Record crowd at NQ conference

QLS President Rebecca Fogerty spoke at the plenary session. Photo: Supplied

The Cowboys had a huge win in Townsville last week and so did the North Queensland Law Association (NQLA) conference with more than 220 delegates setting an attendance record.

Outgoing NQLA President Lorelei Billing said the 223 delegates were joined by registered speakers, bringing the number to 282 – the highest yet.

The conference was held over two days, 24-25 May, and attendees enjoyed watching the Cowboys beat the Tigers at the Friday night social function. Delegates were also provided a variety of topics relevant to a range of practice areas.

“We offered three main streams of Commercial Law, Family Law and Litigation and Advocacy.  There were also sessions specific to Solicitors in Management, Solicitors in Practice and Barristers,” Lorelei said.

“However, both our plenary session did focus on inclusion and diversity. Like most of Australia, North Queensland has a diverse population and legal practitioners needs skills to navigate cultural and linguistic differences.

“The first plenary was presented by the wonderful Tile & Olly Meets podcast. They both discussed the importance of inclusion and diversity and their findings from their first season as they’ve had the chance to speak to some influential legal minds around this topic.


“The second plenary, Working with Interpreters, was presented by the Honourable Helen Bowskill, Chief Justice of Queensland;  Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC; Judge Deputy Chief Magistrate (Anthony) Gett, Magistrate (Dzenita) Balic, alongside two esteemed interpreters Lynn Geng, NAATI Certified Specialist Legal and Health Interpreter (Mandarin), and Sumeet Kaur, NAATI Certified Interpreter (Punjabi). 

“Having the interpreters and judicial members present together provided important insight from varying perspectives. Ms Geng was honest about the difficulties that interpreters face when legal practitioners are not familiar with an interpreter role and I found her presentation invaluable, and very entertaining – Ms Geng has a good sense of humour. It gave me plenty to think about.

“I sincerely thank the Honourable Helen Bowskill for putting together such an extraordinary panel, who delivered insightful and useful information for us all and reminded us about the important of language and cultural differences.”

Lorelei said this year’s ethics panel was presented as a quiz.

“The delegates spoke highly of the presentation and our presenters – Judge Joshua Trevino KC, District Court of Queensland; Cate Heyworth-Smith, Vice President Queensland Bar Association; Rebecca Fogerty, President Queensland Law Society; and our chair, Judge Dean Morzone KC, District Court of Queensland; who delivered a usually difficult topic in an exciting and engaging manner.

“Many delegates had commented that it was the best ethics presentation they’ve ever attended.”


Rebecca also addressed the conference, saying it was “a challenge ensuring that our 14,000 members are not divided by the tyranny of distance”.

“District Law Associations are an absolutely critical source of connection and education, your voices and concerns are heard,” she said.

“In this regard, can I specifically acknowledge QLS Councillor Chris Kahler for his tremendous work over the last six months or so in bringing diligently to the QLS table the issues that are impacting you here in Far North Queensland.

“The North is a unique region and the Society is acutely aware of the complex issues that solicitors are facing, whether it be in relation to land law, youth justice, climate change and disaster management, adequate resourcing of the courts and law adjacent services, and attracting law graduates and lawyers to regional practices. 

“None of these issues have an easy or cheap solution, but that does not change the fact that open dialogue, openly talking about it, is what ultimately leads to change.

“The impact of many of the above issues is somewhat magnified in an election year, and it will come as a surprise to no one here that it is one for which law and order issues will be at the forefront.”


Rebecca echoed the words of the Law Council of Australia President Greg McIntyre SC saying it was “to our nation’s shame that our legal assistance services are so severely under-resourced that we are unable to meet demand and clients are being turned away”.

“At some point, something has gotta give.  We are seeing, I think, the early impacts of an erosion of the supply of solicitors who are willing to undertake Legal Aid work,” she said.

“The effect of an underfunded legal aid system in regional areas is much more acute than in the metropolis.  Aside from the myriad of negative social, legal, economic, and health consequences for the whole community, I am very aware of the fact that an underfunded legal aid and community legal sector is one reason for the wellbeing crisis in our profession.”

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