Queensland Law Society

Ethics News

2 July 2020 – Workplace Conduct Advisory Service

This service is free to full members of the Queensland Law Society who meet the eligibility requirements outlined below. The service will provide up to 2 hours of advice to an eligible individual member with respect to workplace issues arising from discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace bullying.


16 June 2020 – Wellbeing: Transitioning back to the office

As we are taking steps to meet the world again after many weeks in lock-down, not everyone is rejoicing. For those who have been working from home for an extended period, returning to the office may be an uneasy or confusing experience. As people will react differently to the challenges and expectations around returning to their workplaces and social routines, read on to find out about some helpful ways of dealing with another change.


9 June 2020 – Wellbeing: Behaviours to build mentally healthy workplaces

Leaders in the workplace have a significant impact on organisational culture and employee wellbeing. If you are in a position of influence over others, your actions and behaviours will not only shape perceptions and cultural norms in your team, but can also directly affect your team members’ mental health and wellbeing. Read on to learn about strategies that can help you develop thriving and high-performing teams.


2 June 2020 – Wellbeing: Mental health at work

Workplaces can have a positive, supporting effect on employee’s mental health and wellbeing – or they can be a source of ongoing stress and increase the risk of psychology injury. Read on to find out what a “mentally heathy workplace" is, and what role they play in reducing mental health issues for the working population.


27 May 2020 – Wellbeing: Leading others through crisis

For many of us, our own health and wellbeing is not all we care about or are responsible for. How can you help others both at home and work get through difficult times and deal with current challenges in a constructive way? Read on to learn more about helpful strategies and actions that may lead others through a crisis. 


19 May 2020 – Wellbeing: Six daily questions to ask yourself

Protecting our health and wellbeing is of particular importance during difficult, challenging times - but this also when we are most likely to neglect our own needs. Here are six easy practices you can integrate into your daily life to help you focus on what matters most, remain intentional in your actions, and look after your wellbeing. Read on to find out more. 


12 May 2020 – Wellbeing: Setting boundaries when working from home

Working from home changes the way we move between our professional and personal lives. When natural boundaries - imposed by space and time, and usually crossed during our commute – disappear, we have to create new boundaries that help us keep our professional and personal identities separate and intact. Read on to learn more about helpful strategies.


5 May 2020 – Wellbeing: The power of “No”

Last week, we discussed how to identify, set and protect your personal boundaries. Today, we are going to have a look at different ways to say “No” to other people. If this thought is stressful, scary or uncomfortable to you, please read on. 


30 April 2020 – Wellbeing: Setting boundaries

Setting appropriate boundaries and being able to confidently protect them in response to inappropriate or unachievable requests, is a critical skill at work and in your personal life. However, many people struggle for different reasons. The next two articles will provide you with practical tips and techniques to build respect, look after your wellbeing and maintain relationships. Read on to find out more.


27 April 2020 – Australia Post Delivery Delays

Australia Post has advised of delivery delays that may affect Queensland Practitioners. Read on to find out more.


21 April 2020 – Wellbeing: Why you should have a Self-Care plan

While most people would agree on the importance of having a carefully considered plan for their career, financial future or next holiday - we often neglect planning for our health and wellbeing. Without a self-care plan, however, we risk losing sight of our most valuable resource, especially in challenging and difficult times such as the current crisis. Read on to find out more.


15 April 2020 – Wellbeing: Being with yourself

The COVID-19 pandemic has also removed many of the countless opportunities for entertainment, enjoyment and distraction which we used to take for granted.  Read on to find out more about some simple, calming self-care activities.


14 April 2020 – Can I hibernate my legal practice during COVID-19 so I can self-isolate due to age or health reasons

QLS has received a number of enquiries from practitioners wanting to hibernate their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.


7 April 2020 – Wellbeing: Creating new habits in times of disruption

As we are adjusting to the “new normal” that COVID-19 has introduced to our professional and personal lives, new habits are starting to form and consolidate. Instead of just repeating the same patterns as before, some of our old behaviour needs to be adjusted to remain appropriate and helpful in the circumstances we are dealing with now. Read on to find out more.


1 April 2020 – Q&As - Can a client come to see me at my office?

Yes.

Under the Home Confinement Direction issued under s 362B of the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld), the Chief Health Officer made a declaration that provided that a person who resides in Queensland could leave their principal place of residence for and only to the extent reasonably necessary to accomplish a number of permitted purposes. Read on to find out more


1 April 2020 – Q&As - Can I interview a client by video conference for the purposes of providing an independent solicitor’s certificate?

