The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) along with Queensland Law Society are researching how rural, regional and suburban sole, micro, small and medium-sized law firms can better survive the current climate of constant change, considering COVID-19, technology and intergenerational impacts in particular.
The input received from the ‘Future Ready’ survey will help QLS uncover how to best assist these firms moving forward, and inform the Society on necessary products and services to provide.
QLS has commissioned the team led by USQ, working with UQ and two consultants.
The team of researchers, working together with University of Queensland (UQ) Associate Professor Francesca Bartlett, are led by USQ Professor Caroline Hart.
“Not everyone is aware of how important regional and small law firms are for our Queensland communities,” Professor Hart said. “Our Queensland lawyers don’t just provide legal advice, they also play a huge role as part of offering volunteer support for community organisations such as hospitals, schools, sporting clubs, and rural fire services, as well as many social justice organisations – they are at the heart of our local communities.
“It’s vital that we get involved in working with them to find out what they need to carry out this important role so that they can flourish now and into the future.”
Lawyers from regional and small law firms are invited to participate in the survey and disclose the challenges they are facing as both employers and employees.
Professor Hart said the School of Law and Justice at USQ had been researching regional and small law firms for over a decade and understands the demands upon the owners and lawyers working in this environment.
“After a hectic schedule of taking care of clients, there’s rarely much time left over to be gazing into the future to work out what new challenges are on the horizon,” she said. “That’s where the university can be most useful to the Queensland legal profession – to carry out that research on behalf of law firms and to work out what resources they need and implement those resources.”
The survey will go out to more than 10,000 QLS members, with researchers also seeking input from many Queensland district law associations.
“All the research we carry out is confidential and de-identified and bound by national standards,” Professor Hart said. “These insights and experiences from the legal profession is the best way to work out what is needed.”