Role of the Councillor

Effective as of 17 June 2021

Queensland Law Society’s Councillor is either elected to Council (in accordance with rule 29 of the Legal Profession (Society) Rules 2007 “ordinary members”) or appointed to Council (in accordance with s685(2)(a) of the LPA “AG’s nominee” and Part 5 of the Legal Profession (Society) Rules 2007 “casual vacancies”).


Term

Councillors hold office for a term of 2 calendar years beginning 1 January of an even-numbered year and concluding 31 December of an odd-numbered year. Councillors are eligible for re-election or re-appointment under the Society Rules.

Purpose and duties

A Councillor’s role on Council includes consideration and decision making on the following matters:

  • setting the strategic direction of the Society and periodically reviewing progress;
  • identifying and determining a position on issues of importance to our members and the solicitors’ branch of the Queensland legal profession;
  • making rules (subordinate legislation) on a range of matters including fixing fees, levies and subscriptions relating to membership of the Society;
  • selection and appointment of the chief executive officer (CEO), determining their conditions of service and monitoring their performance against agreed objectives;
  • monitoring the financial outcomes and the integrity of reporting, ensuring the preparation of accurate financial reports and statements and approving the annual budget;
  • ensuring the effective execution of the Society’s regulatory role in relation to solicitors’ trust accounts and matters of professional conduct and discipline;
  • reporting to members and stakeholders on the performance and state of the Society;
  • overseeing executive succession planning (in particular for the CEO) on a regular and continuing basis;
  • monitoring the performance of the Society’s activities through reports on achievements against the Society’s strategic and corporate plans and annual budget;
  • ensuring the Society has good corporate governance structures in place and promoting a healthy, positive and ethical corporate culture including approval, recommendation and review of the Society’s Code of Conduct;
  • overseeing risk management and risk mitigation; and
  • oversight of any subsidiary of the Society.

Councillors who have served more than one term will be asked to assist and mentor newly elected and appointed Councillors.

Desirable skills and attributes

The following skills and attributes benefit and assist Councillors in the discharge of their duties:

  • understanding of Queensland Legal Practice
  • understanding of Queensland statutory bodies and associated legislation
  • financial literacy (eg balance sheets profit and loss statements and investments)
  • previous strategic planning, governance, Board or Council experience and being familiar with collective decision making processes
  • having leadership skills
  • being an advocate for positive corporate culture
  • understanding the framework of the Society’s captive insurer, Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd, as both an insurer and a subsidiary of the Society
  • good time management
  • a willingness to undertake continuing professional development in director and governance courses.

A Councillor’s time commitment

The workload of councillors can fluctuate significantly from week to week, depending on meetings, events and the business of Council. It is not uncommon for a councillor to spend between three and seven days per month on their duties.

Council meets at least seven times a year, approximately every six weeks. Council usually meets for half a day at a time (12pm – 5pm) and usually on a Thursday. The meeting schedule for the year is set the preceding December.

In addition, Council often holds a strategy workshop during the year and there can be ad hoc teleconference or Team meetings called at short notice to manage urgent business.

In addition to Council meetings, Councillors also sit on at least one to two other QLS committees. The President, Deputy President, Vice President, Immediate Past President and up to four councillors appointed by Council constitute the Executive Committee. Councillors also comprise the Finance and Risk Committee, and Governance Committee, and at least one councillor is required to sit on each of the following:

  • Committee of Management
  • Professional Conduct Committee
  • Practice Management Course Committee
  • Continuing Professional Development Committee
  • Specialist Accreditation Board.

Councillors who, before election, were appointed members of other QLS committees such as policy committees, the Ethics Committee or the Proctor Editorial Committee, often continue to sit on those committees as well.

Representational role

Councillors may be asked to act as a spokesperson for the Society in media and in communications with government and stakeholders when required and in accordance with the Society’s written policies. Representation may take place with the President or on behalf of the President and may include:

  • Representing the Society before parliamentary committees and other inquiries, with representatives of the appropriate policy committees
  • Representing the Society at events such as:
    • Legal Profession Dinner and QLS annual Symposium
    • Swearing-in and farewell ceremonies for members of the judiciary
    • Opening of the law year and Christmas greetings
    • Law Week activities
    • High Court judges’ cocktail reception (if High Court sits in Brisbane) 
    • Bar Association of Queensland annual dinner
    • Functions at which the Attorney-General is a guest, to which the Society has also been invited
    • Opening and/or closing addresses at QLS conferences or corporate events as required.