Asher Wolf spent today walking around the Melbourne CBD talking to homeless people, after the recent spike in attention for this issue. There’s a perception in the media and amongst those privileged enough to have never worked with or had to deal with housing security that homelessness rates have increased: they have and they haven’t.
Cuts to welfare, combine with an economy on the skids and gung-ho useless “law and order” policies have combined to cause a slight increase in the amount of people sleeping rough, but what has caused the recent “spike” is just that a long standing camp has been closed, and consequently people who used that as a base have had to find new spots to sleep rough – more visible spots.
Last night, I went to the Liberty Victoria Voltaire dinner. The Voltaire Award winner and keynote speaker was Waleed Aly: academic, news presenter, guitar shredder and all around cool dude.
He gave a thoughtful and engaging lecture on the importance of examining the philosophical underpinnings of human rights law. It’s a topic I am very much interested in, have lots of thoughts about and have been meaning to do a blog on this area for some time. So here’s my excuse!
And because I am going to refer back to Waleed’s points, I do dedicate this blog to him. Cheers mate!
This is something else to consider in the fight to proper funding to legal aid: continual reductions and cuts to legal aid also devalues legal work across the board. Clients are unwilling to pay private fees, even when those private fees are set so low that the lawyers and firms are skating on the edge of insolvency.
Law is a profession that requires hard work and expert knowledge. It’s OK to charge for that!
How can we better educate the public about appropriate legal fees, get better legal aid funding, and stop inappropriately gouging private lawyers from wreaking havoc on the profession’s reputation?
Money has no place in politics, goes the tired complaint (ironically, as money seems to have an increasing place in politics and politicians’ pockets), but what of money in the law?
We often hear of generational change when it comes to the evolution of the legal profession into something more humanist, when it comes to women and LGBTI in the workplace, or the flexibility required for mothers and those suffering from mental health issues. We take issue with the cruelty of the old “chin up and deal with it” attitude—the lifestyle of getting wrong the so-called “work–life balance”—but what if there’s a niggling imbalance in the very way we work?
Another oft-heard complaint is the rapacity of lawyers in charging their clients. Many a lawyer has borne the brunt of a client’s fury upon receipt of a bill, and I am not overgeneralising to say that
When I started practising law, everyone refused to speak with a particular lawyer over the phone. This lawyer was known in the legal community as ‘the Pterodactyl’ due to her screeching at other lawyers. If she called the firm, all the assistants knew not to bother putting the call through to the lawyer responsible for that matter. They would politely say, “It is our policy that all communications are to be in writing”, and hang up.
I was shocked when I met this lawyer at court one day. She was pleasant enough. I think she even complimented my shoes. I didn’t understand why my firm had a ‘policy’ to deal with her. That was, until I had a matter against her.
She wasn’t just rude; she was abusive. She called my client a liar. She called me a liar. She said my correspondence was “bordering on unethical” because I had…
I remember discussing plain language with colleagues in a legal service once. The context was setting up a series of precedent documents, so that there was consistency about language across the legal service, and to save lawyers and admin lots of time (not dictating/typing the same letters from scratch, over and over again!)
One colleague who was against the idea said that they thought plain language could be patronising. That’s what I want to focus on in this blog post. How do you use plain language to be clear and concise, but not be patronising or paternalistic?
I find it really perplexing that Australians find it so difficult to be honest and factual about the circumstances in which Europeans first came to the land that became known as ‘Australia.’ The latest results from ABC’s Vote Compass show a slight majority agree with the proposition that “school textbooks should refer to the arrival of European colonists in Australia as an invasion of Aboriginal lands.”
Why is this something that 44% of people disagree with? This was the state of Aboriginal Australia prior to invasion: