QLS Symposium 2023 kicks off in Brisbane

QLS Symposium 2023, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. Images provided by Jon W / Event Photos Australia

Queensland Law Society Symposium 2023 is now well under way – the first year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that all conference streams are being delivered in-person.

Some 600 legal practitioners are today taking part in the Society’s annual premier professional development event, attending substantive law sessions and hearing from experts in their fields across six practice areas – family, succession, criminal, property, personal injuries and commercial law.

The opening plenary this morning featured addresses from QLS President Chloé Kopilović, Chief Justice Helen Bowskill, Judge Orazio (Ray) Rinaudo AM and Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman MP.

Ms Kopilović in her welcoming remarks shared Symposium’s origins and its decades-long history of providing continuing legal education in Queensland, before Chief Justice Bowskill officially opened the event by virtual means from Cairns.

Chief Justice Bowskill delivers the Symposium opening address.

“How wonderful that you are all able to be in the same room again,” Chief Justice Bowskill said. “That is one of the important benefits of a conference such as this. … Sometimes, depending on what area you practise in, legal practice can be quite lonely and isolating.


“We have to make some very hard decisions on a regular basis, deal with stressed or traumatised people, people who don’t like the advice you’ve given them, or perhaps the glare of media attention or criticism. And the value of support that colleagues – people who understand what you are going through – can give you is immeasurable.”

Judge Rinaudo followed with the keynote address, drawing on his extensive career in law – including his term as QLS President from 1991-1992 and as Chief Magistrate from 2014-2019 – to reflect on historical aspects and developments of the Queensland legal profession. He also discussed current events including changes to youth justice laws.

Ray Rinaudo
Judge Rinaudo addresses attendees at Symposium this morning.

“Children should not be in adult watch houses,” Judge Rinaudo said. “This issue was brought to my attention when I was Chief Magistrate. I wanted to see for myself what was happening. So, I contacted the Brisbane Watch house keeper and went down to Roma Street. What I saw was truly appalling.

“To be fair, the police were doing all they could to support the children. I made my views known privately but was precluded from speaking publicly. It became public shortly after.

“It is simply a distraction to blame the courts for lawlessness; just as it is to blame the courts for failing to stop domestic violence. When the courts get involved, offences have been committed and domestic violence has taken place.


“Our responsibility is then to apply the statutory rules to the situation, sentence in accordance with the Penalties and Sentences Act or apply the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, and make decisions according to law.”

The Attorney-General’s address followed, during which Ms Fentiman discussed recent and upcoming legislative changes and reforms, including coercive control, vilification and hate crimes, the review of the Justices Act and the introduction of the Property Law Bill 2023.

Today’s whole-day conference will provide lawyers with up-to-date knowledge on developments in law, and practical tools and strategies to apply to their day-to-day practice and to further enhance their skills in serving clients.

Symposium will also cover broader issues impacting the profession, including ethical issues, cyber threats, burnout and vicarious trauma. There will also be dedicated sessions for early career lawyers through to advanced practitioners.

The closing plenary this afternoon will feature ‘The Breakthrough Lawyer’ session from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Leader of Technology and Innovation Nick Abrahams, before Queensland Court of Appeal President Debra Mullins AO delivers the closing address.

Symposium will conclude at 5.30pm this evening followed by ‘Symposium by Night’ networking drinks. Symposium’s major partners in 2023 are LEAP, PEXA, Sympli and SettleIT.


A link to access the ‘core topics recording package’ will be provided to registered attendees next week. Non-attendees will be able to purchase the recordings via the QLS eShop.

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