Published on Wednesday 27, June 2018

Elizabeth Becker - Ryan Carlisle Thomas

Elizabeth Becker is a Partner at Ryan Carlisle Thomas, and leads the firm's family and relationship law department. Prior to joining Ryan Carlisle Thomas, Elizabeth was Principal Lawyer for 4 years at inTouch Community Legal Centre, a multicultural women's family violence practice where she oversaw the establishment and accreditation of Australia's first Community Legal Centre housed within a family violence practice.

Connecting with IMCL 

"Like many lawyers, my legal journey began as a volunteer in a Community Legal Centre. I volunteered at the IMCL, back when it was called North Melbourne Legal Service (NMLS) whilst completing my undergraduate law degree at Melbourne University.

"I was living locally in North Melbourne at the time and found working at the NMLS to be a rich, rewarding and sometimes eye-opening personal and cultural experience. The NMLC was in a wonderful old office at the corner of Victoria and Errol Streets with a creaky staircase. There were not too many cafes serving good coffee around North Melbourne at that time though, oh how times have changed! I thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering with the NMLS and really admired the work that they did. My time there certainly fostered a desire very early on in my
career to focus on social justice.

"When I joined Ryan Carlisle Thomas in 2016, I was delighted to learn that the firm had strong and established links with IMCL. Throughout my time at RCT, I have sought to strengthen and enhance this relationship through assisting clients on a pro bono basis within our Family and Relationship Law Department.

"Beyond our Family and Relationship Law Department, as a firm we have been able to assist many IMCL clients on a pro bono basis in a diverse range of legal and quasi-legal matters. We have assisted IMCL clients in a number of our practice areas, which include personal injury, wills and estates, sexual abuse matters (through our institutional abuse department), family law, criminal law and VOCAT.

"IMCL and RCT have an authentic pro bono relationship, and one that is really organic. Both services complement each other very well and as a firm we look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come."

Maintaining a connection with the community 

"Although my department focuses on Family and Relationship Law, all of the staff in my department, and indeed most of RCT, have worked at community legal centres on a volunteer basis throughout their undergraduate and trainee year careers. This involvement with the community gives them a breadth of experience and knowledge in dealing with people from all walks of life, in all facets of the law. This has allowed us as a team to be able to take a generalist approach in dealing with clients’ legal matters, with a focus on Family and Relationships Law.

The benefits of pro bono work for law firms 

"I am all too aware of the operational difficulties community legal centres can face, particularly in terms of finance. When funding is such a struggle for community legal organisations, it’s important that firms can step in and assist as it makes the legal fraternity (and serority) so much stronger.

"As a firm and particularly for our staff, we benefit enormously in assisting community groups such as IMCL. I encourage all firms to support Community Legal Centres and undertake pro bono work."