If all the circumstances are such that a person to person interview is not possible then the use of video conferencing is a possibility where you have been requested to provide an independent solicitor’s certificate for a third party guarantor, surety mortgagor, or indemnifier for a principal borrower. As a matter of caution, you should ensure that you are able to undertake this interview in circumstances where the third party guarantor, surety mortgagor, or indemnifier are in the absence of the principal borrower. Read on to find out more.


31 March 2020 – Wellbeing: Managing fear and anxiety in times of a pandemic

Fear and anxiety are normal reactions to an abnormal situation - such as dealing with unprecedented disruption to our professional and personal lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But constant worry and rumination can be paralysing and will reduce your ability to proactively and rationally respond to the challenges ahead. Here are some helpful strategies to stay calm and resilient. Read on to find out more.


31 March 2020 – Q&A’s - conveyancing issues during COVID-19

Effective from Tuesday 31 March 2020, all Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy business centre counters are closed until further notice. For further information, please see our latest Property Law Update 31 March 2020 here.


25 March 2020 – Practice Note for Queensland practitioners taking Will and Enduring Power of Attorney Instructions during COVID-19

This practice note has been prepared after a careful consideration of the current legal position in Queensland, current duties to the Court and client and the most recent advice released from the Department of Health. We recognise that this is an unprecedented public health crisis and this note may viewed in the context of the crisis and government decisions with respect to isolation and the definition of essential services.

To access the practice note please click here.  


23 March 2020 – Wellbeing: Working from home – staying productive and well

Working from home makes it possible for us to remain productive and connected with clients and colleagues – but it also comes with its own host of new challenges and questions. Here is a list of practical tips to ensure you can still get your work done effectively and protect your health and wellbeing at the same time. Read on to find out more.


17 March 2020 – Wellbeing: Coronavirus / COVID-19 - Dealing with isolation

We are going through uncertain times at the moment. Compounding the concerns for the health and safety of loved ones and ourselves, fear of the long-term economic impact of the current pandemic and worries about fundamental changes to community and social life as we know it – is the weight of isolation. Read on to find out more.


12 March 2020 – Wellbeing: Leading yourself to lead others - things you can control

How much control do you have over your life, events and situations at work, other people, and in your professional and personal relationships? How much is really up to you, and how do you avoid wasting all your energy over “fighting the wrong battles”, or missing the important ones? Read on to learn more about a useful approach to think about the realms of concern, influence and control. Read on to find out more.


5 March 2020 – Wellbeing: Leading yourself to lead others - setting your path

The common leadership narrative usually revolves around the confident leader showing the way, leading his or her followers to the destination with unwavering commitment and courage. But if you are this leader – how do you know what direction to walk in? How do you choose the destination? And how do you ensure you are staying on track? Read on to find out more. 


5 March 2020 – Warning as to representation of multiple co-accused

Practitioners are reminded of the substantial ethical risks arising from a proposed representation of multiple co-accused in criminal proceedings. Read on to find out more. 


27 February 2020 – Wellbeing: Leading yourself to lead others - are you a leader?

In this series, we are going to explore the foundation of leadership, starting with your number one responsibility: leading yourself. What does that actually mean, and what is involved in having a self-leadership practice?

Read on to find out more. 


20 February 2020 – Wellbeing: Imposter syndrome

Do you sometimes think that you owe your achievements at work and in your personal life to sheer luck? That you have somehow managed to trick everyone else into believing how skilled and capable you are, which makes you fear the day when they actually find out that in reality - you are a fraud? Imposter syndrome is an insidious and false self-belief that affects many people. Read on to find out more.


14 February 2020 – Wellbeing: How to prioritise when everything seems important

Do you ever feel like work is a constant juggling act of endless tasks thrown at you? And on top of this, you are asked to perform with a never-ending parade of distractions also screaming for your attention? You know that you need to prioritise somehow - but how are you going to do this when everything seems important? Read on to find out more.


6 February 2020 – Wellbeing: One microstep at a time

If you are like most people, you have probably started the year with one or more ambitious, inspirational goals for yourself. And if you have already given up on them now, you are in good company. Read on to find out more about a proven strategy to stick with and achieve your goals! Read on to find out more.


4 February 2020 – Verifying client identity and overseas transactions

The QLS Ethics and Practice Centre and the Registrar of Titles and Registrar of Water Allocations wish to bring to practitioners’ attention the potential for property fraud which highlights the need to know your client and the risks of communicating with clients solely by email. Read on to find out more.


