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75% of new lawyers in Victoria are women, according to new report

The VLSB+C annual report for 2021–22 has been tabled in Parliament, with 2022 also marking 25 years of independent legal regulation in Victoria.

user iconLauren Croft 05 January 2023 Big Law
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The latest annual report from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSB+C), tabled in Parliament late last year, wrapped up a busy year for the state’s legal sector, focused on protecting and empowering consumers, enhancing legal practice and ethics, and improving access to justice.

The report revealed that Victoria’s legal profession grew by 4.7 per cent in 2021–22, with more than 26,600 lawyers practising in the state. Nearly 75 per cent of all new lawyers were women, who now make up 53 per cent of the profession.

The profession also continues to diversify, with around 23 per cent of lawyers born overseas. To handle this growth, the VLSB streamlined their processes and invested in technology to help deal with the thousands of enquiries received from lawyers and consumers each year, according to the report.


In Victoria, only 4.2 per cent of all solicitors and 2.5 per cent of all barristers had a complaint made against them in 2021–22. The VLSB opened 1,071 formal complaints, mostly related to family law, conveyancing, wills and power of attorney, with the top issues being overcharging, negligence or poor case handling, and professional conduct.

The report also noted that where lawyers were found to be doing the wrong thing, the board took decisive action to protect consumers and the community. This included finalising 13 prosecutions at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and successfully applying to remove one lawyer from the Supreme Court’s Roll of Australian lawyers. There were a number of serious problems identified with trust accounts at 13 law practices — with six warranting direct intervention or police referral — and the board continued to crack down on unqualified legal practice, issuing directions to 14 individuals.

The report also reflected on the 25th anniversary of independent legal regulation in Victoria.

“It was 25 years ago that the Legal Practice Board and the Legal Ombudsman Victoria — precursors to the VLSB+C — were established as independent statutory bodies to regulate the legal profession in Victoria,” the board states in the report.

“Over that time, the Victorian legal profession has evolved to become more diverse and representative of the community it serves. The introduction of Legal Profession Uniform Law has also meant Victorian lawyers now work under the same regulatory standards as their counterparts in New South Wales and Western Australia.”

Fiona McLeay, board chief executive and commissioner, said this report was particularly timely given the anniversary.

“This was a productive year as we continued our transformation into a best-practice regulator. We made great strides in looking at how our data on the profession can be used to help us better support lawyers and protect consumers. This is allowing us to break new ground in areas such as early intervention,” she said.

“As we look back on 25 years of independent legal regulation in Victoria, I want to acknowledge the organisations and people who have been part of shaping our evolution. Their knowledge has helped us grow into the robust and progressive regulator we are today. We are committed to building on that legacy into the future.”