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‘Poor perception of lawyers’ needs to change, says new SA Law Soc president
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‘Poor perception of lawyers’ needs to change, says new SA Law Soc president

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Law societies have important roles as regulators and advocates for the profession, and thus it is crucial that negative impressions of the legal profession be improved by highlighting the good work being done by practitioners, according to the new president of the Law Society of South Australia.

In a message posted on the SA Law Society’s website, newly-elected president Amy Nikolovski said the Society is currently identifying areas of regulation of legal practice that could be removed or reduced without affecting the services lawyers provide to clients or the protections afforded to the community.

“The legal profession is very highly regulated, and unnecessary regulation results in additional expense, which must inevitably be borne by clients. It is important there is a level playing field for lawyers with those in other professions that are subject to less regulation, in overlapping areas of work,” she wrote.

Changing the culture of the profession is a must-do in the year ahead, Ms Nikolovski continued, including by reducing rates of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

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“I am committed to the advancement of diversity in the profession and stamping out bullying, harassment and discrimination. I am hopeful that the council’s Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Working Group, of which I am chair, will be able to develop programs that can be implemented within the profession so that we can see a cultural shift against these practices.”

“This in turn will also assist our members’ resilience and wellbeing. I am hopeful that we can raise ongoing awareness of these issues and erase the stigma which is usually drawn from admitting to the stresses of legal practice,” she wrote.

This correlates to a desire to bring greater relevance to membership and boosted levels of support, Ms Nikolovski noted.

“With 2019 being marked with two major milestones I am also hopeful that we can bring back some more collegiality within the profession, by increasing networking opportunities for our members and ensuring those in small firms or rural and remote towns are connected to the wider profession, increasing the camaraderie of the profession and the wellbeing of our membership.”

Elsewhere, Ms Nikolovski said 2019 should also mark a year of celebration for lawyers in South Australia, as this year will be the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the state’s Law Society and the 125th year of Women’s Suffrage in South Australia.

“We will be holding events to celebrate these milestones over the course of the year, to look back on the achievements of women in the profession over this time. The role of women in the profession has been hard fought, but the achievements have been many and I look forward to celebrating them throughout 2019,” she concluded.

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