Emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic
Capitalising on the innovative practices borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic for the benefit of the legal profession and the public it serves will be a key priority in 2021 for the Law Society of NSW President, Juliana Warner.
In outlining her priorities for her year as President, Ms Warner spoke of her deep respect and pride for those in the legal profession and all that has been achieved during the pandemic.
“The ability to adapt to one of the greatest public health crises in our lifetime was shared by solicitors across NSW, our colleagues at the bar, judicial officers on the bench and staff in courts and tribunals.” Ms Warner said.
“It was a powerful illustration of our commitment to finding ways to continue to serve and keep the administration of justice advancing.
“While borders may be opening and closing, now more than ever, we need to continue to be ambitious in our thinking and outward in our vision.
“Our working lives are unlikely to ever return completely to how they were before the pandemic.
“The challenge for us now is to take the best from our pandemic experience and make the most of it for the benefit of our clients, our practices and for each of us as professionals.
“We need to ask: What have we done differently and what do we retain? How can we take these experiences and improve upon them?”
As is the tradition, Ms Warner outlined her objectives for the year ahead in her Presidential Address at the Opening of Law Term Dinner on Wednesday 3 February 2021.
These priorities include:
- To support solicitors through the present crisis and raise the profile of the profession
- To offer compelling thought leadership
- To ensure the profession emerges stronger, but also more diverse and inclusive
- To advocate for more resources for courts and tribunals.
In articulating her plans to focus on diversity and inclusion in the profession, Ms Warner said she believed institutions and organisations need to reflect the communities they serve.
“This is clearly about more than gender – it’s about getting people from all sorts of backgrounds into the profession, onto the bench and holding positions of leadership - because a diverse and inclusive profession will be better able to serve our vibrant and diverse citizenry,” Ms Warner said.
“It’s about having a broader vision of what success looks like and helping every solicitor to feel part of the profession and thrive in the law.
“I want to ensure the Law Society continues to champion cultural diversity in the profession, including removing the barriers to recruitment, improving retention and representation; and engaging in meaningful discussion with clients about these kinds of issues.”
In 2021, Ms Warner said the Society’s Thought Leadership program would explore how the law is responding to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESGs) issues, including the risk around climate change.
“The Law Society exists to not only champion the profession, but to challenge it, to draw solicitors’ attention to emerging issues that will impact their practice and to highlight developing legal issues,” Ms Warner said.
“Many businesses are grappling with how to respond to critical environmental changes to ensure business resilience, to ensure supply chain continuity, to ensure maintenance of access to capital and insurance in a changing market, as well as how to provide greater levels of corporate accountability and transparency.
“They are also facing shareholder activism and institutional investor and consumer concerns.
“This all has the capacity to raise a raft of complex legal issues across a broad range of subject areas, including governance, climate and environmental law, human rights, investigations and regulatory compliance.
“The Law Society’s Thought Leadership program is a way to explore these and other ESG issues, how our clients might mitigate their legal risks and how we can equip our profession to deal better with advising clients in a future that is already upon us.”
In concluding her address, Ms Warner said: “Everyone who takes this office is different. But we are united by a deep and abiding respect for our colleagues and the work we do and great pride in our profession – pride in what we have achieved and pride in what I believe is still to come.”
Further information about the 2021 President, Juliana Warner is available here, along with her Opening of Law Term Presidential Address on 3 February 2021.
Ms Warner has chosen Dementia Australia Research Foundation, the research arm of Dementia Australia, as her President’s Charity for 2021. Read more about their work here.
Ms Warner will be encouraging members of the profession to support the charity during 2021.