Welcome to the Queensland Law Society Annual report 2010-11



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Welcome to the Queensland Law Society Annual report 2010-11 your voice…our vision, which has been made available in a text format for vision-impaired practitioners.

This Word document is divided into five sections, specifically a contents section, overview, Queensland Law Society Incorporated, Law Claims Levy Fund and Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund. Items in the contents section are hyperlinked to the relevant article within the document.

Each section is preceded by three hash marks ###, and each item within each section is preceded by three plus signs +++.

This document does not contain any graphics or photos.

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Contents section­

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Section 1: Queensland Law Society overview
Item 1: About Queensland Law Society

Item 2: Our highlights 2010/11

Item 3: President’s review

Item 4: Chief Executive Officer’s review

Item 5: A work in progress

Item 6: Our members

Item 7: Representing our members

Item 8: Professional guidance on ethics

Item 9: Using technology to enhance our member offering

Item 10: Dispute Management Centre/Authorised Nominating Authority

Item 11: Practice support

Item 12: Professional development

Item 13: Regional workshops

Item 14: Specialist accreditation

Item 15: Business supporters

Item 16: Recognising achievement

Item 17: Supporting our regional members

Item 18: The 2010/11 floods: Fraser District Law Association

Item 19: The 2010/11 floods: Downs & South-West Law Association

Item 20: The future of the profession: Students and new and early career lawyers

Item 21: Supporting the community

Item 22: Our focus – the environment

Item 23: Our people

Item 24: Our Sections and Committees

Item 25: Our corporate governance

Item 26: ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations

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Section 2: Queensland Law Society Incorporated

Item 1: Statement of Comprehensive Income for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 2: Statement of Financial Position as at 30 June 2011

Item 3: Statement of Changes in Equity for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 4: Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 5: Notes to and forming part of the Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 6: Declaration of Queensland Law Society Incorporated

Item 7: Independent Auditor’s Report

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Section 3: Law Claims Levy Fund

Item 1: Statement of Comprehensive Income for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 2: Statement of Financial Position as at 30 June 2011

Item 3: Statement of Changes in Equity for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 4: Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 5: Notes to and forming part of the Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 6: Declaration of Law Claims Levy Fund Incorporated

Item 7: Independent Auditor’s Report

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Section 4: Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund

Item 1: Statement of Comprehensive Income for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 2: Statement of Financial Position as at 30 June 2011

Item 3: Statement of Changes in Equity for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 4: Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 5: Notes to and forming part of the Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2011

Item 6: Declaration of Legal Practitioner’s Fidelity Guarantee Fund

Item 7: Independent Auditor’s Report

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Section 1: Queensland Law Society overview

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About Queensland Law Society

Queensland Law Society is the professional association representing Queensland’s legal practitioners.

This year, our membership has grown to more than 11,400 members – comprising lawyers, future lawyers and those with an abiding interest in our profession.

The Society is incorporated under an Act of Parliament – the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) – and is governed by a Council, which is elected by the membership.

While the Society is defined as a statutory body in the Financial Accountability Act 2009 (Qld), it remains an independent professional body, subject to the governance of its elected Council. The Attorney-General is represented by a nominee who is a Queensland solicitor in private practice.

The Society is funded by a number of sources, including annual fees paid by members.

In addition to specific statutory responsibilities relating to the regulation of solicitors in Queensland, the Society leads the profession’s knowledge development and exchange through its extensive professional development offering. It guides legislation through advocacy, and provides comprehensive services and support to its members and the community.

OUR VISION

To be the leading legal professional membership association in Australia.



OUR MISSION

To provide leadership in law to our membership, stakeholders and the community through the provision of relevant, high quality services, products and information, and through effective advocacy on issues


affecting the profession.

OUR VALUES

Respect we will value people and acknowledge their contributions.

Integrity we will be honest and fair in all our actions.

Service we will work together to anticipate needs, exceed expectations and honour commitments.

© 2011 Queensland Law Society

Queensland Law Society aims to provide accessible services to all Queenslanders. If you require assistance in understanding the Annual Report, please contact us on 07 3842 5842 for assistance or referral to interpreter services.

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Our highlights 2010/11

Queensland Law Society represents the majority of Queensland’s solicitors, providing the State with leadership in law through support of the legal profession, advocacy of legal issues and commitment to building the profile of solicitors and the law. The 2010/11 financial year was a year of preparation for several major strategic initiatives, ongoing membership growth and leveraging our advocacy strength on issues affecting members. Our financial results reflect this consolidation with revenue marginally higher than last year and expenditure focused on providing a platform for enhanced member services.



