Proctor : February 2018
13 PROCTOR | February 2018 Passion, experience and dedication are three key traits of 2018 Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor. A personal injuries accredited specialist from Townsville in North Queensland, business owner, father of three and husband, Ken had never planned on a career as a solicitor. While completing secondary school, he had decided to enter the full-time workforce before undertaking tertiary studies. “However, during my last year the opportunity to apply for a job as an articled clerk came up,” he said. “I spent the next five or six years working in articles, finding out what happens in the law and loved it.” Ken explained that the advantage of five-year articles was that a person could work in all areas of law. When he speaks about personal injuries law, his face lights up as he explains the evolution of that space, noting the advantageous experience of having acted for both insurance companies and claimants. “It gave you a good balance of both sides and you could see how injuries affected claimants and their families, while also seeing the insurer’s side. Just the way that you could connect with people – the individuals and the claim managers and staff at insurance companies – was quite fulfilling and fascinating to me.” Asked about undertaking specialist accreditation in 1999, Ken described it as a “shock to the system”. Ten years after his last university exam and being required to study again, he found it a worthwhile challenge. “It really was a challenge and certainly worthwhile doing. I would recommend anyone in an area of law that has specialist accreditation available to consider it. It really does work as a very strong refresher course and tests you personally.” Ken listed several main issues he sees for the profession in Queensland, including technological change, the oversupply of law graduates, the potential for access to legal work shrinking, the lack of recognition of the role that lawyers play in society, and access to common law rights for Queenslanders. On technology, he said that practitioners must have the ability to recognise and embrace the benefits it can bring to a practice, and understand how they can utilise those benefits. It’s a question of making the technology work for you as a practitioner and as a law practice. It’s also a challenge to work out what will be a fad as opposed to what can be made to work long term.” Ken is also concerned about those working towards joining the profession and the potential for them to struggle finding employment. He plans to look at ways of addressing this issue, as well as ensuring that those entering the profession have awareness of and access to the information and support available to them. An issue close to his heart is access to common law rights for Queenslanders. He says that it is an issue always in the background when not in the forefront. “This is an issue not only for members but Queenslanders in general, and something about which we must be vigilant. We have access to excellent schemes such as CTP and worker’s compensation in Queensland. It comes down to striking a balance between offering fair compensation to injured parties and the service providers being able to be profitable.” Along with these priorities, Ken is also eager to find ways to enhance and grow the value of membership with the Society, and is planning on looking at the current member offerings and exploring ways to continue to improve them. He also understands the important role the Society plays in setting and maintaining professional standards. “I’d like to increase the relevancy of the Society to our profession, and I’d like to also engage our committees on an increased basis. We have a wealth of expert knowledge and we will be looking at ways to increase our opportunities to draw on that knowledge. “Another thing which is very important to me is the value of relationships with those who have the ability to affect our members and their practice. I want to personally meet with everyone early on and see which issues – if any – are there and build on those relationships we have with them. “It’s a broad group and that includes not only external influencers but expanding our contact with members and meeting the QLS staff. All of this is important to me.” When asked how the profession has changed during his career, Ken laughed and said, “How long have you got? I started by sitting in the back room listening to the Telex clatter at the other end then being sent to run off to the Titles Office for an urgent search!” He described his early career as one of great learning, and being required to learn how the profession operated on all levels. He explained that he had to learn how everything was done at the Titles Office, Stamp Duties Office and the courts. Ken also cited personal contact as a large part of his early career, with a great deal of reliance on staying in touch with public servants and other practitioners – both senior and peers. “The way the profession ran was that you just had to be there – whether it be at application days or you met others at functions as a young lawyer or articled clerk. “There seemed to be a more personal touch about things. It’s now very easy to send emails, but people are coming back around to recognising how important that personal element is.” When asked about the difference between practising in the city and country, he was adamant that the impact of time and cost were not to be underestimated. Profile Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor shares his career and vision for 2018. Report by Melissa Raassina.