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Early Career Lawyer Constitution

The Early Career Lawyer Constitution is below. It can also be downloaded as a pdf or online document.

At its meeting on Saturday 4 February Council approved the Early Career Lawyer Constitution which commenced from 4 February 2023. The Constitution brings about a nomenclature change from young lawyer to early career lawyer. It also broadens committee membership inclusiveness by removing the age requirement and extending the definition of early career lawyers to those ‘who have ten years or less post-admission experience in the legal profession’.

Constitution
[Southern] [Northern]
[North-West] Early Career Lawyers
Approved by the Council of the Law Society of Tasmania on 4 February 2023

1. Name, Aims and Responsibilities
1.1. The name of the Membership Body is [Southern] [Northern] [North-West] Early Career Lawyers (ECL).

1.2. The aims, role and responsibilities of ECL is typically to further the interests of early career lawyers and cater for the requirements, activities, issues and representations required in a given ECL year, along with other aims as it may decide, and includes:
a) a common meeting ground for early career lawyers;
b) a forum to consider and make recommendations to The Law Society of Tasmania (the Society) on issues relating to the health and wellbeing of early career lawyers;
c) a body that encourages the advancement of early career lawyers in, the legal profession;
d) a monitor of the practice of law standards, and to consider practical issues, policy proposals, reform initiatives, recommendations and the resolution of problems that may affect early career lawyers; and
e) an advocate and instigator of continual professional development opportunities in all matters of legal interest to early career lawyers in the Tasmanian legal profession.

2. Membership
2.1. All members or associate members of the Law Society of Tasmania who have ten years or less post-admission experience in the legal profession within a State or Territory of Australia are deemed to be members of ECL.

The ECL Committee
2.2. ECL is presided over by a Committee made up of members.
2.3. The Committee is the executive arm of ECL and is primarily responsible for conducting the business of ECL.
2.4. The Committee is elected at the AGM for one ECL year by present members of ECL and holds office until the election of a new Committee at the next AGM.
2.5. The Committee shall consist, at a minimum, of a President (or Co- Presidents), Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and CPD Coordinator. This executive arm of ECL shall comprise no more than 10 members, or as agreed by each regional Committee.
2.6. Nominations of candidates for election as officers of the Committee:
a) are to be delivered to the Secretary before the AGM; or
b) may be made from the floor of the AGM.
2.7. If the number of nominations received is equal to the number of vacancies to be filled, the persons nominated are duly elected.
2.8. If the number of nominations exceeds the number of vacancies to be filled, a ballot is to be held in such a manner as the Committee directs.
2.9. An outgoing President is an ex officio member of the Committee for the following year.
2.10. If a vacancy on the Committee occurs otherwise than by the completion of a committee year, the Committee may fill the vacancy in such a manner as determined by the Committee.

3. Period of Appointment of the President
3.1. The Committee is led by the President whose role includes acting as Chair of the Committee and ensuring that meetings are conducted in an orderly and productive manner having regard at all times to the functions, roles, and responsibilities of ECL as outlined here; including leading ECL in their activities.

4. The Vice-President
4.1. The Vice-President of ECL is to assist the President generally in conducting and overseeing the functions, roles and responsibilities of ECL and Committee as required from time to time.

5. The Secretary
5.1. The Secretary of ECL is to:
a) keep copies of key correspondence
b) keep the minutes and resolutions of any General Meeting, Annual General Meeting or Committee meeting;
c) keep a record of the names and addresses of all members of ECL; and
d) keep such other books as the Committee may determine.

6. The Treasurer
6.1. The Treasurer of ECL is to:
a) Work with the Society to keep an account of ECL financials and provide a financial report at the AGM; and
b) Liaise with the Society on financial matters relating to revenue raising activities of ECL and any reimbursements required.

7. Termination of Appointment (President and Committee Members)
7.1. A President or committee member can resign their position at any time.
7.2. A President or Committee member’s appointment will be terminated if that member’s practicing certificate is cancelled as a consequence of a fitness to practice matter relating to conduct.
7.3. A Committee member’s appointment may be terminated on reasonable grounds including (but not limited to) repeated and/or serious non-observance of this Constitution and Schedule 1 (or any aspect of it) and/or where the member has failed to attend three consecutive meetings in any ECL Year.
7.4. Termination of a Committee member’s appointment will occur by a general meeting by a two thirds majority of the members present voting in favour of the termination.

