On 7 August 1873, 15 influential solicitors met in Brisbane’s Supreme Court and agreed that the legal profession was in need of a representative body.
Their aim was to establish a professional body to advocate and advise the government of the day on legislation and law amendments, and to protect the public from dishonourable practices by lawyers, as well as mediating differences among practitioners so solicitors could present a dignified image in public.
Their resolution was to form Queensland’s first law society, a body that would evolve into the institution that is now the state’s peak legal membership body, Queensland Law Society (QLS).
That first law society struggled to be heard on important issues and a decade later the Queensland Law Association was formed. In 1928 – some 44 years later – the association was incorporated as Queensland Law Society, which today represents the majority of the Queensland’s 14,631 solicitors, providing leadership, guidance and support to the legal profession.
QLS 2023 President Chloé Kopilović last night officially launched the Society’s proposed year of events and activities to recognise the sesquicentennial and celebrate the journey, milestones and achievements of the Society and its members.
Ms Kopilović was speaking at the traditional New Year Profession Drinks in the great hall adjoining Brisbane’s QEII Courts of Law ceremonial Banco Court.
With speeches from Queensland Chief Justice Helen Bowskill and Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, Ms Kopilović rang in the new law year by hosting the event with more than 250 guests.
“Whilst tonight is about coming together and celebrating a new year in law, it is also the start of a significant year for the Queensland Law Society,” Ms Kopilović said.
“This year, I am proud to share with you that the Society celebrates 150 years of leadership, guidance and support in the legal profession in Queensland.
“We have a proud history and we should celebrate it.
“2023 is a year for the Society, and us as a profession, to pause and reflect on how far we have come as a profession, and to celebrate those who have served and contributed to the Queensland Law Society over the last 150 years.”
As part of the launch, Ms Kopilović unveiled a bespoke version of the Society’s iconic logo – one the nation’s most instantly recognisable and respected symbols in the legal profession.
“This logo will be featured for the next 12 months across all Queensland Law Society member and community-facing platforms,” she said.
Chief Justice Bowskill encouraged solicitors to become active members of QLS.
“Whether you are new to the profession or you are an experienced practitioner, not to just focus on your day-to-day work, but to get involved in the important work of the Law Society,” she said.
“There is a great deal of satisfaction and fulfilment, professional and personal, to be had from getting involved in broader matters affecting our society and our profession. I know I have found that to be true in the context of my role as a judge.
“So, be proactive and get involved in one of the various committees and working groups established by (QLS). My door is open to the ideas coming out of the working groups and I look forward to an ongoing sharing of those ideas.”
Chief Justice Bowskill welcomed all in attendance to the new law year and expressed appreciation for the Society’s support during a ceremony earlier in the day to permanently raise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
The flags will now be flown permanently outside Brisbane’s QEII Courts of Law complex, with a plan to have them eventually hoisted outside courts across Queensland.
Ms Fentiman said it was a particular honour to speak during a time when the solicitors’ branch was being led by three strong women executive members – Ms Kopilović, Vice President Rebecca Fogerty and Immediate Past President Kara Thomson.
She also thanked the Society for its valuable contribution to recent consultation processes, including the engagement on the Domestic and Family Violence (Combating Coercive Control) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022; the new claims farming provisions in the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002; the new Property Law Bill 2023; and stronger vilification and hate crime laws.
“I believe that collaborative consultation and a strong partnership between the profession, judiciary and government is the key to achieving effective legislative and policy reform in Queensland,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to work with you, as key legal stakeholders, throughout 2023.”
Throughout 2023, QLS Proctor will publish articles that “celebrate 150 years of good law, good lawyers and public good” and highlight the Society’s key milestones and achievements, across the breadth of the Society’s work.