I am delighted to have been elected as President of the Law Society of South Australia and look forward to developing change on behalf of not just our Members but the South Australian legal profession as a whole.
The Society has important roles as a regulator and in services for and representation of its membership and the profession. I am hopeful we can change the poor perception of lawyers by some within our community by highlighting and acknowledging the good work that many of our Members do in support of our State, in accordance with the Rule of Law, fighting for the rights of individuals and resolving or preventing disputes.
My main focus for 2019 will on:
Reducing regulation on lawyers and small business
The Society is currently identifying areas of regulation of legal practice that could be removed or reduced without affecting the services lawyers provide to clients or the protections afforded to the community. The legal profession is very highly regulated, and unnecessary regulation results in additional expense, which must inevitably be borne by clients. It is important there is a level playing field for lawyers with those in other professions that are subject to less regulation, in overlapping areas of work.
A recently established a Regulation Advisory Committee, of which I am a Member, will identify and advocate for a reduction of regulation around legal practice.
Changing the culture of the profession -reducing Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination
I am committed to the advancement of diversity in the profession and stamping out bullying, harassment and discrimination. I am hopeful that the Council’s Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Working Group, of which I am Chair, will be able to develop programmes that can be implemented within the profession so that we can see a cultural shift against these practices.
This in turn will also assist our Members’ resilience and wellbeing. I am hopeful that we can raise ongoing awareness of these issues and erase the stigma which is usually drawn from admitting to the stresses of legal practice.
A year of celebration
2019 will also be the 140th Anniversary of the establishment of the Society and the 125th Year of Women’s Suffrage in South Australia. We will be holding events to celebrate these milestones over the course of the year, to look back on the achievements of women in the profession over this time. The role of women in the profession has been hard fought, but the achievements have been many and I look forward to celebrating them throughout 2019.
Relevance to our membership and providing support
With 2019 being marked with two major milestones I am also hopeful that we can bring back some more collegiality within the profession, by increasing networking opportunities for our Members and ensuring those in small firms or rural and remote towns are connected to the wider profession, increasing the camaraderie of the profession and the wellbeing of our membership.