Why I don’t sit on the sideline.

9 September 2021

Why I don’t sit on the sideline.

Author: Michael Brennan

“When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” – Maya Angelou

My very insightful Partner and I were recently discussing why I have nominated to stand as Deputy President in the Qld Law Society (QLS) elections. She asked me “why are you so passionate about the work you do with the QLS?”

That question stumped me.  I mean, I must be passionate about it right?  Being on the QLS Council is a volunteer role and over my six-year tenure, I have invested hundreds of hours of time.   Why?

My initial answers started off as a bunch of motherhood statements and macro level comments about helping lawyers do their jobs, about helping people in need and about fighting for regional lawyers.  All of these are true, but they don’t get to the heart of it for me.

After a lot of reflection, I think I arrived at two key things that drive me.  They have driven me for most of my career and they have driven me to volunteer for all manner of organisations.  The cost in time has been high but I hope the ends have justified the investment.   I actually think my drivers are common to most Solicitors because we are always on every board or committee and at the heart of nearly every cause, will be a Solicitor.

My first driver is beautifully stated in the quote by Maya Angelou.  “When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”  I want to contribute my time, skills and passion for as long as I am able.  I don’t want to leave the lifting to others if I can share the load.  I don’t claim to have any or all of the answers but I am willing to have a crack and work to make things better when others may not want to pitch in.

The second driver for me is even more granular.  I deeply and fundamentally believe with all of my being, in the vital importance of the Rule of Law.  The concept of the Rule of Law can seem a bit amorphous. There are many definitions of the Rule of Law, but the one that sits most comfortably with me, is from the Parliamentary Education Office.  Yes, I found that definition on Google, don’t judge me.

The ‘rule of law’ is the principle that both the government and citizens know the law and are ruled by it. This means that the law applies to everyone, regardless of their position or status. To make sure everyone knows the law and their rights, laws should be easy to understand, findable and enforced.

Our role as Solicitors, in my very humble opinion, is as a part of the Judiciary.  We are Officers of the Court.  We must defend and promote the sanctity and independence of the Judiciary.  It is our role to defend the vital separation of powers which underpins the democracy that we live in and keeps us safe.

The QLS plays a crucial and irreplaceable role in assisting Solicitors to discharge their duties to the Court first and foremost.  The QLS is the tip of the spear when it comes to discharging our role as defenders of the Judiciary.  The QLS strives to educate the public on the difficult balance that the Judiciary faces daily as it strives to interpret and apply the laws passed by the Executive and Parliament.

The Judiciary, including its Solicitor members, do not make or pass laws.  That is the function of the other arms of government.  Solicitors, led incredibly well by the QLS, have a key role in the education of legislators and providing evidence-based commentary on laws but it is not our role to make legislative change happen.

The balance between policy advisor and activist change agent is incredibly fraught.  Again, I strongly and passionately believe that the QLS has for a long time, navigated this area exceptionally well.

The purpose of the QLS has for some time been stated as “Good Law, Good Lawyers and Public Good.”  This statement is the perfect distillation of the Rule of Law.  It is why I am so passionate about the QLS.  It is why I have invested so much of my time and sacrificed so much of my family’s time and it is why I hope that Members entrust me with role of Deputy President at the upcoming election.

Michael Brennan is a Principal at Offermans.  Michael holds dual qualifications as a Solicitor and Accountant.  He is a Registered Liquidator and Trustee in Bankruptcy, current Council Member of the QLS Council and National Board Member of the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association and a Life Member of the Townsville District Law Association.