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Law Society NT welcomes new Solicitor-General for the Northern Territory

Law Society NT (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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Law Society NT backs National Legal Aid Funding Campaign

The Law Society Northern Territory (Society) 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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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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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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Opening of the Legal Year 2016 - NT joins call for Legal Assistance Funding

It is traditional for legal communities around the world to mark the Opening of the Legal Year (OLY) with celebrations of collegiality and the administration of justice. In the Northern Territory, Law Society Northern Territory (Society) marks the opening of the legal year with events for members and guests where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court reflects on the work of the courts and the challenges on the horizon. This year, the Society also joins other Australian law societies by marking the commencement of a national campaign for restoration of legal assistance funding.

To view the entire media release click here

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Darwin Barrister Duncan McConnel powerful advocate for justice

On 31 December 2015, Duncan McConnel’s 7-year career with the Law Council of Australia (“LCA”) will draw to a peaceful close, drawing the line under an historic 2015 presidential year.

The LCA was established in 1933 and is the peak national representative body of the Australian legal profession. It represents about 60,000 legal practitioners nationwide. In addition to representing the legal profession at a national level the LCA advises governments, courts and federal agencies on ways that the law and justice system can be improved for the benefit of the community. The LCA also represents the Australian legal profession internationally.

Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) president Mr Tass Liveris said, “Mr McConnel’s entire LCA career is a rare and outstanding achievement, but his presidency in particular has been a significant and historic opportunity for the Territory. His great success in bringing issues that have a major impact in the Territory onto the national and international stage is what has made his presidency so remarkable.”

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Daniel's Law is not right for the Northern Territory

“There is no evidence that public registers are successful in increasing community safety or reducing the rates of re-offending. There is the added risk that they create further barriers for victims to report offending.” said Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) President, Mr Tass Liveris. The Society’s concerns were expressed in relation to the Sex Offender and Child Homicide Offender Public Website (Daniel’s Law) Bill, commonly referred to as “Daniel’s Law”.

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Society Council announced for 2015/16

The Society AGM was held last night with almost 250 members voting in person or by proxy. Mr Tass Liveris was re-elected President (unopposed) and expressed his gratitude to the 2014/15 Council, members and the secretariat for a very productive year. Copies of the annual report can be found on the Society website. The outcome of the election is below. Congratulations to the Council 2015/16.

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Indigenous Legal Awards

TERRITORIAN EDDIE CUBILLO WINS PRESTIGIOUS NATIONAL INDIGENOUS LEGAL AWARD

At the National Indigenous Legal Conference dinner in Melbourne on 4 September 2015, former Territory lawyer Eddie Cubillo was announced as the 2015 National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year. New South Wales law student Alison Whittaker was announced as the National Indigenous Law Student of the Year.

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Supreme Court Fees

JUSTICE OUT OF REACH FOR MANY AS GOVERNMENT INCREASES SUPREME COURT FEES AGAIN

In the 2015/16 financial year, a 5-day hearing in the Supreme Court will cost an individual $9,426 and a corporation $17,683 in filing fees alone, not including any legal fees. It will cost even more for every additional day in court.

Parties will be charged thousands of dollars to file a notice of appeal. Law Society Northern Territory (“Society”) today expressed deep concern about the growing size of these sorts of fees.

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Law Society NT welcomes Senior Counsel appointments in the NT

Law Society NT (Society) congratulates Sonia Brownhill and Matthew Nathan, who were appointed Senior Counsel by the Chief Justice on 15 September 2015.

Society President Tass Liveris said, “Ms Brownhill, a member of the independent Bar and Mr Nathan, a Senior Crown Prosecutor, are each highly skilled advocates in their chosen fields and are both richly deserving of their appointments. They have exemplary knowledge of the law and have a demonstrated commitment to the best traditions of the Bar and the administration of justice.”.

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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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