Supporting and mentoring our African Australian lawyers

Supporting and mentoring our African Australian lawyers

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Our Advocacy Lawyer Daniel Ajak was recently part of a group that organised the inaugural African Australian Legal Network networking event, which aims to provide support and mentoring to African Australian members of the legal community.

More than 100 people attended the event including a range of people from the legal fraternity comprising practitioners, law students, law graduates, barristers and judges, as well as government officials.

Attendees included senior delegates from the Law Institute of Victoria, Department of Justice and Regulation, Office of Public Prosecutions, and partners and directors from mid-tier and national private law firms. Representatives from the French Lawyers Society and the Asian Australian Lawyers Association were also in attendance.

Daniel said the event was the catalyst for bringing together members of the legal profession, the judiciary and the African-Australian legal community, so as to launch a professional networking body that can assist the growing African-Australian legal community.

‘The key objectives of the African Australian Legal Network are to provide a cohesive and professional network to advocate for, and provide support to, our members, and to benefit from shared learning and experience.

‘We also want to actively assist African Australian law students and lawyers in finding opportunities for work experience, mentoring, clerkships or full-time employment.’

Keen to harness the momentum from the event, Daniel and his fellow African Australian Legal Network colleagues have been busy consolidating the gains from the function.

‘Our next step is to incorporate the association and we're looking to secure funding from the Department of Justice and Regulation.

‘We have also entered into discussions with Victoria Legal Aid, the Office of Public Prosecutions, private practitioners and national law firms regarding allocating clerkships, practical legal training and paid graduate roles for African students coming through law school.’

L–R: Advocacy Lawyer Daniel Ajak; Ayman Sash, Juris Doctor student, University of Melbourne; Nyadol Nyuol, lawyer, Arnold Bloch Leibler; Matthew Albert, barrister, Castan Chambers; Rutendo Muchinguri, lawyer, Office of Public Prosecutions; Agok Angok, law
L–R: Advocacy Lawyer Daniel Ajak; Ayman Sash, Juris Doctor student, University of Melbourne; Nyadol Nyuol, lawyer, Arnold Bloch Leibler; Matthew Albert, barrister, Castan Chambers; Rutendo Muchinguri, lawyer, Office of Public Prosecutions; Agok Angok

Daniel said it was pleasing to see that Victoria Legal Aid realised the benefits of supporting the African Australian legal community.

‘Victoria Legal Aid is probably the largest law practice in the state and is at the forefront of access to justice, especially to those in our community who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

‘One of the vulnerable groups that Victoria Legal Aid assists on a daily basis is the African community, either through community legal education or assisting the individual client in crime, family, civil or immigration matters.

‘It is therefore imperative that the organisation, with its resources and visibility, leads the way in this area.’

Executive Director Corporate Affairs Cameron Hume said it was a privilege to be part of the successful launch of the African Australian Legal Network.

‘Victoria Legal Aid needs to play an important leadership role in supporting the objectives of the network.

‘This may see us supporting the creation of career pathways for law students through mentoring and providing practical learning and other employment opportunities. However, it is also vital that we ensure our workplace is more supportive and culturally sensitive.

‘I’m looking forward to working together with members of the network, and an important first step will be to listen to their needs and learn from their experience.’

One of the driving reasons behind Daniel’s commitment to the African Australian Legal Network is a desire to see future African Australian law students have a less difficult transition into law than himself.

‘I'm keen to see future African-Australian law students going on to secure internships, clerkships and paid graduate roles, and build successful legal careers as a result of this initiative.

‘When I first started out in my law career, it was very difficult to gain experience. However, I was fortunate to have a great mentor in Deng Thiak Adut from criminal law firm, AC Law Group, who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.

‘Similarly, I hope that the African Australian Legal Network will assist many fledgling African Australian law students and graduates, and provide them the mentorship and guidance that will enable them to navigate the legal profession, and have rewarding careers.

‘Finally, I would like to give a big shout out to my fellow conveners including Ayman Shash, University of Melbourne; Margaret (Peggy) Gusah, University of Melbourne; Agok (Aggie) Angok, Australian Catholic University; Rutendo Muchinguri, Office of Public Prosecutions; Nyadol Nyuon, Arnold Bloch Leibler; and Mathew Albert from Castan Chambers, without whom this event would not have been possible.’

More information

African Australian lawyers network launched

African Australian Legal Network

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