CLA News / CLA President Brian Speers reports on his in person meeting with the Law Council of Australia


After attending the Fiji ADR Conference, I journeyed to Sydney where I was collected at the airport by CLA Life President Mr Ronald Heinrich.  Ron drove to Canberra, and we enjoyed the journey and insights which Ron gave along the way.  We had been kindly accommodated by the Law Council of Australia in Canberra and were taken by Margery Nicoll, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director International of the Law Council of Australia, to dinner to a very appropriate venue – namely the Commonwealth Club.  There I met with Chief Executive Simone Carton and President Libby Carroll of the ACT Law Society and with CEO Jo Dean-Ritchie and incoming President Rebecca Curran of the ACT Bar.  In addition, Charlotte Stubbs a Senior Policy Lawyer, International with the Law Council of Australia attended – she had been present at the Fiji Conference. Doris Wimmler an Executive Officer International of the Law Council and Peter Woulfe Barrister and Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the ACT Bar also attended.

Over excellent dinner great connections were made and there was an opportunity to share the work of the CLA.  I mean to follow up these direct personal connections and encourage our Australian colleagues in Canberra to participate more fully at our conference at Goa.

The next day, the Law Council International Section, under the Chairing role of Margery Nicoll, the highly experienced International Director, arranged a meeting for Ron and I to both brief and be briefed by the Policy Section of the Law Council of Australia.

This turned out to be a most fruitful meeting.  I had the opportunity of explaining some of the work being undertaken by the CLA including the Child Marriage Report, the Role of Media and Freedom of Expression Report, the work being undertaken regarding indigenous land rights and the Latimer House principles.  The Policy Officers were interested in all these areas and the briefing from each of the respective officers in their area of interest revealed an overlap of interest regarding indigenous land rights, diversity within the legal profession and regarding the need to constantly maintain and uphold the independence of the legal profession.  It was gratifying that the Law Council policy Officers showed familiarity with the Latimer House principles, and they agreed that more should be done to educate our member Bar Associations and Law Societies.

I explained that the CLA had a beneficial relationship with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and as an accredited organisation of the Secretariat, we felt that we could bring much to the work of the Secretariat in areas such as Child Marriage and gender equality, environmental issues and regarding freedom of expression.

The Law Council generously shared some policy documents which they had already finalised, and which had been adopted by the Law Council of Australia.  Some of these will be of enormous interest to the committees the CLA has recently formed.

Margery Nicoll generously indicated that her policy officers would be willing to assist the CLA in developing policy and providing some resources. I consider this to be a most attractive and helpful development.

Overall, this in person meeting was a valuable experience of establishing personal connections with the Law Council of Australia, acquainting them with the work of the CLA and receiving in turn their willingness to support the development of policy for the CLA in areas where we share mutual interests.

Brian Speers

CLA President