Queensland Law Society

QLS responds to LCA call for equitable briefing policy for female barristers

Date 24 Jun 2016
Contact Tony Keim
Phone 07 3842 5835
Mobile 0488 433 884
Email media@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society has responded to the Law Council of Australia’s announcement of an updated equitable briefing policy – saying it supported moves to level the playing field for female barristers.

Society president Bill Potts said: “Setting targets might encourage some increase in the briefing of female barristers, but unless certain bigger issues are addressed it is unlikely to have anything more than a ‘feel good’ effect.”

“The simple fact of the matter is that there would be plenty of work for all barristers if our legal system was adequately resourced.”

Mr Potts said an increase in legal aid was top of the agenda in that regard.

“The tens of thousands of people every year who are forced to represent themselves would no doubt love to have one of our skilled solicitors or barristers speak for them in court, if only they could afford it,” he said.

“Once upon a time junior barristers would split a legal aid hearing fee with solicitors just to build up court experience; now even those meagre fees are gone.”

Mr Potts added appointing more judges and magistrates would also help.

“We have people waiting months or years for a hearing date and young solicitors and barristers sitting around looking for work,” he said.

“If the courts had more resources the lawyers would be working and litigants would be getting much faster justice; that’s win-win in my book.”

Mr Potts said he believed more work could be generated if simple changes the Society had long called for – such as allowing cross-examination at criminal committal hearings, creating a class action regime for Queensland and allowing for as of right legal representation in tribunal matters – were implemented.

“The fact is that there is actually more legal work to be done than there are barristers and solicitors to do it, but the system doesn’t have the resources to cope,” he said.

“In a prosperous country like Australia, that’s simply a disgrace.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Tony Keim on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, media@qls.com.au.