I am honoured, humbled and excited to serve the Society as President in 2021. It is a privilege to take on this role and I look forward to continuing the important work undertaken by presidents before me, and doing my part to help guide and support our members and the profession.
2020 will no doubt be remembered as a period of constant change which required the South Australian legal profession, and the general public, to adapt rapidly and continually to a new way of life in a number of respects. It was an often challenging 12 months which affected almost every South Australian at one point or another. That fact is front of mind for me as we enter 2021, and will guide my focus during the next 12 months' work by the Society, as we reflect on and recover from those events and assess what we can learn from those experiences to improve the delivery of legal services in SA for lawyers and clients.
Some of the key issues I plan to focus on this year include:
- wellbeing, resilience and mental health support for the profession;
- the role of technology in the delivery of legal services; and
- the Society's future focus and new strategic plan.
I also expect to build on the important work done by my predecessors on matters such as improving the public perception of lawyers and increasing connection and collegiality within the profession. To that end, I am particularly pleased to be working alongside my fellow presidents interstate, and the Law Council of Australia, on a number of matters facing lawyers and law societies around the country. That will include continuing the important work of the Society and others with respect to the steps required to address sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in the legal profession. This is unfortunately not an issue with a simple or single answer, and whilst it is apparent we still have a number of challenges to address, the commitment being shown by so many people to changing and improving that position does give me great hope and optimism that we will continue to rise to those challenges and make the practice of the law safer, more welcoming and more inclusive in the future.
I'm also optimistic that in 2021 we will also have a few more opportunities than we did in 2020 to gather as colleagues and friends to celebrate what we do and how we do it, and I look forward to spending time with our members at various functions and events throughout the year. I am eager to highlight and celebrate the good work and remarkable achievements of many of our members to improve access to justice and uphold the Rule of Law, and to ensure that these contributions are not overlooked.
These are certainly interesting times to be a lawyer. I am very much looking forward to my time representing our members as President of the Law Society in 2021, and to working closely with the Members of the Society’s Executive and Council, the staff of the Society and my fellow legal practitioners as I serve in this role.