Queensland Law Society

QLS Symposium 2019

Friday 15 March, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

QLS President, opening address

Welcome to QLS Symposium 2019, and thank you for joining us as we kick off our flagship event. I realise that it is no easy thing to take a day out of your busy practices to attend, and it speaks very well of you all that you make the time and effort to get along and polish the skills that serve your clients so well.

I hope those of you who hail from Bris Vegas and surrounds will forgive me if I make particular mention of our regional practitioners who have travelled many a mile to be here. It is especially noteworthy given in recent times our regions have lived up to the poetic reputation our country has regarding drought and flooding rains; not enough to stop you all from coming though, our regional members are tough!

I have to say that if at any time I was foolish enough to think that my second term as President might be easier because of my experience, or that 2019 would begin a little more slowly, I was wrong, and I am talking Donald Trump in a spelling bee wrong.

Unlike the L&PD team I didn’t see the Lawyer X scandal coming, although I am glad to have been able to quickly secure assurances from Queensland Police and the CCC that there is no similar programme of ‘flipping’ lawyers up here in the Sunshine State.

 I also didn’t see the astonishing monsoonal rains that belted far North Queensland-who did?-and in particular Townsville. I have been able to visit a couple of times, and there is no question that the people in affected areas face a long rebuild and many challenges; my heart goes out to them. I said before that regional Queenslanders were tough, and are they what.

I am very proud of our regional members who kept up spirits and kept the show going, and I can also confirm that QLS received offers of help from members who were not affected; the collegiality was welcome, and touching. Despite what some people would have you think, our profession is made up of some damn fine people.

I won’t dwell on this, but do ask everyone to keep in mind that this recovery is ongoing, and didn’t stop because the media stopped finding it interesting. If you want to help there are details on the QLS website, and if you are dealing with firms in the affected areas keep in mind they have a lot going on just now.

On a more pleasant note, I am happy to report that the Society continues to deliver great products and services for members. Our Ethics and Practice Centre continues to deliver on its mission to equip solicitors with the skills to maintain ethical practices. Their Solicitor Advocacy Course has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2017, under the calm and competent stewardship of Director Stafford Shepherd, who might well be regarded as the patron saint of Solicitor Advocacy!

A family Law-specific version was held recently, generating some of the most positive feedback ever received for a law society event. It is when we can deliver things like this, and the iconic Modern Advocate Lecture Series, that I really feel we are making a positive difference for members.

Our practice support service also remains incredibly popular and valuable, and anyone who has done or is intending to do our Practice Management course should not forget that the service provides ongoing support to our PMC graduates.

In addition, we are continuing to roll out Legal Matter Management workshops across the state, which help solicitors plan matters, control costs and keep clients happy. Having dealt with an unhappy client or two in my time, I can assure you that sort of thing is gold!

It is also going to be a busy year in our advocacy, as we roll in to what is basically a regulatory phase. A lot of legislation passed in recent times is challenging some of our most dearly-held rights-the presumption of innocence seems under constant threat, and privilege looks very much like it is next. The long reach of anti-money laundering legislation also looms very much on the horizon for our profession.

We are not helped in this challenge by the misdeeds of a tiny few, and we do face the prospect of having to rein in some of our colleagues, before the government does it for us; challenging times, but we have what it takes to mee them.

I will be calling on our policy committees and the QLS team that supports them to help me make the case for good law and to show how good law works for the common good.  I have great confidence in them all, given their enthusiasm, professionalism and track record.

We have a lot to do, but also a lot to do it with.