The new head of the peak national body for Australian lawyers says national legal profession reform, practice rights for Australian lawyers in foreign markets and alternative dispute resolution are priorities for the next year.
Law Council of Australia president Catherine Gale, who is also director of Resolve Conflict Lawyers and Mediators in Melbourne, is the Law Council’s 60th President. She succeeded Alexander Ward in the role on 1 January this year.
She said 2012 will be a crucial period for the implementation of the new national regulatory legislation.
“This regulation, when introduced later this year, will create a single, uniform Legal Profession Act which will allow seamless national practice and benefit both lawyers and consumers of legal services.”
Gale said she is keen to improve market access for Australian lawyers in Asia given the nation’s strong economic ties to the region.
“This work will involve improving practice rights for the Australian legal profession in foreign markets, demonstrating leadership in the region through initiatives to support the legal profession and improving coordination on international priorities with government and with the Law Council’s constituent bodies."
As one of Australia’s preeminent collaborative practitioners, Ms Gale viewed alternative dispute resolution as another vital issue affecting the legal profession.
“The Law Council has been committed to ADR for some time and I will work towards furthering the Law Council’s policy in this area to encourage the development of flexible practices to allow quick and easy resolution of litigation and disputes through alternative measures including mediation, collaboration, arbitration, early neutral evaluation and conciliation."
She also listed access to justice, recruitment and retention of lawyers in Australia and anti-discrimination policies as additional areas of importance for the Law Council in 2012.
Gale said the former Ward left the Law Council having achieved a number of significant milestones during his tenure, including the launch of the Law Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan and the launch of the RRR Law program which is helping bring more lawyers to rural, regional and remote areas of Australia.