Queensland Law Society

President's update

President's Update

I write this in the wake of the federal election, and although the vote-counters are still sorting through the tea leaves in a handful of seats, it is mostly done and dusted. Whatever way you voted, I think we can all be proud of the speeches by the two main opponents, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

With no gloating in victory and no sniping in defeat, both leaders respected the process and added a touch of class to an arena that often lacks it. Indeed, although it has had its moments, the campaign in general was run without the poison that so discredits campaigns in some other countries. Just as lawyers affect the credibility of the justice system by the way they conduct themselves, so politicians create (or destroy) faith in our democracy through their demeanour. So congratulations to the candidates (whether they won or lost) on the way they played the game.

Of course, if the politicians thought that with the election over they could put their feet up for the next little while and get some rest, I have sad news for them. QLS put together a comprehensive and coherent Call to Parties Statement before the election. Now that the hurly-burly’s done and the battle lost and won, we will be pushing for the much-needed reform identified in that document. The serious work of our advocacy begins now, as we strive to get the government to focus their agenda on these issues.

QLS has good form here. In 2015, following the state election, the Palaszczuk Government adopted almost every item in the QLS Call to Parties Statement, on the back of great work by the Legal Policy Team. The team then worked with the various presidents and dedicated policy committee members through 2015, 2016 and 2017 to ensure those commitments became reality. That effort will be repeated at the federal level, and we will ensure QLS members are heard on these issues—so heads up Sco-Mo and Co—we’re coming!

I mentioned the importance of the way lawyers conduct themselves to the way the legal system itself is perceived. That was a matter taken up by the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland (CCC) Chair Alan MacSporran QC at the closing session of the QLS Open Day on 16 May. Specifically, he noted the propensity of firms and lawyers to spruik themselves and their results on social media, and the dangers associated with that behaviour. It was a timely warning, backed up by another panel member, QLS Criminal Law Committee Chair Kurt Fowler, and I wholeheartedly agree with their concerns.

Social media can be a powerful tool. However solicitors need to be careful how they use it and mindful of their duties when they do. Anyone seeking guidance on this issue should consider this ethics note on the issue, or contact the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre directly.

On the agenda ahead, I am pleased to be speaking at the North Queensland Law Association Conference in Townsville on 23–25 May. I love the chance to get out and speak with members and the conference looks set to be a great event. If you are attending and see me there, please say hi and have a chat. I always love to get feedback from members, especially ideas on how we can help you and your practice be successful.

One of the ways we already do that, of course, is with our extensive learning and professional development agenda, and registrations are now open for a couple of really good events. Our Conveyancing Conference is coming up in August, and the Property Law Conference will be on in September. These are always popular so if you are interested make sure you register early to ensure your spot.

In the more immediate future we have National Reconciliation Week coming up, from 27 May to 3 June. Those dates are auspicious and specifically chosen, as they are the dates of the 1967 referendum that included indigenous peoples in our census, and allowed the government to make laws concerning their affairs, and the date of the handing down of the decision in Mabo and others v Queensland (No 2) (1992).

These two events are moments that united our nation, and serve as inspiration for us as we continue our path towards reconciliation. More information on National Reconciliation Week can be found here, including the theme for 2019: “Grounded in truth, walk together with courage”.

Actually, that sounds like pretty good advice every day of the year!

Until next time.

 

Bill Potts, QLS President

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