Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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While criminal lawyers may be one of the smaller cohorts of our profession, they are integral to the just and equitable administration of our legal system.

It is with a mix of admiration and pride that I say all of our solicitors are inspired by their belief in the rule of law, and criminal lawyers are no exception. They are especially passionate solicitors who experience daily the gritty interactions of human endeavours that result in a need for their skills and dedicated advocacy.

Last Friday it was a pleasure to mix with so many of our enthusiastic members at our Criminal Law Conference, which was a sell-out event.

I took the opportunity to sympathise with them about the way the media reports on criminal matters. I said:

“In a click-bait world where more value is placed on ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ than on responsible and accurate journalism, you who act for people accused of horrific acts are often the target of the media…

“The practice of criminal law is both selfless and challenging, and you can hold your heads high for taking on one of the nobler areas of our profession.”

I thought it appropriate to also mention some of the advocacy work of the QLS on criminal law issues. This has included our suggested amendments to the Criminal Law Amendment Bill to remove the non-violent homosexual advance defence. The Bill was passed with our amendments in March, while the State Penalties Enforcement Amendment Bill was passed in May after we provided our support for proposals introducing payment plans and work and development orders.

On Friday afternoon I then travelled to Kingscliff where I welcomed the opportunity to offer closing remarks at the annual STEP conference. I reflected on the impact of digital technology on law and the work of the Electronic Wills Registry Working Group.

On Saturday I attended a Law Council of Australia (LCA) meeting in Adelaide. The topics debated included the response of the LCA to the marriage equality debate, a report on the Justice Project (which is gathering evidence across the nation on access to justice), and national responses to unlicensed people illegally giving legal advice.

Christine Smyth

QLS president