Rule 3 of the Society’s Rules sets out our objects, which are essentially
three: to be the independent voice for all lawyers in South Australia; to
uphold the rule of law; and to drive excellence in the practice of the law. The altruistic dimension of the legal
profession is reinforced by the oath or solemn promise that all lawyers
admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of this state are required to give,
which is to uphold the administration of justice.
The Law Society has a proud history of
representing all lawyers. In his speech delivered on 26 November 2004, to
commemorate our 125th anniversary, the Honourable John von Doussa
K.C., celebrated our history. He noted
the unequal role of women. In the
ensuing years, the position has improved but there is still work to do to
promote representation of women in the Law Society.
The current Government’s ambitious
legislative agenda will require the Society to engage in the detailed work
necessary to strike the right balance between policy goals and upholding the
rule of law, including protection of basic rights. Our committees and advocacy staff are ready
for the detailed work that will be required, even if we risk being at odds with
the populist sentiment of the day.
The State Parliament is actively considering
a voice for indigenous Australians, with both major parties promoting draft
legislation. Equality of opportunity for
indigenous Australians and the plight of the indigenous community in
lower-than-average life expectancy, health, education, employment and higher
than average incarceration rates, are matters of grave concern. The Law Society has much to contribute to
seeing that legislation implemented in a satisfactory way.
The legal profession remains committed to maintaining
excellence in practice. The pace of
technological change, the inexorable rise of data theft and the spectre of
being made responsible for anti-money laundering measures may be daunting. The Society will continue to support
practitioners in addressing those issues, including by positive programmes for
targeted training on the threat of cyber-crime.
The Society will continue the provision of
continuing professional development. It
is the responsibility of a profession to educate itself and maintain its
standards. We will continue to strengthen further our delivery of education and
support services to the profession and enhance the collegiality of the
profession in the process.
In 2004, the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights was advanced by the Honourable John von Doussa K.C., as the pivotal
benchmark against which the Society should evaluate its activities. On 10 October 2022, during the
tenure of my predecessor, Justin Stewart-Rattray, the Society’s Council adopted
as policy the support of the adoption of a
legislative Charter of Human Rights in South Australia. In 2023, the Society will continue its work in