QLS Legal Profession Dinner 2021
Speech delivered by Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President, Law Council of Australia, at the QLS Legal Profession Dinner, Brisbane, 12 March 2021.
"I congratulate Michael and Zinta and all other award winners for 2021. One of the awards is named after Agnes McWhinney, the Queenslander who was Australia’s first female solicitor. I am sure Ms McWhinney would be pleased to know that 106 years after her admission, Queensland’s Chief Justice, Attorney-General, Law Society President and Law Council President are all women.
It is quite a joy to gather in person tonight, three months into this new year of 2021. However, whilst I am sure none of us are desperate to look back, I will reflect on two shifts that we observed during 2020 and their ongoing significance for our profession. The first shift was the advance in take-up of digital technology – indeed, the most frequently uttered phrase of 2020 became “you’re on mute”.
The second was the renewed focus on our states, reminiscent of a pre-federation era. 2020 was also the year in which Texan lawyer Rod Ponton shot to sudden fame, with the words, “I’m here live, I’m not a cat”.
In deeply serious tones, Mr Ponton, who, thanks to a Zoom filter, had appeared on screen as a somewhat endearing cat, submitted to the Judge: “I’m prepared to go forward with it.”
The ensuing exchange between the e-bench and e-bar went viral with scholarly articles being published, my favourite of which was an article titled: “The joy of 'Lawyer Cat' is that it teaches us nothing – it's just very funny.”
Read the full speech below.