Supporting legal practices as essential community infrastructure
In a post-COVID-19 environment, there must be consideration of measures to ensure the viability of law practices to continue to provide essential services to their communities.
QLS calls for a commitment to:
- Increase hourly Legal Aid rates for preferred suppliers and family law report writers and institute an annual review to take account of CPI and cost of business increases.
- The creation of a discrete funding pool for Legal Aid preferred suppliers to increase the referral of work to law practices with a particular emphasis on allocating funds to rural, regional and remote areas.
- Adopt a broader definition of ‘pro bono work’ for firms involved in the tendering process for government contracts to include volunteer work of a legal nature done for the public good, including holding positions on the boards of charities and not-for-profit associations and work done to promote good law in law reform. This approach would assist smaller practices, particularly smaller regional firms, to qualify for certain panel work where they may not otherwise be able to undertake formal pro bono work through their firm. This would also acknowledge the valuable contributions made by lawyers to their communities in these roles.
- A legislative amendment to permit a law practice to dispose of routine client documents seven years following the end of a client matter if the practice has been unable, despite making reasonable efforts, to obtain client instructions about their disposal.
- A legislative amendment to permit a law practice to transfer possession of wills to the Public Trustee of Queensland.
- Increasing the prescribed amount for section 311 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 to $3,000 to align with the higher threshold in the New South Wales and Victorian legislation.
- A legislative amendment to permit the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Guarantee Fund to invest in education, materials and processes designed to assist law practices meet their trust accounting compliance obligations and reduce the risk of defalcations.