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National regulation of lawyers close to reality

National regulation of lawyers close to reality

Australia's first legal officer says the wait is nearly over for a true national regulation for all lawyers.

AUSTRALIA'S first legal officer says the wait is nearly over for a true national regulation for all lawyers.

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has announced consultation on the National Legal Profession Reform Project will commence on 14 May 2010, with just a handful of issues left to be addressed.

“Twelve months ago, I thought we had Mount Everest to climb, but ultimately I think we are going to get there,” McClelland said in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra today.

The Project aims to create a single national market for legal services, as well as simplify and increase the effectiveness of regulation of the legal profession, McClelland said.

Today’s announcement follows the recent decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to release these materials for a period of consultation and discussion by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) in Melbourne.

The consultation package will include a draft Bill, national rules for the profession, a Consultation Report from the Legal Profession Reform Taskforce, a Regulation Impact Statement, and independent economic analysis conducted by ACIL Tasman.

Stakeholder meetings will be held nationally through May and June, and the Commonwealth will invite consumer representatives to a one day workshop during the consultation period in order to specifically engage and receive input from the perspective of legal service consumers.

“Comments on all aspects of the proposals will be closely considered as public scrutiny and robust debate will be critical to ensuring we achieve a national system that serves us well in the coming decades,” he said.

Independent economic analysis suggests that the proposed reforms will save more than $130 million over 10 years in cost and duplication and will grow the economy by more than $25 million, the report said.

McClelland said most state and territory attorneys are now satisfied with the proposed rules. “They will still retain their spheres of influence in their own professions and courts and I think it will comes down to a discussion as to the intricacies of costs,” he said.

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