Financial highlights

Our consolidated results include the Society’s membership activities, insurance activities (through Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd and Law Claims Levy Fund) and the regulatory responsibilities Queensland Law Society carries out under legislative requirements.



Parent entity, Queensland Law Society Incorporated

Queensland Law Society (the parent entity) reported an operating surplus of $1.158m compared to the prior year’s adjusted operating surplus of $1.059m.

Overall revenues were in line or ahead of the prior year after adjusting for the one-off ‘capital’ payment received from the Law Foundation of Queensland last year (approx. $2.4m) relating to the refurbishment of Law Society House. Overall attendance and revenue at seminars and events increased during the year, despite the difficult conditions.

We continued our emphasis on managing controllable costs, which in the main were maintained or reduced from the prior year.



Net assets of the parent entity are $49.7m, up from $48.6m the prior year. Excluding the value of the building and investment in Lexon, adjusted net assets are approximately $4.7m. These retained surpluses are being utilised to deliver major strategic projects for members, for example implementation of a new member relationship management system which will enable the Society to deliver tailored information to members. We also need to have appropriate reserves to deal with any changes which may flow from the National Legal Profession Reform implementation.

Insurance scheme (comprising Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd and Law Claims Levy Fund)

  • The insurance scheme reported a surplus of $7.9m compared to $10.1m for 2009/10. This is attributed to a reduction in collected insurance levies as a result of the reduced levy rates.

  • The QLS levies are at their lowest since the introduction of the Gross Fee Income model in 2007/08.

  • The first half of the year saw an increase in the number of claims reported, however this was offset by a slower second half. The overall claims and notifications were broadly in line with the last four years’ numbers.

  • The insurance scheme has in place an investment policy statement which provides a framework for managing the investment portfolio. Throughout the year the scheme maintained more than 70percent of investments in income securities, with the balance in equities, credit and property.

  • The scheme reported returns of 6.3percent from income securities and 8.4percent from equities, credit and property, giving a combined result of 6.9percent. The results were dampened due to the fourth quarter results which generated a return of 0.1percent, largely due to the global downturn in the equity markets.

  • While we hold a largely defensive portfolio, our equity funds have not been immune to the falling markets. A large portion of our non-equity portfolio is income-based and moves favourably when there are expectations of interest rate decreases, and our portfolio has benefited from this this year. Other elements of our portfolio do not directly move with interest rate expectations or equity market movements. The overall impact is a decline in the value of our investment portfolio of approximately two percent since 30 June 2010.

Our member services and operational highlights

In 2010/11 Queensland Law Society surpassed the previous year’s results in a number of areas. These results are due to careful planning, building staff capability, focusing on member benefits and maintaining a determination to succeed. This year:

  • Membership reached a record number of 11,351 comprising 8,501 full members, 546 associate members and 2,304 student members

  • Student membership has increased by almost 14percent bringing it to a total of 2,304 as of 30 June 2011 which represents 20percent of all QLS members

  • Female legal practitioners represent 45.7percent of membership at the end of the year. In 2001 QLS membership consisted of only 28percent of female members and 15 years ago only 24.4percent

  • 11percent of all full members are sole practitioners, 43percent are employed in a legal firm, nine percent work in corporate and 2.6percent are Government lawyers

  • 713 new legal practitioners have been admitted to practice this financial year

  • More than half the Society’s full members are under 39 years of age

  • 9,021 practising certificates were issued, up from 8,590 in 2009/10, a five percent increase year on year

  • We advocated on major issues for members, including Moynihan reforms, e-conveyancing, elder abuse, workers compensation reforms and franchising law

  • Professional development included 14 major conferences, 65 seminars and workshops and nine regional workshops with a total of 6,425 people in attendance, up nine percent on last year. Our flagship event, the Vincents’ 49th Annual Symposium, attracted 757 attendees

  • The Call Centre and Records department answered 79,447 member and public inquiries

  • We supported 2,992 ethics inquiries

  • Our electricity usage reduced by 53percent since 2008/09 as a result of our refurbishment

  • Saw our online renewals results radically increase with 3,929 members taking advantage of the convenient, easy-to-use process

  • We secured keynote presentations by leading world expert on pro bono practice, Ms Esther Lardent, (President and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute, Washington DC) and The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG at the 4th Annual Gold Coast Symposium

  • 23 practitioners completed specialist accreditation in the areas of Business Law, Criminal Law, Commercial Litigation, Workplace Relations and Immigration Law. 88 candidates were accepted into the Family Law, Personal Injuries Law, Property Law, Succession and Taxation Law specialist accreditation programs

  • 4,700 members (over 1,100 practices) signed up to the Queensland Law Society Limitation of Liability scheme in its first full year.

