50 years of community justice: Alison Maynard
Alison was a solicitor at St Kilda Legal Service in the early 1980s. At university, Alison heard about ‘shop front’ law being practised in the US and decided that was her ambition. It was therefore a natural progression into community law.
Is there a case or campaign that stands out for you?
We were part of a campaign to change mandatory penalties for offences such as driving an unregistered vehicle because they were fixed amounts that had a disproportional impact on people on government benefits or low incomes.
What energised you about working in community law?
In the early 80’s the sector was beginning to come together to work on issues, formed a federation and started having national conferences. It was great to interact with people with like minds.
What was unique or interesting in the early 1980s?
I did duty solicitor work at St Kilda Magistrates Court, which sat on a Wednesday. At that time, we had no female magistrates and I think only one female County Court judge had just been appointed. We were still using golf ball typewriters, and everything was done via snail mail.
Where did you go after St Kilda Legal Service?
I went on to work at Coburg Legal Service, Leo Cussen Institute, the SIO Consumer Appeals Centre, then ended up working for many years in the financial sector complaints resolution schemes. More recently I have been a member of the Building Practitioner’s Board and am now a member of the Building Appeals Board.
Do you have a piece of advice you’d give to a new lawyer considering a career in community law?
My advice to new lawyers is that working in a Community Legal Centre can be a way to make a difference in the community and can lead to a rewarding career which enables you to live out your values.