Proctor : October 2017
48 PROCTOR | October 2017 Practical 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 20 years and today there are 47 highly experienced practitioners across Queensland who can assist with professional or ethical issues and career advice. This month, we profile three QLS Senior Counsellors in Brisbane – Justin McDonnell, Elizabeth Shearer and Martin Conroy. Justin McDonnell Justin McDonnell is a partner in the Brisbane office of King & Wood Mallesons, and a past chair of the Queensland Law Society Litigation Rules Committee. What motivated you to become a QLS Senior Counsellor? I had seen other senior practitioners become QLS Senior Counsellors and I thought it was a natural step, given my age. What is the best part about being a QLS Senior Counsellor? In practice, I tend to find that people use you as a sounding board for issues or concerns that may arise, so I enjoy similar exchanges as a senior counsellor. What do you like to do during your time off? Reading and being told what to do by my wife and young daughter! What is your favourite area of practice? Commercial litigation, although a young lawyer that I used to work with has just been made legal counsel for Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux, France. Now that is a dream area of practice! Can you provide an overview on your general experience as a QLS Senior Counsellor? The benefit of talking issues through with someone. Often, given the stresses of our profession, it is useful to be able to talk to someone not from your firm (and, indeed, whom you may not know). If you could give one piece of advice to a solicitor just starting their career, what would it be? Be open-minded. Often you strike young lawyers straight out of university who have determined they will be M&A or banking and finance lawyers, and that preconception sometimes weighs them down in later choices (they might be really good litigators!). Elizabeth Shearer Elizabeth Shearer is the legal practitioner director at Affording Justice, a Council member at Queensland Law Society and chair of the QLS Access to Justice Committee. What is the best part about being a QLS Senior Counsellor? I enjoy listening to the practitioners who consult me about the issues they face, and then helping them problem solve to find a solution. Usually there are a number of ways to deal with the situation, and it is good to work through the pros and cons of each of them and come up with an answer that is right for the person who has to take the next step. What do you like to do during your time off? On weeknights, I like nothing more than some trashy TV. On weekends, I like to spend a couple of hours reading what used to be the weekend newspapers, but now I read online. I have joined a choir, so enjoy the rehearsals and performances for that, especially Brisbane Sings when I get to be one of a five to six-hundred voice choir. What is your favourite area of practice? I really enjoy general practice. Sometimes I think that general practice is getting to be abitofalostart,soIamonacampaign to keep it going. I would say I specialise in problem-solving, rather than one area of law. If you could give one piece of advice to a solicitor just staring their career, what would it be? I was in practice for about 20 years before I heard about ‘imposter syndrome’ – the feeling that everyone else knows more than you do and that eventually people are going to find out that you are not as smart and capable as they think you are. I wish I had known this was a common experience when I was starting out. So my advice would be, don’t be discouraged or feel overwhelmed by what you don’t know; you have skills that you can use to work through novel problems. To learn more about QLS Senior Counsellors, see qls.com.au > QLS Ethics Centre > QLS Senior Counsellors. Contact details for QLS Senior Counsellors are listed at the back of each edition of Proctor.