4 February 2022

Cooma solicitor announced as President of the Law Society of NSW

| Max O'Driscoll
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Joanne van der Plaat

President of the Law Society of NSW, Cooma’s Joanne van der Plaat. Photo: Supplied.

The Law Society of NSW has unveiled its new president, Cooma’s Joanne van der Plaat.

Originally a Monaro High School student, Ms van der Plaat began her career at a small firm in Sydney before moving to Baker McKenzie, a large international firm.

Thirteen years ago, she returned to the Snowy Mountains region and had served as a Partner at local firm Blaxland Mawson & Rose for eight years until June 2021.

In that time, she was also the Director of the Law Society of NSW for more than five years and Senior Vice President in the 12 months leading up to her recent appointment.

“My experience has given me an invaluable insight into the joys, challenges and opportunities we each face in the profession,” Ms van der Plaat said.

“As a country lawyer, I am keen to promote and raise awareness of rural practice, not as an alternative career, but as a challenging and rewarding career.”

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While her inaugural address has been delayed until 28 March due to the current Omicron outbreak, Ms van der Plaat revealed her five central priorities for 2022 which are to support the legal profession’s health and wellbeing, find ways to better support the profession, courts and clients in regional NSW, respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on the justice system and address the issues of human rights and judicial resourcing in NSW.

“I want to ensure all solicitors continue to have access to practical, applicable information and services that will help them run their practices or move forward in their careers – as has been the Law Society’s mission since its inception 180 years ago,” said Ms van der Plaat.

“I am looking forward to engaging with the legal profession, the government and the courts in navigating the ongoing challenges of COVID to ensure we continue to thrive and succeed in our professional and personal lives and provide the best service possible to our clients.

“This includes advocating for ongoing investment in the justice system (as is regularly seen in the health, education and transport sectors), which will provide long-term economic benefit for our state and ensure the rights of civil society are met,” she said.

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As part of her appointment, Ms van der Plaat has nominated her President’s Charity for 2022, ‘Sober in the Country’, a rurally-focused charity addressing the social impact of excessive alcohol consumption.

“Like many Australians, I have witnessed the devastating impact excessive consumption of alcohol has on individuals and their relationships with family and work,” Ms van der Plaat said.

“It can be difficult to reach out for assistance with everyone knowing who you are, more so in the country.

“I hope to use my time as President to raise awareness for the incredible support Sober in the Country provides and raise vital funds for them to continue their work,” she said.

Ms van der Plaat will now deliver her Opening of Law Term Presidential Address at the 2022 Law Term Dinner on Monday 28 March.

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