The regulation of the legal profession in Australia is governed by State and Territory law. Although all States and Territories apart from South Australia have introduced harmonised legislation, differences between jurisdictions remain, including in areas such as admission and practising certificates, costs assessment and disclosure and complaints handling and discipline. There are also 55 bodies or groups charged with regulating various aspects of the legal profession across the States and Territories.
A nationally uniform system of regulation would reduce the regulatory burden and minimise compliance costs for firms and lawyers by creating uniform rules of practice across all jurisdictions in Australia. The disparate regulation of the current system demands the attention of microeconomic reform to assist in the delivery of a seamless national economy.
By clarifying the rules under which lawyers practice, consumers of legal services will also enjoy more transparent billing and complaints handling procedures. The sense of disempowerment resulting from a lack of transparency in these areas is one of the most prevalent complaints from clients under the present system.
The Taskforce considered all aspects of the existing system of regulation of the legal profession, including education, admission and practice with the goal of creating a single national regulatory framework.
The Consultative Group’s role was to advise and assist the Taskforce in its work. Members participated in the Group in their individual capacities on a voluntary basis. The Group represented a wealth of experience across a range of key areas including regulators, the courts, consumers, the legal profession and legal educators. Members of the Group also came from each State and Territory in Australia.
The Law Societies and Bar Associations were closely involved throughout the process. Mr Bill Grant, Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia, was a member of the Taskforce and a number of members of the Consultative Group came from Law Societies or Bar Associations.
Under the current system, how you complain about a lawyer will depend on where you are in Australia. The Law Society/Institute in your State or Territory will be able to provide details on how to complain about a solicitor, and the Bar Association in your State or Territory will be able to provide details on how to complain about a barrister. Contact details for these bodies can be found through the Law Council of Australia website.