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President's Report - February

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.


2017 marks the Society's 90th anniversary.

The Society's history dates back to 15 June 1927, when about 30 legal practitioners gathered for a meeting in the Supreme Court library presided over by the Master of the Supreme Court, Mr Thomas Frederick Davies.

A motion that "an Association of Legal Practitioners of Western Australia be formed" was moved by Mr Thomas Davy (later Attorney-General of Western Australia). The motion was seconded by Mr Michael Lavan. After a short discussion in which Mr Kott, Mr Nicholson and others joined, the motion was put and carried unanimously.

Sir Walter James KC, a former Premier and Attorney-General of Western Australia, was elected as the Society's first President at the Society's first annual general meeting on 3 October 19271. By then, the Society had 75 town and 21 country members.

While their precise formulation has changed since first adopted 1927, the Society's core objects have remained consistent over the past nine decades. Distilled to their essence, they are: advancing the interests of the legal profession; promoting good practice and curbing malpractice; advancing legal education; promoting the administration of justice and the development and improvement of the law; and encouraging collegiality.

These objects reflect the pillars on which the Society has rested since 1927. And while some objects occasionally require more attention than others, a regular and sustained focus on each is essential to ensure that the Society remains both effective and relevant.

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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 - 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 - October - 04 October 2016

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.

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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 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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