A new research project sponsored by Queensland Law Society is investigating how smaller law firms can better survive and thrive in today’s climate of dynamic change.
A team of researchers led by the University of Southern Queensland Professor Caroline Hart, with University of Queensland Associate Professor Francesca Bartlett, have launched a Future Ready Survey which will look at the workings of regional/rural/suburban sole, micro, small and medium-sized law firms.
The survey focuses on a wide range of factors influencing the industry, including COVID, technology, weather events and intergenerational impacts.
“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 an important and vital role in our community, offering volunteer support to places 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, so it’s essential that we get involved in working with them to find out what they need to carry out this pivotal role so that they can prosper now and into the future.”
Professor Hart said the University of Southern Queensland’s School of Law and Justice had been researching regional and small law firms for more than a decade.
“We understand the demands upon lawyers working in this environment,” she said. “After a hectic schedule of taking care of clients, there’s rarely much time left over for anticipating what new challenges are on the horizon.
“In recent times, we’ve all realised that none of us can anticipate these challenges.
“And this is where the university can be most useful to the Queensland legal profession – to engage with lawyers and to carry out the research to work out what resources are needed and to get those resources out into the profession.”
She said the team was now reaching out to the law community.
“We want to hear from as many Queensland lawyers as possible – especially if you’re working as a sole practitioner, or in a small or medium law firm, or in a community legal centre,” Professor Hart said. “We particularly need to hear from regional, rural and remote lawyers.
“All the research we carry out is confidential and de-identified and bound by national standards.
“These insights and experiences from the legal profession is the best way to work out what is needed.”
Professor Hart said that the survey takes around 20 to 25 minutes.
“We’ve tried to develop the questions so that they flow and engage,” she said. “It really is about finding out directly from you – the lawyer – about the challenges and barriers, as well as things that have worked for you.”