In 2021, the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) resolved to launch a new website: a website that truly demonstrates the breadth of work our volunteers do to serve our growing membership and achieve our Founding Objectives.
Since AALA was established, our presence in Australia has grown. In addition to our National Executive, we now welcome eight Branches in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and our newest branch in the Northern Territory.
As a testament to the advocacy role AALA holds in the legal profession, AALA has also recently announced a new National Patron, Diana Bryant AO; International Patron, the Rt. Hon Lord Justice Rabinder Singh; and, Emeritus Patron, the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG. The Western Australian Branch acknowledges the continuing role of the Hon. Robert French as the WA State Patron; the New South Wales Branch welcomed Ms Katrina Rathie as the NSW State Patron; and, the Victorian Branch celebrates the appointment of the Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC as the VIC State Patron.
The new AALA website now has a dedicated page for each Branch explaining how the respective Branch operates, key initiatives and how to join. It also features a page introducing and outlining the tremendous contributions of our Patrons. '
Annually, AALA hosts three key national programs, the:
William Ah Ket Scholarship, a national research and writing competition in honour of William Ah Ket, the son of Chinese migrants who is believed to be the first person of Chinese background to practise as a barrister in Australia.
Mentoring Program, a national program that pairs students and junior practitioners with inspiring, senior practitioners to encourage personal and professional development.
Cultural Diversity Summit, a national Summit which welcomes leading international and national speakers, thinkers and practitioners to discuss and forge a new approach to implement real change in the legal profession.
These national programs are underpinned by the AALA National Digital Events Series. Launched in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, the Series provides accessible, professional development courses to our Members. Additionally, Members have access to the AALA Blackboard: an online forum that encourages Member-to-Member interaction, providing a forum to share ideas, job opportunities and general support for mental health and wellbeing.
The new AALA website now has a page "National Programs and Opportunities" that clearly lists all the national opportunities available to our Members. There is also a "Publications" page that features all the material that has been drafted and/or released for the benefit of our Members such as the Foreign Qualified Lawyers Subcommittee "Frequently Asked Questions Guide."
The seamless operation of AALA as a non-for-profit organisation run by volunteers is made possible with the strong AALA Leadership structure:
National Executive Committee
At the national level, the National Executive Committee includes the National President Kingsley Liu; National Vice-President Molina Asthana; National Secretary Matt Floro; and, the National Treasurer Nai-Yan Yeap, and also includes the President and Secretary of each Branch. Further, the National Executive holds four seats for Executive Committee Members, being John Arthur, Aruna Colombathntri, Olive Go, Sining Wang and Ex-Officio, Immediate Past President Tuanh Nguyen.
The National Executive is structured into various Portfolio Subcommittees, all of which are responsible for delivering an exceptional experience to our Members and improving the advocacy and outreach of AALA. As of 2021, the National Executive has 11 Portfolio Subcommittees and each Convenor works closely with the State/Territory Branches of AALA.
AALA acknowledges the role of Marija Gurlica, Convenor of the Marketing and Social Media Portfolio Subcommittee in producing the new AALA website and the Secretariat and Governance Subcommittee in drafting and publishing the various National Policies that ensure that AALA remains a legitimate, progressive and transparent association.
At the Branch level, AALA operates branches in the following Australian States and Territories:
Australian Capital Territory: founded in 2020, Veer Dhaliwal is the Founding ACT Branch President, Rahul Bedi, Founding ACT Branch Vice President, and Macky Markar, Founding ACT Branch Secretary. The ACT Branch has rejuvenated the connection between AALA and our in-house and government colleagues, already earning a reputation for hosting many engaging and fun social events!
New South Wales: the Immediate Past President of the NSW Branch is Wai Kaey Soon, who was the elected successor of Kingsley Liu (the current National President). Currently, Marija Gurlica serves as the first female President of the NSW Branch, and David (Bobby) Chong is the NSW Branch Secretary. The NSW Branch has three Subcommittees, the Student Subcommittee, the Foreign Qualified Lawyers Subcommittee and the Data and Policy Subcommittee. In 2019, the NSW Branch launched the Diversity Series as a demonstration of its commitment to intersectional diversity.
