Update to Profession – 17 April 2024

  • The Law Society is officially registered for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout and will be circulating information in relation to fundraising in due course. I attended the media launch on 3 April 2024 and was interviewed by both Southern Cross television and WIN television. I was also interviewed by the Examiner. This is an opportunity for the Law Society of Tasmania to assist in raising awareness about homelessness, particularly in Tasmania as well as raising much needed funds to assist vulnerable Tasmanians.
  • On 11 April 2024, the Attorney General, Mr Guy Barnett contacted both the Executive Director, Luke Rheinberger and myself to confirm he looks forward to continuing to consult and work with the Law Society of Tasmania.
  • I was interviewed by the Examiner and an article was published on 12 April 2024 in relation to issues in Launceston concerning practitioners being able to have access to clients in the police lockup. I received a significant amount of information and feedback from practitioners within the private and public sector. I attended a meeting with Mr Tristan Bell who is the Director of Tasmanian Prison Service and had some further discussions with the Department of Justice. Mr Bell confirmed that when clients are at the police station, they are in police custody and not in the custody of Tasmanian Prison Services. Tasmania is unique in that the prison will assist and are often involved. This means that there can be challenges as to who has the custody and responsibility for clients. Mr Bell confirmed that the current procedure for lawyers to speak with clients at the Launceston Reception Prison is to organise an in-person appointment. Telephone calls were the procedure for Covid but there has been a change in practice. Mr Bell acknowledged that there is an issue when clients are in police custody and for lawyers to then have contact with clients. Once clients are transferred to the Launceston Reception Prison, clients should be able to be seen in a confidential environment. Mr Bell indicated that there had been and are ongoing discussions between police and Prison Services about the process and the option of bringing clients to the Launceston Remand Centre where they could have use of a phone to talk to lawyers. The Prison Services are looking for solutions to try and support Tasmania Police. I do acknowledge that in the Examiner article there was reference to a room being available for lawyers to talk to clients which has caused a significant amount of confusion within the profession I will seek to clarify this with Mr Bell.
  • I confirm that the Executive Director, Vice President Mr Justo, and myself met with Professor Gino Dal Pont on 16 April 2024. I firstly want to thank all those practitioners, particularly on the Northwest Coast who provided feedback to me. This was a productive meeting whereby we were able to discuss a number of options in relation to engagement by the Law Society with students in the early part of the degree, options for students who want to work and study and work placements. We are also having some discussions with TULS.
  • I confirm that the Executive Director and I attended our quarterly meeting with representatives from the Department of Justice on 16 April 2024. In summary; (i) Deputy Chief Magistrate Daly will be replaced, and it is anticipated that a temporary Magistrate will be appointed in late April. (ii) There remains ongoing discussions and more formal information will be provided to the Commonwealth in relation to the Burnie Court Complex. (iii) The Corrections component of the Justice Connect project will be launched in late July. The balance of the project is unlikely to be launched until 2026 but there remains a significant amount of active work taking place. (iv) A focus of the Department is likely to be implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry. (v) Justice will employ 11 graduates from the Legal Practice Course across the state.
  • The balance of April is going to be a very busy month for the Law Society of Tasmania. On 16, 17 and 18 April, we have the Trauma Informed Training with about 110 members registered to attend.
  • On 22 and 23 April 2024, we are hosting the leader’s forum events in Hobart and then Launceston. The Executive Director, Vice President and myself will be attending both events.
  • On 29 April 2024, the Executive Director and I will be attending the ceremonial sitting for Associate Justice Daly. I will be speaking on behalf of the Law Society of Tasmania.

JULIA HIGGINS
President