EACH AND every legal professional can now raise, debate and vote on questions of interest to the profession via an online forum. The forum uses the same groundbreaking technology as that designed to ensure secure voting in this year’s Australian Law Awards.
This year, an online poll is being used to decide Law Award winners. However, private practice lawyers are not allowed to vote for their own firms, and so these practitioners are excluded from voting in the area of practice award categories, which are designed to capture the views of in-house counsel and other consumers of legal services.
Eligible practitioners can vote, join discussions and add their firms to the candidate listings by visiting www.lawawards.com.au and following the links to the voting site.
“Technically, anyone can vote and a valid email address is not a requirement,” said Ralph McKay of BigPulse Opinion Markets, developer of the polling technology. “However, an audit process ensures that only valid votes are included in the final count. This is because voters are required to enter their name, organisation and contact details. This information appears in an audit page visible only to BigPulse and an audit firm and enables unauthorised votes to be suppressed with a single click.”
McKay added that this “opinion market” technology allows opinions to be harvested and ranked live in a secure continuous process without the use of questions or a pollster setting the agenda.
“It opens the possibility of a continuous, industry-wide direct democracy forum,” he said.
Earlier this week, BigPulse in partnership with Lawyers Weekly launched exactly such a forum exclusively for the legal profession. The forum, located at www.lawvote.com, allows legal professionals to submit an opinion on any aspect of the profession or other issues of interest such as human rights. Visitors to the site can debate the opinions and vote for them at any time. McKay suggested politicians and the media were among those who would use the forum to gauge lawyers’ opinions on key issues.
“The legal fraternity can now debate laws and propose laws and have some real input,” said former SA magistrate Brian Deegan. “You can then validly say to governments that this is what the majority suggest with respect to that law.”
“Lawvote.com will give every legal professional an immediate and equal voice on a national stage and produce a live, transparent, democratic ranking of issues and opinions important to legal professionals,” added McKay.
The first forum of this type was donated by BigPulse and launched in Federal Parliament in 2002 by Greg Hunt MP. The initiative is a conscience voting forum allowing parliamentarians and candidates to vote on issues of the day and all have equal control of the voting agenda, McKay said. A similar forum is being launched in the UK for the House of Commons.