The ethical concerns of lawyers, as well as new national conduct rules, will be the focus of the soon-to-be launched Centre for Lawyers' Ethics in Brisbane.
The Centre, to be officially launched on a yet-to-be determined date in the coming weeks, will form part of the Queensland Law Society (QLS) but will be separate from the regulation arm of the QLS, and will also seek to address national issues.
It will be the first such centre, which is part of a collaborative effort agreed upon jointly by the Joint Law Societies Ethics Forum, to seek out avenues for jointly providing resources and tools regarding lawyers' ethics.
Centre manager and senior ethics lawyer Neil Watt told Lawyers Weekly a primary concern of the Centre will be in dealing with the new world of national conduct rules.
"It is superfluous for us to have national rules so we can all sing off the same hymn sheet, but then have each jurisdiction interpret those rules in its own eccentric fashion," he said.
"We need to develop a means by which the various law societies can cooperate more fully than has been the case in the days when each jurisdiction had its own rules and cooperation wasn't necessary."
While the Queensland-based centre might provide a prototype for other law societies to develop their own similar centres across the country, Watt highlighted that the success of the QLS Centre may rest on the fact that the QLS is the first law society to separate their ethics function from their regulation unit.
"Most law societies have their ethics unit as part of regulation," said Watt. "The difficulty with that, as we saw it, is that our members who want to discuss sensitive ethical issues are hesitant about ringing the regulator ... They want the law society to be their friend, advisor and guide."
The new Centre comes after the QLS launched it new legal ethics website earlier this year in a bid to provide lawyers and the public with access to ethics information as well as the tools and resources relevant to practicing law.
At the time, QLS CEO Noela L'Estrange said that with nationally uniform conduct rules on the horizon, the website would provide a practical "go to place" for lawyers across the country
Visit the legal ethics website here