Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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Everything Queensland Law Society does is underpinned by the vision that is central to our strategic plan – Good law. Good lawyers. Public good.

And if you look at all of our activities, you will find that they all meet one or more of these objectives.

This week I’d like to draw your attention to our annual Access to Justice Scorecard survey, which is a notable activity within those for ‘public good’.

By identifying the stumbling blocks that impede members of the community in accessing justice, we can advocate for funding to help overcome them. We can suggest potential solutions to government, and we can explain to the community why these barriers have arisen and why they must be addressed.

Last year’s scorecard identified several areas of concern, a major one being that court and legal processes were too complicated and confusing, and did not lend themselves to the needs of self-represented litigants. Restrictions on eligibility for legal aid and levels of rates paid for legal aid work were also a major concern.

Your assistance is vital in providing the data that enables us to not only identify these trends each year but also evaluate how these factors change over time, and to adjust our advocacy accordingly. And of course you may also have some ideas on how to overcome these barriers.

On behalf of the QLS Access to Justice and Pro Bono Law Committee, please accept an invitation to complete this year’s Access to Justice Scorecard survey, which should take you no more than five minutes. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Last week’s highlight was undoubtedly the launch of our QLS Reconciliation Action Plan on Wednesday. Not only was this a great event on a local level, it was also a significant milestone on a national level, garnering congratulatory messages from across Australia and widespread praise on social media.

We followed this up on Friday, at the conclusion of NAIDOC Week, with a stall at the Musgrave Park Family Fun Day, and it actually was a lot of fun, despite the inclement weather. Our QLS ‘lucky dips’ were a real hit with attendees of all ages!

Last week I also attended a Better Regulation Taskforce meeting and was pleased to open our Essentials conference on Friday morning.

This week began with the Law Year Church Service on Monday morning at the Albert Street Uniting Church. This occasion is non-denominational, being held at a different place of worship each year, and offers not only a glimpse of the ceremonial side of our profession but a solemn reminder of our duty to the community we serve.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to welcoming delegates to the QLS and FLPA Family Law Residential, which has been an annual landmark event for Queensland’s family law practitioners for many years. It kicks off with a ‘Great Debate’, and no doubt we shall see some spirited arguments on the topic, ‘I have the most important job in the family law system!’,

On Friday I’m particularly looking forward to the Q&A opening plenary with Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO, as she approaches retirement from the Bench, and the Friday night Rock ’n’ Roll Residential Dinner, which is always a memorable evening.

I’d like to add a quick reminder for one of our premier events next month, the Government Lawyers Conference 2017, which is tailored for legal professionals in the government, policy and administrative spheres and will be held at Law Society House on Friday 11 August.

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from subject matter experts who will provide insights into fascinating topics such as the psychology behind vexatious litigants, how to better handle communications with them, and how to help de-escalate situations.

Earlybird registration for the conference will close this Friday.

Thank you & acknowledgements

As you would know, we have just completed the annual practising certificate and membership renewals period. Logistically, this is a mammoth undertaking for us, involving staff from across QLS. The workload falls most heavily on our records team, and I would like to publicly thank them for their patience and perseverance in completing another year’s renewals, ably assisted by the finance, IT, HR and marketing teams, along with the many others who contributed.

To give you an indication of the scale of this, our records team took around 8000 phone calls during the renewals period and processed well over 10,000 practising certificate renewals and a similar number of membership renewals.

Christine Smyth

QLS president