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President’s review

The 2010/11 financial year has been a year of achievements, despite natural disasters and tough economic conditions. This year, Queensland Law Society has sought out and put in place plans to address what members need from their Society. This followed extensive statewide research, heeding ‘Your voice’ as we look ahead to the National Legal Profession Reform to determine and work towards ‘Our vision’. The Society has consolidated a firm foundation to prepare for the changes ahead. Members can be confident that their Society will not only assist them with the business of law, but help them deliver quality legal services


to their clients.

Lessons of testing times

In 2010/2011 a summer of natural disasters saw many members and legal practices bearing the brunt of unprecedented flooding and cyclonic devastation. However, careful organisation and planning, professional resilience and the provision of assistance to those in need helped us overcome adversity.

Queensland’s solicitors rose to the challenge to help their colleagues and their community when major flooding and Cyclone Yasi left people without homes, transport or a place to work. A number of law firms across the State were significantly affected, either because of physical damage or impacts to the surrounding community preventing the normal functioning of their businesses. Queensland Law Society was central to rallying support for disaster-affected practitioners and residents. I particularly thank the many members who gave generously of their time and money to support disaster-affected residents and colleagues.

These natural disasters were a double blow for some practices serving the slower part of Queensland’s ‘two speed economy’. I heard from many practitioners about the difficulties of sustaining practice, particularly in the tourism-dependent areas of our State.

The Society is committed to ensuring that members do not have to bear the burdens of tough times alone. A major focus of our conferences and regional workshops has been to assist members to recognise and deal with depression. Queensland Law Foundation has sponsored regional sessions and provided financial assistance to members in need through the Queensland Solicitors Benevolent Fund.

Our professional indemnity insurer, Lexon, has also visited most Queensland legal practices, helping members to manage their practice risk.



Listening and leading

Recent member research told us how much members value Queensland Law Society’s ethical support and policy advocacy.

The voice of the Queensland Law Society was heard clearly and often this year. We have been forceful contributors to the National Legal Profession Reform process, particularly showing leadership in the development of the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules.

Our respected voice regularly benefits members and the community. For example, Queensland Law Society successfully sought concessions by the Office of State Revenue that benefited stamp duty self-assessors in the aftermath of the summer of natural disasters. Another example of our effective advocacy is the fair objection process that landholders now enjoy under land valuation legislation.

The publication of our first Advocacy Annual highlights the effective work of our policy lawyers and committees with 193 submissions produced this year.

Our policy focus is not limited to this State. We were part of a national campaign that resulted in the largest increase in Commonwealth legal assistance funding in 15 years in 2010/2011. We also hosted the successful third National Access to Justice Pro Bono Conference in August 2010 which supported this important focus of the profession.

Although we are Queensland based, Council recognises the impact of globalisation, and the need to engage in our region, both to develop trade and promote human rights. The Society takes a leading role in this arena by hosting and supporting the LAWASIA secretariat at Law Society House.

Enhanced corporate governance

We have made substantial progress in building a strong and robust corporate governance framework for the Society. As a result of the hard work of Council, the Society is, for the first time, able to report against the ASX Corporate Governance guidelines. These guidelines set the national standard for corporate governance, providing a principle-based framework that has practical application for organisations like Queensland Law Society. It enables us to assess our professional performance in terms of corporate direction and management,


setting and achieving strategic objectives, risk management and ongoing performance improvements.

Over the last 12 months, Council focused on continuing to strengthen the governance framework of the Society. These initiatives allow Council, committees and staff to measure our performance against these guidelines. For the first time, Council and Committee Charters give clarity and focus to these essential elements of our Society’s governance.

Following Premier Anna Bligh’s new ministerial appointments in March 2011, we farewelled our former Attorney-General Cameron Dick and welcomed the new Attorney-General Paul Lucas, who is also Deputy Premier, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State. We have established a positive and productive working relationship with Mr Lucas who, as a former solicitor, is well-versed with the challenges facing our profession.

