That's a wrap on Law Week 2024

Explore the highlights from our Victorian Law Week 2024 activity! From eye-opening events to regional community outreach efforts, Law Week is all about making the law easier for Victorians to understand and access.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

And that’s a wrap! While Victorian Law Week 2024 has officially closed, we expect that the conversations and themes explored throughout the week will continue to increase legal capability and enhance access to justice across Victoria.

The engaging and diverse program boasted over 150 in-person online and hybrid events, covering a multitude of legal areas including scams, wills, complaint bodies, rental rights, and more. We thank the event organisers, including local libraries, law firms, the Courts, integrity agencies, community groups, and community legal centres, whose participation is vital to the success of Victorian Law Week.

VLF had a bustling week, contributing to Law Week by organising a range of events around the state, drawing on the recent work of our research endeavours and helping event organisers broaden their reach. This included hosting Route from 66: a call to action and Algorithm is a Dancer: AI, the law, and you events in Melbourne. Additionally, we facilitated community events in the Goulburn Valley region as part of our Community Law Talks program, furthering our commitment to regional outreach and engagement.

We extend our gratitude to the organisations whose generous contributions made Law Week possible, Our sponsors Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victorian Inspectorate, Victoria Legal Aid, Deakin Law School, Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner, and supporters Law Institute of Victoria, Victorian Bar, Victorian Ombudsman and  Federation of Community Legal Centres.

With Law Week’s concluded for this year, we reflect on its purpose: to help people understand their rights, find answers to questions, know what help is available and learn how our legal system works. Many events from throughout the week are now available to view on-demand, and we encourage people to see what legal help is available for their problems.

If you’d like to stay in the Law Week loop, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter as we begin to look ahead to Victorian Law Week 2025!

Route from 66: a call to action

Members of the legal and community sector at Route from 66: a call to action.

To begin Victorian Law Week 2024, we welcomed colleagues from across the justice sector to Route from 66: a call to action. This was an opportunity to meet and consider how we can better respond to the legal needs of Victorians. Commencing a look at some concerning data on legal assistance access and legal need from the Public Understanding of Law Survey (PULS), we delved into how this research can inspire more effective policies and procedures for ensuring access to justice for Victorians.

“We have a branding problem,” declared VLF Director Lynne Haultain in her opening remarks. “Sixty-six per cent of Victorians don’t recognise their problem as legal. That’s why we’re here, because that’s two-thirds of the state who don’t think to look for assistance.” 

Insights were shared on innovations tackling access to justice, spotlighting initiatives by Deakin Law Clinics, Moonee Valley Legal Service and the Neighbourhood Justice Centre. Group discussions followed, exploring further avenues for action. Each group collaborated to explore new ideas, share their experiences, and tap into the diverse expertise present. Together, participants demonstrated a commitment to addressing the obstacles hindering access to justice, even when faced with potentially uncomfortable revelations of what it may take to help the 66% of Victorian identified by the PULS.

We extend our appreciation to all those who participated in the discussion. The goodwill, time and expertise shared at the event generated energy and a shared desire to improve access to justice.

Watch the event highlights

A graphic scribe was present capturing some of the key talking points, view the illustration.

Algorithm is a dancer: AI, the law and you

AI, complex computer systems capable of performing tasks such as reasoning, making decisions, or solving problems, has revolutionised many sectors' technological landscapes and service offerings. What implications does this novel technology hold for the legal sector? This question was thoroughly explored by Professor Jeanie Marie Paterson (Melbourne Law School), Simon Goodrich (Portable) and Karen Finch (Legally Yours) in a robust panel discussion at Algorithm is a dancer: AI, the law and you.

The conversation centred on the importance of developing AI systems with accurate and comprehensive data. Without complete data sets, concerning patterns of exclusion and discrimination can emerge. Jeannie provided examples of biases in resume sorting, insurance pricing and credit scoring. “Some people won't be recognised because they weren't counted in the first place,” she emphasised. “The system won’t recognise you at your personal level. Then the technical term for you is ’noise’.”

(Left to right) Karen Finch, Simon Goodrich and Professor Jeannie Marie Paterson at Algorithm is a dancer: AI, the law and you.

Karen addressed the potential ramifications for present and future legal practitioners, saying that AI “is forcing the profession to get very real about what it is that they deliver and how they're going to price for it”. She suggested that traditional time-based pricing for legal services may no longer be the best model, urging lawyers to consider what value they and AI can deliver to clients in new potential models.

Responding to an audience query about AI's potential impact on the accessibility of law, Simon remarked, “It’s really up to this room and others who want to make this work. There’s big demand for services that work. I would encourage those thinking about the next five years that if you build something and you can provide a level of trust, the AI will work itself out and people will come.”

Despite acknowledging the necessity for extensive discussion and regulation surrounding AI implementation, Jeannie, Simon, and Karen maintained an optimistic outlook, asserting that AI has the potential to become a potent tool for enhancing access to justice.

Watch the complete discussion from the event, including the performance of "Wired Connection" by Bottled Snail Productions.

Regional outreach in the Goulburn Valley

As part of Victorian Law Week, we make it a priority to connect with regional communities in our Community Law Talks program. Our outreach efforts were concentrated in the Goulburn Valley this year, extending support to events in Shepparton, Cobram, Rumbalara, and Tongala.

Members of the Tongala community speaking with representatives from Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria.

Over morning tea and coffee, we brought community members and representatives from the Victorian Ombudsman, Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, Mills End Legal, and Victoria Legal Aid together. After hearing from presenters, community members realised that many of their everyday issues may have legal dimensions. They discovered that there are legal avenues and services available to assist them in seeking resolution. Following morning tea, numerous attendees remained for further discussions to address the challenges they were facing with the guidance provided by the justice sector representatives.

Thank you to Cobram Community House, Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative and Tongala Community Activities Centre for welcoming us and helping to reach out to the local community as part of our Community Law Talks program. It provided a great launching point for fostering greater legal awareness across the Goulburn Valley.

Let’s keep the conversation going! While Law Week 2024 has concluded, the mission to improve access to justice and legal capability continues. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our work and discover more about Law Week.

We’re looking forward to seeing what Victorian Law Week 2025 brings!

Victorian Law Week 2024

Victorian Law Week is a state-wide program of community-based events to learn about the law and how the law can help.

We support better justice through research, education and grants.

Victoria Law Foundation is committed to making a significant contribution to raising awareness of our law, and to provide evidence and insight to improve justice for all Victorians.