Dr Andrew Lu OAM, Curator Professional Development, The Law Society of Western Australia
The altruism that fuels lawyers to give pro bono legal advice and continue a tradition of voluntary and honorary service in the community is the same generosity of spirit that sees very experienced and busy people, from different sizes of practice and across the State, offer to speak, chair or facilitate for the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development programme. They donate this expertise. Some decision makers have confessed to me that it is in their interests to encourage better advocacy or submissions that help them reach a decision, and legal practitioners have told me that speaking for a seminar forces them to get out and market their skills to help grow their personal brands.
We all know the legal profession is collegial but competitive. Lawyers seek practical solutions, the best value for their investment of time and money, and flexibility. Among younger lawyers, there is a general awareness that the legal services industry is changing so rapidly with mergers and demergers, consolidation, and disruption, that it is difficult to know how best to future-proof a legal career.
One theme is constant, and that is the importance of communication. Our education themes come directly from our consultation with members, audiences and our wider profession. The broader overview that specialist in-house training may not provide, practice management and professional skills training in mental health, resilience, diversity and inclusion across all dimensions, mindfulness, ethical decision-making based real life examples or popular culture, and the art of negotiation, have all been offered as part of the Law Society’s core CPD programme.
Taking inspiration from others who have taken sabbaticals from practice to decompress and plan, I have used my time at the Law Society to engage, to think about how the bigger issues impact on what I do now and want to do in the future, and how to do things better. I have connected and worked with some of Perth’s most respected lawyers through our shared commitment to Continuing Professional Development. The convergence point for all branches of the legal profession is education, and learning from each other truly makes it Continuing Professional Development. We are all looking for ways to deliver and communicate value, to form meaningful professional partnerships, and to support the esteem and integrity of the profession.