I have been fortunate to travel widely across our State and enjoyed the opportunity of talking with many of our members at conferences, workshops and Court ceremonies. I have had the privilege of representing the profession in ceremonies and meetings with heads of all jurisdictions, State and Federal. The Supreme Court of Queensland celebrated its sesquicentenary in 2011 under the energetic leadership of Chief Justice Paul de Jersey with many legal practitioners celebrating this great milestone.



This year’s achievements would not have been possible without my fellow Council members, particularly immediate past President Peter Eardley. I sincerely thank them for their commitment and support. On behalf of Council I also thank Chief Executive Officer Noela L’Estrange, the management team and all QLS staff for their hard work and dedication. Finally, I express my appreciation to members for the opportunity of leading a Society of which we can all be proud.



Bruce Doyle
President

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Chief Executive Officer’s review

The beginning of 2011 certainly took everyone by surprise with floods and cyclones crashing through our State leaving a wake of destruction. However the profession responded in an outstanding manner with the establishment of Queensland Flood and Cyclone Legal Help, to coordinate pro bono referral services. For much of last year the impact of the GFC continued to be felt with a flat Queensland economy struggling to recover. After conducting member research to hear ‘Your voice’, ‘Our vision’ was to put strategies in place in 2010/11 to make access to our services easier and more convenient and ensure they delivered superior value. This year we were delighted that our member floor at Law Society House was in continuous use, particularly the mediation and member meeting rooms.



Our financial performance

In 2010/11 we aimed to maximise our financial performance and ensure enhanced member value by increasing process efficiencies. We achieved this by accomplishing key strategic objectives such as establishing a corporate governance framework that provides a ‘best fit’ compliance regime for the Society, reviewing and enhancing business processes and reporting throughout the organisation, and establishing metrics and price points to ensure we offer the best value products and services to members.

Queensland Law Society achieved $1.158m in surplus, which will be invested into future services that reflect members’ needs as identified from recent research. This result was achieved with a modest membership fee increase, maintaining 2009/10 pricing for the first half of the year for conference and seminars, and effectively managing costs. While there was a modest increase in staff costs, this was largely driven by a small increase in full-time staff and investment in professional development in keeping with building our capability.

Queensland Law Society Incorporated, as a group, reported a comprehensive income for the year of $9m, comprising $1.1m from the Society and $7.9m from insurance activities (which includes the Law Claims Levy Fund). The insurance scheme reported a strong result achieved while reducing premiums and introducing an enhanced management review discount. The rates were again the lowest since the introduction of the Gross Fee Income model in 2007/08. This demonstrates the commitment of the insurance scheme to keeping rates as low as possible while maintaining appropriate solvency ratios.



Resilience in the profession

After the devastation of the January floods and Cyclone Yasi, the Society was central to coordinating Flood and Cyclone Legal Help.



This service helped thousands of Queenslanders with initial post-flood legal information and we saw first-hand the value of the profession’s pro bono work, when non-profit and government organisations worked together on one of the biggest legal aid campaigns ever mounted in Queensland. Hundreds of legal volunteers joined pro bono panels operating at community recovery centres throughout Queensland with many firms volunteering pro bono referral services. A number of practices sustained damage themselves but continued to operate from borrowed space at other practices, Law Society House, or makeshift offices in their homes. It was heartening to see members across the State pulling together to support each other and their communities and my sincere gratitude goes out to everyone involved.

National Legal Profession Reform

Keeping our members up to date and fully informed on the National Legal Profession Reform has been a major priority for the Society. The reform aims to provide consistency in the law governing the profession and promote national ethical and professional standards.

Representing the Queensland legal profession as part of the national Consultative Group, I have been a keen proponent of ensuring the change to a national system benefits our members and that there is a smooth transition with minimal administrative and financial impacts to practitioners.

The National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce submitted the revised Bill to the Federal Attorney-General in December and we await the form the legislation will take. Queensland Law Society will continue to work to ensure that the full implications of the new system are made public, so that the profession is fully aware of what the change means.

National reform took a step forward in June when the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules were endorsed by the Law Council of Australia. These rules provide a common set of professional obligations and ethical principles and Queensland Law Society’s Ethics Centre was a primary contributor to their development. Our involvement has helped ensure the new rules are practical, relevant and support our members in the honourable practice of law.

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