find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Reform should not diminish law societies

Reform should not diminish law societies

The president of the Law Society of New South Wales has said the national legal profession reform process could sideline law societies.Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, society president Stuart…

The president of the Law Society of New South Wales has said the national legal profession reform process could sideline law societies.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, society president Stuart Westgarth said that he used the occasion of making a speech at the opening of law term dinner at NSW Parliament House earlier in the week (31 January) to speak about concerns he has with the reform process.

While supportive of the process generally, Westgarth said it still needs adjustments in "substantial areas, not just putting paint on the ceiling".

In particular, Westgarth highlighted proposals which could substantially lessen the role of the NSW Law Society and increase the burden of regulatory compliance.

"At the operational level, where compliance is enforced, the independence of the profession has gone too far in being under the direct control of the executive arm of government, namely the Legal Services Commissioner," Westgarth said. "The current arrangement, where we regulate with the Commissioner, or indeed the Commissioner delegates some functions to us, is fine."

Westgarth also nominated penalties for breaches of ethical standards by private practice partners and access to justice issues as needing further attention.

"Where there has been a breach of conduct rule by a partner in a law firm, then everyone else is equally guilty unless they can establish certain things, and those things are hard to establish," Westgarth, also a partner at HWL Ebsworth, said. "In a practical sense, it exposes innocent parties unfairly in my view."

Westgarth added that mooted proposals that would provide the framework under which the client / lawyer relationship would function could potentially mean lawyers would be reluctant to represent the most vulnerable members of society.

"This is not a pro-lawyer or anti-consumer stance, it is the opposite," he said. "There needs to be a greater balance [with regards to clients understanding terms and conditions when engaging a lawyer] that does not diminish access to justice."

Westgarth made the introductory speech at the dinner, with James Spigelman, the chief justice of the NSW Supreme Court, using the keynote address to speak about important international developments affecting the Australian legal profession.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Reform should not diminish law societies
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Queensland University of Technology, ruby milestone
Queensland law school reaches ruby milestone
Celebrating 40 years since establishing a law course in 1977, the Queensland University of Technolog...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...