Greater resourcing of the courts and Legal Aid and a more transparent process in appointments to Commonwealth Tribunals, are among top advocacy priorities for The Law Society of NSW's new President Doug Humphreys.
"Delays in the trial courts as well as the Family Court because of a backlog in matters and the increasing workloads of the judiciary are symptomatic of a justice system that is struggling to keep up with the needs of the community," Mr Humphreys said.
Mr Humphreys said increased use of alternative sentencing measures was imperative to reduce the prison population, particularly the alarming number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people locked up.
"It costs about $120,000 a year to hold a person on remand," Mr Humphreys said.
"Every time we do this, we forego an opportunity to employ an additional teacher, paramedic, nurse or a fire-fighter. Surely as a society would much prefer to spend money on those resources."
Other key priorities for 2018, Mr Humphreys said, included advocating for a more transparent system in relation to appointments to Commonwealth Tribunals, an increased number of solicitor appointments to the bench and better rates of pay for private solicitors doing legal aid work.
"Diversity of appointments is vital if the courts are to represent the community. This includes not only gender and ethnic background, but mode of practice as well," he said.
"The legal profession contributes so much to the community through heavily discounted legal aid work. If they were not prepared to do that, the justice system would fall over."
The Law Society would also build upon its wellness programs and reinvigorate the Solicitors' Benevolent Fund which provides assistance to solicitors and their families in serious financial distress.
"We are acutely aware of the challenges confronting the viability of practice including those arising from increased competition and technological change," Mr Humphreys said.
"We are focusing on more support for all members of the profession including through our Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession initiatives and measures aimed at supporting more women to achieve senior roles."
In recognition that this year marks 100 years since the enactment of the Women's Legal Status Act 1918 (NSW), the Law Society will continue with its Advancement of Women project, rolling out our Charter for the Advancement of Women to more firms and bolstering our career transition support and mentoring services, he said.
The President's charity of choice for 2018 is the Butterfly Foundation – the leading voice for those affected by eating disorders and negative body image.
"This is a complex and challenging mental illness that touches the lives of many people around us, whether our family members, friends or colleagues," Mr Humphreys said.
"The Butterfly Foundation advocates both for them and their loved ones."
Mr Humphreys has served on the Law Society Council since 2009. You can find Mr Humphreys full biography here.
The Law Society of NSW, Marianna Papadakis T: 02 9926 0288 | M: 0413 440 699 | email@example.com
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