When you have been a lawyer for as long as I have—and trust me there are times when that seems a long time indeed!—you can at times wonder if you are getting anywhere. I well know that we do make a real difference, and that the justice system depends on us to ensure that the rights of our citizens are protected and enforced when necessary, but we all need a little inspiration now and then, me included.
Thankfully my job as President gives me ample opportunity to refresh my reserves of inspiration, and that is especially the case when I get the chance to speak to students, and to see the impressive future of our profession. Recently I had the chance to speak to law students in Townsville, and it was genuinely invigorating. To see the enthusiasm and dedication of those young people, their thirst for justice, and to see how eager they are to get into the profession and start making a difference, made me feel younger than I have in a while. I would recommend to any of our profession who may be feeling a little jaded to get yourself in front of some students. You can pass on some of the knowledge that you have accumulated, and they will pass on some of that precious enthusiasm; it is a great way to get your mojo working!
I was able to experience that feeling again when we had our most recent Modern Advocate Lecture Series, delivered by the exceptional Judge Felicity Hampel SC. Her Honour delivered an excellent treatise on the essentials of advocacy, and the importance of making a difference. When thanking her I was moved to quote famed civil rights attorney Charles Hamilton Houston, who once said "A lawyer's either a social engineer or he's a parasiteon society". Her Honour gave a good reminder of the courage we must show in our profession, and it certainly resonated with her enthusiastic audience. It is clearly a good sign when after the lecture people were lining up to take selfies with Judge Hampel!
I was pleased to see that the Society’s own courage is being rewarded, with the government listening to our calls for regulation over the pernicious practice of claims farming. QLS has been relentless in advocating for legislation to stamp out this low activity, where people are targeted at their most vulnerable times. I am proud that it has been solicitors—often accused of being prepared to do anything for a buck—who have led the charge on this, putting ethical behaviour ahead of any profit that might be on offer. It is not for nothing that I often refer to our profession as noble.
I am proud, yes, but not at all surprised by our commitment to the rule of law, because I see it regularly. I have had the chance to visit a number of small, regional practices in the last week or so, and the genuine passion for, and dedication to, their communities that was evident in the people I met makes me glad to be a solicitor. Wherever I go I see solicitors who are not just running businesses; they are essential elements of the community. Sponsoring things, doing pro bono work and simply being there for their neighbours, our collective efforts are uplifting for me.
I experienced our famed collegiality when visiting the Sunshine Coast District Law Association, where I was made to feel incredibly welcome despite my hometown’s famous rivalry with the place with the second-best beaches on the planet (sorry, couldn’t resist!). Seriously it was a fabulous time, and I will give a shout-out to all our DLAs and their hard-working members. It is easy to overlook the enormous contribution made by our DLAs because they do it without fanfare, but I can assure them that we at the Society notice and very much appreciate their work!
In signing off I will say a big welcome to all the people visiting Brisbane from our regions, for the week-plus celebration of fresh produce, farm animals, fairy floss and of course dagwood dogs that is the Brisbane show, or ‘Ekka’ as it is known to all. I hope everybody has a great time and I urge everybody to get along and support regional Queenslanders who do so much to create our state’s strong and robust spirit.
Bill Potts, QLS President
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