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Law Soc head not afraid to pick fights

Law Soc head not afraid to pick fights

The new president of the Law Society of South Australia (LSSA) has said he will not be afraid to court controversy during his time in the role.

“I don’t think we should tackle a problem or not tackle a problem because it’s difficult or potentially divisive; if anything that’s been a mistake of the past, whereas the community wants to hear us and wants to hear our views,” Morry Bailes (pictured), who took up the role of LSSA president late last month, told Lawyers Weekly.

In a statement when he was appointed Bailes said he would not shy away from controversial issues such as marriage equality and euthanasia.

“I think we should be leaders, not followers, and I think we shouldn’t be afraid to enter contemporary legal debate,” said Bailes.

“We should as a society be placing ourselves as the peak legal voice in Australia and discussing these things; we’re not asking for everyone to agree but identifying questions of law and having an opinion on them.”

The Council of the LSSA debated and voted to support marriage equality a number of months ago.

Bailes said a major focus during his term will be SA’s State Government elections, which take place in March next year.

“[The election] puts us in a great position to make demands of both the Government and Opposition about issues we’d like to see addressed,” he said.

The lawyers are alright

Bailes also said that an issue he personally wants to tackle is the reputation of lawyers, something he feels has been portrayed unfairly.

“I’ve seen the reputation of the profession, I think unjustly, tarnished over the years, so one of my objects is to defend the profession and make our role clear to the community.”

He said he thinks part of the reason the reputation of the profession has been tarnished is due to the influence of films and TV shows.

“These ideas come from a popular culture that has been imported from cultures other than our own.

“When it comes to the profession in SA the overwhelmingly positive response from our clients means there’s a dichotomy between what our reputation is supposed to be and what our clients experience when they’re serviced by the profession in SA, which is overwhelmingly good,” he added.

When asked about National Legal Profession Reform, which SA has up-to-now opposed, Bailes said it was a “watch-and-see situation”.

“We’re certainly interested in it ... we’ve always been in favour of the concept; what we’ve been concerned about is the detail ... [but] our stated position is that a national profession is desirable.”

Bailes, who has been the managing partner of Adelaide firm Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers for the last 12 years, said he won’t be taking a sabbatical but will seek to balance his new role of president with his managing partner role.

“I’ve got fairly good support, so knowing this has been coming up I’ve carefully planned and I’m going to be able to do it all it, I think,” he added.

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