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Your input needed – Revised Business and Human Rights Survey

The International Bar Association (IBA) in partnership with the Law Council of Australia is continuing to work towards developing a series of tools to assist lawyers improve their knowledge of business and human rights. In September and October 2016, a survey was launched to gain more information from law firm lawyers, barristers and in-house lawyers to identify the starting points for the training.

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Media Release: Alice Springs Local Court Judge a win for diversity and access to justice

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) welcomes the Attorney-General's announcement today that the Supreme and Local Court Registrar, Sarah McNamara, has been appointed a Local Court judge in Alice Springs.

Society President Mr Tass Liveris said, "The Society has long supported judicial appointments from within the local profession to the greatest extent possible, diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary and access to justice in the regions. Registrar McNamara’s appointment progresses each of these causes.”.

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Symmetra Unconscious Bias Training for Legal Practitioners

Lawyers typically make a multitude of decisions daily, affecting themselves and others, and where unconscious biases are in play, the outcomes may be less than optimum and often contrary to your intentions.

In this interactive course, practitioners will learn about the concept of unconscious bias, how it affects their business and industry, and equip themselves with tools to increase their effectiveness in decision making situations. Videos, case studies and revealing questions engage the learner in this relevant and fast paced program. A practical toolkit is provided to enable practitioners to counteract bias in decision situations.

Please click here for further information about this training.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Law Society Northern Territory Appoints New CEO

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) is proud to announce the recent appointment of Kellie Grainger to the office of the Chief Executive Officer.

Ms Grainger’s appointment follows a Territory-wide recruitment process in the latter part of 2016. Ms Grainger was admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1996 and worked in private practice in Hervey Bay, before moving to the Northern Territory in 2012. Ms Grainger has been employed by the Society for almost 5 years. Since 2012, she has been the Manager Regulatory Services and in addition, she has been the acting CEO of the Society since June 2016.

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Media Release: Youth Justice: A step in the right direction

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) supports the government’s announcement to increase annual funding of the youth justice system, with a focus on increased services for diversion and bail support.

Society President Mr Tass Liveris said, “Northern Territory courts lock up more young people than anywhere else in Australia, which is extremely expensive and does nothing to reduce crime and re-offending. For many years the Society has said that rather than spending money on locking people up, government ought to invest in programs such as diversion, bail support, youth conferencing and rehabilitation. Early childhood intervention is critical and is proven to help steer young people away from the criminal justice system, which the entire community wants to see, rather than entrench them in it..”.

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Media Release: Community Sick of Seeing Revolving Door of Jail

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) today expressed support for the statement in relation to youth sentencing that was issued by the Chief Justice on 20 January 2017.

Society President Mr Tass Liveris said, “As was noted by the Chief Justice, the nature and function of judicial office means there are heavy restrictions on the extent that judges can enter into public debate about their decisions and about issues in the justice system. However, the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Guide to Judicial Conduct recognises that in some circumstances, carefully measured public comment by courts may be desirable and important to assist the public’s understanding of the administration of justice. Given the prominence that youth sentencing has had in recent public discussion, the statement by the Chief Justice accords with well established principles and may assist to enhance public confidence in the judiciary.”.

The Society makes no comments about any public perceptions or whether there has been any change in the behaviour of judicial officers following the announcement of the current Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

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Media Release - Identifying Juvenile Offenders Does Nothing for the Community

Media attention has recently been drawn to orders made by the Youth Justice Court to supress the names of young people appearing before that Court.

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) president Mr Tass Liveris said, “It is important to remember that the Northern Territory is the only place in Australia where juvenile courts are completely open to the public and make no restriction on reporting proceedings. The Society has long held the view that the Northern Territory should step into line with the rest of the country on the issue of open juvenile courts. Mr Liveris said, “The Society made calls on the last Territory government to amend the Youth Justice Act to restrict the publication of youth court proceedings, but in spite of those calls there are no restrictions at all. We need to do what we can to reduce the alarmingly high levels of juvenile incarceration, reintegrate juveniles into the community and stop the cycle of re-offending.”

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MEDIA RELEASE - Law society presidents call on PM to reverse cuts to legal assistance forum

The heads of Australia’s eight law societies representing more than 60,000 practising solicitors have called on the Prime Minster to return funding to the legal assistance sector in an open letter to be published in The Australian tomorrow (4 November 2016).

Mr Tass Liveris, President of Law Society Northern Territory, said that the legal assistance sector, which includes Legal Aid, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Community Legal Centres, will face a funding cut of 30 per cent or the equivalent of around $35 million from 1 July next year.

“Adequate legal assistance services are critical in ensuring fairness and efficiency in our court system and are essential to providing access to justice for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our communities,” Mr Liveris said.

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Law Society Northern Territory congratulates David Woodroffe on his Appointment as NAAJA Principal Legal Officer

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) congratulates David Woodroffe on his appointment as the Principal Legal Officer (“PLO”) of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (“NAAJA”).

Mr Woodroffe has been a member of the Society’s Council since 2014. During that time, he has been the chairman of the Society’s Reconciliation Action Plan Implementation Committee and the Society’s representative on the Law Council of Australia’s Criminal Law Committee. He was awarded the prestigious Indigenous Legal professional of the year award in 2013.

Society president Mr Tass Liveris said, “Mr Woodroffe has had a distinguished career in the criminal law. He is an established and respected advocate and defence lawyer and routinely represents clients in the Supreme Court and the Local Court. Mr Woodroffe is also an established manager of staff, having been the managing criminal solicitor for NAAJA since 2010 and he brings to the role the important balance of being both a good lawyer and a good manager.”

