Volume 19, Issue 8
Next Wednesday evening, the LSS will hold a Special General Meeting, to propose several changes to their Constitution. De Minimis has written this short analysis of the proposed changes, to help if you’re unsure what the proposed changes are all about.
By far and away the biggest proposed change is the addition of a new rule: ‘Rule 61A Transparency’. In a proactive move, the new ‘Transparency’ rule will see the LSS publish key operating information, without Members needing to file a request. In addition, the Committee is charged ‘to ensure the transparency of the Association’.
In the past, the LSS has drawn criticism for its perceived opacity, and it seems as though this new rule is aimed squarely at quashing such attacks. Certain information will still not be volunteered under the proposed change (membership information, for example, or details on sponsorships), but there are likely considered policy reasons for such omissions.
It appears as though the change will also force a departure from the established practice of the LSS Committee approving the minutes of a meeting at the subsequent meeting, which currently delays access to minutes for weeks or months. It is also pleasing to see the explicit inclusion of key financial information in the list of items to be voluntarily published, after financial issues brought on by the COVID pandemic gave some Members an unwelcome surprise at last year’s AGM.
The only issue in what is a very positive proposal is a spelling mistake in r 61A(3). If passed, this will have to be corrected at a future General Meeting. Nevertheless, the new rule is likely to be well-received by Members, who will be able to more easily oversee the activities of their representatives.
A potential sticking point:
A potential issue arising from the proposed changes is that the definition of ‘Member’ under Rule 4 is to be expanded to include MLM students. It is not entirely clear what effect, if any, this change will have on the Melbourne Law Masters Student Association, the LSS’ Masters-course counterpart.
It is conceivable that the comparatively large size and wealth of the LSS will begin to draw members away from participating in MLMSA over time. On the other hand, if the change gains the MLMSA’s blessing, it could be a positive opportunity for JD students to get to know their Masters counterparts.
Many of the proposed changes to Rules 7, 31, and 36 are spelling and grammar fixes, with one notable exception. A portfolio reshuffle will see Equity and Social Justice reconceived as ‘Equity and Wellbeing’. Meanwhile, the Social Justice portfolio will be merged with Environments. It is pleasing to see that wellbeing – often deficient in the legal profession – is being given priority on the Committee. However, it is not apparent that the Social Justice and Environments portfolios appeal to a natural constituency. It is possible that a candidate for the proposed new office, primarily interested in one area, might neglect the other.
That’s all for now.
Max Ferguson is the Editor-in-Chief of De Minimis.
The MLMSA declined to comment on the proposed changes.