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Uniform goal for profession


Cite as: (2009) 83(02) LIJ, p.12

New Law Council of Australia (LCA) president John Corcoran will “vigorously pursue” simplifying and unifying the laws that regulate the national legal profession.

Russell Kennedy chair and a former LIV president, Mr Corcoran took over the year-long LCA presidency on 1 January.

“The desire in the legal profession now is not so much harmonisation but uniformity,” Mr Corcoran told the LIJ.

All states and territories, apart from South Australia, have passed Legal Profession Acts based on a Model Bill to facilitate cross-border practice and encourage a national legal services market.

Mr Corcoran said it had been a “very difficult task” to develop the legislation – which has core, non-core and state provisions – and he was hopeful South Australia would soon pass the Bill.

“But I think there is a very good case for taking that much further and having a much more simplified model legislation around the country,” he said.

“The thinking now is we really should move to that next step. It won’t be easy to move there, but we are keen to vigorously pursue it.”

While Mr Corcoran said the national profession project was his number one challenge for the upcoming year, he also highlighted other major issues including national e-conveyancing, anti-money laundering and opening up legal markets offshore.

“Australia’s large firms are keen to develop their practices offshore, particularly in the Asia-Pacific area,” he said.

“An estimate I have seen is about half a billion dollars of legal services are exported from Australia every year. It is significant and growing.”

Mr Corcoran’s focus on the international scene will be helped by his election last October to the management board of the International Bar Association (IBA), which is the global voice for the legal profession.

He is one of two elected representatives of the 190 legal organisations around the world currently on the IBA management board.

Mr Corcoran has long been involved in professional bodies, having joined the LIV Council in the late 1990s and becoming LIV president in 2001-02.

He was elected to the LCA executive in 2004 and has also served on the Legal Services Board since December 2005.

After studying law at Monash University, Mr Corcoran completed articles at Rennick & Gaynor under former LIV president Brian McCarthy and was admitted to practice in 1980.

He joined Russell Kennedy in 1982, became partner in 1986, and practises in banking and finance, corporate and commercial, health and aged care, leasing and property and development.

Married to Gill and with three boys, Mr Corcoran said he had a “pretty busy life” but made time to keep fit.

“I do a lot of walking, I ski a lot and I play tennis and golf . . . and that is just about as much as I can fit in.”


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