OUR FOUNDING STORY
The Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) was founded in the mid-1990s by a group of visionary lawyers who recognised the need for representation of Asian Australian lawyers. Since its official launch in 2013, AALA has become a national peak body for Asian Australian lawyers and those interested in Asia, committed to promoting cultural diversity in the legal profession.
It has since been at the forefront of promoting cultural diversity in the legal profession, with landmark reports such as the Cultural Diversity Analysis in 2015, the Superdiversity Institute Report in 2019 and the launch of the Cultural Diversity Pilot Outcomes Report in 2022. AALA has established branches and territories, launched landmark findings in the snapshot of the Asian Australian lawyers' survey, and created the William Ah Ket Scholarship and National Student Mentoring Program. AALA's inaugural virtual National Cultural Diversity Summit in 2020 and 2022 attracted hundreds of registrants from around the world and included keynote addresses from national and international jurists.
AALA's story reflects the passion, dedication, and tireless efforts of its founders and members in promoting an Australian legal profession that reflects the communities it serves. Presidents of AALA have been trailblazers who have worked hard to break down barriers and create opportunities for those who have been traditionally underrepresented. As AALA moves forward, it invites others to join in its mission to promote cultural diversity and equality in the law. Together, we can make a difference.
MEET OUR PAST & CURRENT PRESIDENTS
Molina Swarup Asthana is a respected practitioner in commercial law and a prominent leader in the Australian legal community. She has extensive experience in banking, mergers and acquisitions, and tendering and procurement. Molina has worked with top-tier firms like Minter Ellison and Clayton Utz, as well as the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office, where she primarily worked on major projects for the State of Victoria.
Molina is a trailblazer as the first Indian-born person to be on the board of the Law Institute of Victoria, where she serves as its President Elect for 2022. She is also the National President of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association, Co-founder of the Asian Australian Alliance, and the Industry Head of Sports, Art, and Culture of the Australia India Business Council.
Molina is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and beyond, and has received numerous awards for her contributions, including the Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence in Service Delivery Community Service in 2014 and 2016.
In addition to her legal work, Molina is a prominent advocate for cultural diversity and inclusion in sports, founding the organization Multicultural Women in Sport and serving as the President/Chair of Gymnastics Victoria and on the board of Table Tennis Victoria.
Tuanh Nguyen is a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright with nearly 20 years of experience advising clients on corporate transactions. She is also a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion consultant, advocate for cultural diversity & inclusion, and former National President of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association. Tuanh's work focuses on promoting greater representation of culturally diverse women in the senior ranks of the Australian corporate sector and professional services.
She has received several legal industry awards for her work as a corporate lawyer, including the winner of the 2019 Women in Law Awards (Special Counsel of the Year) and a three-time finalist in the Australian Law Awards (Dealmaker of the Year and Special Counsel of the Year) (2020, 2021 and 2022).
In addition to her role as a corporate lawyer and DEI consultant, Tuanh also serves on the board of directors of CatholicCare Victoria, Birdlife Australia, and the Vietnamese Museum Australia, as well as the Advisory Committees of La Trobe Asia and Migrant Women in Business.
2013 - 2016
Reynah Tang is a Senior Member at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and is Deputy Head of the Legal Practice List. Prior to his tribunal role, Reynah was a partner in the taxation practice at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, and then Johnson Winter & Slattery.
In 2013, Reynah became the first Asian Australian to serve as President of the Law Institute of Victoria in its then 154-year history. With his presidential platform squarely focused on 'embracing change and diversity in a dynamic and evolving legal profession', Reynah brought together a group of solicitors and barristers over 'yum cha' to discuss the establishment of what ultimately became the Asian Australian Lawyers Association. He was the inaugural president of AALA until his appointment to VCAT in 2016.
In 2019, Reynah became a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the law and professional legal associations.
He remains actively involved with AALA as a member of the William Ah Ket Scholarship committee since its inception, and as a mentor in the AALA national mentoring scheme. He also continues to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the legal profession and judiciary as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Justice Network.