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The Law Society of NSW is ready to establish a “productive working relationship” with Premier-elect Chris Minns, pushing for key law and justice initiatives, including improving court resourcing, to be implemented as a priority by the new Government.

Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley appointed an interim Labor ministry at a swearing in ceremony at Government House on Friday morning, including new Attorney General Michael Daley.

President of the Law Society Cassandra Banks congratulated Minns on his victory in the 2023 state election, and encouraged the new Government to work closely with the organisation, as a trusted voice on law reform matters and issued affecting the administration of justice

“I look forward to a constructive, consultative relationship between the Law Society and the incoming Government. Experience has shown that including the Law Society in the early stages of consultation over reforms or other legislative changes improves policy outcomes,” Banks said.

“Conversely, we have seen a lack of consultation with legal practitioners possessing extensive real-world experience can lead to problematic, unintended outcomes.

“The Law Society represents NSW’s 38,000 solicitors and its 18 policy committees are fortunate to be served by around 400 volunteer lawyers, expert in their field.

“This readily available expertise enables the Law Society to provide carefully considered, evidence-based submissions on law reform proposals, both directly to ministers and to the Parliament through its various committees.”

The Law Society is advocating for the immediate implementation of all remaining criminal justice related recommendations of the Ice Inquiry, including the introduction of a pre-court diversion scheme for small quantity drug possession offences.

Cassandra Banks, President of the Law Society of NSW Cassandra Banks, President of the Law Society of NSW

Experience has shown that including the Law Society in the early stages of consultation over reforms or other legislative changes improves policy outcomes.

This is one priority outlined in the organisation’s 2023 State Election Platform, that also calls for better resourcing of court infrastructure, increased funding for legal assistance and policies to reduce incarceration of Indigenous people.

Banks also expressed appreciation to the outgoing Attorney General Mark Speakman for his work in the last six years in office, and as NSW’s longest serving First Law Officer.

“Speakman’s conduct in office has earned him the enduring respect of the NSW legal profession. The Law Society did not always agree with the Government’s positions on law reform issues, but Speakman’s integrity and willingness to listen to a range of voices has provided an example for his successors as Attorney General to follow,” Banks said.

“During his period as Attorney General, the Local Court bench achieved gender parity, and the first female solicitor appointed directly to the Supreme Court attained the second highest judicial office in the state as President of the NSW Court of Appeal.

“The Law Society was successful during Mr Speakman’s time as Attorney General in pressing for funding for extra judicial officers on the Local Court and District Court benches. His expansion of the Youth Koori Court, the Drug Court (including to Dubbo) and Circle Sentencing will prove to be valuable contributions to delivering fairer justice for Aboriginal people.

“During Mr Speakman’s tenure, a ground-breaking agreement in late 2021, brokered between the Government, Legal Aid, the Law Society, the Department of Justice and Treasury, helped ensure the preservation of public confidence in professional standards and funding crucial legal services for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our state.”