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From the CEO: A Scheme for the future

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.6


The legal profession landscape is changing as a professional standards scheme comes close to commencement and requirements for supervised workplace training are relaxed.

It’s my pleasure to advise members that the Professional Standards Council recently approved the LIV’s Professional Standards Scheme under the Professional Standards Act 2003.

The Council has recommended to the federal Attorney-General that the Scheme be published in the Government Gazette.

The Scheme will cap the occupational liability of participating LIV members at either $2 million or $10 million, depending on the insurance policies, total annual fees and the number of principals of the law practice and to the extent that liability can be limited under the Act.

In summary, the caps under the Scheme are:

  • where a law practice consists of up to 20 principals and where the law practice generated total annual fee income for the financial year at the relevant time (which refers to a cause of action founded on an act or omission, specifically to the time of that act or omission) up to and including $10 million, the cap is $2 million; and
  • where a law practice consists of greater than 20 principals or where the law practice generated a total annual fee income for the financial year at the relevant time (which refers to a cause of action founded on an act or omission, specifically to the time of that act or omission) greater than $10 million, the cap is $10 million.

The LIV also has discretionary authority, on application by a member, to specify a higher maximum amount of liability than would otherwise apply either in all cases or in any specified case or class of case.

The anticipated commencement date for the Scheme is 1 July 2010.

The Scheme is considered a valuable risk management tool for practitioners to use when running their practices.

All members who provide services to the public will need to carefully consider their particular circumstances and decide during the next membership renewal process (which begins next month) whether or not to participate in the Scheme.

The LIV has been involved in extensive discussions with both the Queensland and New South Wales law societies, with a view to having consistent schemes operational across the eastern seaboard in the near future.

The LIV will develop a fact sheet for members and the LIV website (www.liv.asn.au) will be updated as information becomes available. The LIV will also provide information sessions for members this month and in March.

In the meantime, if you have any inquiries about the Scheme, please contact LIV Legal Policy and Practice general manager Joy Acquaro at jacquaro@liv.asn.au.

The Scheme commencement will be the culmination of many years of dedicated efforts by the LIV for its members, and I trust that members will value its significant benefits.


The Board of Examiners has announced changes to the supervised workplace training (SWT) requirements.

The LIV welcomes these changes which relax the previous prescriptive requirements.

There is now a more flexible approach to satisfying the training requirement. Employers may apply to the Board for approval to provide training in different practice areas. See Practice Direction No 2 of 2009 on the Board’s website (www.lawadmissions.vic.gov.au/quick_links/forms) for more information.

However, a challenge exists for the legal profession to continue and maintain the assistance to graduates embarking on a career as a lawyer.

Firms have not embraced the changes to SWT, and the number of law graduates entering the profession via the new system has dropped by 69 per cent.

With only 20 per cent of entry via SWT, there is now pressure on the alternative entry process, notably the College of Law and the Leo Cussen Institute, to find employment for their graduates.

It is important that firms assist students from these organisations to find practical experience as this is part of the course requirements.

At the same time, there are opportunities for firms to find well-trained employees via this route without the onerous requirements of taking on a 12-month SWT employee.

Solicitors who take on College of Law and Leo Cussen students to help them obtain necessary practical legal experience may find a future employee or even partner.

Many firms, particularly smaller ones, may find that this provides them with an alternative means of obtaining excellent well-trained employees, with the opportunity to assess them before committing to any future employment.


And finally, the LIV welcomes the appointment of Michael McGarvie as Victoria’s new Legal Services Commissioner and Legal Services Board chief executive.

The LIV has had a good working relationship with Mr McGarvie, both when he was Supreme Court CEO and when he was acting Legal Services Commissioner. We look forward to continuing that good relationship, especially as we move towards a truly national profession.

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