Update to Profession – 3 July 2024

  • I want to thank all of those who donated to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. The Law Society’s goal was to raise the sum of $3,000.00 and we raised $4,610.00. I participated in this event in Launceston on 20 June 2024. It was challenging but I was very fortunate in that it was a mild night with the temperature dropping to 3 degrees!
  • The Executive Director, Luke Rheinberger and I participated in the Justice Forum discussions in May and June this year which have been overseen by the Attorney General and the Justice Department. The primary discussions have been around the Judicial Commission Bill. The Law Society of Tasmania supports a Judicial Commission being established in Tasmania. The Department of Justice released the draft bill on 21 June 2024 for public consultation. The draft bill is based very much on the ACT model with some amendments.
  • On 24 June 2024, the Executive Director and I had the opportunity to meet with the Shadow Attorney General, the Honourable Ms Rebecca White, at Parliament House. This was an opportunity for us to share with Ms White information about the role of the Law Society. We have made clear that we want the Labor Party to consult with us over legal matters particularly matters which concern our members and draft bills. The Labor Party continues to support mandatory sentencing in Tasmania. The position of the Law Society has not changed, and we did convey our disappointment to Ms White about the change of their position.
  • On 24 June 2024, the Executive Director, Vice President, Will Justo and I attended a meeting with representatives from the Tasmania University Law Society (TULS). This enabled us to have discussions with students about opportunities that are available for law students in the Tasmanian profession. It enabled discussions about having a more formalised process for internships, opportunities for students to work at law firms whilst they are studying and general work experience. We are also looking to assist in establishing a connection between the early career lawyer committees in each region with the TULS Committee and members.
  • The Executive Director and I remain grateful for the communication from our members in relation to issues regarding the Legal Profession Board as well as suggestions for possible change. For example, we are aware of thoughts around imposing a cost on submitting a complaint to the Legal Profession Board. That is the process in South Australia but would require amendments to the current legislation.
  • The Law Society of Tasmania has been engaging with the Department of Justice about amending the Legal Profession Act in relation to disclosure information if costs exceed $1500.00. We had recommended that this amount of be increased. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice have not accepted our submissions.
  • On 28 June 2024, I attended the quarterly meeting with Law Society Presidents from the other states and territories. This provided an opportunity for me to provide them with information as to events that had been happening in Tasmania. There remains a common theme around concerns about retention and attraction of practitioners. There was discussion also around the recommendations of Dr Warren Mundy’s report into the National Legal Assistance Partnership as well as anti-money laundering changes. Many members may be aware of the recent litigation in New South Wales where, in summary, a new insurance company was seeking to enter the market as a professional indemnity insurance provider to the legal profession without the approval of the NSW Attorney General. The case has concluded on the basis that the Attorney General must approve the insurance provider. The Law Society of New South Wales has the Orders which confirms this but are awaiting the written judgement. The president of the New South Wales Law Society has indicated that he will release the judgement to us once they have it.
  • The Executive Director and I then attended on 28 June 2024 the joint quarterly meeting with Presidents and CEOs/Executive Directors from around Australia and then participated in the Law Council of Australia directors meeting.

JULIA HIGGINS
President