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Law Society Supports Royal Commission into Abuse of Children in Detention

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) supports the Prime Minister’s calls for a royal commission into the abuse of juveniles in the Northern Territory corrections system.

Society president Mr Tass Liveris said, “Whilst the Society welcomes the overwhelming nation-wide response that the 4 Corners expose has provoked, these are not new issues. The Society, amongst other stakeholders, has long been drawing attention to the enormous crisis in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory and been calling for real and immediate action. Unfortunately, these calls have been largely ignored and the result is the shocking and deepening crisis in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory.”

Mr Liveris said, “The government should have closed Don Dale Youth Detention Centre years ago and acted on the16 recommendations of the January 2015 Vita report and reports from successive Children’s Commissioners. However, despite the alarming escalation of juvenile imprisonment rates, especially in the Indigenous community, the government has only ever responded in an ad hoc, band-aid way that has now been shown to have comprehensively failed the community.”

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MEDIA RELEASE - Law Society Northern Territory welcomes new Solicitor-General for the Northern Territory

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) welcomes the announcement that Sonia Brownhill SC will succeed Michael Grant QC as the Solicitor-General for the Northern Territory.

Ms Brownhill will become the first female Solicitor-General in the history of the Northern Territory. Society President Tass Liveris said, “Ms Brownhill’s appointment is an important one, as it continues the growing trend of local lawyers being appointed to senior and leadership roles in the legal profession and the judiciary, as well as that of high achieving women in the law.”.

Ms Brownhill was appointed Crown Counsel in 2005, where she routinely appeared in the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australia. In 2011, Ms Brownhill joined the independent Bar, practicing in areas such as property law (including native title and Aboriginal land matters), administrative and public law, town planning, general contract law, negligence and personal injury law. In 2015, she became only the third female to be appointed Senior Counsel in the Northern Territory under the Supreme Court (Senior Counsel) Rules.

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MEDIA RELEASE - Law Society Northern Territory backs National Legal Aid Funding Campaign

The Law Society Northern Territory today threw its support behind an unprecedented national ‘Legal Aid Matters’ campaign (http://legalaidmatters.org.au) aimed at ensuring the next Federal Government responds decisively to Australia’s legal aid funding crisis.

With rallies and events occurring in major cities in this national Law Week, the Legal Aid Matters campaign will bring a sharp focus to the funding crisis that crippling this vital justice safety net.

Tass Liveris (Society President) said that Australia’s legal aid system is in crisis and that justice is being denied to thousands of Australians each year.

“Successive federal governments have ripped hundreds of millions of dollars from legal aid, crippling this vital justice safety net,” Mr Liveris said.

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MEDIA RELEASE - Community safety under threat with changes to youth bail laws

The Law Society Northern Territory President Mr Tass Liveris expressed concern about the proposed changes to bail laws. “Everyone is sick and tired of what communities see as the revolving door of jail. We have been on this path for some time and the community is no safer for it. These proposed changes are another step in the wrong direction.” Mr Liveris said.

“This does not respond to community concerns because it will not fix the problem – it will only make it worse.” Mr Liveris said.

“Communities are calling for real action on this issue – everyone including the Minister knows that locking kids up does nothing to curb offending – when young people are exposed to the criminal justice system they are much more likely to become adult offenders. And we have more than enough of those.” Mr Liveris said. Mr Liveris referred to the Australian Institute of Criminology research that young people diverted from the court system were less likely to have further involvement in the criminal justice system. Mr Liveris noted the 2011 Review of Youth Justice in NT that recommended the need for more diversionary programs and increased eligibility for diversion in light of increasing rates of youth crime.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Law Society welcomes new Supreme Court Chief Justice

Law Society Northern Territory (Society) welcomes the Attorney-General's announcement this afternoon that the Solicitor-General, Michael Grant QC, will be the next Chief Justice of the Northern Territory.

Society President Mr Tass Liveris said, "Mr Grant is an exemplary appointment to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and to the extremely important position of Chief Justice.  Mr Grant was the first Territory-born practitioner to be appointed as Queen's Counsel and he is widely known and respected throughout the community as an advocate of the highest order.  His wealth of experience across many roles will be an outstanding asset to the Court.".

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Have Australian legal professional regulators missed the diversity boat or are law societies sailing away with the glory?

Introduction

In March 2014 the Law Council of Australia (LCA) released a report: National attrition and re-engagement study (NARS).1 That report identified many of the challenges faced by women in the legal sector in Australia, particularly triggers that prompt women to leave the sector and barriers to returning. NARS made recommendations about avenues for change which focused on professional bodies and law firms, or chambers. In light of NARS, the discussion of the diversity challenge facing the Australian legal profession has centred on what professional organisations or firms and chambers are doing to address diversity. Little has been said about what is being done by legal profession regulators and the essential role these regulators must play.

The 2014 law Society national profile revealed that of the 66 211 practising solicitors in Australia the split between male and female was 51.5% male to 48.5% female. The report also shows a trend of increasing female representation and acknowledges that female solicitors comprised 60% of solicitors admitted in the prior year and 59.1% of all solicitors admitted in the past ten years.2

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Office Location

Level 3, 9 Cavenagh Street
Darwin NT 0800

Mailing Address

GPO Box 2388
Darwin NT 0801

Contact

Phone: 08 8981 5104
Fax: 08 8941 1623
Email: lawsoc@lawsocietynt.asn.au

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