VICTORIAN lawyers have welcomed the appointment of a new Legal Services Commissioner and Legal Services Board chief executive.
Michael McGarvie brings more than 25 years' legal experience to the role, after a career in which he was heavily involved in advocating for consumer needs and rights.
McGarvie takes on the role from Victoria Marles, who resigned in October 2009.
Law Institute of Victoria CEO, Michael Brett Young, said the LIV had already established a good working relationship with McGarvie, both in his role as CEO of the Supreme Court and also as acting Legal Services Commissioner.
“We believe [McGarvie] will work well with the profession and the public.”
Brett Young said the appointment was particularly welcome at a time when the profession was moving towards national regulation.
Brett Young said he thought McGarvie would help further the work started by the Council of Australian Governments in 2009, which appointed a taskforce to draft legislation providing uniform laws for regulation of the legal profession across Australia. This draft legislation is expected to be prepared for consideration by COAG early this year.
“We expect [McGarvie] will work with the profession to further those reforms,” Brett Young said.
Acting Victorian Premier and Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, said McGarvie's depth of industry knowledge matches his personal passion for the needs and interests of consumers in the industry.
“As the Supreme Court CEO since 2006, McGarvie has overseen both the technical and physical modernisation of the Supreme Court to improve service delivery to the public and the legal profession as well as efficiency within the court.”
McGarvie has worked as a solicitor and partner with law firm Holding Redlich, practising civil litigation in both the County and Supreme Courts.
“As partner in one of Victoria’s leading firms, [McGarvie] ran a successful civil litigation practice, oversaw the establishment of new services and new interstate offices and acted as mentor to junior solicitors within the firm,” Hulls said.
Hulls said McGarvie has provided legal representation through mediation, negotiation and advocacy in industrial accident claims, product safety advice, litigation of public risk and defective product cases.
The Legal Services Commissioner independently assesses complaints about members of the legal profession, and has the power to investigate and prosecute lawyers for misconduct and mediate disputes about legal costs.
Hulls said: “[McGavie] will assist in ensuring Victorian consumers have access to a system that resolves complaints about lawyers cheaply, quickly and easily.
“This appointment will also contribute to the important work being done to nationalise regulation of the legal profession in Australia and ensure that we have an appropriate national model with uniform laws across jurisdictions.”