Now a principal with leading litigation Perth law firm Bennett + Co, Dalitso Banda is inspired by helping people solve complex problems and find their way in the legal profession.
Born in Zambia, Dalitso first came to Perth as an international student in 2003, after hearing about Western Australia’s universities through an agent promoting Australia as an education destination.
Dalitso studied law at Notre Dame University in Fremantle, then started his journey in the legal profession as an Articled Clerk with Havilah Legal. He was admitted to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in September 2008 and the High Court of Australia in January 2010. Dalitso joined Bennett + Co in July 2011 and has been with them ever since.
Noticing that more people of African heritage were either studying law or working in the legal profession in WA, Dalitso began to think about collaborating with others to launch an association. He became the co-founder and chair of the Society of African Australian Lawyers Inc (SAALI).
“We started SAALI in 2020—I’d been thinking about it for a while, and I know other people were thinking about it too, but everyone was too busy to launch it. Then COVID-19 happened, and with the downtime caused by the pandemic, we used it as an opportunity to start SAALI.
SAALI’s aim is to promote members of the legal profession in Perth who have African heritage or are interested in African Australian affairs. It also provides a network for our members to promote and support each other.
“It’s a platform to participate in law reform advocacy and further develop connections between WA and Africa.”
Membership of the society is free so that cost is not a barrier to getting involved. There are 80 members so far ranging from students and academics to practicing lawyers.
One of the most important things for Dalitso is to help others to find their feet.
“A lot of people from African backgrounds need help to get started. For example, if they contact me, I do my best to advise them on what to look for when starting out with their studies or a career in law.”
The culture of learning and then passing on to others what you have learned is really important to Dalitso.
“You don’t learn just so that you can keep the information to yourself—you learn and you share. Never stop learning and teaching.”
Some members of SAALI have been recognised in the legal profession, including Kendra Turner, who was the 2021 Junior Lawyer of the Year, and Golda Eshun, 2020 Piddington PLT Lawyer of the Year.
SAALI is currently working on many initiatives including a work experience collaboration with the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group, a mentoring program and establishing a communications channel with WA Police.
“Our vision is to create a platform that will promote members of the legal profession of African heritage. To give them a voice in WA.”