2019/20 Annual Report
The Young Lawyers Committee (YLC) provides support and is a voice for junior members of the profession. This year the YLC decided it needed to better engage with Western Australian law schools and students to better fulfil that role. As the first step in that process, a representative of each Western Australian law student society now attends YLC meetings on a quarterly basis. There have already been robust discussions about recruitment practices, mental health, and supporting graduates transitioning to practice, and we look forward to further developing that relationship.
During the year the YLC provided a range of events focused on the junior segment of the Law Society’s membership, including:
- social events to promote collegiality, such as the Welcome to the Profession Breakfast and inter-firm sporting events (netball and volleyball);
- the Western Australian Golden Gavel Competition;
- the Practical Advocacy Weekend, including a preparatory seminar as well as a weekend of coaching sessions by judges and other senior members of the profession;
- raising awareness of legal issues affecting Aboriginal peoples through our Law Week screening of Connection to Country, a beautifully shot documentary by Tyson Mowarin that explores the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and their land and charts their struggles to have their connection to land recognised;
- informing junior lawyers about social justice career paths at the Social Justice Opportunities Evening;
- inter-profession networking opportunities, which allow junior lawyers the opportunity to build their professional networks with young professional bodies from other industries, including accounting, consulting and engineering;
- informal networking opportunities for lawyers in small or mid-sized firms through the Small Firms Network; and
- the annual Law Student Mentoring Programme, which again included law students from all Western Australian law schools and continues to increase in numbers.
In recognition of the increasing diversity of the profession, the YLC has increased its focus on supporting and being a voice for junior lawyers who have come to the profession later in life. In September 2018, we hosted a well-attended Later Lawyers Discussion and Networking Event. A new initiative formed to address the needs of a growing segment of members, being individuals who came to law later in life and do not identify with the traditional legal career progression, the panel focused on the advantages and challenges in coming to law later in life. We look forward to continuing this focus going forward.
In addition to these initiatives, the YLC also:
- conducted a survey of junior lawyers seeking feedback on issues facing junior lawyers and on the Committee’s activities;
- continued to connect with the Australian Young Lawyers Committee; and
- continued to welcome observers at Committee meetings.