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  • 28 May 2020 8:06 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    What to do if you're a victim of racism in Australia? Australians have a number of ways to report racism, but the vast majority of incidents go unreported. With many advocacy groups saying COVID-19 is fuelling racism around Australia, victims are being urged to report any kind of racist attack. But without a national reporting system, processes are often confusing, leaving most incidents unaddressed and uncounted. SBS News looks at what you can do if you experience racism. Go to: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/what-to-do-if-you-re-a-victim-of-racism-in-australia

  • 20 May 2020 12:48 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    Australian boards are male and pale, by Sally Patten, BOSS editor, AFR, 20 May, 2020

    Despite a hefty increase in the number of female board members over the past five years, the directors of Australia's biggest 300 companies remain largely male and pale. An in-depth study of ASX 300 companies found the lack of cultural diversity on boards was particularly stark.

    "It is difficult to attract the best people if they can't see themselves reflected at the leadership level," says Macquarie Group director Nicola Wakefield Evans. Janie Barrett

    The proportion of directors from non-Anglo-Celtic cultural backgrounds fell to 5 per cent from 5.4 per cent between 2016 and 2020, the study by the Governance Institute of Australia and Watermark Search International, an executive recruitment firm, found.

    The proportion of board directors from anywhere outside Australia declined to 29.3 per cent from 30.4 per cent over the same period.

    The lack of cultural diversity at the board level reflects a similar pattern at executive levels, with a 2018 report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, University of Sydney, Asia Society Australia and Committee for Sydney noting that only 5.1 per cent of chief executives and senior executives in Australia had a non-European or Indigenous background.

    “More progress needs to be made in Australian boardrooms in this area, particularly given the very global nature of trade and business for domestic entities," said Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto. “Boards must also realise that as well as being fairer and more representative of the society they operate in and of their workforces, that there is also an increasing resistance to investing in companies with homogeneous boards."

    Harder to understand customers

    Nicola Wakefield Evans, a director of property company LendLease, investment bank Macquarie Group and life insurer MetLife Australia, said that without directors from diversebackgrounds, Australian companies risked finding it harder to understand their customers, manage international supply chains and attract top talent.

    "It is difficult to attract the best people if they can't see themselves reflected at the leadership level," she said. Ms Wakefield Evans also chairs the 30% Club, which campaigns to improve gender diversity on boards.

    Boards, she argued, were failing to reflect the multicultural aspect of Australian society. "You have to have organisations governed in a way that reflects the society," Ms Wakefield Evans said.

    The study found that although the number of companies with 50 per cent or more women on their board had risen to 20 from 16 over the past 12 months, in 2020 less than half the number of ASX 300 boards had more than 30 per cent female directors. This year 29 ASX 300 companies had no women at all.

    The lack of female directors was in spite of their superior qualifications. Watermark Search and the Governance Institute found that 7 per cent of female directors had PhDs, against 4 percent of men, 40 per cent had either an MBA or a masters degree, against 33 per cent of men, and 89 per cent of women directors had an undergraduate degree, compared to 73 per cent of their male counterparts.

    Female directors were also far more likely to have formal governance training. "That an individual has dedicated the time, resources and effort to attain a qualification such as an MBA or PhD speaks volumes and adds a huge amount of value to a board," Ms Motto said.

    "We know that a combination of both experience and ongoing education is essential for those in both a governance professional role, as well as in the boardroom,"

    Ms Wakefield Evans said the difference in education levels could be due to the need for women to be better educated and more experienced to rise up the corporate ladder.

    Sally Patten edits BOSS, and writes about workplace issues. She was Financial Services of the Financial Review and Personal Finance editor of the AFR, Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She edited business news for The Times of London. Connect with Sally on Twitter. Email Sally at spatten@afr.com

    See: https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/leaders/australian-boards-are-male-and-pale-20200519-p54udk

  • 09 May 2020 5:32 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    AALA congratulates Elizabeth Espinosa on her appointment as a Commissioner Public Service Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court

    On 6 May 2020 the Chief Judge announced the appointment of a new Commissioner to the Court.

