29 March 2017

The Law Society of New South Wales has released Australia's first comprehensive report to help lawyers better understand and tackle future challenges and opportunities facing the profession.

Society President Pauline Wright said lawyers are not immune to rapid changes brought about by globalisation, new technology and the evolving needs and expectations of the public and clients.

"The Law Society was determined to better understand the forces at play in our profession and help arm our members with the insights, knowledge and skills needed to succeed and thrive in the future," she said.

Ms Wright said as a regionally-based solicitor she was particularly interested in how new and emerging technologies can reduce the cost of doing business and provide a better service and experience for clients.

"These new technologies will make it easier for people in regional and remote areas to contact a lawyer, whilst also having the potential to help bridge the 'justice gap' for many disadvantaged people," she said.

Ms Wright added: "technologies need to be designed and implemented with care: with ethics at their core. The Law Society can play a critical role in addressing unmet legal need and helping the profession to upskill."

In 2016, the Law Society established the Future Committee and, in turn, the Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (flip) Commission of Inquiry to examine in detail likely future trends in the profession.

Past Society President and Chair of the Future Committee Gary Ulman said the Commission of Inquiry sourced advice and case studies from more than 100 professionals - both within and outside of the legal profession - to produce 'The Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession' (flip) report.

"We weren't afraid to set ourselves an ambitious task - our Inquiry aimed to not only investigate key trends shaping our industry, but also develop practical recommendations to help future-proof our profession," he said.

Mr Ulman said a key recommendation contained in the flip Report was to establish a Centre for Legal Innovation Projects to help the profession embrace new and emerging ideas and technologies.

"The report also recommends drafting guidelines for lawyers to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to business, greater support of diversity programs to help drive innovation in the profession and investigation of ways to remove regulatory barriers hindering innovation in the law," he said.

Society Chief Executive Michael Tidball said the Commission of Inquiry had produced a body of work never seen before in Australia, offering a way forward in response to many emerging issues in the profession.

"Through extensive research and stakeholder engagement, the Society's Future Committee has been successful in producing a report which will help guide the future of our profession for many years to come," he said.

Media Contact: Andrew Huckel 0413 440 669

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