Proctor : October 2016
3 PROCTOR | October 2016 I refuse to shut up about my favourite topic – good lawyers doing great work – and this month I have two excellent examples for you. First, no matter what type of law you practise, read the succession law column by deputy president Christine Smyth (page 36). It’s not often that legal articles can be described as heart-warming, but this is one such instance. I’d like to congratulate and thank Kate Do and her colleagues at the Public Trustee for a job well done. Second, all of my Gold Coast colleagues, and many other practitioners, would know local lawyer Ross Lee. Ross has always been a hard worker and prepared to give that little extra, such as his contributions to the Gold Coast District Law Association, including a term as president. Of course, Ross is now president of the Robina Community Legal Centre (RCLC) and it was a delight to see his efforts and those of his centre colleagues recognised in this year’s Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards as the ‘Pro Bono Program of the Year’ winner. The RCLC is an initiative of the Gold Coast District Law Association and has only been open since February 2014. Since then, it has seen its clientele grow from 654 that year to a 2016 projected total of 1400. The RCLC has not received any state or federal government funding, and relies on membership fees, community, corporate, educational and local government donations, as well as the occasional Bunnings sausage sizzle to keep going. The centre provides advice to an average of 30 to 35 clients every Thursday clinic night at the Robina Community Centre building. In 2014, RCLC had five advice desks and attended to an average 20 clients each per evening. Due to growing demand, it now has nine advice desks each evening, clear evidence of a continuing and growing demand for access to justice on the Gold Coast. I would like to congratulate Ross, the volunteers and RCLC team – including hardworking committee members Adeline Yap, Ian Martin and George Pharmacis – on behalf of all members. But before moving on, I’d also like to share Ross’s cheeky but pertinent parting words at the awards presentation: “Colleagues, don’t go home after work and knock off a bottle of red – get along and make some friends at your local community legal centre. You’ll be very glad you did.” And while we’re on the subject of good lawyers doing great work, do you have a story to tell? Please let me know, and I’ll do my best to see it shared with all members. VLAD tidings Flawed laws rushed through Parliament without public consultation are an insult to the people of Queensland. So last month it was with some pleasure that we witnessed the arrival of legislation that will supplant the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act 2013 and associated legislation – the ‘anti- bikie’ laws that became the centre of such controversy. We are now scrutinising this proposed legislation, which incorporates key findings from the Byrne Commission and the report of the taskforce we were pleased to be a part of. No doubt we will have more to say about its content and practicality as the Bill continues through the consultation process. Sometimes, however, I believe that we as a community don’t always do a great job of thinking through the implications of new or changed laws. Perhaps we should be carefully considering how this legislation – and for that matter any legislation – will impact related services. I believe the new laws are likely to increase the volume of work for the Magistrates Courts, which are already in desperate need of further resources. Our magistrates and judges are overworked with heavy caseloads, and there are too few appointments being made. They are at the coalface of the legal profession and deserve to have the resources required to serve justice for the community. Bill Potts Queensland Law Society president firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @QLSpresident President’s report Good lawyers doing great work Speak up and speak out Left: Robina Community Legal Centre president Ross Lee with the Lawyers Weekly ‘Pro Bono Program of the Year’ award.