SA Law Society looks to ‘future-proof the profession’
With the South Australian legal market experiencing a decline, the new president of the Law Society of South Australia is focused on building a strong future for the profession.
During his term as president, David Caruso hopes to lay the groundwork for a modernised, accessible court system and start the process of internationalising the South Australian legal market.
“2016, for me, is about 2026,” Mr Caruso told Lawyers Weekly. “The year 2016 is about how we will practice effectively and in a way that the community understands in 2026.”
Mr Caruso said he wants court reform in South Australia to become a “model for the nation”.
He has three specific reforms in mind, including the digitalisation of court proceedings, the introduction of docket management systems within state courts and the adoption of inquisitorial methods from civil and European systems of justice.
“All three of these matters are matters that I've already had conversations about with both members of the profession as well as the judiciary,” he said.
Mr Caruso said the implementation of online court interfaces and court recordings, which save the community time and money, were top priorities.
Docket management systems are used in the Federal Courts and mean that a single judge follows a case through from start to finish, instead of different judges being assigned at each stage in the process.
“We, as lawyers, always have the idea of resolution in mind but when you have switching between members of the court it can sometimes frustrate the ultimate aim of resolution,” he said.
Mr Caruso said that looking beyond the “traditional origins of the law” in Australia to methods used in civil jurisdictions, such as Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France, will improve the general administration of justice.
The Law Society also has an internationalisation strategy, which aims to promote South Australia as a destination for clients in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We are focusing on Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and India, with always China as a key partner as well,” said Mr Caruso.
“But also making efforts to inform South Australian practitioners about their options and prospects for providing legal services regarding Australian law to clients in those overseas jurisdictions via, for example, remote access or technology.”
As an academic at the University of Adelaide, a special counsel to Fisher Jeffries Gadens, and an active leader in multiple industry associations, Mr Caruso embraces an interdisciplinary approach in addressing problems.
Last year, Mr Caruso was instrumental in a landmark Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Adelaide and the Chief Justice of South Australia to collaborate closely on research projects.
He also facilitated the International Conference on Evidence Law and Forensic Science in July 2015, which brought scientists and lawyers together to discuss metadata as evidence.
“A multidisciplinary and diverse approach to how we run our justice system is fundamental to it being pragmatic and user-friendly to the community,” he said.