Practice area(s): Social justice
Qualification(s): BA, LLB (Hons)
Elizabeth O'Shea is responsible for Maurice Blackburn's national social justice practice. Based in Melbourne, Lizzie works on cases that address issues of community concern that are in the public interest. She provides access to justice for community groups that are fighting battles which have an impact beyond their own individual case, and people who would otherwise be unable to afford legal representation, such as asylum seekers and refugees, workers who have been underpaid, and people who have been unfairly targeted by national security legislation.
"It's a real joy to come to work and represent people who traditionally have not had access to the courts. Law should be about justice. A lack of means should not be a barrier to achieving this. It’s a privilege to give people a voice who have previously not been listened to and who feel like the system has failed them. The courage of my clients inspires me. They work as hard as I do, and as a team we do great things.
Lizzie has been practising as a lawyer for six years and has local and international experience in employment and industrial relations, as well as in a wide array of court jurisdictions, from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal up to the High Court of Australia. Major national cases she is currently working on include the freedom of women to access fertility services free from harassment, and stopping a nuclear waste dump being built on land at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory without adequate consultation with traditional owners.
Lizzie has been involved in numerous successful cases at Maurice Blackburn, including challenging the Australian Taxation Office’s decision to deny Aid/Watch its charitable status, winning the right for people to be allowed to protest against the development of a McDonald’s restaurant in the Victorian town of Tecoma, and having an application to introduce more pokie machines into the Victorian town of Castlemaine thrown out of VCAT.
Lizzie’s international legal experience includes working at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva monitoring gender and racial equality labour standards convention compliance, as well as a voluntary internship in the USA where she worked with indigent prisoners on death row. These international experiences have cemented Lizzie’s passion for righting injustices and addressing issues that are of a broad community concern.
“Maurice Blackburn's social justice practice was formed with a commitment to taking on cases of political and social significance. Finding suitable cases that are important from a social justice case and are meritorious can be a challenge. There is much injustice that the law cannot fix, but if it can and it’s in the broader community interests, we like to help.”
Lizzie is also Chair of the volunteer human rights not-for-profit media organisation Right Now.
Memberships & accreditations
- Law Institute of Victoria Member
- Law Institute of Victoria Administrative and Human Rights Law Section Co-Chair
- Right Now Inc Chair