Pacific Legal Network attend Pasefika Lawyers Collective conference in Samoa
PLN’s drive to deliver much needed court attire to public lawyers working hard around the Pacific continued in July with the latest donation of court gowns and bar jackets delivered to the Samoan Law Society. PLN’s ‘Pacific Dress-up’ saw John Ridgway and Dirk Heinz present an assortment of court attire to Samoan Law Society president Alex Su’a at the inaugural Pasefika Lawyers Collective conference held in Apia.
Speaking at the conference in front of a full house of lawyers and law students who had travelled from around Samoa as well as many who had come from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and PNG, Dirk Heinz of PLN explained the motivation behind the donation drive: “We’re very pleased to be able to present this assortment of court attire to the Samoan Law Society. This is the third Pacific jurisdiction where we’ve made these donations following visits to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu last year and we’re on to Fiji in a couple of weeks. Pasefika lawyers across the region are working hard to serve their communities, often despite serious funding constraints, big case backlogs and limited access to L&D resources. These garments aren’t easy items to come by for many Pasefika lawyers and if we can take the anxiety out of appearing in court and make that one less thing you all have to worry about, we are very happy to help.”
Speaking after the conference on behalf of the Pacific Legal Association of NSW and the Pasifika Lawyers Association of Queensland, the two groups behind the organisation of the event, Brenda Milo said: “One of the themes of our conference was recognising the concept of Tautua, a Samoan word meaning ‘to serve’. Many of the lawyers here in Samoa dedicate their careers to serving their communities through the justice system, and invariably that requires them to be in court. The heartfelt donations of gowns and court attire here today will be very well received by all those serving others through the Samoan legal fraternity.”
Once again, PLN would like to thank the Victorian Bar Association and in particular Miranda Tulloch for doing the legwork compiling the donations from VicBar members. Off the back of similar donations of wigs, jackets and gowns provided to the Solomon Islands Public Solicitors Office and Department of Public Prosecutions last year, VicBar have been instrumental in making sure young Pasefika lawyers have the equipment they need to keep doing the important work they do.
Managing Partner of PLN John Ridgway is off to Suva to make a similar donation of court attire kindly donated by the NSW Bar Association. More to come on that soon!