James Skelton

City Member

About

Having served as an Executive Councillor of NSW Young Lawyers since 2015, James is acutely aware of the issues facing newer members of the legal profession. As a Young Lawyer, he has chaired the NSWYL Students and Graduates Working Group, working with the NSW Law Society's Graduate Services team, to improve engagement with universities, students and recent graduates to support their smooth transition into the legal profession. If elected, he wants to continue to ensure that young lawyers and their supervisors are comfortable with the expectations set not only by the Law Society but also by themselves.

James has also chaired the NSWYL Wellbeing and Diversity Working Group, which is responsible for promoting strong mental health initiatives within the legal profession at a junior lawyer level. James believes strongly in the concept of 'belonging' in the workplace. "By creating an environment where you can 'bring your whole self to work', practitioners of all ages can feel supported and we can foster a mentally healthy profession. These initiatives needn't be grand and expensive, but rather can be something as simple as flexible working arrangements to support a primary care giver or acknowledging a colleague from a culturally diverse background with a unique personal commitment."

He has an active interest in technology in and outside of the legal profession, having coordinated several submissions in relation to online copyright infringement, changes to the innovation patent system and the NSW inquiry into serious invasions of privacy. "Actively engaging with changes in technology and legal practice not only allows us to future-proof our own legal careers, but also to deliver more efficient services to our clients."

James also sees changes in technology as a way of making the Law Society's services reach beyond the Sydney CBD to those members in rural and regional areas, who are crucial to their local communities but may not have the same opportunities and levels of support as their colleagues in the Sydney CBD. As a Vice-Chair of the Intellectual Property Section of Meritas, the global alliance of independent law firms, he regularly facilitates discussion and support for members that are dispersed over international borders. If elected, he would like to encourage the Law Society to explore other options for collaboration between members separated by distance.

James' Priorities:

  1. Reflecting on current mental health support systems within the legal profession and encouraging the promotion of greater wellbeing practices within the profession.
  2. Embracing new or alternative methods of legal service delivery and understanding new legal technology as it emerges.
  3. Ensuring that young lawyers and their supervisors have adequate guidance and education to support practitioners in their early years.
  4. Continuing to encourage greater diversity in the profession and fostering a collegiate environment founded on the concept of 'belonging'.
  5. Promoting Law Society services for those of us in small and medium sized firms to help us achieve rewarding legal careers.