​New watchdog for the NSW legal profession

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Issued: Thursday 22 January 2015

Attorney General Brad Hazzard today announced the appointment of award winning solicitor John McKenzie as the new Legal Services Commissioner for NSW.

"Mr McKenzie is a distinguished jurist who has won multiple awards for his work as a criminal lawyer and for his commitment to improving access to justice, particularly for Aboriginal people," Mr Hazzard said.

"He has displayed the utmost integrity throughout his 36-year career and has the skills and experience necessary for the role of regulating the legal profession."

The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner is an Independent statutory body that deals with complaints about NSW lawyers.   It has the power to take disciplinary action against solicitors and barristers and helps resolve consumer disputes over legal services.

Prior to being appointed Legal Services Commissioner, Mr McKenzie served for eight years as Chief Legal Officer of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT). 

He won the Law and Justice Foundation's Justice Medal in 2011 for outstanding achievement in improving access to justice.  He also received the Terry Keaney Memorial Award in 2009 for outstanding service as a defence criminal lawyer.

Mr McKenzie was a principal solicitor at the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody between 1987 and 1991 and in the years that followed he remained committed to ensuring its recommendations were implemented.

He has also held senior positions at the Many Rivers Aboriginal Legal Service, Legal Aid NSW and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Mr McKenzie will begin a four year term as Legal Services Commissioner on 4 March 2015.