Proctor : August 2017
5 PROCTOR | August 2017 According to Patrick George Troughton, life depends on change and renewal – and he should know, being the second incarnation of Doctor Who, a personage who undergoes periodic and drastic renewal. His words are not just applicable to Time Lords, however, as renewal is an important process for solicitors, in the sense that practising certificates must be renewed – and here at QLS we have just completed the renewal process for financial year 2017/18. In truth I toss away quite a tale in one sentence, because the renewal process is the largest project undertaken by the Society on an annual basis, and involves a lot of hard yakka, sweat, the occasional tear and heroic volumes of coffee, but it did get done. I should take this opportunity to thank all the Society staff involved in the renewals effort, and the numbers tell the story of what an effort it was. In two short months the team processed 10,742 practising certificate renewals, completed 13,614 transactions and answered around 8000 phone enquiries – a massive effort in which all involved went above and beyond. Of course, while things went smoothly for the most part, there were some problems and we have already begun a review of the entire process, based on member feedback (both positive and negative) to ensure that things are even better next time. Our goal in this regard is nothing short of a flawless, stress-free and efficient renewal process for our members, and we welcome further feedback and suggestions from you. The renewal process does produce other numbers though, which make for interesting reading, telling both good and not-so -good stories. In the not-so -good side, Indigenous participation in the legal profession remains unacceptably low, with only 0.6% of full members of QLS identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. That is a number we would all like to see on the rise, and an important step towards that goal was taken on 5 July when the Society launched its Reconciliation Action Plan, another huge project deserving another huge set of thanks to all involved. The evening was a great success, although it is only the start, with a lot of work to do, and thankfully the people, resources and enthusiasm to do it with. Since the launch is covered elsewhere in this issue, I won’t steal anyone’s thunder by going into detail. I will observe, however, that eloquent ethics solicitor Shane Budden noted that he enjoyed the whole evening, but wondered if it was wrong that his favourite part was the Indigenous cuisine provided at the networking event. For me the best part was the sense of opportunity for the journey we are now to take. The numbers tell good stories as well, including a story of great diversity within our ranks. The percentage of women holding practising certificates continues to surge towards primacy, with just under 50% of PCs now held by female lawyers, and this figure of course does not include government lawyers, who do not hold PCs. That diversity extends to the solicitors’ branch equivalent of Queen’s Counsel – those who have achieved specialist accreditation in their area of the law. Of 530 specialist-accredited solicitors, 198 (37%) are women, and no doubt that percentage will increase rapidly in the coming years. Also pleasing to note is the incredible number of languages now spoken by QLS members, no doubt a reflection of the broad church from which they are drawn. Over 70 different languages from all corners of the globe are spoken as second languages by the solicitors of Queensland. The top five are Mandarin, French, German, Japanese and Italian. I hope that is an indication that neither language nor culture is a barrier to admission – or representation – in our fair state. These figures show that the solicitors of Queensland reflect the wonderfully diverse melting pot that is Queensland, and we all hope this will soon be reflected in our state’s magistracy and judiciary. You may have seen some commentary around this in our Law Talk blog, where we note that the best way to achieve much-needed diversity on the bench is to look to the many solicitors deserving of judicial appointment. The figures also show that our practising certificates aren’t the only things being renewed – in fact, it is our whole profession undergoing renewal. Whereas once upon a time Queensland’s legal fraternity (and in those days it was indeed a fraternity) looked no different from the members’ lounge at an exclusive gentlemen’s club, it now resembles the world’s backpacking community dressed up for a friend’s wedding. Our members come from a plethora of backgrounds, cultures, and continents, and just as they no longer fit traditional stereotypes, they are impossible to pin down in thought, word and deed. Their motivations and goals in the law are as diverse as they are, and they are driving our profession in innovative and surprising new directions; it willbealotoffuntoseewhereweendup. So I say vive la renewal – if it’s good enough for the Doctor, it’s good enough for me! Matt Dunn Queensland Law Society acting CEO Our executive report Vive la renewal If it’s good enough for the Doctor...