Welcome to another year of legal practice. Each new year presents both challenges and opportunities, including for the regulator.
Throughout 2019 the Board and Commissioner will be commencing several new projects. The first of these is our efforts to tackle sexual harassment within the legal profession. More information is provided on this below.
We have also started work on a new project to look at innovation in legal service delivery within the Victorian profession. There is significant unmet legal need in the Victorian community. This project will help develop our understanding of how we can support and encourage lawyers to develop new business models and services that can help address this. I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming months.
Sexual harassment in the legal profession
This year the Board and Commissioner is also embarking on a long-term program focussing on addressing sexual harassment within the legal profession.
Research done by the Australian Human Rights Commission shows that one in five Australians were sexually harassed in the workplace in the past 12 months. We know the legal profession is not immune to such behaviour.
This is inexcusable, particularly since the profession holds such an important leadership position within the justice system and society in general. Employers have a responsibility to ensure their workplaces are free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment by lawyers is also capable of constituting professional misconduct.
The Board and Commissioner have released a statement clearly articulating our position: that sexual harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
We call on leaders in the profession to stand with us to call out inappropriate behaviour and ensure all colleagues and employees have a safe environment with equal opportunities to succeed in their careers.
If you wish to discuss a matter confidentially, or make a complaint relating to sexual harassment by a lawyer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Law Library of Victoria – Free resources for subscribers
When you renewed your practising certificate last year, you had the opportunity to give the Law Library of Victoria permission to contact you about registering for their forthcoming service.
We are delighted to advise that the new Law Library of Victoria website is now live. Shortly, those who gave their permission to be contacted will receive an email inviting them to register for an account.
The Law Library website is available free to all Victorian legal practitioners, and is supported by the Board. Users can gain access to a wide range of resources and exclusive material, which can reduce law practice overheads and improve access to justice for your clients. It is a valuable resource for busy practitioners, especially for suburban and regional lawyers for whom a physical visit to the Library may not be practical.
Look out for the Law Library email in your inbox soon.
I wish you all a productive and happy 2019.
Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
CEO, Victorian Legal Services Board