Queensland: the Queensland Branch is infamously known for its fun, Member-exclusive movie and culture nights. Currently, Anand Shah serves as the QLD Branch President and Vernon Ting is the QLD Branch Secretary.
South Australia: founded in 2020, Jessica Teoh is the Founding SA Branch President and Brian Vuong serves as the Founding SA Branch Secretary. As the SA Branch continues to establish its presence in Adelaide, it welcomes all Members to tune into one of their many CPD events!
Tasmania: founded in 2020, Jessica Sabapathy is the Founding TAS Branch President. As the TAS Branch continues to establish its presence, it calls for more students and practitioners to join the team.
Victoria: is understood to be the earliest operating Branch of AALA, earning its major presence amongst Victorian students and practitioners. Currently, Kelvin Ng serves as the VIC Branch President and Jenny Si as the VIC Branch Secretary. The VIC Branch also operates the Student Subcommittee.
Western Australia: the Western Australian Branch was recently a Concert Partner of the Perth Symphony Orchestra's Dim Sum Concert - a testament to the intersection of the Asian and Australian communities and the significance of cultural diversity in modern Australia. Currently, Belinda Wong serves at the WA Branch President and the WA Branch Secretary is Stephanie Tang.
Northern Territory: is the youngest Branch of AALA, founded this year in 2021! Led by 2020 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Leadership Award winner, Lyma Nguyen, the Northern Territory Branch is welcoming practitioners to join its vision!
The new website also provides AALA the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing support we have received from our National Sponsor Baker McKenzie:
A Sponsors and Partners page is currently in development and will be published in line with the new AALA Sponsorship and Partners Prospectus: showcasing the range of opportunities to connect and collaborate with AALA.
Register as a Member
As a national, not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers, AALA relies on your membership! By renewing your membership or registering as a new member, you provide AALA with the required financial capacity to continue to strengthen our suite of programs and projects that directly support you and the advancement of cultural diversity in our legal profession.
The breadth of our volunteer work is now well-demonstrated with the launch of this new website and to say that AALA is proud of the commitment and selfless work of our volunteers is an understatement. The National Executive, volunteers themselves, profoundly thank each Committee Member and all our Members who actively participate in AALA. We encourage all members of the legal profession to register with AALA and engage in the work we do. We know we cannot do it alone and by showing up more and having more conversations, we can learn more. We ask you to reflect on your role in improving the legal profession and join AALA as we do better, together.
There are special student rates for Student Membership, and PQE-based rates for practitioners. AALA also offers bundled Corporate Memberships. This can all be found on the "Membership" page.
User Experience: the AALA MemberSuite
As our users access the new AALA website, they will notice that certain pages take them to the "AALA MemberSuite" - a closed AALA subdomain. The AALA MemberSuite ensures that the administration of our vast membership database remains highly protected and efficient. The AALA MemberSuite will be used for:
AALA Membership Registration: the portal that will allow you to select and sign up as an AALA Member.
AALA News: all archived news items can be found here.
AALA Events: the portal that will allow you to select and register for an AALA Event.
AALA Members' Directory: the service that allows members of the community and legal profession to connect with our Members.
The design of the new website is also consistent with the AALA brand refresh which was rolled out in 2020. Members have noticed this new approach to the AALA branding and marketing strategy, and believe this provides a better user and Member experience.
All this and more can now be accessed and shared thanks to the new AALA website. AALA acknowledges the wonderful work of Melbourne based agency, EMD Digital in creating and designing the website. The EMD Digital team was highly professional and flexible, ensuring that the design brief was executed with fine attention to detail. Our sincere thanks go to the team of EMD Digital.