3 April 2019
If you are anything like me, there is some chance that around this time of year you are indulging in a mad scramble for CPD points. While often we can pick these up here and there during the year, most of us probably have that ‘uh-oh!’ feeling right about now. Like Caesar of old, the Ides of March can be a perilous time!
For that reason, it is probably always better to have a bit of a plan about this, and to rack up some points early in the CPD year. If you are involved in advocacy in your practice, a great opportunity to hit the ground running, CPD-wise, is approaching. On 10-11 May our next Solicitor Advocate Course: Foundations will be held at the Brisbane Magistrates Court. The course is worth nine CPD points.
The Solicitor Advocate Course (which is offered to members at a subsidised price) provides practical instruction in the essential skills needed to be a competent solicitor advocate. Given the fact that solicitors are doing more and more of their own court work, the course is invaluable. You can read a first-hand account of an earlier course on our LawTalk blog. I encourage any of our members involved in court work to consider the course — but don’t delay too much! The course is one of the most popular products that QLS offers and it always sells out quickly.
The Solicitor Advocate Course is one of the ways that members can make themselves more useful to clients, more competitive and much more profitable, but we are facing other challenges as well. The most pernicious of these is from unqualified people offering legal services, usually under the guise of consumer assistance but on occasion quite blatantly holding themselves out as being able to perform legal work.
While these charlatans can be referred to the Legal Services Commission (and indeed are), the Commission does not have limitless resources, and in any event by that time innocent consumers have already been swindled, often suffering financial and psychological hurt. It is much better that we prevent this harm — which affects consumers, lawyers, and public confidence in the justice system itself — before it happens.
To that end, I am pleased to advise that the QLS Council has approved the launch of a campaign to promote community awareness of this problem and to urge people to see a solicitor first. The aim is to educate the community on the benefits of coming to see our members right at the start, to avoid problems before they occur.
In addition to raising awareness of the need to see a solicitor as their trusted advisor, it will direct laypeople to a ‘seeking advice’ webpage on the QLS website, which will include our ‘Find a solicitor’ service. I strongly urge all firms to sign up to the service; the more options there are, the more effective the service and the campaign will be. If we can make the service the ‘go to’ referral list for the public, members will no longer be beholden to the vagaries of social media and the whims of tech giants.
Members can apply to be on the list here, and I am confident this will help to filter out fake lawyers and put potential clients in contact with our members. Some of you may remember a similar campaign many years ago, which was quite effective.
The campaign is one of those moments when I am most proud of my involvement with the Society. We are simultaneously protecting the community at large and providing opportunities for our members to succeed.
When we do things like this — and provide real, practical products such as the Solicitor Advocate Course — I feel we are really providing value to members and living up to our ‘Good Law, Good Lawyers, for the Public Good’ mantra. We are proving, with the help of you, our members, that this is not just a slogan, it is what we do. That is why I find it easy to get out of bed and come to work every morning, whether as President or just a plain old criminal lawyer; I hope it does the same for you!
Until next time.
Bill Potts, QLS President
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