NEW DIRECTION: Brisbane-based solicitor Bill Potts has set several goals he wants to work toward this year as the Queensland Law Society president.
NEW DIRECTION: Brisbane-based solicitor Bill Potts has set several goals he wants to work toward this year as the Queensland Law Society president. Contributed

High profile solicitor to give back to profession

AFTER 34 years as a criminal lawyer, high profile solicitor Bill Potts has decided to give back to the legal profession as he steps into the role of Queensland Law Society president.

Mr Potts is the founding director of Potts Lawyers, which is the largest private criminal practice in the state.

He may be based in Brisbane, but Mr Potts is a regular visitor to the Mackay Courthouse through his work.

"I've got a good life out of being a lawyer and I thought it was probably time that I put something back into the legal profession," Mr Potts said.

Part of his role will be promoting the good work done by lawyers across the state.

"For example, in Mackay you have a wonderful thing called the Mackay Community Legal Centre. There are some 23 volunteer solicitors, students, people who are giving freely of their time to support the... community," Mr Potts said.

Another aspect of the role involves engaging with the government and the public "about matters of public debate".

This includes domestic violence.

"The Quentin Bryce report came down and made 140 recommendations. The Law Society... has set up a working group that is drafting best practice guidelines for working both with affected victims and perpetrators of domestic violence," Mr Potts said.

Another hot topic in the media is one-punch laws.

Mr Potts said in his 34 years he'd acted for "literally hundreds of people who have been charged with violence".

"The simple reality is that deterrent penalties, longer penalties, do not work at all," he said.

"Young men, drunk in the middle of the night, simply are not thinking about what the penalties are.

"What needs to be done is an entire look at the culture of drinking."

Social media and revenge porn is another matter of public debate.

"The simple reality is that you should never put on the internet or send to a friend anything you wouldn't want your grandmother to see," he said.

Mr Potts' role will require him to travel across the state.

One of the challenges is trying to represent the sometimes very different views of Queensland's legal body.

For 2016 he said he had set himself a number of goals.

"I want to try and get money into community legal centres, (which) in Mackay... is a significant issue given the huge number of people who have problems with employment," Mr Potts said.

As well as pushing for more funding for Legal Aid Queensland, Mr Potts also believes there needs to be a second Federal Circuit Court judge.



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