It is a pleasure to provide my first President’s Update since my recent election to the role.  It is an honour to have the opportunity to represent the Society and the legal profession for the 2021/22 term.

I would like to begin by congratulating Callum Purcell, Amelia Higgs and Dinesh Loganathan on their election to Council.  I know each of you will make valuable contributions to the Law Society and I look forward to working with you over the coming year.

I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of outgoing Council members Kirsten Siejka, Philippa Willshire and past President Crystal Garwood.

On Monday I had the honour of addressing the Supreme Court of Tasmania during the ceremonial sitting to welcome Her Honour Justice Tamara Jago to the Bench of the Court.  Her Honour has already had a distinguished career in the legal profession and as a Magistrate over some years and I know I speak for the whole profession when I say that Her Honour will be an asset to the Court and her appointment is a welcome one.

Executive Director Luke Rheinberger, Vice-President Amanda Thompson and I also recently met with Andrew Millhouse from the Magistrates Court to obtain an update on the preparations being made for the proclamation of the Magistrates Court Criminal & General Act 2019, which will bring about a number of practice and procedural changes in the Court.  Training and familiarisation initiatives are being arranged for the Court and the profession to facilitate a smooth transition.  You can look forward to details of these in due course.

Finally, reports of recent and proposed changes in the Law Faculty at the University of Tasmania that may potentially affect the delivery of the Bachelor of Laws and other legal education are concerning.  The University of Tasmania Law School has, for decades, enjoyed an excellent reputation throughout Australia for the quality of the academic staff, the education that students receive and the quality of the graduates it produces.  Ensuring that the Law School remains an institution of excellence and continues to be viewed as a preferred destination for students, particularly local students, is of the upmost importance in maintaining the integrity of Tasmania’s justice system.

We will be liaising with the University in the near future to better understand the proposed changes, the rationale underpinning them and to air any concerns the profession may have.


Simon Gates