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President's Report - October

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Mental Health Week falls between 8 and 15 October, with 'Act-Belong-Commit' and a focus on suicide prevention as the official theme, so it is appropriate that this issue of Brief focuses on health and wellbeing.

Members of the legal profession are more likely than many other professional groups to be affected by the pressures that arise in the workplace or in family life. A significant body of research evidences that legal practitioners and law students are at significant risk of depression, with competitive work cultures and a focus on perfectionism being just some of the contributing factors. Whether our profession attracts people who have a predilection for depression or whether our professional culture is causative is not clear, and I would suggest not important. Either way there are elements of our professional culture that can exacerbate or act as a trigger for depression and our focus needs to be on these concerns.

In 2011, the Society produced its Report on Psychological Distress and Depression in the Legal Profession, through which we sought to understand and formulate responses to mental health and wellbeing issues in our profession. Following that Report, the Society's Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee was established and has since assisted in the implementation of that Report's recommendations.

In 2015 the Council asked the Society's Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee to undertake a review of the recommendations in the 2011 Report considering those recommendations current relevance and effectiveness. Other work being done around the country was also considered. It appears that we have done much to raise awareness of the issues and help to reduce the unnecessary stigma associated with mental health issues. However, all of the available evidence shows that the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing issues remains high and these are the focus of the new recommendations, which the Society will now focus on. These will again be reviewed in 2020. You can find these under the 'Resources and Guidelines' section of the Society's website.

For further research into wellbeing in the legal profession, please see Causes and Consequences of Work Related Psychosocial Risk Exposure by Dr Rebecca Michalak, which can be found online at psychsafeconsulting.com.au.

Mental Health Week is a pertinent reminder that we can all contribute to a more positive atmosphere within our profession and the wider community. We know that words matter – they are our daily currency – and it costs us nothing to be kind and respectful in our dealings with other people, be they clients or colleagues.

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President's Report - July - 03 July 2017

90th Anniversary Cocktail Party I was delighted to see more than 300 members and other special guests at the Perth Town Hall on Thursday evening, 15 June, joining in celebration of the Law Society’s 90th anniversary. This glittering event was held precisely 90 years to the day after a small group of about 30 legal practitioners gathered in the old Supreme Court library^1 and resolved that "an Association of Legal Practitioners of Western Australia be formed". Over the course of nearly a century the Society has grown from these humble beginnings to become the leading, and by far the largest, organisation for members of the legal profession in this State, with a record membership this year of over 3,800.

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President's Report - June - 05 June 2017

90th anniversary of the Law Society 90 years ago this month, the Law Society of Western Australia was established. On 15 June 1927, a group of about 30 practitioners gathered in the old library of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The meeting was convened by former Premier and Attorney General of Western Australia Sir Walter James KC^1. Among those present at the meeting were some of the leading figures in the profession of the day. They included Thomas (Tad) Davy, a brilliant young lawyer and future Attorney General, and Michael Lavan, a prominent local lawyer and future King’s Counsel, who had completed a Law Degree at Trinity College, Dublin having been admitted to the Bar in Western Australia at the age of 24, in 1897^2.

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President's Report - May - 01 May 2017

Law Week 2017 May means Law Week is just around the corner. This year’s Law Week will run from 15 to 19 May. Each year, Law Week provides an opportunity to focus on the importance of law and justice in our community. It offers a chance for the profession to engage with the community and help build a shared understanding of why the Rule of Law is fundamental to our way of life. According to the Society’s records, the first ‘Law Day’ in Western Australia was held on Monday, 18 April 1983, although the Society had been active in the community before then, for example conducting lectures for schoolchildren and community groups and running the Law Museum. The March 1983 edition of Brief notes that “Law Days and Law Weeks [had] been held in other States over the past few years”, but 1983 was “the first time that such a venture [had] been held in WA.”

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President's Report - April - 02 April 2017

Western Australian Parliamentary Elections As all would by now be well aware, Western Australia underwent a change of government last month. I have written to the new Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan MLA, and to the new Attorney General, the Hon John Quigley MLA, extending the Society’s congratulations and good wishes on their respective appointments. A letter has also been sent to former Attorney General, the Hon Michael Mischin MLC, expressing the Society’s appreciation for his service and assistance. Members will have observed, from the March issue of Brief, that prior to the recent State election both the (then Coalition) government and the (then Labor) opposition provided their respective responses to the Society’s policy statements on a variety of significant matters concerning the administration of justice, the Rule of Law and the legal profession. The Society looks forward to engaging with the new Labor government in relation to a number of those matters in 2017.

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President's Report - March - 28 February 2017

High Court Appointments I was honoured to represent the Law Society on Monday, 30 January 2017 at the High Court of Australia in Canberra for the swearing-in ceremonies for the Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC and the Hon Justice James Edelman. A strong Western Australian contingent was in attendance at both ceremonies.

