find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
OLSC to investigate ethics

OLSC to investigate ethics

THE BEHAVIOUR of large law firm lawyers is on the agenda, set to be investigated and addressed by the New South Wales Office of the Legal Services Commissioner. The Office of the Legal Services…

THE BEHAVIOUR of large law firm lawyers is on the agenda, set to be investigated and addressed by the New South Wales Office of the Legal Services Commissioner.

The Office of the Legal Services Commission (OLSC) has been developing a study to gauge the ethical structures, attitudes and behaviours of lawyers within the state’s largest firms.

The Office has been working on preparing an Australian Research Council grant in conjunction with Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland and the University of Adelaide to develop the study.

This week the OLSC said the study should identify how large firms work to support or encourage ethical practice among individual lawyers, as well as work teams within the firm.

It will delve into what countervailing pressures firms face that may diminish ethical practice.

Firms will be encouraged to assist by allowing interviews with their most senior people in charge of ethics policies and structures about what influences ethical practice at the firm.

They’ll be pressed about what influences ethical practice and what structures are in place to deal with them.

Formal interviews are also expected with the Legal Services Commissioners in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in order to establish their expectations of large law firms.

The investigation comes after NSW Legal Services Commission Steve Mark told the Australian Lawyers Alliance conference last month that he had been deeply concerned by the prospect of law firm incorporation, first permitted in 2001, and that firms would focus more on profit than professionalism.

“I feared that law firms would adopt unethical business practices and the possibility of equity ownership through listing would enhance incentives for the legal profession to behave in ways that would undermine their professional obligations set out in the Act, Rules and the Regulations.

“My fear was not uncommon. Similar concerns have been expressed about the possibility of incorporation thwarting the legal professions ethical obligations and responsibilities,” he said.

The study aims to concentrate on a number of ethical areas, identify how mechanisms like professional regulation and discipline, professional education and professional liability insurance, including risk management, might be aimed at promoting ethical practice within some larger law firms.

The OLSC said it hoped the project would help identify appropriate management systems and other mechanisms for ethical practice in firms.

As well, it would help develop legal and enforcement strategies for making sure these are put in place in incorporated law firms.

But Mark himself admitted his fears about integrated legal practices (ILPs) were unwarranted.

He said at the conference that according to the results of a study conducted by his office in conjunction with the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, complaints about ILPs have not increased in spite of their changes business practices.

“Most encouragingly from our perspective, the research revealed that 63 per cent of ILPs were prompted to make substantive systems changes as a result of engaging in the self-assessment process.

“This process is therefore more than a ‘tick a box exercise’ — the research shows that the majority of legal practitioners engage in the process seriously and diligently.

“The imposition of a management methodology upon the delivery of legal services has enabled ILPs to provide a quality service efficiently and cost effectively, without compromising their professional responsibilities,” Mark said.

The OLSC has the power to discipline and even remove the practicing certificate of such a solicitor director if they fail to meet their responsibilities.

“In establishing the rules for management systems we are attempting to embed ethical behaviour in management systems,” Mark said.

The OLSC’s application is to be lodged this month and seeks funding for a period of four years.

Lawyers Weekly will report on the results of this application

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

OLSC to investigate ethics
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...