Law Week – what’s it really all about?

We’re all busy rushing off to Law Week events this week – heck, it’s the biggest community event about the law each year, packed full of fascinating, challenging, confronting and even spooky events. With so much going on, it’s easy to forget what Law Week is really all about. Our Executive Director Joh Kirby shares her thoughts.

Joh Kirby at the launch of  Law Week 2013 with our 2011 Chief Justice's Medal winner Hugh Crosthwaite.

Joh Kirby at the launch of Law Week 2013 with our 2011 Chief Justice’s Medal winner Hugh Crosthwaite.

Happy Law Week! If this is your first Law Week, don’t be fooled into thinking Law Week is about promoting lawyers. Far from it, in fact!

Law Week is about providing opportunities for Victorians to find out more about the law and their legal rights, participate in debates about current justice issues, and gain an insight into the workings of the legal sector.

It’s about encouraging an interest and participation in our legal system. And, while lawyers are obviously an integral part of the legal sector, research shows that most people don’t seek their assistance when they have a legal problem. More often than not they prefer to rely on the support of family and friends. Sometimes they don’t know where to start looking for legal help, or maybe they’re intimidated by the system, its processes, size, language and the perceived cost.

But the better Victorians understand the law and the less intimidated they are by the legal sector, the more likely they are to seek appropriate help for their legal problem. That’s why Law Week, and the interest it sparks in the community, is so important.

Building legal knowledge and confidence is difficult but Law Week’s program offers lots of opportunities to dig around behind the scenes of our courts and legal institutions and to meet the many amazing, dedicated people (not just lawyers and judges) who work in the legal sector.

Once again, the legal sector has pulled out all the stops, offering a fantastic program of Law Week events – from court tours and debates to seminars on a wide range of legal issues and even cemetery tours that touch on Victoria’s criminal past.

All of the organisations involved, and the many individuals who help with events throughout the week, donate their time and resources to help us make Law Week bigger and better every year.

Courts Open Day, on Saturday 18 May, is always one of the highlights of the Law Week, and 2013 will be no exception. Held in Melbourne’s court precinct, near the corner of Lonsdale and Williams St in the city, Victorians this year will have the chance to explore the Supreme Court, County Court, Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court. VCAT and the Coroners Court will also be participating. And, of course, the foundation will be there too!

If that’s not your cup of tea though, I encourage you to visit the Law Week program of events – there really is something that will interest everyone.

Our Victoria's Legal System booklet

Our Victoria’s Legal System booklet

And remember, even if you don’t get a chance to attend Law Week, the foundation has lots of great information to help you better understand the law and legal system. Start with our great publication, Victoria’s Legal System, which can be downloaded from the foundation’s website, and work your way through our many other easy-to-understand booklets and guides.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow morning we’ll give you an overview of Wednesday’s Law Week highlights. Or visit the Law Week program of events. You can also follow Law Week on Facebook and join the Law Week conversation on Twitter.

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