Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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As I write this, the Melbourne Cup has just been run and won, and I hope you all had better luck than I did! The running of the Cup generally means the end of the year is, if not in sight, certainly just around the bend-but there is no slowing down here at QLS!

As Christmas lights start to go up and kids begin to count the days until the end of school, I am looking forward to the launch of an initiative near and dear to my heart-the Society’s first Solicitor Advocacy Course. Clients are increasingly sophisticated and with the unbundling of legal services becoming a feature of practice, clients are now engaging solicitors for distinct services.  Advocacy is something they see great value in with their solicitor. It is important that we ensure our members have an avenue to advance the skills necessary to survive and thrive in our dynamic profession.

The journey to the launch of this course-which will be on 18 November-has been a long one, starting when I began to work with the QLS Ethics Centre during my time as Deputy President, with the aim of delivering an affordable and comprehensive course for members. After much research, hard work and negotiation, the course will be presented in conjunction with the highly regarded Australian Advocacy Institute.

The course begins with an introductory session on Friday night and continues all day Saturday, covering a comprehensive set of advocacy essentials, such as:

  • presenting applications and injunctions
  • development of case theory
  • preparing and delivering effective examination and cross-examination
  • preparing and delivering logical and persuasive opening and closing submissions
  • communication in the courtroom
  • advocating in an ethical way

The workshop will provide the opportunity to practise these skills in a real court setting and under the guidance of expert instructors including judges and experienced advocates. QLS has also secured funding to ensure that the cost to members is subsidised.

Once again, I have been uplifted by the extraordinary support from members, with this first course selling out within four days, and a 21-person waiting list for the next session; clearly we addressed a need within the profession!

The course will be held a number of times each year, and the society has already begin negotiations with local courthouses to hold courses in regional centres such as Townsville and Cairns.

When I commenced my presidency I wanted to mould the Society into one which provided practical assistance and training for all practitioners regardless of location, area of practice or level of experience-the sort of society I needed when starting out. The delivery of the Solicitor Advocacy Course is another step towards realising that goal, and one I have been proud to be able to deliver. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance and collaboration of Stafford Shepherd and his team in the Ethics Centre, whose efforts have gone a long way to make this dream a reality.

Solicitors have long done the lion’s share of advocacy in the lower courts and tribunals, skilfully and with great outcomes for clients, but the evolution of our side of the profession now sees us moving, in ever-increasing numbers, to the appellate jurisdiction and higher courts. This is the new normal, and upskilling for litigation solicitors will not be optional for most of us in the future; I am very proud of the agility and foresight our Society has shown in responding to this shift in the way legal work is done.

I spoke in my last update of our Call to Parties statement, and rest assured I will continue to speak out during this election and advocate for our members on the issues that matter to us all. You can keep up to date with our election advocacy, and the other activities of the Society via this weekly newsletter, our monthly magazine Proctor or via social media. The Society is on FacebookLinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and I am personally on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Christine Smyth

QLS president