President’s Report – September
Reconciliation Action Plan
I am pleased to report that the Law Society’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2017-2019 has received endorsement from Reconciliation Australia. Innovate RAP is the next stage of the RAP process, acknowledging and building upon the work undertaken by the Society over the past two years through its Reflect RAP.
The Society’s RAP is an expression of our commitment to promoting respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, contributing to increasing Indigenous representation in the legal profession and developing the discourse around legal issues which adversely affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples disproportionately.
The Society is proud to have achieved some important goals during its Reflect RAP journey over the past two years. The Society has established a RAP Working Group, started its ‘Closing the Gap’ strategic campaign and developed Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country protocols for Society events.
During 2016-2017, as a part of the Society’s ‘Closing the Gap’ strategic campaign, nine policy statements were published relating to issues contributing to the increasing incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Western Australia, and responses were requested from major political parties. The policy statements are available at lawsocietywa.asn.au/law-reform-and-advocacy/#closing-the-gap.
Recruitment and procurement policies have been developed to ensure that it is known that the Society welcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants and considers Indigenous-owned companies when conducting business, while the Society’s induction pack for new employees now includes information regarding our RAP and associated activities.
I would like to thank the Society’s RAP Working Group for leading the development of the RAP, and Reconciliation Australia for working with the Society in helping to shape our priorities for the next two years. I encourage all members to familiarise themselves with Innovate RAP, to help implement it proactively and to continue our reconciliation journey together.
Innovate RAP may be accessed at lawsocietywa.asn.au/reconciliation-action-plan.
Proposed Constitutional amendments
As members would by now be aware, last year Council established the Law Society of Western Australia Constitution Review Working Group. The Working Group was tasked with reviewing the Society’s Constitution in light of the recently enacted Associations Incorporation Act 2015 WA. As part of the review, the Working Group also considered a variety of other matters, including the composition and size of Council, and prepared a series of proposed amendments.
The Society encourages members to provide their feedback before a final version of the draft amendments is presented to Council for consideration ahead of the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 7 November 2017.
A note summarising some of the proposed changes was provided recently via Friday Facts. The full suite of proposed amendments may be viewed on the members section of the Society’s website at members.lawsocietywa.asn.au.
Members may provide any views or comments regarding the proposed changes by email to email@example.com before 5pm on Monday, 11 September 2017.
In the context of the provision of legal services, the terms ‘unbundling’ or ‘unbundled’ concern the performance of legal work relating to discrete events or tasks associated with a legal matter as distinct from the performance of all legal work in respect of the matter. How ‘unbundling’ occurs in individual cases is a question for the practitioner and the client to agree.
I am pleased to advise that as part of the Society’s strategic focus on the Future of the Legal Profession, the Society has recently published a set of guidelines on unbundling.
The guidelines may be accessed at lawsocietywa.asn.au/resource-centre/resources-and-guidelines.
Quality Practice Standard
At the August meeting of Council, a report was tabled containing conclusions and recommendations arising from a strategic review of the Society’s Quality Practice Standard (QPS).
In consequence of the report, Council considered that the QPS scheme has potential to be a high value education service that will respond to members’ needs in a variety of ways including in the tendering for certain types of work, compliance with certain financial providers’ requirements, providing marketing benefits and compliance with certain risk management requirements for the Society’s Professional Standards Scheme.
The QPS committee has accordingly recommenced granting and renewing QPS accreditations.
An operational review of the QPS scheme will also be undertaken with a view to ensuring that the scheme adequately responds to members’ needs. The operational review will be performed in consultation with the QPS Committee, the Professional Standards Committee and the Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee. It is intended that a report reflecting any conclusions and recommendations arising from the review will be presented to Council for consideration by 30 June 2018.
Nominate for Council
Nominations for election to the Society’s Council for 2018 will open in October. The annual elections for Council provide members with an opportunity to become more deeply involved in the work of the Society.
Council sets the strategic direction for the Society, ensures good governance and, with the assistance of the Society’s committees, acts as the voice of the legal profession through submissions and regular cooperation with government, the courts and other bodies.
Nomination forms will be sent to eligible members electronically in early October. I encourage all members to consider nominating for a position on the Council. Look out for further information on the Council elections in the coming weeks.