16 January 2019
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Edward Everett Hale
One of the great joys of being QLS President – and one of the main reasons I decided to run for this esteemed office a second time – is the incredible good that can be done when harnessing the abilities and enthusiasm of 13,000 passionate and engaged members. The collaborative efforts of our wonderfully diverse and innovative membership can move or make mountains, and the opportunity to once again facilitate those efforts is one which is both exhilarating and humbling; I thank you all for granting me the privilege of being your President.
There can be no arguing that our profession faces challenges in the coming months, and these challenges are as numerous as they are multi-faceted. We will be pressed by the media (and rightly so) about the alleged misdeeds of some of our colleagues; we will be harried by AI and so-called ‘robot lawyers’ specifically designed to take our jobs. We will be tasked by a political climate that's swinging towards heavy regulation and a curtailing of human rights in an understandable but panicked response to challenges such as terrorism, organised crime and cyber-theft.
We cannot shirk these challenges, hide under some coats and hope it all works out somehow; nor can we try to deal with them covertly. Leaders turn and face difficulty, and organisations with integrity operate transparently; how we deal with our challenges is almost as important as the answers we find.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges, so how do we combat them and continue to deliver good law and good lawyers, for the public good? We meet a diversity of challenges with a diversity of solutions, by making use of our multi-faceted membership. There is an old Muslim saying along the lines of, “a lot of different flowers make a bouquet”, and there is a lesson there for us: in diversity, we find strength.
As President, I intend to build on what we have achieved so far to ensure that our membership has the skills to meet these challenges. For example, the Society’s Solicitor Advocate’s Course – an initiative of one of my predecessors, Christine Smyth, and launched by her in November 2017 – provides solicitors with the skills to take on more advocacy work and provide clients with a ‘one-stop shop’ when it comes to litigation.
The course has become one of the most popular QLS products, and I will look to expand the reach of the course further into our rural areas, and increase the number of the courses the Society runs. I will also be launching other initiatives to increase our membership’s skill base and improve both client outcomes and profitability; look to my President’s column and interview in February Proctor for more detail on these initiatives.
I will also be re-invigorating and supporting the Society’s hard-working policy committees to ensure we continue to speak truth to power on policy matters. Of late we have seen significant encroachments on the rights of citizens, hidden away in innocuous-sounding legislation, and I will ensure that our response to this is clearly heard. In a state with no upper house, our profession’s contribution to the parliamentary process is one of the few checks on government over-reach; it is a part of our role as officers of the court sworn to uphold the rule of law that our vigilance in this regard is unsleeping.
Of course, I cannot do this without your contribution. I, and the Society, need to know what you need to discharge your duties, to effectively serve your clients and the law. Queensland Law Society is your professional partner and your partner in the profession – so don’t hold back.
If you see me at a conference or a workshop – or indeed, at our upcoming New Year Profession Drinks in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast – come up and have a chat, and let me know what we can do to help. If I am not there, have a chat with our in-house presenters; we need to know what you need to know.
QLS is the peak legal body in this state and one of the leading legal membership bodies in Australia, largely because of you, our incredible members – and I’d love to hear what’s on your minds!
Bill Potts, QLS President