Embracing Change: How Queensland Lawyers are Pivoting to Address Disruption

In the ever-evolving landscape of the legal profession, change is the only constant. A recent study I co-authored sheds light on how lawyers in Queensland are adapting to disruptions such as technological advances, demographic shifts, and regulatory changes exacerbated by unforeseen events like COVID-19.

Understanding Disruption in Law

Disruption in the legal sector isn’t a one-dimensional problem. It’s a complex interplay of technological, demographic, disaster-related, and regulatory changes. Technological innovation, for instance, is revolutionising how we manage legal work, making processes more efficient and accessible. At the same time, demographic shifts are influencing the values and work-life balance expectations of the legal workforce, while regulatory changes are shaping the competitive landscape.

Navigating Unprecedented Times

Our research, which involved an extensive survey of 261 legal practitioners in Queensland, revealed an intriguing blend of readiness and resilience among lawyers when faced with upheaval. The majority reported coping well with the challenges posed by COVID-19, demonstrating a commendable level of adaptability and optimism for handling future changes.

However, this self-assessment might hint at bias, especially considering the significant seniority of many respondents and many participants’ association with the Queensland Law Society. As the industry continues to evolve, particularly with the rise of accessible generative AI technologies like Chat-GPT, ongoing research and adaptation are imperative.

Barriers and Strategies for Adaptation

Despite a general readiness, the study identified specific barriers impacting lawyers’ ability to adapt. Workload pressures, information overload, and operational tasks emerged as major obstacles, often leading to a significant time drain. This finding suggests a need for strategies that streamline administrative tasks, perhaps through technology, freeing up time for more critical, client-focused work.

Interestingly, the study also noted that many firms already employ innovative structures like incorporated legal practices (ILPs) to navigate these changes. There’s a clear indication that firms are recognizing the value of alternative business models in fostering a more adaptable and resilient practice.

The Way Forward: Collaboration and Technology

The study concludes with a compelling vision for the future, emphasizing the role of collaboration and technology in navigating the legal profession’s changing landscape. As practitioners, our most precious resource is time, and technology, when used effectively, can be a powerful tool to reclaim it and focus on strategic planning and client service.

The path forward is through embracing change, leveraging technology, and continuing education to remain agile and informed. It involves not just individual adaptation but also collective efforts from professional associations and industry stakeholders to support lawyers through these transitions.


The legal profession in Queensland, like many others worldwide, is at a crossroads of change and opportunity. The insights from our study not only highlight the current state of adaptation but also pave the way for future strategies, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning, technological integration, and collaborative efforts. As we navigate this journey, the focus remains clear: to evolve, innovate, and serve our clients with unwavering commitment and expertise.

A new sheriff in town? Section 596A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and shareholders’ new found powers

In my article, “A New Sheriff in Town? Section 596A and Shareholders’ Newfound Powers,” I explore the transformative interpretation of Section 596A of the Corporations Act 2001, as articulated in the High Court of Australia’s ruling in Walton v ACN 004 410 833 Ltd (in liq) (Walton). This pivotal ruling has granted shareholders and former shareholders unprecedented powers to examine company officers about the company’s affairs for their own benefit. This marks a departure from the long-held belief that such examinations should solely benefit the company, its creditors, or contributories. My exploration delves into the implications of this judicial shift, emphasizing the potential for enhanced enforcement of the Corporations Act.

My analysis begins with an introduction to the issue, followed by a detailed examination of the legal landscape before the Walton decision, including key cases that previously interpreted the scope and purpose of Section 596A. I then meticulously dissect the Walton litigation, from its inception in the New South Wales Supreme Court to its culmination in the High Court of Australia, providing a critical examination of both the majority and dissenting judgments and offering insights into the various judicial perspectives on the scope and purpose of the examination powers under Section 596A.

One of the significant insights from my work is the acknowledgment of the evolving nature of corporate law and the judiciary’s role in adapting legal interpretations to contemporary needs. By empowering shareholders and former shareholders to examine company officers for their own benefit, the High Court has recognized the need for effective tools to uncover and address corporate misconduct.

I conclude by reflecting on the broader implications of the Walton decision for corporate governance and regulation. I suggest that the expanded examination powers under Section 596A will likely lead to more proactive shareholder involvement and a more robust regulatory environment, possibly instigating a cultural shift towards greater corporate transparency and accountability.

Overall, in my article, I provide a comprehensive and insightful analysis of a landmark decision in Australian corporate law, contributing valuable insights for legal practitioners, scholars, and anyone interested in the evolving dynamics of corporate governance and shareholder rights.

You can access a pre-print version of this article for free below.