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ABL launches Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment

Native Title & Public Interest Law

Arnold Bloch Leibler has launched its first Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment, with senior partner Mark Leibler describing the launch as an occasion that speaks to the culture of the firm which places a high value on our privilege and responsibility to use the law as an instrument for social justice.

The Statement of Commitment is founded on the learnings from three decades working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities, organisations and individuals, often pro bono, on matters and issues that go to the heart of their resolve to achieve led self-determination.

In 2008, Arnold Bloch Leibler was the first law firm in the country to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan. In 2021, recognising that for many Indigenous Australians, the language of reconciliation no longer best captures the imperative of self-determination, the firm’s Indigenous Solidarity Network, comprising lawyers and staff at all levels, developed the Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment. The network felt that the language of solidarity better reflected the firm’s long-held view and deep, first-hand experience that the shared aspirations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will only be achieved by continuing to work alongside each other.

The statement describes this approach, and how we will apply it in realising specific objectives and priorities for 2021-2022, as Australia and the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am truly very proud to see how a new generation of lawyers has taken this distinct element of the firm’s identity and, drawing on the learnings gifted to us by Aboriginal clients, colleagues and friends over three decades, they have made this point of difference current, and made it their own,” said Mark.

Also speaking at the launch, managing partner Henry Lanzer said that the energy and commitment Mark has devoted to righting the wrongs of the past, and working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, has placed him and the firm at the centre of the national effort towards a better future.

“Alongside Mark, our dedicated public interest partner, Peter Seidel, who has worked closely with Aboriginal communities for many years, has helped shape a culture of commitment that is collectively owned across the firm,” said Henry.

Commenting on the new statement, Peter said that the new emphasis on the concept of Indigenous solidarity reflects what Arnold Bloch Leibler has always sought, and will always seek, to achieve in our efforts. “As partners and staff of a culturally strong and successful law firm, we have always recognised that for us to help to achieve reconciliation in this country, our best work is done by utilising our legal expertise to support Indigenous peoples in their endeavours – not to imagine we are in any way qualified to lead the way, but to walk side by side and bear witness, in solidarity.”

The statement incorporates case studies and testimonials from clients, including highly respected, long term client Monica Morgan from the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. Speaking at the launch in conversation with Peter, Monica described what working “in solidarity” with Indigenous Australians looks like on the ground as being all about enduring relationships, and being there through good times and hard times. “The relationship the Yorta Yorta have had with Arnold Bloch Leibler over 28 years, it’s like family,” she said.

To read the Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment and associated web resources click here

To read Mark Leibler’s speech, click here.

To read Henry Lanzer’s speech, click here.

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