FROM Monday, May 13 to Saturday, May 18, the legal community will come together for the biggest event on the Canberra legal calendar.
Every year the week is run by the ACT Law Society, and president Chris Donohue says it’s an opportunity to focus on lawyers and the law, raise public awareness of what lawyers do and raise awareness on how the ACT Law Society supports the community.
This year the ACT Law Society has chosen the theme: “Lawyers: Protecting Your Rights”.
Chris says ACT Law Society takes its community role very seriously.
“We are active in lobbying for good law in the ACT, scrutinising legislation for the benefit of the people of Canberra,” he says.
“It is our firm belief that legislation should fairly balance the principal forces in society, and where possible, look after minority interests.
“Most recently, we have been very vocal about the shocking way the Barr government is siding with insurance companies to stop injured Canberrans getting fair compensation, through the ill-advised ‘Motor Accident Injuries Bill 2019’.”
Law Week also offers a week of free and ticketed events to the public.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay will launch the week at the ACT Golden Gavel speaking competition at 5.30pm on Monday, May 13. This ticketed event will test the public speaking skills of some of Canberra’s most erudite young lawyers.
There will be a free legal referral service at the ACT Law Society from 12.30pm to 2pm, Monday to Thursday, and a free wills advice clinic from 11am to 2pm on Friday.
“These services are extremely important for members of the public who feel daunted by the law and need assistance or advice on where to go next,” Chris says.
There will also be free Supreme Court tours on Monday and Thursday, as well as the 34th annual Blackburn Lecture, at 12.30pm, Tuesday, May 14. Entry is by gold coin donation.
Karen Fryar, the first woman appointed to the judiciary in the ACT, will be delivering the lecture, which will be on the topic of pro bono and who it benefits.
At 12.30pm on Wednesday, May 15 the ACT Human Rights Commission will host the ticketed event “Here, There and Everywhere – human rights developments locally and nationally”. At the event a panel of local human rights experts such as Dr Helen Watchirs will discuss the practical experiences of applying human rights in ACT proceedings.
Then, from 6.30pm, the ticketed Annual Law Week Dinner will feature special guest Azmeena Hussain, who is a principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and social justice advocate.
This law week, the ACT Law Society will also be raising money for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS).
“The DVCS is a charity I’ve supported for many years,” Chris says.
“I hope that, with support from our members and other Law Week attendees, we can raise a significant sum for the DVCS.”
Law Week, May 13-18. Information at actlawsociety.asn.au
Firm offers skills, compassion and emotional intelligence
ANNA Neilan and Lucy Stramandinoli, of Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law, based on London Circuit, have a combined track record of more than 30 years specialising in family law.
“We have experience and expertise in all areas of family law such as parenting arrangements, division of property, entitlements, binding financial agreements and family violence,” says director Lucy Stramandinoli.
Lucy says that Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law offers a boutique and personalised service, working with clients using a holistic and empathetic approach during what can be an incredibly stressful and emotional time.
“The first question we ask clients at meetings is: ‘What do you need to know when you walk out?’ We want our clients to understand all the options open to them,” she says.
This can also mean referring clients to other specialists such as counsellors and financial planners to help them make informed decisions.
“We focus on the best options available and outline solutions that are most efficient and cost effective for our clients. Our passion for assisting our clients and caring about the outcomes for them is what sets us apart.”
Lucy says that the firm uses a ‘collaborative law’ approach to resolve most matters without the need to go to court, which can be a lengthy and costly experience, and creates more acrimony between the parties.
This includes dispute resolution, mediation and negotiation so that a resolution can be achieved as efficiently as possible.
Lucy says that her clients tell her that her insight and expertise give them a great sense of reassurance and confidence during difficult times.
“We exercise a blend of skills, compassion and emotional intelligence to best guide you through these difficult times so you can achieve your best possible outcome,” says Lucy.
Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law, Suite 2 ground floor 11 London Circuit, Canberra City. Visit nsfamilylaw.com.au or call 6152 0493.
Julia specialises in family law and children
WITH a passion for family law, Julia Heinze established Infinity Legal nearly six years ago and has since been providing families with legal solutions.
Julia specialises in family law matters such as property matters, children’s matters, domestic violence and personal protection orders and care and protection matters.
She’s also an accredited independent children’s lawyer that, she says, means she represents the interests of children in circumstances where their parents may not be able to care for them.
“Family law is about protecting the clients’ rights but also about protecting the rights of the children so they can have a meaningful and safe relationship with both of their parents,” Julia says.
“We only deal with family law, which means I can find creative solutions that suit families but also deal with very intricate areas of the law.”
But not regardless of the matter, Julia says Infinity Legal always tries to get a solution before it goes to court.
“Most of the time we’re able to find solutions to avoid ending up in court,” she says.
Starting her own business has also been a great way for Julia to focus on women in the workplace and she says her entire team is currently all women.
“It’s hard to be a female in your 30s in this profession, so I’m making it easier for women to be lawyers,” she says.
“We’re a small law firm that still pays maternity leave because it’s just a really difficult industry for women to return to. I’m making it easier.”
Ken prefers to keep his clients out of court
AT Capon & Hubert Lawyers & Mediators it’s all about what’s important to its clients and echoing the theme of this years’ Law Week, “their rights”, says director Ken Hubert.
Capon & Hubert focuses on a mixture of areas such as family law, general civil work, estates and commercial law. But no matter what the area is, Ken, who is a qualified mediator, says their biggest focus is resolving disputes before they go to court so clients don’t end up spending more money than they need to fighting them.
“Basically, the most secure thing you can reach with an opposing party, if possible, is an agreement,” he says.
“Our aim is to keep people out of court, if possible, or to formalise agreements that are effective for both parties.
“You can argue about your rights and entitlements, but at the end of the day, what’s most important to each party?”
Ken says Law Week is also an important time to remind people how lawyers can help in disputes and how they can give clients an idea of what’s the range in a dispute.
“It’s important to see a lawyer earlier than later rather than letting it go because sometimes the process can overtake you,” he says.
Capon & Hubert has been around since the early ‘80s, which Ken says means they have a long range of experience and a broad point of view.
“We’re friendly, approachable and, as a team, we each work in areas that complement each other,” he says.
Law firm makes advice accessible for all
PROTECTING individuals and their families from future litigation is an important part of protecting their health, says the principal of Campbell & Co Lawyers, Barbara Campbell.
“Stress is a known causal factor of cancer and [at Campbell & Co Lawyers] we aim to destress our clients,” she says.
With this year’s Law Week theme around “Protecting Your Rights”, Barbara says it’s essential to bring legal advice to those who fall through the cracks such as people who aren’t in a legal aid range for free legal representation or those who cannot afford the legal fees which firms charge due to the ongoing costs of running a legal business.
At Campbell & Co Lawyers, pro bono work is carried out by all of its lawyers.
“We have recently substantially reduced our fees for wills and enduring powers of attorney as we recognise the importance of these documents being accessible to all,” Barbara says.
“We focus on providing the best service to our clients but tend to ‘punch above our weight’ having had the honour of assisting clients in very complex matters in the family and estate law arenas.
“We are very careful about choosing our support team and have at the moment a wonderful group of people who put the clients’ needs first often above and beyond the norm.”