Viability, value and support
Law Society President’s 2020 vision
Ensuring the viability of legal practice, recognising the value, skills and expertise of solicitors and focusing on the mental health and well-being of the legal profession will be three key areas of priority for the Law Society of NSW’s new President, Richard Harvey.
“As a solicitor who has practised continuously for nearly 40 years, I am well aware of the unique, human dimension of legal practice and the important role that solicitors play as trusted professional advisors and members of local communities,” Mr Harvey said.
“There is no area of human activity that is not enriched or impacted by the place of the legal profession and its vital work.” Mr Harvey cited the recent response from the legal profession to the bushfire disaster in which hundreds of individual solicitors and law firms offered to provide free legal assistance to those impacted by the fires.
“This voluntary giving is replicated through the massive and ongoing pro-bono efforts of our profession – something our profession does inherently.”
However, according to Mr Harvey, the legal profession has faced significant headwinds over the past few years.
“A slowing economy, disruptive new technologies and incursions into the legal market by new players have all put pressure on solicitors,” he said.
“Combined with the rising expectations of clients, this is a challenging context within which we practice law.
“While our heritage embraces and promotes time-honoured principles, which must be retained, I want to strengthen the role of our profession as we move into the future, embracing and making the most of innovation to work more productively and with the best interests of our clients at heart. “
Mr Harvey said he was looking forward to continuing the Law Society’s extensive and highly successful Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) initiatives and research in 2020, with an eye to helping solicitors harness technology and innovation to support the viability of their legal practice.
“I want to ensure that the FLIP program continues to support solicitors to understand, select and adopt those technologies that will make their life easier, their firms and practices more profitable and ultimately enhance the services they provide to their clients and the community.”
Mr Harvey said he also planned to prioritise work on mental health and wellbeing to support the profession in coping with the challenges of legal practice in 2020. This will include the addition of a new Wellbeing Coordinator at the Law Society and expanding the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program.
“Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our profession is particularly relevant for solicitors in those regions whose clients are dealing with the hardships created by one of the worst droughts our state has endured and in the wake of the bushfire disaster which has caused so much devastation and destruction across NSW,” Mr Harvey.
Mr Harvey has chosen Foodbank NSW/ACT as his President’s Charity for 2020 – a timely decision given its lifesaving role in the ongoing bush fire crisis, delivering emergency food and water to communities completely cut off by the fires.
“As Australians we often take food for granted, however as the bushfire crisis has showed – even in a modern, industrial nation like our own – the line between food security and food insecurity is perilously thin. “The fires have reminded us of that,” he said.
“Unfortunately, for too many Australians, it doesn’t take a bushfire to cause food insecurity.
“At some point each year, more than 4 million Australians are in crisis, dealing with the anguish and despair of not knowing where their next meal is coming from for themselves and their families.”
Mr Harvey will be encouraging members of the profession to donate to Foodbank during 2020.
Sue Finn | Public Relations Manager
Law Society of New South Wales
T: +61 2 9926 0288 | M: +61 413 440 699 | E: email@example.com