As we all experience another week in COVID-life and start to see more and more restrictions lift, there are a few things I’d like to update and remind you of this week:
Phase 2 support for Queensland’s legal profession
Last week, QLS CEO Rolf Moses and I announced some details of ‘Phase 2’ of QLS’s support for legal practitioners. Phase 2 is able to be provided due to $750,000 funding from Queensland Law Foundation (QLF) and I’d like to thank QLF for its support of QLS, it is much appreciated
Phase 2 will see the extension of the free (to QLS full members) advice services provided through the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre. The three established advice services:
- Employment Law Assistance Service,
- General Manager Support Service and
- Government Financial Assistance Service
will now operate beyond 30 June 2020 and will continue as long as there is demand for these services. You can find more information about the eligibility criteria on our website. These advice services should assist you in making better informed business decisions at no cost to you.
In addition, the QLF Phase 2 funding will allow QLS, via our independent legal practice QLS Solicitor Support, to conduct an outreach program for small and micro practices. This will be an extension of the outreach program already underway. It will see senior QLS practice support solicitors and some QLS Senior Counsellors calling and visiting practices to help principals work through practice and professional issues that have arisen through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now ‘putting the meat on the bones’ of this outreach program that will expand QLS support to its members. Keep an eye out for more details in coming weeks.
Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
The Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 was promulgated and notified on 28 May 2020. The Explanatory Notes are available here. The purpose of the regulation is to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 and to give effect to the good faith leasing principles in the ‘National Cabinet mandatory code of conduct—SME commercial leasing principles during COVID-19’. The regulation is intended to provide relief to parties to an “affected lease” by way of a number of measures, including guiding rent reduction negotiations, providing a moratorium on evictions for non-payment and access to a dispute resolution process specifically designed for small business tenancy disputes and affected lease disputes. I’d like to extend my thanks to the Government’s for their consultation with the Society in attempting to find a balance in this regulation for both landlords and tenants. I would once again like to thank the QLS Policy team, the Ethics and Practice Centre team and our numerous Policy Committee volunteers for their extraordinary work which enabled this Regulation to be enacted.
QLS has published a short ‘explainer’ video on the QLS Facebook page about the regulation and we are currently putting together an in-depth professional development session that covers all the details of this new regulation. I hope you can join us for it.
Support when you need it
To members who have felt the full force of COVID-19 please don’t be backwards in contacting our Society for its support. There are numerous avenues of support available. Please allow us to identify which avenues will best support you. For example:
- If you have been stood down or made redundant due to COVID-19 make sure you contact our Records and Member Services team (email@example.com) and let us know you are eligible for free membership for the 2020-21 year;
- If you have yet to renew your practising certificate, our online forms will remain open until 30 June and I encourage you to renew and access the subsidies provided by the Society as part of our COVID-19 support package;
- QLF can act as a lender of last resort to QLS members experiencing extreme financial hardship. Applications can be made directly to QLF;
- As always, LawCare is an important member benefit and we have recently brought online a number of expanded services including personal financial management advice.
I encourage you to reach out to QLS for help, however you need it.
Feedback on COVID-19 Initiatives
Finally, last week we asked practitioners to let QLS know which changes to practice that have been implemented due to COVID-19 they would like to see retained and to also identify any additional changes you think would benefit the profession as we enter our ‘new normal’. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can include your ideas in our advocacy. You can find some of our initial thoughts in an article from Matt Dunn, QLS’s General Manager of Policy, Public Affairs and Governance, in this month’s Proctor magazine.
I trust you all manage a safe and efficient gradual transition back from the COVID-19 restrictions and please maintain strong connections with the Society so we can help.