Queensland Law Society

President's Update


On Monday, it was with pleasure and pride that I welcomed former solicitor and QLS member Peta Stilgoe OAM to her new role as a member of the Land Court on behalf of the solicitors of Queensland.

In recognition of her achievement, and the high office to which she was appointed, solicitors present at the ceremony stood and remained standing while I spoke. Member Stilgoe greatly appreciated this demonstration of respect by the solicitors of Queensland for her and the Land Court. In a warm response, she thanked the Society for its support, observing that the solicitors’ branch stands as an equal in the legal profession.

To my mind, it is compelling evidence of the strong collegial ties that bind Queensland solicitors.

Member Stilgoe’s appointment falls within a pleasing trend of solicitors being appointed to courts and tribunals, and reflects the standing of our state’s 12,000 solicitors and the many future judges and judicial officers among them. Given the great diversity in Queensland’s solicitors, in all aspects – skills; capabilities and background – I expect further appointments from our ranks will soon increase the diversity in our state’s courts. This will ensure our courts are truly representative of a state that is enriched by our heterogenous community.

Yesterday there was another announcement highlighting the superlative skills and achievements of Queensland solicitors. At a ceremony for the 2017 QUT Outstanding Alumni Awards, former Clayton Utz chief executive and current consultant Darryl McDonough was named as QUT’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, as well as receiving the Outstanding Alumnus Award for the Faculty of Law.

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) in 1983, Mr McDonough has practised in corporate law, with an emphasis on national and internal mergers and acquisitions, takeovers and capital raisings, corporate governance and competition law. He has been voted since 2012 as among the nation’s top legal minds in corporate law and governance in the annual Best Lawyers Australia list.

It was interesting to note his comments on having more than one degree to further your career.

“In some ways the challenges facing law graduates today are no different from the challenges I faced, but you do have things like digital disruption, expectation of clients to respond by email immediately, and less opportunities in private practice with the growth of firms employing in-house counsel,” he said.

“I think there is a greater need for more strings to your bow, to combine a law degree with commerce or economics or something in the sciences area.”

Another major highlight of the past week was the opportunity to welcome Justice Bowskill QC to the Supreme Court on behalf of Queensland solicitors on Thursday.

Justice Bowskill QC was admitted to the Bar in 1998 and was appointed as a judge of the District Court of Queensland in 2014.

I said: “Given your Honour’s background in the complex and challenging world of native title and your years of distinction on the District Court, you will be a great asset to the Supreme Court.”

Last Wednesday I was also pleased to attend the annual general meeting of the Sunshine Coast Law Association and would like to congratulate president Pippa Colman, vice president Trent Wakerley, secretary Samantha Shanahan and treasurer Michael Turner on retaining their positions for the next year.

Pippa deserves further congratulation on receiving a lifetime membership of the Sunshine Coast DLA in recognition of her incredible contributions to the profession and, in particular, the support and dedication she has given to her Sunny Coast colleagues over decades.

Christine Smyth

QLS president