Assembly of Southern Lawyers elects new executive

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Saira Lakhan – Photo courtesy the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association

THE Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) has elected a new executive.

Leading the association is Saira Lakhan, who was nominated unopposed. She replaces Michael Rooplal, who held the position for five years, but did not seek re-election.

Lakhan has been in practice for 14 years and heads the firm of Magnus in San Fernando. She is also a senior ordinary member of the Council of the Law Association (LATT) and a certified mediator and arbitrator.

Lakhan proposes to focus on the education development of young lawyers; build on the ASL’s mentorship programme; create and build a vibrant legislative review committee to contribute to new legislation and follow up on the opening of the San Fernando High Court.

She also hopes to attract new members to the ASL.

In his outgoing remarks, Rooplal said the ASL has been vocal about issues affecting the legal fraternity, particularly for lawyers in the South, “on many contentious issues.”

He reminded that the ASL had been pivotal in offering advice on the Freedom of Information Act, most recently for covid19, calling for a shutdown of the courts and then for the reopening of courts for trials when the pandemic waned.

He said while the ASL’s concerns appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, since the executive he led tirelessly wrote to the Chief Justice, but received no response, the association did receive assistance from the bench-bar committee of the LATT.

Rooplal highlighted the achievements of previous executives and urged members to support the new executive.  “The ASL was born out of the need for giving voice to the concerns of the southern legal community.”

He also expressed the wish for greater representation of south lawyers on LATT’s council. “There are many issues which are affecting our membership.”

Rooplal suggested rules to regulate attorneys’ use of social media and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the practice of law, which is engaging the legal fraternity in the UK, Canada and the US.

He also disclosed that while the ASL had not been collecting membership dues for a large part of the last five years, it did not dip into its coffers, so the new executive had a net-positive balance to work with.

New ASL executive:

Saira Lakhan, presidentKent Samlal, vice presidentShanta Balgobin, secretaryKristian Dass, treasurerLester Chariah, public relations officerJared Jagroo and Amanda Wall, senior committee membersSurendra Rampersad and Sharon Bodoe, junior committee membersAbdel Mohammed and Melissa Thackorie, trustees.