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Law council to lobby for improvements to access to justice

ACCESS to legal advice for all Australians and human rights issues were top of the Australian Law Council's agenda for the 2013 federal election year, new president Joseph Catanzariti said on Thursday.

Mr Catanzariti, a former President of the Law Society of New South Wales, outlined the council's agenda in a statement released on Thursday.

He said the law council planned to lobby for improvements to access to justice (such as legal aid), human rights advocacy, international engagement and addressing the high attrition rates of women lawyers.

"There is a real problem of working Australians not having an appropriate understanding of the Australian legal system or how to access it," Mr Catanzariti wrote.

"I will continue to support the Law Council's Access to Justice Committee and Family Law Section in their work in this area and will continue to advocate strongly for improved funding for the legal assistance sector in Australia.

"The federal election also presents an excellent platform on which to explore some of the legal impediments to doing business in Australia."

Mr Catanzariti said would also continue to lobby for improvements in Australia's human rights record, especially on human trafficking and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Another important issue for the legal industry was the high levels of women who left law for other work, and did not return, which Mr Catanzariti said would be part of a new attrition and re-engagement study this year.

"Why women leave the legal profession and do not re-engage is an important issue for the national profession and one the law council will explore and address through the study," he said.

Mr Catanzariti took over as council president on January 1, succeeding Catherine Gale in the role leading the peak industry body.

"For me the law is a giving profession and one in which I am very proud to be a part - I look forward to working with the law council executive and to serving the Australian legal profession this year," he said.

Topics:  justice



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