accepting of difference, challenge our biases and modes of thinking. Let us diversify our newsfeeds, read histories and philosophies different to our own, learn and listen to the songs and stories of all our neighbours — internalise the different languages, accents, messages. Lead by example; be an engaged ally; transform oneself.
Ten important books on Indigenous cultures, histories and politics: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Rec-News-Ten-Important-Books.pdf
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