Queensland Law Society

Modern Advocate Lecture Series

Modern Advocate Lecture Series

Tuesday 25 October, Law Society House, Brisbane

Opening address, deputy president

  • Welcome to the Inaugural lecture of the Modern Advocates Lecture Series.

  • It is with great pleasure that we welcome the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes as our Guest Speaker tonight.

  • Before I invite her honour to the podium, please let me share with you some thoughts which were the genesis for this series.

  • In days gone by we gained our legal experience through the Articles Clerkship programme, where young lawyers filled their days – filing court documents, attending court call-overs, and attending settlements where many a heel and patience was worn out over time.  Those young lawyers are our now senior members of the profession.

  • While these experiences were often dry and laborious they had a distinctly significant advantage.  We interacted with each other on a daily basis, bonding while standing in long queues at the court counter, testing our advocacy skills on the intractable counter staff who would not file your document if your office cheque was for more than the filing fee.  Or confessing our sins to one and other in the titles office queue – such as was the time a colleague was lost on his way to a settlement, so he stopped at a phone booth to call his master (yes they were called masters and there were phone booths) to get directions.  Only to find that he arrived at the settlement location without the client’s balance funds.  Oops he left it at the phone booth.  Only problem is it was $6000 in cash, in a brown paper bag (it was the 80s).  Even more amazing, the funds were still there where he committed multiple traffic offences in returning to the booth to retrieve the funds.  These, incidental, every day shared experiences are what a now bygone part of our profession built their professional relationships upon. 

  • As with all things in life and practice, it moves on.  Changes occur, most for the better, some we lose out.  Today practice is fast paced, electronically driven - filing at the court counter has been replaced with post and online filing, and property lawyers have moved to the cloud with E-Conveyancing.

  • While these changes have resulted in significant improvements to business practice and importantly cost savings to clients, the profession has lost a significant part of the human connection.  It is that human connection that is at the core of this program.

  • The idea for the Modern Advocates Lecture Series is the practical response by the QLS to the challenge of providing better opportunities for female barristers and female advocates to meet in an atmosphere of collegiality, to hear a wonderful lecture, to make contacts to enhance business and briefing opportunities for both female solicitors and barristers and hopefully forge lasting professional bonds.

  • Relationships serve us best where they are developed naturally and respectfully.  Of course you can attempt to impose them, in those cases you will get compliance, but you will not get commitment.  

  • QLS is firmly of the view that good professional relationships are best achieved by commitment to facilitating opportunities, rather than compliance with a policy which imposes burdens upon the solicitors branch by record-keeping regimes and targets for solicitors who are already under significant regulatory and financial pressures.

  • QLS, through this lectures series, confirms its commitment to enabling women at the bar and women solicitors to have an opportunity to reveal their talents and demonstrate what they can do.

  • To that end I am very pleased to see so many female barristers are here and I hope that the presence of so many up and coming stars of the bar and the solicitors’ branch will get together, build professional and personal friendships that are at the very core of the legal profession.

  • I’ve always believed that strong collegial relationships are mutually beneficial and have the effect of sustaining our practices throughout our careers and ultimately provide the best outcome for our clients.

  • I believe that the Modern Advocate Lectures Series will play an essential role in enlivening and reviving the professional collegiality for many years into the future.

  • Of course this initiative could not occur without the hard work and commitment of many and I would like to thanks those involved.

    • Equitable Briefing Policy Working Group – ably led by Jeneve Frizzo, supported by Brit Ibanez, Maree Sheehy, Michael Fitzgerald, Michele Davis, Cherrie Luddeman.

    • Ethics Centre - Stafford Shephard, and Shane Budden together with the Ethics team who picked up idea and ran with it.

    • QLS - Staff assisting in the background and here tonight, especially the branding team led by Jason Olsson-Seeto who developed our logo.

  • Of course, all the goodwill in the world won’t bring busy lawyers to a lecture unless it is worth listening to, and we are very fortunate to have Her Honour Chief Justice Holmes to speak tonight, which is as good a guarantee of a quality lecture as you can get. Your Honour has been very generous with your time with respect to the Queensland Law Society, and I thank you, both on behalf of the society and personally, for doing the Society the honour of launching the QLS Ethics Centre’s Modern Advocate Lecture Series. Your presence adds both credibility and wisdom to the series, and no doubt has a lot to do with our wonderful turnout tonight. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming tonight’s speaker, her Honour Chief Justice Holmes.