MurphySchmidt Legal Practitioner Director Tricia Schmidt is a firm believer in the benefits of the Queensland Law Society (QLS) Specialist Accreditation Scheme.
And this morning the Senior Principal was presented with the Outstanding Accredited Specialist Award by Chief Justice Bowskill at the QLS Specialist Accreditation Christmas in Brisbane.
Tricia Schmidt (right) with her nominee Joanne Rennick.
QLS President Chloé Kopilović announced the winner and also introduced the graduates: Courtney Barton, Sarah-Jane MacDonald, Guy Neilson, Joshua Noble (Family Law); Clare Cartwright, Lauren Farrelly, Amanda Tomlinson (Succession Law); and Mitchell Carey and Mark Steele (Commercial Litigation).
Chloé also announced that from today, QLS Accredited Specialists will be entitled to use a post nominal to help formally recognise their Specialist Accreditation qualification.
“This will be a mark of excellence that signifies your effort and dedication to gain a higher level of competence and professionalism in your chosen area of practice,” she told the City Hall audience.
“As you can see, there are so many different ways our Accredited Specialists can build their legacy, and I look forward to seeing each of you carve out your own path at this elite level in the years ahead.”
And Tricia has already made a tremendous contribution to the Accredited Specialist program highlighted by her six-year term as Chair of the Queensland Law Society Specialist Accreditation Board, having previously served as a member for more than 11 years.
Admitted in 1984, Tricia started her career at MG Lyons and Co under the supervision of Gerry Murphy AM and attained her Specialist Accreditation in Personal Injuries Law in 1999.
“I am very grateful for the acknowledgment that comes with this award,” she said.
During her chairship, she oversaw the extension of the program with the introduction of the Business, Commercial Litigation and Criminal Law (2006), Mediation and Tax Law (2007) and Workplace Relations Law (2008).
Tricia is currently a Non-Executive Director of Lexon Insurance and a member of Practitioner Panel to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
She has served as Deputy Chair and Chair of the Queensland Law Society Professional Conduct Committee and Chair of the Queensland Law Society Committee of Management.
“It is very important to be involved,” Tricia said. “I’ve practised for over 39 years and it is fair to say that during that time the practice of the law has become increasingly complex, and with this complexity the need for specialisation is not now optional, but a necessity.
“The Society has responded well to this need for specialisation by provision of what is now a very impressive Specialist Accreditation program across 11 areas of practice. The program has enormous benefits to the successful candidates but, more importantly, to members of the public who require the assistance of a lawyer practising in a particular area, and by extension, to the community at large.
“As lawyers practising in our chosen area of specialty, we want to be, and be seen to be, undertaking the important work that we do, for the benefit of the community, in the most professional way with integrity. Specialist accreditation is a vital component to the achievement of that goal.”
And while more than 14,000 solicitors currently hold practising certificates in Queensland, just 487 of those are accredited specialists, equating to 3.5 per cent of the profession.
“I was surprised to hear that statistic and in a sense it is disappointing,” Tricia said.
“The program is certainly set up to really set a benchmark for specialist expertise, so has rather stringent qualification requirements in order to be able to sit, but when those requirements can be met, it is certainly a program that the candidates take so much away from, and I would encourage all practitioners to give consideration to participation in the program at the appropriate stage of their professional career.”
Tricia has also been a member of boards outside the profession including the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of Queensland, the Catholic Education Council and Cancer Council Queensland.
QLS President Chloé Kopilović at today’s event.
The QLS President said the need for pracitising solicitors to develop in-depth knowledge of specific areas of practice grew throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. This prompted increasing demand from the profession for a dedicated accreditation program to acknowledge this expertise.
“Those calls were answered in 1995, when the Specialist Accreditation Scheme was established as an advanced, stringent, and peer-reviewed program,” she said.
“The first intake in Queensland in 1996 focused on Family Law.
“Accredited specialists are a select group, and we are very proud to welcome nine new graduates into this cohort this year.
“In addition to recognising our newly accredited specialists, this year we once again acknowledge 40 practitioners who have maintained their accreditation for a remarkable 25 years.”
Practitioners with their 25-year certificates.
They are: Kathy Atkins, Kevin Barratt, Murray Bucknall, Richard Callaghan, Damien Carter, Catherine Cheek, Mitchell Clark, Pippa Colman, Bruce Dalton, Annita Dougherty, Bernadette Farnell, Tracey Greenhalgh, Cameron Hall, Suzanne Harrison, Stephen Hughes, Vicki Jackson, Kathleen Keating, Terry Killian, Stephen Leach, Terry McCormick, Chris McMahon, Bill Munro, James Noble, Bill O’Toole, Robert Parcell, Peter Pavusa, Cassandra Pullos, David Reardon, Joanne Rennick, Barry Ross, Bill Ross, Chris Rowe, Darren Sekac, Cameron Seymour, Deano Simonidis, Keiron Splatt, Kelli Stallard, Scott Wedgwood, Lindsay Woods, Diane Wright, Michael Zande.