QLS President's Report - December 2017 Edition
A whirlwind, a wild ride and a great surprise
Click here to download the full QLS President's Report - December 2017 Edition from the 2017 President Christine Smyth.
According to Einstein, the faster you travel, the slower time goes. Although I would never argue with him on that, my experience at QLS has been a little different; it seems I haven’t stopped moving since I got here, and yet time has run well ahead of me! It feels like it was only yesterday that I started my term as deputy president, and now I am penning my last column as president; where did all that time go?
The journey has been something of a wild ride – ups, downs and things I am still not sure how to categorise. Some of it I expected, parts were a complete surprise, but some of the surprises were wonderful. For one thing, I expected the Society staff to be good – I have known and worked with many of them for many years prior to my election, through both Council and committee – but I have been impressed by just how collaborative, competent and committed they are. As a not-for-profit, the Society relies on every staff member going above and beyond on a regular basis, and I can unequivocally confirm that QLS members are well-served by Society staff.
Working so closely with the teams to deliver on my initiatives has been the hidden gem in the role of president; I thank them all for their warmth, support and superlative work over the last two-years, you have been a joy to work with. I asked where did all the time go, but looking back I can see where some of it has gone.
I am very proud to have the support of QLS – to realise some reforms and initiatives that I hold close to my heart, and chief among them is the reform of the Trusts Act. This has long been desired by many of our members, and to hear the Attorney-General commit to that reform earlier in the year – and follow through with a Bill now before parliament – was a proud moment. Whilst an election can derail even the most worthwhile agenda, I remain confident that these much-needed reforms will progress.
The Society’s Modern Advocate Lecture Series, which I launched as deputy president, has gone from strength to strength. Although I consulted heavily with Society staff through the creation phase, I was still nervous when the series launched. With the final lecture this year attracting a large crowd at Law Society House (despite hovering storm-cells!) and an online audience of over 600 people, I am humbled to know that our profession has embraced the series with vigour.
Following on from that success, I am delighted to launch its natural progression, the Society’s Solicitor Advocacy Course, a long-held passion of mine. Solicitors now do the bulk of the state’s advocacy, and our members have been craving a way to formally hone their skills. This course provides that avenue, and our members have enthusiastically grasped the opportunity, as it sold out in four days. With that and a waiting list, we will be rolling out more courses throughout next year. With a commitment to our regions in addition to Brisbane, we will be holding them in Cairns and Rockhampton.
Throughout my presidency I have advocated for more judges for our overworked court system, and for those judges to more often be sourced from the solicitor side of the profession. This course will allow participants to do more advanced courses including appellate court work and, ultimately, judicial theory. It will ensure that solicitors have the formal skills needed to service their current clients and add confidence to them filling the ranks of the bench going forward.
I have also had the opportunity to drive, with the valued assistance of QLS Ethics Centre Director Stafford Shepherd and his team, Queensland Law Society’s Practice Support Service, which has proved immensely popular with members. This service embodies the true spirit and values of QLS, it is both collegially supportive and highly practical. Through this service, the Society’s experts will visit any member and review their procedures, systems and general approach to practice to ensure that they are set for optimal success. When I started my term, one of my goals was to create a society that was accessible and provided real value to members – the sort of thing that I needed when I started my career. The Practice Support Service is the physical manifestation of that. I would have loved such a service 25 years ago, and am very proud to have delivered it for today’s members.
One of the crucial roles of any QLS president is advocacy on behalf of the members, making – and speaking to – submissions that quite literally are for good law, good lawyers and the public good. I am very proud to have been able to elevate the profile and influence of the Society to unprecedented levels. I will never forget the privilege of giving a voice to the concerns of our members and speaking truth to power for the state’s solicitors!
At the end of the day our profession is defined by collegiality, and I have been buoyed by the bonds I have formed with many colleagues, including QLS staffers who have contributed heavily to whatever successes I can claim. These friendships will endure well after my term and are the greatest reward I have received from holding this esteemed and storied office.
Finally I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you my fellow Councillors. Your determination to serve our members for the good of our profession is the embodiment of all QLS represents: service, fidelity, courage. Thank you.
Queensland Law Society president