8. Meetings of the Committee
8.1. The Committee should meet at least bi-monthly or as determined by the Committee from time to time.
8.2. The Committee may convene a meeting at such a place, date, and hour either in-person or livestreamed as it determines and notice in writing of that place, date, and hour is to be circulated to Committee members ideally at least 7 days before that meeting.
8.3. The non-receipt by a member of a notice of a meeting does not invalidate proceedings at that meeting.
8.4. The quorum for all Committee meetings is 3. For the purposes of a quorum the President is to be counted as a member; the President has the discretion to cancel the meeting or refrain from conducting specific business and if a quorum is not present within 20 minutes of the notified time of a meeting, the members present may adjourn to a convenient future date to be notified to the members not present.
8.5. A resolution put at a meeting will be passed only if a majority of the Committee in attendance cast a vote in favour of the resolution.
8.6. Meetings of the Committee should be commenced promptly at the scheduled times, and should commence with apologies and a settling of the minutes of the previous meeting; and should with the oversight of the President remain as close to the agenda items as possible and allow members’ views to be heard to the fullest extent possible.
8.7. Minutes will be made available to Committee members, ECL members (upon request) and the Society within 2 weeks, or as reasonably timed after the conclusion of each meeting.
8.8. The Committee has the power to form such sub-groups as it thinks fit, and co-opt ECL or other Society members to such sub-groups.
8.9. At a meeting of the Committee or sub-group, each member present, including the President, or sub-group Chair, has one vote on any matter, and in the case of equality of votes, the President or sub-group Chair has the casting vote.

Resolutions by Email
8.10. The Committee may pass resolutions other than at a Committee meeting by email communications by:
a) Any Committee bearer emailing all Committee members and putting a resolution (other than one that relates to amendment of the Constitution) and inviting an email reply (copied to all members) from all Committee members, if necessary within 24 hours;
b) If the email responses represent a vote cast in favour of the resolution by at least 50% of the total number of Committee members at any one time, then the resolution is passed;
c) If a resolution is passed in accordance with the above, the Secretary shall keep a record of the same by maintaining a minute of the resolution passed by email.
d) If the resolution is not passed and remains relevant to the operation of the Committee, any member of the Committee may ask the Secretary to put the resolution on the Agenda at the next Committee meeting. At such time, a further vote will be taken on the resolution.

9. Special Meetings
9.1. The Secretary is to convene a Special Meeting:
a) on receipt of a request in writing signed by 8 or more ECL members; or
b) on a resolution of the Committee.
9.2. A Special Meeting is to be held not less than ten days and not more than 21 days from the date on which the Secretary receives notice of the request or resolution.
9.3. The Secretary is to give seven days’ notice in writing to each ECL member with that notice stating the business of the Special Meeting.
9.4. The quorum at any Special Meeting is:
9.4.1. South [fill in number]
9.4.2. North [fill in number]9.4.3. North-West[fill in number]9.5. If a quorum is not present within half an hour after the time appointed for a meeting, the meeting is to be adjourned to a day and time, in the following week, to be fixed by a majority of the members present.
9.6. Clauses 8.5, 8.6, 8.8 and 8.10 apply to Special Meetings with necessary modification.

10. Annual General Meeting
10.1. The AGM is to be held in April, at such place, date and hour as the committee determines, and the elected Committee will take office from the new committee year which commences on 1 May.
10.2. The sitting Committee remains in office until the conclusion of the current committee year on 30 April.
10.3. The notice of the AGM, circulated at least 21 days before the AGM to all ECL members, must specify the general nature of the business, being:
a) The last day for the receipt of nominations to the Committee.
b) The election of the Committee.
c) The receipt of the Annual and Financial Reports.
10.4. Business is not to be transacted at an AGM unless a quorum of 25% of the total number of ECL members is present or has provided a proxy in a form approved by ECL to a member present at that meeting either by hand or by email.
10.5. Members may vote at the AGM on any proposed resolution in person or by proxy.
10.6. If a quorum of members is not present within 30 minutes from the time appointed for an AGM, the meeting is to be adjourned to the same day, time and place in the following week, or to such day, time and place in the following week, as the President determines.
10.7. In the absence of the President, ECL members present at the AGM meeting may elect a member at the meeting to be the Chairperson of that meeting.

