Welcome to the Queensland Law Society Annual report 2010-11




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Welcome to the Queensland Law Society Annual report 2010-11 – your voice…our vision, which has been made available in a text format for vision-impaired practitioners.

This Word document is divided into sections. Items in the contents section are hyperlinked to the relevant article within the document.

Each section is preceded by three hash marks ###, and each item within each section is preceded by three plus signs +++.

This document does not contain any graphics or photos.

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Section 1: Contents

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Section 2: Briefly

The year that was and those who helped us get there.


Item 1: About Queensland Law Society

Item 2: Introduction

Item 3: Our highlights 2011/12

Item 4: President’s review

Item 5: CEO’s review

Item 6: Queensland’s solicitors: A snapshot

Item 7: Helping us make the connection...


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Section 3: At length

About our major projects and product and service delivery


Item 1: Delivering on our commitments – our performance in 2011/12

Item 2: 2011/12 major projects

Item 3: Providing valued services and products to members

Item 4: Enhancing our connections

Item 5: Connecting the dots – ensuring our business fitness


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Section 4: Lastly (but not leastly)

Those who make it happen


Item 1: Connecting with our people

Item 2: Our leadership team

Item 3: Our Council

Item 4: Corporate governance


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27 September 2012


The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie MP
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
Level 18, State Law Building
50 Anne Street
Brisbane Qld 4000


Dear Attorney


Annual report 2011/12 for Queensland Law Society


I am pleased to present the Annual Report 2011/2012 and financial statements for Queensland Law Society.

I certify that this Annual Report complies with:

  • the prescribed requirements of the Financial Accountability Act 2009 and the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2009, and

  • the detailed requirements set out in the Annual report requirements for Queensland Government agencies.



A checklist outlining the annual reporting requirements can be accessed at qls.com.au.


Yours sincerely


John de Groot

President, Queensland Law Society


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Section 2: Briefly

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About Queensland Law Society

We represent more than 10,600 members – comprising lawyers, future lawyers and those with an abiding interest in our profession.

The Society is funded by a number of sources, including annual membership fees paid by members.

In addition to specific statutory responsibilities relating to the regulation of solicitors in Queensland, the Society leads the profession’s knowledge development and exchange through its extensive professional development offering. It supports good legislation through advocacy, and provides comprehensive services and support to its members and the community.


OUR VISION

To be the leading legal professional membership association in Australia.


OUR MISSION

To provide leadership in law to our membership, stakeholders and the community through the provision of relevant, high quality services, products and information, and through effective advocacy on issues affecting the profession.


OUR VALUES

Respect we will value people and acknowledge their contributions.

Integrity we will be honest and fair in all our actions.

Service we will work together to anticipate needs, exceed expectations and honour commitments.


Queensland Law Society

Law Society House, 179 Ann Street, Brisbane Qld 4000

1300 FOR QLS (1300 367 757), info@qls.com.au, www.qls.com.au


© Queensland Law Society Incorporated 2012

Queensland Law Society aims to provide accessible services to all Queenslanders. If you require assistance in understanding the Annual Report, please contact us on 07 3842 5842 for assistance or referral to interpreter services.

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Introduction

Queensland Law Society is the forward-thinking, dynamic hub of Queensland’s legal community and we are committed to becoming the leading legal professional membership association in Australia.

Our 2011/12 Annual Report provides an overview of our progress towards achieving this vision. This report outlines the key activities undertaken by the Society which demonstrate our progress against the Society’s Strategic Plan 2011/12, our strategic planning document which forms the basis for our operational plan and budget. Key to this year, our primary objectives in supporting our members were to:

  • position members to benefit from the National Legal Profession Reform

  • advance member interests through advocacy, ethics, learning and development and practice support services

Additionally, we had a major focus on strengthening our organisational capability, our internal systems and processes and our financial management work to support the realisation of our vision.


Purpose of the report

The Society is incorporated under an Act of Parliament – the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) – and is governed by a Council, which is elected by the membership.

