Introduction - A comprehensive 'systems approach' to compliance under the Uniform Law

Part 1 of 10 | taught by Duncan Hart LLB MBA
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Duncan Hart LLB MBA
Duncan Hart LLB MBA
Barrister & Solicitor Consultant to Professional Service Firms

About the Instructor

Duncan spent more than a decade as managing partner of a ten-partner legal practice and three years as Regional Managing Director of one of Australia’s largest law firms with over 160 partners. He has particular expertise in the strategic management issues facing firms, the markets in which they operate and the development of their human and intellectual capital.

Duncan practised as a barrister and solicitor principally in the area of intellectual property for more than 25 years before opening his own consultancy in 2002. In his practice as a consultant he has advised all of the major professional groups as well as broader industry sectors and continues to holds a current practising certificate in Victoria.

He is a regular traveler to SE Asia and China as well as the Middle East. He is a director of several companies involved in supporting the export of services to those regions and the commercialisation of their intellectual property.

Duncan’s educational background includes Legal (LLB) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees.

He has lived and worked in both the US and UK providing management consulting and legal advice. He is based in Melbourne.

He is the author of ‘The Strategic Law Firm’ and 'Lean Innovation for Lawyers' and editor of ‘Management of the Australian Law Firm’, and a regular speaker at conferences dealing with leadership, strategy and marketing issues.

(On weekends however, he can be found sailing at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club on his aged wooden yacht, HAIKU or plotting his next excursion on the canals and waterways of Europe).

SUMMARY

  1. What are the obligations?
  2. How to comply with an AUDIT
  3. What are 'management system directions'?
  4. Who are they imposed on?
  5. How do I comply AND achieve my wider business objectives?

This course provides answers to all these questions and describes a framework of 6 systems which not only ensure compliance but support your wider business objectives.

An hour and a half of video in all.

Each part of the 10 part course has a:

  • a detailed video with copy of slides
  • supporting PDFs you can download with comprehensive references to Act and all Rules

I suggest you purchase all parts of the course but you can limit your purchases to specific parts if you so wish.

The introductory video and PDF/slides is free.

If you have any questions or my assistance in setting up your systems contact me on dh@duncanhartconsulting.com

THE 'SYSTEMS' APPROACH

The Uniform Law creates a common legal framework for the practice of law in New South Wales and Victoria. Its objectives are set out in Section 3 of the Act and the most relevant to this discussion are those relating to:

  • '… ensuring lawyers are competent and maintain high ethical and professional standards'
  • '… protection of clients, law practices and the protection of the public generally'

In the Rules 'to act ethically' includes inter alia to act 'in the best interests of a client’ to be 'honest and courteous' to be competent and diligent and to avoid compromising their 'integrity and professional independence'.

In combination the Uniform Law and Rules by implication (but does not specifically require), law practices to adopt 'appropriate management systems' and a regime of 'supervision' to achieve the objectives set out in the Uniform Law.

Whilst compliance is always the responsibility of individual solicitors, particular additional responsibilities are assigned to

  • 'authorised Principals',
  • 'responsible Principals'',
  • Principals',
  • 'solicitors with designated responsibility' and
  • 'associates of a law practice'.

Responsibility for a breach involving such obligations is also capable of being extended to 'any Principal of a… law practice' involved in such a breach and may not require the responsible party even to be a lawyer.

It is my view that the specific obligations of the Uniform Law leave no option to Principals of law practices other than to create, implement and manage a number of such 'management systems' (I suggest 6 in all below).

In short the Uniform Law creates a framework of what could be described as collective responsibility for compliance and recognises that often individual practitioner failures can be ascribed to systemic issues that often exist within law practices which either do not support adequately or in fact actively inhibit or ignore their compliance obligations. The responsibility for avoiding such systemic failures lies primarily with the Principals of such law practices.

How should a law practice address such compliance obligations?

It therefore becomes of particular concern to Principals of such practices (no matter what the legal structure might be[1]), to understand not only what these specific obligations are but also what underlying management and supervisory systems will be considered to be 'appropriate' if, in the event of audit, complaint, or a specific breach the Principals are not found to be in breach themselves. It is sufficient for instance to find a Principal liable in the event of a contravention by a law practice '…if the Principal was in, or ought reasonably to have been in, a position to influence the conduct of the law practice in relation to the contravention of the provision and failed to take reasonable steps…'.[2]

There is no definition in either the Uniform Law or Rules of the term 'management system' nor what would constitute adequate, reasonable or appropriate ‘supervision'. The aim of this paper is to suggest a combination of 6 Management Systems which are required in my view to achieve the objectives of the LPUL and Rules as well as providing a sound basis for running any law practice.




[1] Legal Profession Uniform Law s 33.

[2] Legal Profession Uniform Law s 35(1)(b) and s470 (2) (b)


Course Contents

1 Video
2 PDFs