11. Money
11.1. Funds generated by ECL activities remain funds of the Society.
11.2. The Society will keep a separate ledger of the ECLs income, expenditure and the total funds that result.
11.3. The Committee may reach an agreement with the Society in respect of the use of any of these funds.
11.4. Expenditure over $100 must be authorised by the Treasurer and one other Committee member.
11.5. Reimbursements for endorsed expenditure is to be approved by the Committee and forwarded to the Society for processing.

12. Proposed Alteration of the Constitution
12.1. Any proposed alteration of the Constitution must be approved by the Society.


Schedule 1- Charter

A. Early Career Lawyers Membership Body
a) An Early Career Lawyers membership body (ECL) is established in each region of Tasmania – the south, north and north-west.
b) Each regional ECL promotes the interests of early career lawyers of the Tasmanian legal profession in their region and meets regularly throughout the year to discuss issues relevant to early career lawyers and soon to be admitted practitioners/graduates; and liaises with the Society to develop initiatives that address these matters.
c) Each regional ECL is also involved in organising social networking activities for the local profession, including continuing professional development, for early career lawyers.

B. ECL Year and Meetings
a) The ECL Year formally commences on 1 May and ends on 30 April.
b) Each Committee is encouraged to meet at least bi-monthly, and to bring together its general members as often as practicable throughout an ECL year to achieve ECL objectives (including social).
c) Any member can request to attend a meeting of the elected Committee and request agenda items to be included on any issue of interest. Invited members have no voting rights at these meetings.

C. ECL Aims, Role and Responsibilities
The aims, role and responsibilities of ECL is typically to further the interests of early career lawyers and cater for the requirements, activities, issues and representations required in a given ECL year, along with other aims as it may decide, and includes:
a) a common meeting ground for early career lawyers;
b) a forum to consider and make recommendations to the Society on issues relating to the health and wellbeing of early career lawyers;
c) a body that encourages and provides for the entry into, and advancement, of early career lawyers in the legal profession;
d) a monitor of the practice of law standards, and to consider practical issues, policy proposals, reform initiatives, recommendations and the resolution of problems that may affect early career lawyers; and
e) an advocate and instigator of continual professional development opportunities in all matters of legal interest to early career lawyers in the Tasmanian legal profession.
And
f) Will endeavour to draft at least 1 article per annum on current issues relating to early career lawyers for publication through the Society’s media (e.g., the Law Letter); and
g) Present in writing, an activity report to the Society on bi-annual basis. The activity report should summarise the membership body’s activities and accomplishments, and/or new objectives, and should address each of the above in so far as is possible/relevant; and
h) Provide an annual report of Committee activities for inclusion in the Society’s Annual Report.

D. Binding Nature of the Charter (Schedule 1)
a) Prior to joining a regional ECL, a potential member must read the Early Career Lawyers Constitution (the Constitution) and this Schedule 1 (the Charter).
b) Notice of this requirement is to be included in an ECL invitation to join.
c) Those persons joining ECL, and nominating to the Committee, agree to abide by and uphold the Constitution and Charter throughout the term of their membership.
d) The confidentiality provisions of this Charter are enduring.

