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‘Intensity’ of NT Law Week helps increase understanding of law

Reflecting on this year’s Law Week activities, Law Society of the Northern Territory president and MSP Legal director Maria Savvas said such dates on the calendar give those up north better scope to understand and appreciate how the rule of law operates and its impact on the community.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 25 May 2018 Big Law
Scales of Justice, understanding law
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Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Ms Savvas said while advocacy and community engagement wasn’t isolated just to a single week on the calendar, packing activities into a single week does allow for those in need to gain greater awareness of how they can seek help if and when need be.

The comments offer a contrast to those offered by the Law Society of South Australia, which slammed Law Week as an “inefficient use” of a state or territory’s resources.

“The intensity of the [Law Week] schedule gives it more attention, and in addition to that, it gets the community more involved and helps foster better understanding of the rule of law,” Ms Savvas explained.

 
 

“Secondary to that is that in the smaller jurisdictions, like ours, it’s about collegiality among the profession, and it gives us a chance to get together in a social arena that brings us together as lawyers.”

The focus of this year’s NT Law Week, she said, was to promote how best those in the community can get access to legal representation, and also elevate understanding of the role that law plays in society.

This was borne out in the events hosted, she argued, most notably the Open Day & Public Sentencing Forum held at the Darwin Local Court, during which Local Court chief judge Dr John Lowndes and deputy chief judge Elizabeth Morris — together with others — engaged in a town hall-style forum with members of the public about what happens in court, how appropriate sentencing procedures manifest and discussed crime rates in the current sociopolitical climate.

Such transparent engagement, which also saw members of the public have insider access to the courts and holding cells, was an unusual opportunity to help bridge gaps in understanding and perceptions, she said.

“It is challenging, because you have to be sensitive about a range of issues, and there are a number of key stakeholders involved, but we do our best to sure we can increase access to and understanding of the justice system,” Ms Savvas said.

What the NT Law Society would like to see next year, she mused, is greater collaboration with relevant community stakeholders and groups, such as Legal Aid, CLCs and the police, so that more events and forums can be put on for the benefit of people across the Territory.

“We are interested in having [all of these stakeholders] work with us in arranging activities so that, collectively, we can generate more interest and awareness with respect to the important issues being advocated for,” she concluded.