30 January 2020 – Wellbeing: Don’t be chained to the desk

Where are you as you are reading these words? Chances are you are sitting at your desk, where most of us are spending a substantial portion of our days. Prolonged sitting is not part of a healthy lifestyle – on the contrary, it increases our risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes and other significant health complications. But here are things you can do. Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself. Read on to find out more.


23 January 2020 – Wellbeing: Self-awareness and resilience – growth mindset - part 4

Solicitors are said to be perfectionistic. How do you feel about failing and making mistakes? If you are shuddering at the mere thought of it, try to never make any mistakes and go through life carefully avoiding anything that could possibly end in failure – how do you make any progress? How do you learn and develop?  This update explores what it means to have a Growth Mindset which allows you to embrace challenges and difficulties as an opportunity for improvement.  Read on to find out more.


16 January 2020 – Wellbeing: Self-awareness and resilience – automatic thoughts - part 3b

What automatic mental habits do you have? Now that we have discussed what automatic thoughts are (distorted, exaggerated and incorrect ways of interpreting events and situations), let’s have a look at some of the most common types. Read on to find out more.


9 January 2020 – Wellbeing: Self-awareness and resilience – automatic thoughts - part 3a

What’s your inner voice telling you? We all have this internal “running commentary” in our heads, providing us with automatic and ongoing judgements and interpretations about what is happening around us, how we are performing, and what others are probably thinking about us. Sometimes we are unaware that these thoughts are likely to be distorted and incorrect, leading us towards negativity and self-doubt. What are your automatic thoughts?  Read on to find out more.


13 December 2019 – Duty of Confidentiality – Lawyer X

Following Ms Gobbo’s recent interview on the 7:30 Report, practitioners are reminded that the obligation of confidence is far-reaching and nearly absolute. Read more


5 December 2019 – Wellbeing: Self-awareness and resilience – mindfulness

Mindfulness tends to be a polarising concept – people either swear by it and say that their mindfulness practice has turned their life around, or they are very doubtful and think of esoteric contortions or the impossible request to empty your mind and stop all thoughts.

But did you know that practising mindfulness can sharpen your awareness for you internal processes including early recognition of when our wellbeing is jeopardised? More than just an excellent tool for stress reduction, it also gives you more control over your responses to experiences. Read on to find out about different mindfulness techniques!


28 November 2019 – Wellbeing: Self-awareness and resilience

Many people – regardless of how educated or clever - are not very good at reading their own psychological warning signs. But knowing when you are moving towards the “red danger zone” of the mental health continuum is a fundamental skill to protecting and promoting your wellbeing. Over the next few weeks, we will explore strategies to better identify and manage your own warning signs.


21 November 2019 – Wellbeing: Sleep - just how much is enough?

Did you know that you can survive longer without food than sleep? Indeed, if you ever find yourself in a life-threatening crisis situation, you should prioritise the need to sleep over food to avoid cognitive impairment. For an alarmingly high number of people, the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are a daily companion: constant tiredness, feeling mentally foggy, and not feeling fully refreshed when waking up. Sound familiar? Please read on.


18 November 2019 – Wellbeing: High-functioning anxiety

Not everyone affected by mental health issues shows the same level of visible signs and symptoms, and many people suffer in silence. Some are even like ducks - gliding along smoothly and seemingly effortless on the surface, but frantically kicking below to stay afloat.


7 November 2019 – Wellbeing: How your food fuels your mood

Which energy sources do you use to feed your brain? And could it be that you put more thought into choosing the right fuel for your car than ensuring optimum nutritional levels for your precious prime organ which is involved in every single physical, mental and emotional aspect of our being? To find out what the exciting new field of nutritional psychiatry recommends for mental health and wellbeing.


25 October 2019 – So you think you’re ready to retire?

Retirement is a time of change and adjustment which opens up new challenges or opportunities. The most important thing is to embrace the change.


21 October 2019 – Ethics Reminder: No Contact Rule

Unprofessional contact with the client of another solicitor.


21 October 2019 – Supporting solicitors – Need someone to talk to?

The pressures of work can take its toll upon solicitors. For members wishing to have someone to bounce ideas off you can speak with solicitors at QLS Solicitor Support.


15 October 2019 – Ethics Reminder: Alternative Dispute Resolution

A reminder to solicitors as to informing a client with respect to alternatives to litigation.


13 June 2019 – Significant changes to the witnessing requirements for Titles Registry documents

Practitioners who witness documents for lodgement in the Titles Registry should read on.


