Queensland Law Society

President's Update


With federal legal aid funding set to fall by around 30% from July, there is a lot happening as community legal centres and other organisations seek to influence government attitudes on this crucial community service.

We will continue our campaign to have funding levels not only maintained but increased to realistic levels. Naturally, this was the chief topic under discussion when I met with James Farrell and Rosslyn Monro from Community Legal Centres Queensland on Wednesday and at a meeting with Legal Aid Queensland CEO Anthony Reilly on Friday.

Stay tuned, as together we work to avoid the coming fiscal cliff.

On Friday it was also a pleasure to meet with senior staff from the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council. The restoration of this organisation was an important element of our Call to Parties document prior to the last state election, and we welcomed the State Government announcement that it would be restored.

We are keen to provide the council with any assistance that will help it to meet its objectives.

I also had the opportunity to visit the Banco Court on Friday and speak with Griffith University first-year law students. Among other things, I talked about the role that QLS ambassadors play in six Queensland law schools. This program is aimed at outstanding and engaged students and provides them with the opportunity to become actively involved with QLS for a one-year term. Student ambassadors are tasked with sharing their knowledge and information relating to QLS with their peers.

Yesterday it was a privilege to be able to launch the new Search Warrant Guidelines, a joint initiative by QLS and Queensland Police Service designed to assist both solicitors and police when a search warrant is executed on solicitors’ premises.

The outdated and imperfect prior guidelines led to problems relating to access to documents, interference in the running of practices and potential access to client documents without due cause. In some cases this led to protracted legal proceedings.

At the launch, I said: “QLS is excited to be leading the profession by initiating the authoring of the new guidelines, which will bring certainty to its subject area and ensure the rights of all participants are protected according to law as well as the ethical obligations of both practitioners and police.”

The credit for this initiative goes to immediate past president Bill Potts, who was supported by the QLS Council in getting this under way last year. Our thanks go to Bill and to QLS specialist legal officer Justine Van Winden, who managed the guidelines project.

Following the event, it was on to Bond University for an Asian Law Students Society event featuring networking and a ‘Women In Law’ panel discussion.

Today you are likely to find me at our Legal Careers Expo 17, which offers law students a splendid opportunity to meet future employers, chat to industry representatives and find out about graduate placements and vacation clerkships.

Christine Smyth

QLS president