Leadership roles are not new to incoming Queensland Law Society (QLS) President Rebecca Fogerty.
Not only has Rebecca previously carried out the duties of QLS Vice President but she is a partner at Jasper Fogerty Lawyers, specialising in criminal defence, domestic violence and professional misconduct.
She was the first female chair of the QLS Criminal Law Committee, and previously held the position of Deputy Chair.
Elected as President unopposed, Rebecca has already represented QLS at countless public hearings and other official functions as recently as the traditional Exchange of Christmas Greetings at Banco Court last month.
So she has the runs on the board and a plan for the future which includes a focus on lawyers’ mental health as a collective responsibility within the profession.
“It is a privilege to be President of the QLS and be in a position to advocate for and empower the solicitors’ branch,” Rebecca said.
“I am very motivated by the concept of the QLS as a genuine membership organisation whose purpose is to serve member interests across the whole of Queensland.
“We have an ambitious agenda for the year ahead, and in that regard I am grateful to have the support of Genevieve Dee as Deputy and Peter Jolly as Vice President to ensure leadership continuity.
“A small taste of things to come includes the development and rollout of structured debriefing groups to assist lawyers’ mental health.
“I am passionate about exploring new ways to enhance wellbeing in the profession and working with other professions such as medicine and academia so as to develop a mature discourse and meaningful solutions.”
The new Council is also looking further afield with the creation of a working group to extend Pacific ties.
“We are promoting greater engagement with the Pacific and South-East Asian region with a working group for this purpose. I very much hope that this will create new opportunities for Queensland lawyers. We are also facilitating a whole-of-organisation governance review to ensure the QLS remains relevant and fit for purpose,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca also said QLS was forming a committee to look into generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the profession.
“We want nothing less than to become a leader in this space so that it benefits, not detracts from, our members’ practices,” she said.
At the recent Exchange of Christmas Greetings, Rebecca spoke to the “existential threat posed by AI”.
“Optimists see AI as the panacea to society’s most fundamental problems, while pessimists fear that it will render human intelligence obsolete and servile. A more sardonic view might be that such fears are another way of hyping up a new technology and drawing more investors into the latest tech bubble,” she said.
“Long before we face the challenge of computers replacing lawyers, we will face the challenge of half-baked AI services being rushed to market and exploiting clients and lawyers alike with cheap and shoddy services. This is going to require careful ethical consideration and the establishment of new norms, along, perhaps, with new regulations.”
Rebecca assured those attending the ceremony that QLS would be instrumental in these activities and the cross-committee working group would guide the profession in the responsible use of this innovation.
“There are important questions to consider,” she said during the speech. “What will be left for the clerks and junior lawyers to do? Will small firms be wiped out by giant companies with access to better AI models? Or will the added efficiencies mean that small firms become more profitable?
“Above all, we will need to decide what is the true role of the lawyer. I would argue that what will remain is what is already the majority of what we do: those aspects which are distinctly human and precious; that which is creative, emotional, conflicting, unpatterned, irrational.
“It is recognising and promoting the importance of the human face of law – and thus, ensuring that justice retains its humanity.”
Rebecca’s commitment to maintaining and promoting professional standards will continue. She sat on the QLS Specialist Accreditation (Criminal Law) Committee in 2018, 2020 and 2022. She was also the Queensland member of the Professional Standards Council in 2020 to 2021.
And the Society’s long-standing focus of advocacy for members and the profession will continue.
“As always, strong, proactive advocacy will be a priority, as well as visiting and hearing from as many regional practitioners as possible about ways to ensure our organisation’s continued relevance to the profession,” Rebecca said.
“In that regard, my door is always open and I welcome practitioners to contact me directly should they have any concerns, ideas or matters they wish to raise.
“I encourage practitioners to get involved with QLS – we are here to serve our membership and we are strongest and most effective when Queensland’s many talented lawyers get involved.”