Pasifika Lawyers Association of Queensland (PLAQ) President Trina Faaiusaso took a leap of faith literally and figuratively when leaving her job with the public service.
She resigned after a decade in the Queensland Government to follow her dream.
“After serving as a Queensland public servant for just over 10 years, I took a leap of faith by resigning in March 2022 to work for the private law firm Trinity York Legal with the intention to establish their Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) section for the areas of Domestic & Family Violence, Human Rights, Discrimination, Guardianship, Mental Health and Child Protection matters,” Trina said.
“I was also elected as PLAQ’s president at this time. My Christian faith and Samoan cultural heritage play a pivotal role in how I practice in the legal profession.
“Given my eagerness to serve the community in my new journey in private practice and as the President of PLAQ, my prayer to God was, ‘how can I show the legal profession that I genuinely want to join those who are already assisting to improve access to legal services for people from low social economically backgrounds, First Nations and Pasefika people given the high stats of these groups going through the legal system?’
“The vision I received was to create the Pasefika Lawyers Collective (PLC) Initiative.
“This initiative was formed by individuals who claim Pacific heritage or connection who made a commitment to share views and learnings on our cultural diversity and its impact on the practise of law.
“PLAQ and Pacific Legal Association NSW (PLAN) spearheaded this initiative in partnership with the Samoa Law Society and leading legal practitioners from New Zealand to create and facilitate, within six months, the PLC CPD conference in Samoa on Diversity: Valuing Pasefika cultural lens in Law and the legal profession.
“And the theme was ‘Tautua’, a Samoan word for ‘to serve for the benefit of others’.”
The Inaugural PLC Conference, from 26 to 28 July, had strong representation from the Queensland legal community including Chief Justice Bowskill, Justice Morrison and Chief Magistrate Brassington.
Other Queensland connections were Director Guardianship Amelia Barker, Lana Carter of Lavenia Law, Co-ordinating Senior Lawyer Tile Imo of Caxton Legal Centre, and barristers Dominic Nguyen of Lilley Chambers and Reimen Hii from Inns of Court Chambers.
Trina was appreciative of the role that Australian legal practitioners and judiciary played in the creation of the historic event.
“The relationship between Samoa and Queensland law confraternities is defined by legal practitioners who truly believe in the principle to serve for the benefit of others and being driven to create an international legal community that goes beyond our shores to share legal resources, to build each other as servants in the legal profession wherever we are based, particularly coming out of COVID and feeling isolated for long periods of time,” she said.
She said Chief Justice Bowskill had written to both the PLAQ and PLAN after the conference, expressing her thanks for an enjoyable and rewarding conference.
“Another success from the PLC conference is leaders from attending Pasefika Island nations’ law societies made a commitment to continue and support the PLC initiative,” she said.
“The PLC steering committee are settling a memorandum of understanding for leaders to sign to formalise support to continue this important initiative.
“Finally, a significant positive outcome is the recognition of the importance of representation of multiculturalism in our legal profession; and that everyone has something unique and positive to share for the betterment of our societies in our roles as legal practitioners.
“PLAQ is especially grateful to the Asian Australian Lawyers Association Inc Qld Branch (AALA) President Dominic Nyugen and AALA member Reimen Hii for attending and supporting the PLC initiative, as well as our Queensland and NSW judiciary for volunteering their time and covering their own travel expenses to attend as well.
“For me personally, I hoped that participants came away feeling heard and more inspired to continue to serve as legal practitioners for the benefit of others, and understanding the value of sharing legal knowledge, expertise, and experiences in honouring diversity in the practice of law.
“I also hoped that law students and newly admitted lawyers would have direct access to senior practitioners and judiciary on a professional and personal level to build their own networks, mentorships and lifelong friendships.”
The PLC will launch the Online Information Hub website this month and make an announcement about the next conference in 2025.