25 September 2018 – Mirror wills – what you should consider if one client wishes to engage you after they split?

Practitioners are often asked to prepare mirror wills for couples who may later go their separate ways. Some issues to consider on whether they can act for one of the parties after they have separated.


3 September 2018 – OPG Guidelines for Witnessing Enduring Documents have been updated

Please note that the OPG Guidelines for Witnessing Enduring Documents were modified slightly in July 2018.


3 September 2018 – Confidentiality – information in the public domain

A reminder that information in the public domain can still be confidential to the client. Read more.


6 July 2018 – Salutation or opening salvo?

Correctly addressing colleagues is an ethical obligation


10 May 2018 – Will Danger, Robinson! (with apologies to Lost In Space fans)

Using a chatbot to provide legal services can get you in more trouble than the Lost in Space crew


4 April 2018 – Bragging is for the Boardroom

When solicitors deliver great results and unlikely victories for clients, the temptation to share that good news is powerful - and with social media a ubiquitous part of our lives, succumbing to that temptation has never been easier.


11 December 2017 – Beware of the Leopard: How safe must safe custody be?

Solicitors store all manner of documents for clients, and have an obvious obligation to keep those documents sufficiently safe - but what will be considered safe enough?


14 November 2017 – Not all Security is Cyber

It doesn’t take a computer hacker or virus to violate client confidentiality - it can be done in the simplest of ways.


1 November 2017 – A mislabelled file ends three careers: some practical steps to avoid e-discovery disasters

Learning from our mistakes is good, but learning from someone else’s is a lot less stressful.


17 October 2017 – The ethical boundaries of a solicitor’s right to take security for fees

You work hard – how to negotiate some security over your fees?


5 October 2017 – Discourteous and offensive behaviour

To be honest and courteous in all of our dealings in the course of legal practice is a fundamental ethical duty.


21 August 2017 – Mates Rates = Dire Straits

Free work for friends can cost more than you think - some tips to avoid empathy-induced ethical conflict.


10 August 2017 – Cyber criminals successfully divert Qld Solicitor’s trust transfers

Due to recent email based cyber attacks, the QLS Ethics Centre recommends that caution should be exercised by solicitors in the manner in which they receive instructions for the transfer of trust monies that may be received by email.


13 July 2017 – First response checklist for law firms subjected to a cyber incident

The QLS Ethics Centre first response checklist has been designed to provide invaluable assistance if you suffer a cyberattack.


27 June 2017 – What’s in a name?

A rose by any other name may be as sweet, but the titles used by lawyers have specific meanings, and using the wrong one can get you into trouble. This handy table outlines to practitioners what they can call themselves, and what documents they can sign or witness.


14 June 2017 – Delivery of electronic bills

Electronic delivery of bills - Legislative change


18 May 2017 – The Graduate

There is no such thing as a graduate solicitor or graduate lawyer, and giving such titles to unadmitted law graduates can create significant issues for law firms, including potential disciplinary action and/or accusations of misleading and deceptive conduct. This note explains how to avoid these issues and ensure that firms use the correct nomenclature for their graduate employees.


17 May 2017 – WannaCRYpt ransomware – Just the tip of the cyber risk to law firms

Successful ransomware attacks on Queensland law firms are on the increase. Many firms can be hacked in minutes due to simple mistakes by computer users. This note identifies the issue and the desirability for education.


12 May 2017 – Closed courts have open ears

Solicitors are urged to keep in mind that in Queensland Courts, the recording devices in the courtroom are always active, unless turned off by order of the Judge or magistrate even during breaks in proceedings or after the court has been closed.


3 April 2017 – Guidance for law practices affected by flooding or extreme weather conditions

The QLS Ethics Centre has published guidance on the management of the issues resulting in the damage, destruction or loss of client documents or property by flood or extreme weather conditions.  


16 March 2017 – Ethics and client confidentiality in a digital world

One of the pillars of the solicitor-client relationship is the solicitor’s duty of confidentiality-a duty which is increasingly onerous in the face of the challenges of the digital world.


12 January 2017 – Self-reporting obligations under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (‘LPA’)

End of year parties can leave a lot of mess to clear up. Unfortunately, this may include solicitors charged with criminal and traffic offences arising from festive celebrations.


25 November 2016 – How do experienced lawyers prepare a complex costs estimate?

The key to a good outcome for both the client and solicitor is a retainer agreement that is clear, precise and provides an accurate estimation of costs right from the beginning.