THE peak body representing Australian legal professionals has attacked the federal Attorney-General for pandering to popular stereotypes about lawyers.
The Law Council of Australia's fury comes after A-G Robert McClelland said that using lawyers to resolve disputes was like grabbing a "tiger by the tail" and being "up the creek without a paddle".
Law Council president John Corcoran said the comments are disrespectful to a profession committed to resolving clients' disputes in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Corcoran said: “People come to lawyers with legal problems which they have been unable to solve themselves. We do not create them.
"The vast majority of disputes are resolved without adjudication by the courts. Many clients would attest to the fact that if it wasn’t for their lawyers, the problem would not have been solved," Corcoran said.
The Law Council said that McClelland's comments on costs agreements and their complexity are difficult for the legal profession to understand, particularly given McClelland's position as a former lawyer.
"While costs agreements can be lengthy and complex, this is a problem created by legislative requirements imposed on lawyers under the existing legal profession legislation. It is inaccurate and unfair to blame lawyers for what must, by law, be included in costs agreements," it said in a statement.
Corcoran said the simplification of the legislative requirements governing costs agreements is one of the many matters driving the COAG legal profession reform project.
"Lawyers are looking forward to a considerable reduction in the complex regulatory requirements which currently burden them and consumers of legal services," he said.
“The Law Council remains committed to working with the Government to reducing “red tape” facing lawyers and clients."