    Ms Elizabeth Espinosa has been appointed a Commissioner of the Court from 1 June 2020 for a period of 7 years.

    Ms Espinosa's practice as a solicitor spans over 20 years, specialising in local government, planning and environmental law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Wollongong. Ms Espinosa was admitted as an Australian lawyer in June 1997. Ms Espinosa's experience in the Court is wide-ranging. As a solicitor she has appeared in most classes of jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court. She has extensive experience in local government and in assessment of development applications. In her previous role as General Counsel at Liverpool City Council she was responsible for providing high level legal services and appearing as legal representative in the Court and provided legal advice for Council and Councillors in relation to local government development applications and dealings.

    Ms Espinosa recently has served as the President of the Law Society of NSW, and currently remains a Councillor of the Law Society of NSW. She is also Director of the Corporate Governance Committee of the Law Council of Australia.

    See: http://www.lec.justice.nsw.gov.au/


  • 27 Apr 2020 12:23 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    AALA congratulates Kathrina Lo on her appointment as NSW Public Service Commissioner https://www.themandarin.com.au/130226-kathrina-lo-named-nsw-public-service-commissioner/

  • 27 Apr 2020 12:15 PM | John Arthur (Administrator)

    From the daughter of refugees to Freehills partner by Michael Pelly, Legal Affairs editor, Australian Financial Review, 24 Apr, 2020

    Christine Tran says her elevation to the partnership of Herbert Smith Freehills this week came as a welcome surprise.

    As COVID-19 bore down on the economy and business started to cut costs, the class actions lawyer said she and others felt their prospects of a promotion – at least for this year – fading.

    "We were concerned – well I certainly was – that they might change their mind. And I think it would have been quite reasonable for them to have done so," Ms Tran said.

    "You're not privy to those decision-making processes, but yeah, I was surprised – and obviously very happy."

    The global firm announced that 26 people had been promoted to partner – four more than 2019 – with eight (four men and four women) in Australia. They include head of pro-bono Brooke Massender, who becomes the firm's first pro-bono partner.

    Christine Tran draws inspiration from her boat-people parents: "Whatever you're facing, it pales in comparison with what they went through."

    Most local firms announce their new partners in June, but it is expected to be slim pickings this year. Minter Ellison, the biggest employer of lawyers in Australia, has already announced that its next round of promotions has been put on hold until January.

    HSF's managing partner in Australia, Andrew Pike, said the firm had taken "a long-term view on partner promotions". "We want to make sure that we have the right people to meet our clients’ needs, both now and into the future."

    A different Australian dream

    Ms Tran is the daughter of Vietnamese parents who escaped by boat as the Vietnam War drew to a close in the mid-1970s. They settled in south-west Sydney and had some basic ambitions for their three children. "The Australian dream was their kids would have an easier life than what they went through,'' Ms Tran said.

    As member of the firm's class actions team since she finished her graduate program 10 years ago, Ms Tran has been working on big-ticket cases such as those filed against AMP following the banking royal commission. She joined Freehills as a summer clerk in 2006 and after a two-year graduate program settled on litigation as her practice area. She gravitated to class actions, with part of the lure being that it was a developing area of law. Aside from the fact she is working from home, Ms Tran says "it's pretty much business as usual". "Litigation funders are still busy and looking for cases to invest in."

    One of the first calls she made was to her parents – dad was a factory worker for a mining company and mum was a homemaker – but she says they are not overly fussed about her being a lawyer. (She has two younger brothers: a physiotherapist and graphic designer.) "They don't really understand what I do, They think it's nice I get to go to an office."

    Ms Tran is proud of the courage they showed to leave their home – on separate journeys – and says it puts her own struggles into perspective. Her father arranged passage, but only on the condition that he brought along women and children who were related to the boat owner. He landed in the Philippines and then caught a plane to Australia. "He only told me the story recently,'' Ms Tran says. "I can't imagine it. He had to go through the cover of night, through a jungle with them and get on a boat ... "I think it helps to give you a bit of courage because whatever you're facing, it pales in comparison with what they went through."

     https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/from-the-daughter-of-refugees-to-freehills-partner-20200421-p54lxd?fbclid=IwAR0ITN0Z_6oxRwxhzc66Xuir2Z5ltBRZBpCx4GJmUALSjqor2iADUB-WWc0 
  • 27 Mar 2020 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    The AALA is proud to partner with the Global Law Students’ Association at the University of Melbourne to support the inaugural International Students Mooting Competition. This competition provides an invaluable opportunity for students (particularly international students) to gain both written and oral advocacy experience.

