President’s Report – November
2016 Council Election Voting
I would like to begin this month’s President’s Report with a reminder to members about the upcoming elections of the Council of the Society. The election of the 2016 Council will be conducted electronically by CorpVote Independent Voting Services.
On Tuesday, 10 November 2015 the ballot will be provided to eligible members by email together with instructions on how to vote. The ballot will close on the election date of Tuesday, 24 November 2015.
I encourage all eligible members to make their voice heard by voting in the Council election. It is vitally important that the Council continues to be representative of the Society’s membership and helps the Society live up to its goal of being the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.
Diversity and Equality Charter
One of our current strategic campaigns is diversity and wellbeing in the profession. This edition of Brief includes an article by Jeremy Rich and Jake Lowther about their experiences of being ‘out in the law’ and the importance of LGBTIQ inclusiveness for law firms. October’s Society Club also highlighted the subject of LGBTIQ diversity within the legal profession.
Members may be aware that the Society has endorsed and adopted the Law Council of Australia’s Diversity and Equality Charter (Charter). The Charter states that the legal profession is committed to promoting diversity, equality, respect and inclusion consistent with the principles of justice, integrity, equity and the pursuit of excellence upon which the profession is founded. There is a published list of those members and entities in the legal profession who have adopted the Charter. It is an important step in publicly acknowledging the need for and embracing diversity and equality in our profession. I encourage legal practitioners and legal practices to formally adopt the Charter.
Indigenous Legal Issues Committee – Letter to the Attorney General
At the September meeting, the Council of the Society approved a draft letter to the Attorney General regarding Indigenous issues. By way of background, in September 2015, the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee (then known as the Aboriginal Lawyers Committee) and members of the Executive met with the Hon Michael Mischin MLC, Attorney General of Western Australia, at a lunch meeting of the Executive.
The Attorney General invited a letter from the Society in due course detailing the various issues discussed at the meeting. The Indigenous Legal Issues Committee has drafted a detailed letter to the Attorney General. The letter addresses a range of issues applauding the government for some strategies and policies whilst asking for further information or consideration of others. The latter included justice reinvestment strategies, funding for legal services, mandatory sentencing, remote communities and the closure of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Court.
Accreditation Committee – Family Law Practitioners’ Association Accreditation Activities
The Council has also approved a letter to the President of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Western Australia (FLPA). The letter addresses an issue raised by the Society’s Accreditation Committee (Committee).
Members of the Society who hold accreditation in family law are required to undertake 10 hours of approved activities each year, which may or may not need to be in addition to their other CPD requirements. Approved activities are allocated points by the Committee. The activities must be of sufficient rigour and substance to warrant the allocation of points.
The Society has suggested that it is desirable that as much advance notice as possible is given to prospective attendees regarding events, so that it is clear in advance if an event will attract points. This would also assist the Committee by reducing the number of individual members requesting retrospective approval of events.
Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Ethical Principles
The Society’s Ethics Committee (Committee) was asked to determine whether the Society should adopt a code of ethics or code of conduct. The view of the Committee was that a statement of ethical principles in a concise form would have appropriate educative force. The Committee was also of the view that the Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010 should be established as the Society’s Code of Ethical Conduct.
The Council has adopted the Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010, as amended from time to time, as a ‘Code of Ethical Conduct’. The Law Society of New South Wales’ ‘Statement of Ethics’ has also been adopted as a ‘Summary of Ethical Principles’. The Statement of Ethical Principles will be published on the Society’s website in due course.
Strategic Campaigns Update
The Council recently received an update on the progress of the Society’s two strategic campaigns for 2015/16, professional practice, and wellbeing, diversity and gender bias. Teams within the Society’s staff have developed strategies and gathered resources for the benefit of members, including those that are now available to access on the Society’s website.
Both campaigns are significant in both importance to the profession and in the work needed to develop and implement them. Some of the work towards these campaigns I have referred to in this month’s report and the Society looks forward to providing more detail in the coming months.
End of Year Drinks – Save the Date
I invite you to celebrate with colleagues and fellow Society members as 2015 draws to a close with our End of Year Drinks so please be sure to keep the evening of Wednesday, 2 December free. The festivities begin at 5.30pm at The Flour Factory on Queen Street, Perth. I look forward to seeing you there.