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Govt names top QC's replacement at Legal Services Commission

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Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has announced that an Adelaide lawyer will replace Michael Abbott QC as chair of the state’s Legal Services Commission, and SA’s first Judicial Registrar has been appointed to the Magistrate’s Court.

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A high-profile silk, Abbott was appointed to lead South Australia’s legal aid service in 2013, with his term coming to an end in January next year.

Chapman this morning announced Adelaide corporate litigator Jason Karas as Abbott’s replacement.

Karas is a principal and co-founder of Lipman Karas, described in his online curriculum vitae as having an “outstanding track record in the investigation, litigation and resolution of complex commercial, financial and insolvency disputes, involving some of the most sophisticated global corporations”.

“Jason has extensive experience in the management of a large and complex legal practice and those skills will assist the governance of the Commission,” said Chapman.

“He joins the Commission at a milestone in its history, with the Commission celebrating its 40th this year.

“I thank Mr Abbott for his excellent service as LSC chairperson –  the Commission’s outstanding reputation and sound governance are due in no small part to Michael’s work as chair.”

Photo: Jason Karas

Karas said he was honoured to be appointed.

“The Commission’s legal assistance ensures South Australians, particularly the most disadvantaged members of our community, have access to justice,” he said.

“This is essential work and I look forward to supporting the Commission’s delivery of those services.”

Commission director Gabrielle Canny welcomed Karas and acknowledged Abbott’s contribution.

“Michael has helped to build and refine our operations and the services we provide to the community,” she said.

“Jason’s diverse skills will help the Commission build on its strong track record and meet the challenges of providing legal help in the next decade.”

The Commission delivers a variety of services, including legal education, advice and representation.

First Judicial Registrar appointed

Meanwhile, Chapman also named senior civil litigator Melanie Burton to a seven-year term as the first Judicial Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court.

Chapman said the creation of the Judicial Registrar role would help sitting magistrates devote their time to more complex matters.

The Attorney-General described Burton as an experienced, knowledgeable litigator.

“I’m confident she will bring these qualities to her new role in the Magistrates Court,” said Chapman.

Photo: Melanie Burton

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