Written by Alice Smith, Solicitor, Doogue O’Brien George.
Last month I was fortunate to attend the most highly anticipated weekend of a criminal defence lawyers’ year – the ADLA conference weekend. ADLA is the Australian Defence Lawyers Association and is represented by all Australian states and territories. ADLA convenes annually to share knowledge, resources, inspiration and camaraderie, all in the name of building better a better law practise.
Having commenced at Doogue O’Brien George 6 months ago, this was my first ADLA conference. And I have been imprinted with the belief that ADLA really has all bases covered. To wit;
Continuing Professional Development
We listened to 6 CPD sessions. From Rob Franklin, Managing Director of Potts Lawyers QLD (thank you for the most engaging ethics point I have ever earned) to speech pathologist Rosie Martin who delivered a fascinating session on links between illiteracy and offending, and how literacy programs in prisons can help clients who face these hurdles.
There were some 40 lawyers from across the country. It was a perfect opportunity to get to know each other and learn from each other’s experiences. I have been grappling with a complicated DNA matter, which has involved a somewhat secretive and ground breaking review of the Source Code for new DNA analysis software. At ADLA I learned that our South Australian counterpart at Caldicott Lawyers has been going through a virtually identical process with the same Source Code. Email addresses were exchanged and a dialogue began. This is one example of the value of having these nationwide connections.
On Thursday afternoon we piled into a maxi taxi to make our way to the airport. From that moment until our arrival back in Melbourne 2 days later, we were together – talking, learning, and eating. Some of us even squeezed in a game of Royal Tennis.
ADLA even enjoyed a cultural dimension. On Saturday at around midday we met at MONA. After an hour or so wandering around the spectacular gallery and, for those of us who felt up to it, having a bounce on the trampoline, we finished our Hobart adventure with some cheese platters and wine.
In many respects this was quite an indulgent weekend. Certainly, incredibly generous of the partners of Doogue O’Brien George to continue this longstanding tradition. However, I can see that this annual event really does enrich all of our practises as criminal lawyers; in large part because it provides the opportunity to focus on other facets of our practises – whether that is conversing with others and learning from their experiences, developing a relationship with interstate lawyers to facilitate referrals or sitting for a full day and learning about a new area of law and new support services we may be able to draw upon for clients.