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.

My blog post about whip use in racing on Lawfully

I wrote a short piece summarising my article in the Adelaide Law Review, titled ‘Could existing anticruelty laws ban whip use in horse racing?’. Here is the link to the Lawfully website…

Gingko Writer as a way to plan IRAC/problem-based answers in law

I recently discovered the Gingko Writer app (https://gingkowriter.com/) when restructuring an article that was rejected by a journal. But, it occurred to me that it could also be used to digitally plan or organise answers to problem-based questions using the IRAC structure. Having tried using an Excel spreadsheet like this

late in my law degree and as a tutor preparing for a class, I find a structured approach helps ensure every legal issue has a rule (or law) that is then applied to some specific facts from the question.

The key benefit of using Gingko Writer is that it is a lot easier to add new content without playing around in Excel with adding rows and then merging cells, so it still looks pretty.

The other benefit of Gingko Writer is you can then export what you have produced into a Word document helping to avoid writer’s block.

I hope you find this useful.

Are you a #futureready lawyer based in Queensland?

Whether you own or are employed in a sole, micro, small or medium-sized law practice in Queensland, please spend a few minutes to complete this survey and help guide the future.

I am involved with this research, commissioned by Queensland Law Society (QLS) and being undertaken by the University of Southern Queensland and The University of Queensland which will provide recommendations to enable QLS to most appropriately respond to the future needs of your practice.

Please share through your networks.

Is the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Doing Enough?

Professor Paula Gerber and I recently published an empirical analysis of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’) and their relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Human Rights Law Review. Specifically, we examined the CRC’s primary outputs, including its Concluding Observations for the last ten years (2010-2020), all the CRC’s General Comments to date and Views from Individual Communications. This involved an analysis of over 1500 records.

The final article is available at https://doi.org/10.1093/hrlr/ngab012. However, the pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in the Human Rights Law Review following peer review is available below.

In brief, several of our findings suggest that the CRC has become more sensitive to many of the issues facing LGBT children and children with same-sex parents. Quantitatively, the attention the CRC has given to LGBT issues has increased. The terminology used by the CRC also reflected greater inclusiveness over time.

However, our research found that there are several areas for improvement. In particular, it is recommended that the CRC avoid bundling LGBT children and children with same-sex parents

with a long list of other groups of vulnerable children in its Concluding Observations. The CRC should also take a more consistent approach to the consideration of State Parties anti-discrimination legislation and whether it adequate to protect the interests of LGBT children and children with same-sex parents. It is also recommended that the CRC pay closer attention to the Alternative Reports filed by non-government organisations when raising concerns regarding the violation of the rights of LGBT children and children in same-sex families. Concerning the CRC’s General Comments, it is recommended that the CRC publish a General Comment on issues facing LGBT children and children with same-sex parents.

With greater engagement and monitoring of human rights violations against LGBT children and children with same-sex parents, it is hoped that the CRC could continue its important and valuable work in helping to break down negative stereotypes these children face to prevent and minimise harms during the child’s development.

Justice at the Edge: Hearing the Sound of Silence

I am pleased to announce the publication of ‘Justice at the Edge: Hearing the Sound of Silence’ in the latest edition of the Adelaide Law Review.

My coauthors (Kim Economides and Leslie S Ferraz) and I created a short video presenting the significant findings. We hope this piques your interest in the topic and you decide to read the full article, which can be downloaded below.

In brief, we propose the next ‘wave’ in the access to justice is actually a counter-wave. This counter-wave can bring legal knowledge from the legal ‘periphery’ to the legal ‘centre’ to improve access to justice for all peoples. We use the granting of personhood to natural objects in Aotearoa/New Zealand as an example of this phenomenon in action. In particular, First Nations tribes (or iwis) in Aotearoa/New Zealand view these natural objects as persons in customary law. In granting the same natural objects personhood status under the general law, the general legal system can be seen as adopting or incorporating traditional legal principles from custom into the general legal system for the benefit of all peoples, including First Nations who have (and continue to be) marginalised under the general legal system.

The article goes on to consider whether the counter-wave could lead to similar legal developments occurring in Australia, Brazil and Canada, with promising signs in each of the respective jurisdictions.