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President's Report - February - 31 January 2017

Welcome to the first edition of Brief for 2017. In this my first President's report, I would like to identify a few of the matters which the Society will be focused on this year. Before doing so, I wish to pay tribute to my predecessor Elizabeth Needham and express the Society's gratitude for her dedication, hard work and tireless commitment throughout her term. I also wish to thank Jason McLaurin – both for remaining at the helm of Brief for a second year and also for keeping us all engaged in 2016 with his informative (and highly entertaining) editorials.

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President's Report - December - 01 December 2016

LAW SOCIETY SUPPORTS INQUIRY INTO INCARCERATION RATE OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS The Law Society welcomed a recent announcement by the Commonwealth Government that it will initiate an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into the incarceration rate of Indigenous Australians. Members will be aware that the Law Society has consistently advocated for governments to do more to address the appalling over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our prison system. The announcement of the ALRC inquiry is a welcome development and a crucial step in confronting an issue that frankly shames our nation.

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President's Report - November - 06 November 2016

COUNCIL ELECTIONS Voting will soon open to elect the Law Society's Council for 2017. Ballot papers will be transmitted electronically by CorpVote Pty Ltd; an independent company which specialises in the planning, management and delivery of secure, independent ballots and elections for all types of organisations. Eligible members will receive ballot papers, together with instructions on how to vote, on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. Voting closes on Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

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President's Report - September - 04 September 2016

COUNCIL ELECTIONS Nominations for the Law Society's 2017 Council elections will open on 4 October 2016. The Council elections give members the opportunity to become more deeply involved in the work of the Law Society. The Council sets the strategic direction for the Law Society, ensures good governance and, with the assistance of the Law Society's committees, acts as the voice of the legal profession through submissions and regular dialogue with government and the courts. Nomination forms will be sent electronically with nominations closing on 20 October. I encourage all members to consider nominating for a position on the Council. Further information on the 2017 Council elections will be available in the coming weeks.

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President's Report - August - 01 August 2016

NEW CPD PROGRAMME LAUNCHED I am very pleased to advise members that the Law Society recently launched its Continuing Professional Development programme for September-December 2016; you should now have received a physical copy. As Convenor of the Society's Education Committee I can assure members of the profession firsthand that the programme has been designed by practitioners, for practitioners, following extensive consultation. It delivers content that is relevant and responsive to developments in the law and legal practice in Western Australia and the proceeds help support our advocacy and law reform programmes. Please visit lawsocietywa.asn.au to peruse the full range of seminars available.

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President's Report - July - 06 July 2016

REVIEW OF LAW SOCIETY'S CONSTITUTION The Society has appointed a Working Group to review its Constitution, having regard to requirements in the Associations Incorporation Act 2015. The Society's Constitution is required to comply with the new Act, which comes into operation on 1 July 2016. There is a three year period from 1 July 2016 for incorporated associations to comply with the new regime. The last detailed review of the Constitution was in 2006.

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President's Report - June - 28 June 2016

LEGAL AID MATTERS CAMPAIGN Members will no doubt be aware that the Society has joined together with the Law Council of Australia and the Law Societies and Bar Associations in other States to raise public awareness of the crisis currently facing our legal aid system. Cuts to legal assistance funding by successive governments have caused important services to shut down. Legal Aid, Community Legal Centres, domestic violence service providers and Aboriginal legal services are all under threat. The cuts have placed greater pressure on remaining services.

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President's Report - May - 28 June 2016

LAW WEEK 2016 By the time this edition of Brief reaches you, Law Week 2016 will be mere days away. As many of you will no doubt be aware, Law Week is an annual celebration of law and justice in the community. It provides an opportunity to demystify the legal system, to build a shared understanding of the role of law in society and to recognise legal practitioners who consistently contribute to the community through pro bono work.

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President's Report - April - 31 March 2016

LAW SUMMER SCHOOL Thank you to all Law Society members who were in attendance at the University Club on Friday, 26 February for Law Summer School 2016. The Law Society was thrilled to welcome an exciting array of prestigious local, national and international thought leaders, including Professor Gillian Triggs, President...

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President's Report - March - 28 February 2016

NATIONAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING The Society has resolved to support the Law Council of Australia's National Legal Assistance Funding Campaign. The campaign calls upon the Commonwealth Government to: develop a National Partnership Agreement with the States/Territories which is based on national objectives, as distinct from Commonwealth or State goals;...

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President's Report - February - 10 February 2016

Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of Brief for 2016. I look forward to working with the Executive, our new Council, the Society's staff and of course you, our valued members, throughout the year. In 2016, the Society will continue to strive to be your essential membership...

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