The Society is defined as a statutory body in the Financial Accountability Act 2009 (Qld), and is therefore required to prepare an Annual Report each financial year. The Society however, remains an independent professional body, subject to the governance of its elected Council. The Attorney-General is represented by a nominee who is a Queensland solicitor in private practice.

This report highlights our commitment to transparency and accountability and to effective corporate governance. We are singularly member focussed. We aim to provide the best possible advice, support, services and products to provide value for our members.

This report outlines:

  • how we have achieved against our strategic plan

  • our priorities for the year ahead; and

  • our revenue and how we have used member funds.



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Our highlights 2011/12

Queensland Law Society proudly represents Queensland’s solicitors, providing leadership in law through support of the legal profession, advocacy of legal issues and a commitment to build the profile of solicitors and the law. The 2011/12 financial year was a year dedicated to advancing member interests through advocacy, ethics, learning and development and practice support services and delivering several strategic initiatives.


Financial highlights

Our consolidated results include the Society’s membership activities, insurance activities (through Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd and Law Claims Levy Fund) and the regulatory responsibilities that the Queensland Law Society carries out under legislative requirements.


Parent entity, Queensland Law Society Incorporated

Queensland Law Society (the parent entity) reported an operating surplus of $722k compared to the prior year’s surplus of $1.158m.

Overall revenue was favourable compared to last year with growth in the profession and resulting membership fee income. Our event revenue was slightly ahead of last year which was a good result in difficult economic conditions. This was offset by some falls in advertising revenues. Overall sponsorship revenue increased. Despite falling cash rates, our interest returns increased.

We continued our emphasis on managing controllable costs, and the majority of costs increased by less than CPI. The number of full-time equivalent employees remained stable throughout the year. Net assets of the parent entity are $50.8m, up from $49.7m the prior year (which includes a $400k increase in the building valuation). We use these retained surpluses to deliver major strategic projects for members, for example the development and implementation of a new member relationship management system, which will enhance the delivery of tailored information to members. We also need to have appropriate reserves to deal with any changes which may flow from the National Legal Profession Reform implementation.


Insurance scheme (comprising Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd and Law Claims Levy Fund)

  • The insurance scheme reported a surplus of $881k compared to $7.9m for 2010/11. This result is attributed to a reduction in collected insurance levies as a result of the reduced levy rates (overall levies collected reduced $1.2m), the decline in the weighted average risk free rate from 4.9 percent to 2.61 percent which increased the prior year claims discount by approximately $3m, and negative investment returns of 1.9 percent in the equity portion of the portfolio

  • The QLS levies are at their lowest since the introduction of the Gross Fee Income model in 2007/08

  • Overall predicted claim numbers for 2011/12 are the lowest they have been since 2002/03 (Lexon commencement)

  • The insurance scheme has in place an investment policy statement which provides a framework for managing the investment portfolio. Throughout the year the scheme maintained more than 70 percent of investments in income securities, with the balance in equities, credit and property

  • The scheme reported returns of six percent from income securities and 1.9 percent from equities, credit and property, giving a combined result of 3.7 percent

  • While we hold a largely defensive portfolio, our equity funds have not been immune to the falling markets. A large portion of our non-equity portfolio is income-based and moves favourably when there are expectations of interest rate decreases, and our portfolio has benefited from this this year. Only a small element of our portfolio does not directly move with interest rate expectations or equity market movements



Operational highlights

  • Full membership grew three percent to 8,761

  • 9,372 practising certificates were issued, up from 9,021 in 2010/11

  • Held 14 major conferences, 48 seminars and workshops and eight regional workshops with a total of 5,514 people in attendance

  • Held our 50th Symposium in March 2012. This flagship event, the Vincents’ 50th Annual Symposium, attracted 694 attendees

  • Managed 1,100 inquiries relating to practice management and support issues – an increase of 22 percent on the previous year

