Nadia Morales - Senior Lawyer, Communications and Community Legal Education Manager
With almost 20 years of experience in the access to justice sector domestically and internationally in a variety of legal practice and project management roles, Nadia manages IMCL’s communications and community legal education work, while also practising as a Senior Lawyer. Nadia is driven to achieve social justice and systemic reform and in her down time is also a producer/presenter on 3CR Radio’s Done By Law program.
A sense of community service
“My upbringing had a big part to play in my decision to work in community law. I grew up in Brunswick, where there was a wide variety of people from many different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. I saw that even in one small community, people’s lives could be really different from one another – one person could be living a very happy, healthy and safe existence full of opportunity, and yet another person very close by could have none of those things through no fault of their own.
“My parents made me acutely aware of this dichotomy, and my own relative advantage. They instilled in me the importance of social justice.
“My father was a community doctor who saw a wide variety of people and bulk-billed all of his clients. So I grew up in an environment where I saw people coming to his surgery to seek free medical care through a state-funded program.
“I think it is quite natural for me to be working in a community law now, with people who drop in for free help and can have their legal needs met in a similar way.
"Knowing that the resolution of legal problems also improves people's health confirms the need to properly resource legal services like ours. It's a vital service, just like GPs."
Embracing the law to connect to real people
“As I went through law school it was hard to imagine how the theory would operate in practice. I started volunteering at a community legal service and that’s where I started to see the law really take shape.
“I suddenly understood what the law meant for people’s day-to-day lives, and from that point on, I realised this was the sort of law that I wanted to do – law that was connected to people and stories, and not just something that you do on paper.
“I also spent some time overseas in a number of developing countries working for large international organisations on access to justice issues. The most fulfilling part of those roles was working on the ground in partnership with the people who were affected by the justice systems we were trying to improve, and actually seeing the projects implemented. Working in community law enables me to stay connected in this way."
The transition from courtroom to change advocacy
“For some time I was a criminal defence lawyer. As much as I loved the cut and thrust of court, I found it difficult to operate within a systemically flawed environment.
“That made me want to work on more systemic issues, and more broadly work to change people’s attitudes towards criminal justice. I also realised that storytelling was a way to do this – a very privileged part of my work in criminal law was hearing the stories of clients, hearing things that they may never have otherwise told anyone, or even had the opportunity to say. I was able to give a voice to those stories.
“IMCL’s mission is ‘Helping you be heard’, and the organisation has a very progressive view about harnessing client stories and using those as a form of advocacy, knowing the strength that they have.
“While my work within the law is about helping individual people, beyond that, it is also about reform. The law isn’t just about control – it’s also a really powerful tool for change. The law can be used to change systems, to change attitudes and behaviours, and ultimately to actually change and improve people's lives.”
You can find out more about IMCL's current staff here.
“The law can be used to change systems, to change attitudes and behaviours, and ultimately to actually change and improve people’s lives.”