Support for the Voice shines through Arnold Bloch Leibler’s 70th-year celebration
Amid a celebration for Arnold Bloch Leibler’s 70th year, the Prime Minister of Australia and the firm’s leaders celebrated the upcoming Voice to Parliament vote and urged the room filled with legal, community and political leaders to “go forward together”.
In a speech to a 900-strong room, which included Federal Court judges and political heads, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL) on its many achievements over the last seven decades and applauded the firm’s dedication to reconciliation – including its earnest support for this year’s referendum.
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Mr Albanese specifically acknowledged the firm’s “longstanding and genuine commitment to reconciliation and recognition” and paid tribute to ABL’s devotion to “put their values into action”.
“We must do better. We must close that gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. To do more of the same is to accept the outcomes at the moment are acceptable,” Mr Albanese said.
“We simply cannot accept that the status quo is good enough. The gracious document, that one-page document, the Uluru Statement from the Heart, is a very clear and concise and direct invitation.
“This referendum is a hand outreaching. I sincerely hope that Australians take up the opportunity of grasping that hand of friendship so that we can go forward together.”
Senior partner Mark Leibler, who joined the firm in 1969 when it was a smaller office on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne’s city centre, said the firm’s values-based culture has been “embedded from the start”, and it will not be changing, neither would the dedication to clients and a determination to shape government policy for the better.
During his speech, Mr Leibler admitted feeling “ashamed” to have been once oblivious to the injustices of Indigenous Australians in the early 1990s, when he started to advise the Yorta Yorta people in their “epic struggle for native title”. He said that prior to this, he “was not aware of having previously met an Aboriginal person”.
“We are privileged as Australians that our history encompasses the most ancient, enduring culture on earth. That is why successive governments and the vast majority of Australians have come to believe that the Constitution, our founding document, should recognise and celebrate this richness,” Mr Leibler said.
Mr Leibler said his vote in November “will be a resounding yes”.
“Not just because of my absolute confidence in the legal underpinnings of the constitutional change being proposed. Not for political reasons. But because I know it is the right thing to do,” he said.
Along with Mr Albanese, political leaders such as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Opposition Leader Simon Birmingham, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, and Deputy Premier Jacinta Allen attended.
Joining them were leaders in the legal profession, including Justice Jonathan Beach and Justice Michael O’Bryan of the Federal Court, Justice Jim Delany and Justice Justine Jane Dixon of the Supreme Court of Victoria, and former High Court judge, the Honourable Ken Hayne.
The room was also packed with managing partners, chief executive officers and chairs from other firms, such as Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Allens, Baker McKenzie, Hall & Wilcox, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Gadens, Holding Redlich and Lander & Rogers.
Speaking to all those who attended and supported the firm through its many success stories, Mr Leibler celebrated ABL’s achievements and its rapid growth since its inception.
In 1953, when the Australian arm of the firm was first established in the Victorian suburb of Ripponlea, its first client was a man bitten by a dog. From there, Mr Leibler said it assisted Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Europe with “a determination … to build a better life”.
Over the next seven decades, the firm’s client list grew further to include business and philanthropy “icons”.
Mr Leibler said the “dreams and courage of our clients” had been the “force behind Arnold Bloch Leibler’s success”.
“The culture of Arnold Bloch Leibler is also the reason why we are very much the firm of choice when human rights are at risk, when racism and other forms of discrimination creep out from under rocks, and when the voices of the disempowered need to be heard – not only heard, but listened to with the respect that a committed and skilful advocate can enhance,” Mr Leibler added.
Managing partner Henry Lanzer said he has “every confidence” the firm will “continue to be true to its values”.
“Including our commitment to the rule of law and the betterment of our world – always acting, first and foremost, in the best interests of our clients. And for this, I am so grateful to all at ABL,” he said.
Mr Albanese said ABL is an “extraordinary success story” and praised its leaders for their countless achievements.
“ABL has always served a higher purpose.
“You’ve never forgotten where you came from; you’ve never forgotten why you are here. That is why you are so respected.
“For 70 years, you have played your part to make our society more just and more equitable,” Mr Albanese said.