E. President, Committee and ECL Role and Responsibilities President and Committee Member
a) Consistent with the Constitution, Charter and Society functions, policies and strategic plans, the primary role of ECL President and Committee is to lead their ECL in fulfilling its role as set out here (refer C above).
b) The President and Committee is accountable to the Society for the output of their respective ECL. The President and Committee are to work with the Society in relation to procedures to assist in ECL efficiency and productivity.
c) The President and Committee are responsible for:
i. Attending meetings, directing discussion and tasking members of ECL where necessary.
ii. Settling the minutes of each meeting and having them distributed to the members prior to the next meeting of ECL.
iii. Overseeing any agreed actions flowing from each meeting.
iv. Representing the Society (in person or by delegation), when requested by the Society.
v. Drafting (or delegating to another ECL member) an ECL bi-annual activity report for the Society.
d) The Society will arrange for newly appointed Presidents to attend an induction/training session in the first weeks of each ECL year (May/June), with session topics to include the conduct of meetings, monitoring of performance, relevant procedures and ECL advisory role to the Society.
e) Presidents and Committee members should be prepared to commit a minimum of one day per month to progressing ECL aims, roles and responsibilities.

ECL Member
ECL members agree to abide by this Charter and assume the member role and responsibilities set out here. It is the responsibility of ECL members to:
a) Inform themselves of ECL functions, aims and responsibilities.
b) Notify of apologies to enable ECL or President to determine whether quorum requirements are likely to be met.

Committee Member
a) Undertake and attend to tasks determined by the needs of ECL and contribute to the fulfilment of ECL functions, aims and responsibilities.
b) Attend and actively participate at Committee and ECL meetings.
c) Act within the parameters of the functions, aims and responsibilities delegated by the Society.
d) Focus on early career lawyer best interests rather than on personal or constituent interests.
e) Participate fully in decision-making through the expression of their considered views on the matter being discussed; by exercising their right to vote on those matters put to the vote in the Committee.
f) Offer their resignation from the Committee should they be consistently unable to meet their responsibilities due to work or other commitments.

Active Service
Committee members are expected to engage in Active Service throughout the duration of their appointment. This means regular attendance and the missing of no more than three meetings consecutively. Members who are regularly absent (or who are absent for three consecutive meetings or more) may not be considered as having provided Active Service.

F. Social and Continuing Professional Development Activities
a) Each regional ECL is to encourage and progress social networking activities for the local profession with a focus on early career lawyers; and
b) As part of the continuing professional development program (CPD) for early career lawyers, and subject to resourcing constraints/in partnership with the Society:
i. facilitate continuing professional development learning opportunities for early career lawyers such as seminars;
ii. organise an annual forum with the Society President for sharing issues/matters of importance and relevance to early career lawyers; and
iii. assist in the facilitation of at least twice-yearly informal get-togethers with senior members of the legal profession for mentoring/guidance and general discussions on matters pertaining to early career lawyers.

G. Confidentiality
a) All ECL members are expected to observe strict rules of confidentiality with respect to ECL business. They must be aware that from time to time:
i. they may be asked to consider and comment on highly sensitive documents released to the Society by government and other authorities;
ii. they may be asked to consider draft policy proposals intended for debate within ECL which should not be presumed to reflect approved Society policy; and
iii. they may have before them information which may affect the reputation and livelihood of legal practitioners and other members of ECL.

H. Media
The President of the Society is the primary spokesperson for the Society. In the interests of consistency of the Society’s position ECL President, Committee and members should not, in their capacity as a President, Committee or ECL member, communicate with the media unless specifically requested and/or authorised by the Society. Writing may include by way of electronic communication such as text or email. A Social Media Policy is to be developed by the ECL and endorsed by the Society.

I. Submissions
Any submissions for reform or advocacy made on behalf of the Society are to be sent out co-signed with the Society President’s or Executive Director’s hand unless otherwise authorised in writing.

J. Guests
ECL is encouraged to invite experts or visitors to make presentations to them on any issue of interest. ECL may have at their meetings regular or ad hoc guests, who are not members of the Society but represent an important stakeholder group, organisation or otherwise bring relevant perspectives and expertise to matters under consideration. Guests have no voting rights at meetings.

K. Reporting
Minutes of ECL meetings may be reviewed by the Society at any time. It is the responsibility of each ECL President to ensure that ECL submits Annual General Meeting minutes, General Meeting minutes, and Committee meeting minutes to the Society after each meeting, accordingly. This ensures that the Society is aware of the work of ECL.