Thomas Spohr - 2014 President, NSW Young Lawyers
NSW Young Lawyers has an incredible list of achievements in the last 50 years. The fact that the members of such an august body have elected me as its President should not be held against them; the members are, in every other respect, the most trustworthy, energetic, and extraordinary people you are likely to come across. I consider it an honour of the highest order to hold the position President and it is with a sense of solemn trepidation that I start my short year.
In 2014 we will build on that half-century of achievements as we work towards representing our roughly 13,000 members as a peak professional body.
2014 LEADERSHIP TEAM
There is a saying that “It takes a village to raise a child”. That may be true, but it takes a team of extremely highly-qualified professionals from diverse areas of practice to run an organisation with 13,000 members. Which somehow isn’t as pithy.
I am proud to be supported by the new team of Office Bearers:
- Elias Yamine (Vice President)
- Nichole Hoskin (Treasurer)
- Raymon Anderson (Secretary)
- Greg Johnson (Immediate Past President)
We also have a diverse and energetic Executive Council, which now represents more regions and areas of practice than any I have ever seen in the seven years I have been associated with Young Lawyers.
Finally, late in the year we were extraordinarily thrilled to be joined in our office by Liesel von Molendorff as our new Executive Officer and Chloe Visser as the Administrative Assistant. It is impossible to overstate how much work goes into supporting 16 committees, the Executive Council and Office Bearers, dozens of meetings, plenty of annual and ad hoc events and everything in between. Our support team are incredible and we could not achieve half of what we do without them.
2013 was the 50th Anniversary of Young Lawyers. We are now officially middle-aged, but there was no mid-life crisis. To the contrary – we made more strides forward than in almost any other year before.
In 2013 we made more submissions to more bodies than we ever have before – at State and Federal level, to Parliaments and to law reform bodies. In 2014, I have tasked our 15 committees with submitting more still. The goal to confirm our position as a thoughtful, balanced, visionary professional organisation whose views are respected in all corners and by all stakeholders.
2013 also saw us branching out our incredibly-successful mentoring program into regions outside of metropolitan Sydney. So it was that the Coffs Harbour region saw the launch of a pilot under the stewardship of Cassandra Banks with support from Rob Hoyles and others, and won the Patron’s Award for best professional project at our Annual Assembly. The mentoring programme has a huge role to play in helping young lawyers combat the scourge of depression and anxiety in our profession, and is vitally important in helping to retain young lawyers in the profession. It remains a priority for NSW Young Lawyers.
We were also honoured to be acknowledged at the national level, with the Law Council of Australia recognising our Justice Education Conference (or Law and Justice Leadership Conference) with its annual organisation award.
Perhaps inconsistently with our middle-aged status, at our Annual Assembly we also released a NSW Young Lawyers app (bringing us gently into the present century), which you can find if you point your smartphone here. Via the app you’ll find details about our committees and meetings, and other features that should make it easier to stay in touch with us.
EVENTS FOR 2014 - SAVE THE DATES!
The annual Young Lawyers events that you have all come to know and love will continue – add the following dates to your diary:
- The Golden Gavel, our annual comedy public speaking breakfast, will be held on 16 May 2014 at the Westin Hotel. Over 600 lawyers in a room to hear people say defamatory things about their opponents in the name of comedy – with less than 24 hours to prepare. It is an institution, and you are mad if you don’t take part.
- The Young Professionals Charity Ball will be held at the Ivy on 13 September 2014, for our charity the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Getting dressed up, drinking alcohol, throwing money around wildly – now you can do all of those things you do anyway, but do them for charity!
- Our Mid-Year Assembly will be held at the incredible Fairmont Resort, on 31 May and 1 June 2014 as we return to the Blue Mountains to work and plan for the year.
THANKS FOR 2013
Whilst I can’t thank everybody here for their work in the last year, it is important to me to particularly thank Greg Johnson in particular for the enormously important work he achieved in his year as President. His incredible warmth, energy and leadership was a driving force in Young Lawyers in 2013 and his transition to the “elder statesman” role as Immediate Past President is well-deserved.
I should also thank Heidi Fairhall, who was President in 2012. Heidi was, and remains, a force of nature. Her own transition, from Immediate Past President into a life of relative peace and tranquillity away from Young Lawyers leaves us the poorer for her absence.
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Come to an event, or join a committee – there’s no obligation to do any work, and you can even just join the email list to receive updates, or come to a meeting just to see what goes on. But if you want to make a change, you can help a committee draft or update one of our award-winning publications (no matter your level of experience), or contribute to a submission.
NSW Young Lawyers