  • Significantly progressed Project Connect, which will support improved service delivery to our members

  • Developed and implemented a new learning and development strategy, which included the launch of a legal support staff offering and a skills accelerator series for early career lawyers

  • Offered e-voting for the first time to support the Council election process –
    this resulted in a 22.2 percent increase in member participation in
    the election

  • Implemented a new finance system on time and under budget to support the 2012 renewal cycle

  • Undertook significant advocacy during the year completing 244 submissions – a 21 percent increase on last year. This activity positively contributed to the public debate with 119 mentions of the Society and its submissions in parliamentary records

  • Received more than 3,500 requests for trust accounting guidance

  • Supported 2,800 ethics inquiries, and saw a 38 percent increase in users
    to our ethics website

  • 2012 online renewals achieved a 99.9 percent take-up rate by members taking advantage of the convenient, easy-to-use process

  • Twenty-six practitioners completed specialist accreditation in the areas of family, personal injuries, property and taxation law in 2011. In 2012, we offered accreditation in business, criminal, and immigration law as well as commercial litigation and workplace relations to thirty-three candidates



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President’s review

2011/12 has been a year that has seen the Society progress some significant strategic initiatives, particularly in relation to policy, and define the future of the organisation in terms of how we can best represent and support our members.


Advocacy in action

Influencing policy is key to what we do – and we do this to ensure laws are fair and workable for members and the community. In 2011/12 we have effectively advocated on many significant issues to address a number of critical social and practice concerns. To do this we rely on the knowledge and calibre of the members of our 27 committees, in addition to the strong skills of our advocacy team.

We led an extensive state election issues campaign which aimed to inspire political parties’ commitment to change on 11 key issues including legal aid funding, improving people’s right to legal representation before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and better resourcing for courts and tribunals. This was a first for the Society and it is satisfying to know both major parties heard the voice of the profession.

With the new LNP Government in Queensland, we continue to keep a watch on statements particularly on key issues such as mandatory sentencing, funding for legal assistance programs and directors’ liability.

I thank Paul Lucas, retiring Attorney-General for the professional relationship he maintained with the Society during his time in office, and I welcome our new Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie. We look forward to working closely with the offices of the Attorney-General and other relevant ministers and the heads of jurisdictions to ensure our members are informed of statutory and common law changes and court procedural issues.


The business of reform

During the year we continued to represent members in relation to the National Legal Profession Reform to ensure Queensland practitioners are not detrimentally affected by the intended reforms. The Council supports the national reform as important, sensible and well overdue and is committed to working towards achieving harmonisation.

We highlighted our concerns about the draft legislation and have raised these with the Attorney-General for his consideration and worked with our counterparts in both New South Wales and Victoria to seek improvements and modifications for the benefit of the profession.

We also worked closely with our interstate law society colleagues and provided expert assistance to develop the first set of uniform professional conduct rules for solicitors in Australia, the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules (ASCR), which commenced in Queensland on 1 June 2012. These rules, which replace the Legal Profession (Solicitors) Rule 2007, provide a common set of professional obligations and ethical principles. Our Ethics Centre was a primary contributor to their development and this has helped to ensure the new rules are practical, relevant and support our members in the professional practice of law. We are only the second State to implement the ASCR part of our commitment to a nationally consistent regime.

We move into 2012/13 committed to being the trusted adviser to the profession and the community. We will continue to refine and enhance our service to members to ensure quality and timeliness of our advocacy, ethics and practice advice and learning and development.

Substantial change occurred within Council with the Council elections held in late 2011. I would like to thank outgoing Councillors Don Armit, Peter Eardley, Lynette Galvin, Raoul Giudes and Rowena McNally for their extensive contributions to the Society.

I also thank my current fellow Councillors, and particularly Immediate Past President Bruce Doyle, for their efforts and support during the year. I also acknowledge and thank the CEO, management and staff of QLS for their continued commitment to the Society and their hard work on its behalf.
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