Responding to COVID-19 has impacted much of the way we practice law on a day to day basis. The need to isolate and respect social distancing has challenged the operation of our institutions in a way little had prepared us for.
There is no manual of standard procedures for responding to a pandemic, but the response of the Queensland legal profession and the courts has been extraordinary despite the challenges we have faced. Our courts have continued to operate and our firms have kept their doors open to assist Queenslanders needing legal help.
Now, with the easing of restrictions, we are on the road out of COVID-19. An important milestone is soon to be reached heralding in the start of the new ‘normal’ for the courts. On Monday 15 June when Practice Direction No 5 of 2020 commences in the Magistrates Court and matters will resume in a more familiar format with physical attendance before the courts across the State, assisted by technology for cases that need it and all the time respecting social distancing. In the Supreme Court, the amended Practice Direction 9 of 2020 will see admission ceremonies recommence in person from 27 July 2020, with measures to accommodate social distancing and keeping people safe. This is just the start of the second wave of altered arrangements to keep the justice system operating in Queensland.
The partnership between the profession, the courts and their administration and Government has been excellent throughout the pandemic and will continue as we navigate the road out. COVID-19 will mean different things to all of us when it is over but we will have all risen to the challenge of serving the public good with distinction.
President, Queensland Law Society
This story was originally published in Proctor June 2020.