    The video of the information session is at https://youtu.be/3MuTivU-E_k, including a short clip from Daniel Nguyen, President of the Victorian branch of the AALA

    For further details and to register for this competition (registrations open at 6 pm on 26 March 2020), please refer to the following For further details and to register for this competition (registrations open at 6 pm on 26 March 2020), please refer to the following link.

  • 25 Mar 2020 11:12 PM | Anonymous
    Dear AALA Member

    AALA responds to COVID-19

    Our hearts go out to you and your loved ones.

    The harrowing events of the past week have put us and our communities into a series of increasingly stressful situations as a result of the rapid spread of COVID-19.

    Our legal judicial system, legal services industry and we in the legal profession are all doing our best to cope with the upheaval caused by COVID-19.  We are following the guidance of government at national, state and local levels, our health services, employers and legal industry associations.

    What is evident, as we look beyond our locked-down environment, is that as physical face-to-face meetings are curtailed:

    • the landscape is changing rapidly and evolving to match the unusual and onerous limitations cast upon all of us; and

    • our use of communication platforms has become vital to staying connected and maintaining our relationships despite the necessity of ‘physical distancing’.

    AALA remains a unique part of the legal community.  In these trying times, AALA will continue to provide support to Asian-Australian lawyers and law students and those with an interest in Asia.  We will now rely, more than ever, on the support of our own AALA network and our friends and colleagues in the broader legal profession and beyond to continue our work.

    We are set to launch our National Mentoring program entirely online. Virtual mentoring provides a way in which we can support one another in a time of crisis. Our ample list of volunteer mentors (seasoned barristers and lawyers) are ready to take mentees for this year. We will provide further updates on the launch date and online mentoring workshops soon. Applications are still open via our web site.

    We will also be providing support to our Asian student community, particularly international students who face uncertainty, isolation, disruption of studies and potential discrimination. We will endeavour to provide them with a forum to connect, interact, learn and feel safe in the AALA community.

    We wish to expand our capacity and ask today, that those who may be able to volunteer in some capacity or have a special skill, knowledge or experience to consider volunteering and e-mail us at membership@aala.org.au. 

    AALA is gearing up to navigate these very difficult circumstances. We are reviewing our current stream of activities and making plans to introduce initiatives adapted to this new challenging environment.  It is paramount for us that you as our members continue to benefit from your involvement with AALA and we will provide you with further announcements shortly.  

    Unity is strength. Believe in what you can achieve.

    Yours faithfully

    Kingsley Liu
    National President
    Asian Australian Lawyers Association

  • 16 Mar 2020 9:29 AM | Anonymous

    ‘Law in Colour’ is an online space which serves to share, affirm and spotlight the stories of people of colour in the Legal Profession. It is an exploration of experience, and an experiment in representation.

    It aims to: 

    • create an online community which values diversity and seeks out new and challenging narratives about race, culture and identity in the Victorian legal profession. 
    • provide a platform for people of colour in the Victorian legal profession to share their thoughts, stories and perspectives on their own experience and the profession as a whole.
    • engage in a dialogue about the nuances of cultural and linguistic diversity
    • showcase of the diversity present in our legal community, and play a part in diverse representation in the legal profession. 

    Be sure to follow along on LinkedIn and Instagram (@lawincolour).

    If you or someone you know would be interested in being interviewed, please reach out to Law in Colour at lawincolour@gmail.com.


  • 11 Mar 2020 11:37 PM | Sining Wang (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    Following the success of the mentoring program in previous years, we are excited to announce the launch of the AALA mentoring program again in 2020.

    For more information and application details, please click here.

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