When Kara Thomson first nominated for Councillor in the 2016 Queensland Law Society (QLS) election, she had only recently become aware of the role’s importance.
As the 2023 QLS election approaches, the current Immediate Past President shared she was unsure of the part QLS and the council could play in the legal profession and did not know about the valuable contribution those elected make.
“Early in my career I honestly had no idea what QLS did. I thought it just processed my practising certificate and provided CPD sessions. I was oblivious to the important regulatory function it has,” Kara, who was admitted in 2006, said.
“I, by chance, sat down with a Council member and ‘quizzed’ them on what QLS was about and why someone would want to become involved.
“I was intrigued at the prospect of being able to contribute more broadly to the profession and do so outside of my day-to-day grind. That conversation was really the catalyst for me thinking beyond myself and becoming aware that I could achieve career fulfilment in a variety of other ways outside my practice area.”
Kara spent four years as a Councillor before being elected as Vice President in 2020. She then stepped into the role as the Society’s first millennial President in 2022.
She has also been part of many committees including the CPD Committee, Committee of Management, Executive, Ethics and the Finance and Risk Committees. Kara kindly agreed to talk with Proctor about the importance of the coming election and her experience on the Council.
How much of a commitment is it?
“The commitment can be difficult to manage at times. There is lots of reading and preparation. The first six to nine months is probably the hardest, just trying to understand how all the pieces fit together.
“You can become very invested and spend lots of time on the work of the QLS. I have found many Councillors do give up a lot, not because it is necessarily expected, but because they are genuinely involved and doing the work because they have an interest in seeing the QLS thrives and ensuring the profession remains well regarded and is sustainable.”
What are some of things you are most proud of?
“There have been many achievements over the years, and none of them are a result of any one individual. The greatest thing so far has been to see diversity shifts within Council and to see how that plays out in policy and stakeholder engagement. I really believe the Council should reflect its members, and in 2022, I was thrilled to see practitioners joining the Council with a diverse experience.
“I am very proud of working with the Council through our pandemic years and being in a position to support our profession. That wasn’t achieved through the work solely of the then Council though, it was achieved after many years of hard work and dedication by previous Councils.”
What should potential candidates consider?
“If you are thinking about running for Council, I strongly encourage you to consider the reason why you are wanting to do so. Councillors have a genuine and vested interest in ensuring good law for good lawyers, for the public good. I recommend potential candidates have a look into the work the QLS has been doing, its policy submissions and consider the regulatory functions it is charged with discharging.
“I also recommend, if you haven’t previously, joining a QLS committee, working group or network to gain exposure to some of the amazing work our members are doing.”
Why is it important to nominate?
“How can Council reflect our membership and the profession if those who are passionate about our profession do not take the opportunity to nominate? It is particularly important, in my opinion, to receive nominations from the regions and from practitioners with diverse abilities to ensure fulsome representation.
“Do not let access or distance be an impediment to having your say – Council members can (and do) attend remotely; it isn’t the case you must be physically present to have a voice. Nominating is the best way to put your name forward as a solicitor who cares about our profession and its future.”
Why is it important to vote?
“To have a say in the future of our profession it is important to vote for those who you want to represent you on Council. If you don’t participate, then you lose your opportunity to have a say.”
Nominations will open on 11 September and only full members on the Roll of Electors on that date are eligible to stand for election, vote and nominate candidates.
It is a four-week election period, with nominations, campaigning and voting taking place from 11 September to 9 October.
For more information about the election, visit https://www.qls.com.au/About-us/Governance/2023-Queensland-Law-Society-Council-election