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Navigating together towards a new future

3 min read
08 Sep 2022
Woman standing.
Event organiser Professor Caroline Hart.

Queensland lawyers have overcome major challenges over the years, most recently a global pandemic. Yet it has never been more important to adapt for the future.

The University of Southern Queensland will host the Future Ready Regional and Rural Legal Conference at the University’s Toowoomba campus later this month (September 29).

It will bring together regional and rural practitioners to engage with legal consultant experts as well as leaders from law associations to find out how the regions can better navigate accessing staff and bring innovative technologies into their firms.

Event organiser University of Southern Queensland’s Professor (Law) Caroline Hart said the conference would focus on the needs of regional and rural law firms in a changing environment.

“COVID showed us what we could achieve in an emergency and under pressure. Think what we can achieve with access to some resources and support,” Professor Hart said

“Regional and rural have key advantages over the bigger law firms. They have the capability to respond quickly to changing circumstances. Many highly innovative and adaptive law firms are located outside of the cities.

“Regional and rural lawyers face two big challenges: firstly, accessing and keeping legal staff, and second, getting support and guidance on affordable and useful technologies to enhance client relationships and access good legal staff.

“After a hectic schedule of taking care of clients, however, there is rarely much time left over for thinking about new challenges on the horizon.

“The conference will showcase how affordable technologies are enhancing client relationships and enabling access to good legal staff. There is a rising optimism amongst lawyers about intuitive technologies that are giving them back their valuable time.

“Technologies enabling lawyers to access the courts electronically and using e-discovery as part of litigation have been quickly taken up.”

The September conference will be opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie. The keynote speech will be delivered by PwC Australia’s Alex Rosenrauch (University of Southern Queensland alumni and co-founder of The Legal Ops Podcast).

Queensland Law Society President, Kara Thomson will give the opening address and Councillor Kerry Shine will give the opening address from the region.

“The conference has attracted local support from Queens Arms Chambers and Clear Pixels and will conclude with a networking function sponsored by Murdoch Lawyers in the University’s Art Gallery. It has been wonderful to receive this support from the local profession and community,” Professor Hart said.

“Almost every law firm owner considers their accountant as their most trusted financial advisor. And although they might not always understand every financial aspect, lawyers trust accountants to bring that financial expertise into their law firms, and to do it cost effectively and without disruption.

“One of the aims of the conference is to broaden that reliance on expertise into other aspects that are now considered critical to the running of a sustainable law firm and showcase other allied professional support resources. Reassuringly, it is about knowing that there is advice available, and it doesn’t have to be any different to how you deal with your accountant.

“Regional and rural lawyers don’t just provide legal advice to their clients. They also play a key role in contributing to the prosperity of our communities. They serve as volunteers on boards and community organisations as well as many social justice organisations. Our lawyers are also the trusted advisors to the many businesses and industries that drive our economy.”

The event attracts professional development points.