“There can be an immense distance between the aspirations, the types of work, and the culture of city-based practice versus the needs of regional practitioners and practitioners working in regional environment.”
A fresh focus on the needs of regional and rural NSW, and an eye to the global law market; with an ambitious breadth the Law Society of NSW’s new Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 will aim to unite the profession, no matter the location.
Under the Strategic Plan, which came into effect on 1 July, the Law Society will “promote the profession as one of distinction, actively demonstrating its value and contribution to the community”. The CEO of the Law Society of NSW Michael Tidball said the Strategic Plan is based on a stronger body of membership research and consultation than ever before.
Tidball said the Law Society drew on the advice of its regional presidents and expert committees in developing the strategy, to ensure more is done to respond to the needs of the bush.
“This is the first time we have sought to gain input from the regional law societies, the various Law Society committees and subject experts. It’s our hope that their input has been well captured in this framework,” Tidball told LSJ.
“The Law Society of NSW, in seeking to unite the profession, must realise there can be an immense distance between the aspirations, the types of work, and the culture of city-based practice versus the needs of regional practitioners and practitioners working in regional environments. The gap is enormous. “
“The responsibility we have is to ensure that, wherever the practitioner, wherever the firm, the Law Society provides services, support and advocacy relevant to the particular situation. We recognise the services we provide will respond to different issues in the regions.”
A new area of interest, Tidball told LSJ, has been outlined in the plan as “support law practices seeking to draw on the experience of foreign lawyers, including by advocating for appropriate changes to the regulatory framework, and promote international market access for NSW solicitors”.
“While we are not a national organisation, some of the great legal associations of the world are city or provincially based, like the New York Bar or the Paris Bar Association,” he said.
“NSW is an economic powerhouse and a leader. Forty-five per cent of the nation’s lawyers are in NSW, so we have the critical mass. The Law Society has existed since 1842 and we are a powerful, well-resourced law society.
“The challenge for us now is to lead the profession within that globalised marketplace.”
Tidball said there will also be greater effort put into tackling mental health and wellbeing issues in the profession, as well as other systemic problems like bullying and sexual harassment and, for
the profession to set an example in supporting its workforce.
“We know from various studies that we have a serious challenge in the profession around mental health and wellbeing issues,” he told LSJ.
“The vital step was to have an open conversation, because those issues have been there for a long time.
“The needs of lawyers to find support, professional development and also the appropriate wellbeing equilibrium for them as individuals is vital, and the Law Society of NSW must continue to play a lead role in that space.”
Read the Strategic Plan in full here.