Proctor : March 2017
36 PROCTOR | March 2017 Practical, personal guidance for members The QLS Senior Counsellor experience QLS Senior Counsellors provide confidential guidance to practitioners on professional or ethical issues. The service has been operating for more than 40 years and today there are 50 highly experienced practitioners across Queensland who can assist with professional or ethical issues and career advice. This month, we profile three QLS Senior Counsellors who practise in the Toowoomba region – Stephen Rees, Tom Sullivan and Kathy Walker. What do you like to do during your time off? I’m a great fan of having a balanced life. For me, this involves getting involved in community activities, spending time with my family and friends, working in my garden, keeping fit (age-related aches and pains notwithstanding) and overseas travel. I recently returned from my seventh trip to Nepal where I enjoy trekking and mountaineering. What is your favourite area of practice? It is not so much the area of law that I favour but the experience of creativity in addressing problems whether it be by helping parties negotiate agreements, mediate disputes, plan their business and estate affairs or decide upon case theory and tactics in court. I enjoy working collaboratively with lawyers and other professionals to achieve satisfactory outcomes for clients. My other favourite thing is the friendship of my staff, all of whom have been with me for many years. Can you provide an overview on your general experience as being a QLS Senior Counsellor? The role offers a great way to assist fellow practitioners and, by example and mentoring, provide a means of passing on and encouraging practitioners in the noblest traditions of our profession despite the distraction of marketing and pressure of competition. There’s more QLS Senior Counsellors can do, if only colleagues would more readily pick up the phone. Stephen Rees What motivated you to become a QLS Senior Counsellor? It is essential that our profession maintains the highest ethical and professional standards and ensures continuity of standards for future generations of lawyers. Critical to that is the role of mentors for both new and experienced lawyers who may need to talk through a problem with an independent, objective and confidential advisor. I wanted to contribute and believe my background of 34 years in legal practice and involvement in outside organisations equips me to understand and empathise with the travails of modern practice as well as provide guidance on practical and ethical issues. What is the best part about being a QLS Senior Counsellor? For the most part I am consulted by colleagues who need help, or a second opinion, about making ethical decisions rather than those who are in trouble for past wrongs. We often discuss matters involving value judgments about conflicts between running a business and meeting ethical obligations, including the sometimes conflicting obligations to clients, the profession and the administration of law. It is satisfying to help colleagues by providing advice and by being a sounding board. And it is heartening to sense the relief experienced by my callers. I also very much enjoy attending the annual QLS Senior Counsellors Conference. Great to catch up with and share ideas with a group of dedicated, experienced and wise practitioners. If you could give one piece of advice to a solicitor just starting their career, what would it be? Make your own way, but if you want to know what, at the end of my career, I will most cherish about my practice in law, it is the time I have given freely to benefit others rather than making money. What do you like about your region? Toowoomba is a modern, vibrant regional centre... great shopping, terrific schools, parks and gardens and a cool evening breeze, delightful to step into after returning from a February day in the Brisbane Family Court, and an ideal place to raise a family. Tom Sullivan What motivated you to become a QLS Senior Counsellor? I was the Queensland Law Society president in 2002/03 and having met so many solicitors throughout our state I realised that many solicitors, especially in country Queensland and small practices, were delighted to be able to speak to a solicitor who understood how the Queensland Law Society worked and who could provide sensible practical advice. For that reason, I accepted a role as Senior Counsellor at that time. What is the best part about being a QLS Senior Counsellor? As a young solicitor in the 1970s I found back then that many of the older, more experienced practitioners I dealt with were so very helpful with practical advice, which assisted me greatly as a young practitioner. As a result, I have always adopted the policy of trying to help other practitioners wherever I can. What do you like to do during your time off? I have a great love of travel and have travelled extensively all around the world with my wife and family. I enjoy the beach and have a unit at Broadbeach where I spend a lot of my leisure time. I also enjoy playing golf and love following football, cricket, tennis and the races.