Sesquicentennial: The 150-year timeline

Much has changed in the 150 years since the first Queensland law society was formed.

Many of the key events in the development of today’s Queensland Law Society are recorded in this timeline:

1873-1883 (10 years) first Queensland law society

The first Queensland law society was formed at a meeting of 15 solicitors held at the Supreme Court in Brisbane on 7 August 1873. Support dwindled over the next decade due to an inability to act on important issues.

1883-1927 (44 years) Queensland Law Association

Queensland Law Association formed.

1928-1951 (23 years) Queensland Law Society created as a statutory body

1928 – Queensland Law Society Incorporation Act.

1931 – The Society introduced the Fidelity Guarantee Fund to protect clients of defaulting solicitors. The rules governing the fund were gazetted in April. Amendments to the Trust Accounts Act followed.

1935 – Queensland’s first university law school established – Faculty of Law, University of Queensland.

1939 – Initiated by Queensland Law Society, solicitors prepared soldiers’ wills and powers of attorney free of charge.

1940 – The Society implemented wartime legal aid schemes for servicemen and their dependants at the request of Northern Command, part of the Australian Defence Force.

1941 – Beryl Donkin became the Society’s first full-time employee on a salary of £4 a week. She went on to serve the Society for more than 40 years. Beryl was chief administrative officer and solely responsible for all Society affairs until the 1975 appointment of an Executive Officer.

1952-2003 (51 years) The Queensland Law Society Act years

1952 – Queensland Law Society Act.

1964 – Queensland Law Society held its first annual Symposium. It became known as the ‘Queensland Law Society Symposium’ in 1964.

1966 – LAWASIA started – an international organisation of lawyers’ associations in the Asia Pacific region.

1966 – Queensland Legal Assistance Act – legal aid available to the general community.

1977 – Continuing legal education (CLE) officially commenced, borne from a series of postgraduate discussion groups and seminars.

1978 – Compulsory professional indemnity insurance (PII) scheme introduced after Society members overwhelmingly voted in its favour.

1980 – CLE department used new technology – audio and video tapes – to distribute material to rural areas.

1980 – Queensland Law Society Act amended to reduce the Presidency from a two-year to one-year term.

1981 – First Law Society House established at 96 Albert St, Brisbane.

1982 – Proctor magazine launched.

1986 – Library services started.

1987 – Law Claims Levy Fund established to provide PII. While not an insurance company, the fund retained the primary layer of risk.

1987 – The Society moves into the second Law Society House (purpose built for QLS) at 179 Ann St, Brisbane.

1988 – Practice Management Course (PMC) for solicitors who intend to practise as principals started.

1991 – Each staff member received a computer for work.

1991 – Membership records entered on a computerised database.

1993 – QLS bought back the second floor of Law Society House – to become the home of reception, auditoriums and meeting and mediation rooms – from Rider Levett Bucknall.

1995 – Law Claims Levy Fund ceased and St Paul Insurance Company (which covered solicitors for their professional indemnity insurance) formed.

1995 – Specialist accreditation program established.

1995 – Queensland Law Foundation endorsed by Queensland Law Society Council to support new initiatives that benefit members, in particular: business developments, diversification and commercial activities.

1996 – Queensland Law Society Journal ceased publication – Proctor expanded.

2001 – Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd (Lexon) (formerly QLS Insurance) established to help protect solicitors from rises in PII premiums (replaced the St Paul Insurance Company).

2004-2023 (present): (19 years) The current QLS

2004 – Commencement of the Legal Profession Actand Legal Services Commission.

2004 – QLS Authorised Nominating Authority established.

2005 – Dispute Management Centre started.

2005 – Annual Continuing Legal Education (now Continuing Professional Development) becomes mandatory.

2007 – Legal Practitioners Admission Board established.

2008 – LawCare introduced – a member assistance program which provides free, confidential and voluntary counselling services to Queensland Law Society members, their immediate family and legal support staff.

2010 – Limitation of Liability Scheme introduced. limiting the amount of damages that can be awarded against a practice in court.

2010 – Ethics Centre established.

2011 – First Advocacy Annual published.

2012 – Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules introduced. Queensland Law Society was substantially involved in the development.

2012 – 50th anniversary of Symposium.

2019 – Incorporation of QLS Ethics and Practice Centre as a subsidiary incorporated legal practice (ILP) of the Society.

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