QLS calls on political parties to appoint more solicitors to judicial roles
9 November 2017
Queensland’s peak lawyer group has called on the state’s political parties to commit to appointing more solicitors to judicial roles.
Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth has called for more judicial appointments from the ranks of solicitors, saying that our communities deserve judicial officers who can provide the level of diversity and legal skill that is abundant within the solicitor's branch.
“The solicitor's branch are at the coalface of the delivery of legal services, and they have the unique combination of technical skill, business acumen and direct client interaction which embodies the ideal skillset our modern community requires of its judicial officers," Ms Smyth said.
“Solicitors are the conduit, deciphering our complex legal system, to everyday individuals, ensuring our ever evolving community is respected and engaged in the delivery of justice.”
Ms Smyth said it is strikingly curious that despite Queensland having some 13,000 solicitors, many with exceptional technical, advocacy and interpersonal skills, the proportion appointed to the District and Supreme Court bench is meagre.
She said this is a resource the government continues to ignore in the face of longstanding judicial shortages across all jurisdictions.
“Our communities deserve judicial officers who can provide the level of diversity and legal skill that is abundant within the solicitors' branch.”
Ms Smyth said that it was adherence to an outdated practice that results in appointments predominantly from the ranks of the bar.
“While the bar remains an appropriate resource, in a modern society where solicitors and barristers have stood as equals in Queensland, for near a century, it is overdue that parliament recognise this in judicial appointments,’’ she said.
“This is especially the case where it is beset with chronic shortages of judges - shortages which cause lengthy delays in finalising court matters.
“The failure of government to recognise this equality is leading to many in the community being denied justice.
“There is an abundance of judicial talent and diversity in the solicitor's branch of the profession.
“It is the responsibility of good government to leverage that talent in resolving the issue of judicial shortages.
“An engaged and accountable government understands that in addressing community needs, it is dangerous to keep to doing things a certain way just because historically that was the way it was done.
“Our community deserves a judiciary that is reflective of itself."
Ms Smyth said it was also imperative any incoming government address the need for increased funding for regional Queensland to guarantee people living in rural areas to have greater and more frequent access to visiting circuit courts, commissions and tribunals.
“Queensland’s regions are part of what makes our state such a wonderful place to call home or visit, and those who live there contribute mightily to our heritage and economic strength; they shouldn’t be exiled by a lack of judicial resources.”
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