The glacial National Legal Profession Reform process which began in 2004, finally reached the NSW parliament last month, with the state’s attorney general Greg Smith telling parliament the reforms will cut red tape for law firms and make interstate work simpler.
Despite the reforms only being adopted by Victoria and New South Wales, the dominance of the East Coast in the economy and Australian legal market means that 70% of all Australian lawyers will be covered by the changes.
“The reforms represent a very significant milestone delivery of an Australian legal services market that is the interest of the economy and the Australian people,” Michael Tidball, CEO of the NSW Law Society told Australasian Lawyer
The eventual passing of Legal Profession Uniform Law in both states means that the admission of interstate and overseas lawyers will become more consistent.
Tidball explained that the microeconomic reforms will reduce differences in compliance and reduce burdens between jurisdictions.
They will also create clarity and consistency around practicing certificates, complaints and professional development restrictions.
“The changes create a really good framework for the Australian profession to move towards being one market,” Tidball said.
“There is recognition that Australia needs one market, but also the acknowledgment that different jurisdictions have different cultures and economies and so there is some accommodation of that in the regulation.”
Between 31 March 2014 and 1 July 2014 both States intend to have reviewed their legislation and regulations; repealed or amended any inconsistent legislation and to have enacted any necessary transitional arrangements or consequential amendments.
In addressing the NSW parliament Greg Smith said that lawyers will be able practise seamlessly across jurisdictions under uniform legislation and regulatory standards which replace disparate legislation, regulations and rules across the participating jurisdictions.
The full implementation of the reforms is expected to come into being by early 2015.
The CEO of the NSW Law Society says that legal sector reform will produce positive results for large law firms once legislation comes into effect.