Ralph Bönig, Special Counsel, Finlaysons Lawyers was awarded the Brian Withers award at the SA Law Society’s annual awards dinner on Friday 10 August 2018.
The award is presented to a member of the Society who has provided outstanding service to the Society, it’s members and the profession above and beyond the call of duty.
Ralph was appointed to the Law Society’s Council in 2005, and became an Executive Member the following year. He was Treasurer, Vice president, President-Elect and eventually President of the Law Society in 2010, a role he held for two years, rather than the standard one-year term.
At the beginning of his Presidency, Ralph committed to raising awareness of the mental health and wellbeing of the profession. This led to a number of specific initiatives including the formation of the Wellbeing & Resilience Committee and Young Lawyers Support Group.
Ralph chaired the Society’s Committee on the National Legal Profession Project as well as driving the Society’s contribution to the revision of the Legal Practitioners Act in 2013. South Australia’s legislation in this regard had fallen a long way behind the other jurisdictions until Ralph took carriage of the issue.
Ralph was also:
- the driving force behind the implementation of the Limitation of Liability Scheme, since renamed as the Professional Standards Scheme
- an inaugural member and co-chair of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which is committed to dealing with the issue of Aboriginal juvenile detention
- instrumental in the establishment of the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice Working Group which culminated in the agreement with the University of Adelaide for joint delivery of the course
Commenting on the award, Tim Mellor, Law Society President said,
“Ralph’s advocacy and work ethic on behalf of the Society has been tireless and effective. Two years as President constituted a huge commitment and contribution. Under Ralph’s leadership, there was an enhanced focus on excellence in service to its Members.”
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