Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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Last week ended on a high note as I disseminated the good news from Thursday’s QLS Council meeting – a 20% reduction in annual Lexon insurance levy rates.

This very welcome cost reduction – delivered for the second year in a row – applies to virtually all Lexon-insured legal practices (bands two to nine) and reflects good governance within the profession as the level of insurance claims continues to approach an all-time low.

Reducing business costs for our members was an integral part of the platform under which I was elected. It remains a priority, and it is a pleasure to report that this commitment is being fulfilled.

Another highlight of the week was the swearing-in of three new magistrates at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday, Magistrates Howden, Sinclair and Davies. When welcoming the new appointees on behalf of Queensland’s 11,000 solicitors, I noted that Magistrate Howden is a QLS accredited specialist (criminal law) and that both he and Magistrate Sinclair have been presenters at QLS professional development events.

I observed that all three magistrates are “well-travelled”, both geographically and in terms of their areas of practice. That experience will stand them in good stead when dealing with the comprehensive practice of the Magistrates Court and the broad and often colourful cast of characters from which its litigants are drawn.

On Tuesday, I was also able to attend the welcome ceremony for Magistrates Howden and Sinclair at the Southport Magistrates Court. It is a very busy court – the busiest in the state for domestic violence applications – and their addition to its judicial ranks is very welcome. I look forward to the Government making further appointments, especially to the Southport court.

At the morning tea after Tuesday’s ceremony, I spoke with Department of Justice staff from the DV court about its progress and interactions with community legal centres. It is worth noting the important role that CLCs play in providing not only direct DV assistance but also help with associated legal needs such as housing and interaction with government bodies.

They deserve more support from both the government and the profession.

Much of the week was taken up with usual QLS business, but I’d like to mention another highlight, which was attending Tuesday’s meeting of the QLS RAP Working Group. The RAP is now complete, pending endorsement from Reconciliation Australia and final approval by Council, both of which are anticipated in the very near future. We are hoping to launch the RAP officially in July.

Once again I would like to thank the members of the working group for the effort they have put into this project, particularly immediate past president Bill Potts for embarking on this wonderful initiative, chair Shane Duffy and deputy chair Linda Ryle, along with acting corporate secretary Louise Pennisi, who has maintained the project’s momentum.

Don’t forget that Law Week starts on 15 May. Key events include the Queensland Legal Walk on Tuesday 16 May, our QLS Open Day on Wednesday 17 May, an In-Focus session on mental health on Thursday 18 May and the annual QLS Ball on Friday 26 May. I look forward to meeting as many members as possible at these events.

Christine Smyth

QLS president