IF THINGS fall into place as Bob Gotterson QC anticipates they will, lawyers can expect to read and hear a lot more about their peak body.
The Law Council of Australia’s (LCA’s) incoming president takes office tomorrow (20 September 2003) and will immediately move to ensure the profession he will represent during the upcoming year sings from the same hymn sheet.
“Our legal profession is very diverse. The interests and opinions of the many elements of the profession do not always coincide. Sometimes accommodations need to be made to reach a common position at national level,” the Brisbane-based silk said.
A self-confessed landscaping fan, who enjoys the odd spin on his ride-on mower, Gotterson is keen for all grass roots participants to get involved in the process.
“My challenge over the next 12 months will be to consolidate the links between the various elements of the legal profession. I intend to ensure that all points of view are heard and that the processes of accommodation are fair and balanced.”
Working more closely on coordinating a united voice is something the LCA commenced earlier this year. Comparing the LCA to a federation, Gotterson said constituent bodies — state and territory-based law societies and bar associations — needed to work together when speaking on matters of national interest.
While promising not to engage in a “demarcation dispute that would see bodies muzzled”, Gotterson believed there was room for the LCA to assume a greater visibility.
“We would always like to enhance our recognition with the public and the profession. My feeling is that it has risen over the years, but is still not to the level we would like it,” he said.
Part of the difficulty for the LCA when it comes to addressing individuals is the absence of, as Gotterson puts it, “ a direct connection” with lawyers.
Moves are underway to overcome that hurdle, however. Last month an email alert system commenced, through which four electronic bulletins have been sent directly to the inboxes of law society and bar association members. In slightly more than a month, four bulletins have already been sent.
“In terms of making ourselves more accessible to lawyers on the ground, the electronic era has definitely made things easier,” Gotterson said.
Taking the reins from outgoing president Ron Heinrich, Gotterson becomes only the second person to serve as president of both the LCA and Australian Bar Association.
He acknowledges that much of the work conducted by his predecessor, most notably — the National Practice Project and Harmonised Professional Standards Legislation — is of a long-term nature and probably won’t reach fruition before his term ends in 12 months time.
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