The word leadership gets bandied about quite a bit these days, and of course any endeavour needs a little of it. In our profession, however, it is a non-negotiable necessity. Solicitors are, to all intents and purposes, the face of the law; whether it is through a simple cottage conveyance, dealing with the estate of a deceased parent or getting mixed up in complex commercial litigation, most laypeople who encounter the law will do so largely by interacting with a solicitor.
The burden is on us, because the way people will think of the legal system will be largely based on how we behave. It also puts us all in a position of leadership, as we guide our clients through the legal maze while serving the nobler ideals of the justice system. It is important that we have role models and leaders to look up to and from whom we can get guidance.
One great guiding source for us as officers of the court is the High Court of Australia — the members of which I was fortunate enough to meet recently after the court itself sat in Brisbane. We are very fortunate at this point in time, because the makeup of our highest court has rarely been so talented, wise and dedicated to promoting the court in that leadership role.
I can assure you that the justices on our highest court possess the unique and important blend of compassion, competence and collegiality that make them a perfect fit for their roles as leaders of our profession. Junior solicitors in particular could do themselves a great deal of good by paying close attention to how our High Court justices conduct themselves and go about their business. In the absence of the direct mentoring role once filled by Articles, the High Court provides good role models for us all.
Not all inspirational leaders are confined to our profession, however, and good leadership in any discipline is worth studying and hearing. With that in mind, you will soon see the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre release a leadership series that will look to a broad selection of leaders to speak about this important issue. They will not necessarily be from, or confined to, the legal world and I am confident they will pass on useful information to help us to develop the skills that solicitors need for surviving in a challenging profession.
The challenging nature of our profession is something we can ill-afford to ignore. While we often look to better ways of doing things, and strategies to reduce stress in our work, the fact of the matter remains: law is hard. Deadlines, court dates, client expectations and the fact that, if someone is seeing us it usually means they have a serious problem. All combine to make our profession something which will always carry a certain amount of stress.
We have to look at ways of coping, and at the Society we are constantly seeking to improve our response to similar issues. To that end, we have engaged a new employee assistance program (EAP) provider for our LawCare service. On Monday 15 April, the LawCare EAP provider changed to Converge International, although the contact number remains the same (1800 177 743). The new provider has experience in dealing with other law societies, and importantly they have a strong regional presence which gives them the ability to provide better support for our regional members.
We will continue to look for ways to improve this important service for members and their families, and we always appreciate any feedback you have on our programs. Please let us know what you like (or don’t) — your feedback allows us to tailor our services to best assist you.
One new benefit we are all pretty excited about is our partnership with Virgin Australia. The partnership provides real value for members. It includes domestic and international short-haul discounts of up to 19% in economy or 17% in business class. QLS members also get discounted rates on joining fees and yearly fees for the Virgin Lounge. This is a great product that delivers real value to members.
Well, all that is left is to wish all of our members a happy and safe Easter, with the emphasis on safe — roads can be very busy during the holidays, and the stress of the season can sometimes lead to poor decisions. So let’s all keep calm, stay careful and look out for ourselves and each other, and make sure we all get back from the break safe, relaxed and ready to do our best for our clients.
Oh, and eat chocolate; lots of chocolate…