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From the CEO : Taking PD to the country

Every Issue

Cite as: (2003) 77(3) LIJ, p.6

The Law Institute has developed a Professional Development program specifically for regional practitioners.

Members in regional Victoria regularly express frustration about their inability to access the professional development (PD) programs offered by the Law Institute. This frustration is compounded by the fact their access to research and information and library facilities is often severely restricted because of their location.

Late last year the Institute’s Professional Development Department started working on a PD program for country practitioners. As a result, the “State of the Law” program will tour country Victoria providing valuable information to country practitioners.

In all, four events have been organised in the first phase. The first took place in Dunkeld on 7 February. Three other events are organised for this month – at Traralgon on 7 March, Mildura on 21 March and Rutherglen on 28 March. The events have been organised in conjunction with the Country Law Associations. Institute President Bill O’Shea and I will attend each of these events.

If the response to these events is strong, then it is anticipated that every six months the Institute will organise State of the Law PD programs for regional Victoria. It is hoped these will turn into significant events for regional practitioners and not only provide them with valuable education and PD information but also enhance a strong sense of professionalism.

To complement this program, the Institute has recently negotiated an online library package with LexisNexis specifically designed for country practitioners. The package includes Halsbury’s Laws of Australia online, Butterworths Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary Online, Australian Legal Words and Phrases online and Legal Express. In addition, a choice of eight extra products in particular practice areas is available. A significant discount has been offered in this package for regional practitioners. However, this program will only be a success if it is taken up by a significant number of practitioners. I urge all regional practitioners to give serious consideration to this offer.

INSURANCE CRISIS

For more than 12 months the legal profession has been blamed for the so-called insurance crisis. The Insurance Council, the Australian Medical Association and the media have been unrelenting in their criticism of lawyers and the legal system as being the cause of this “crisis”.

Consistently, the Institute has argued that the public liability crisis has been caused by insurance market features rather than a legal system. Interestingly, a survey recently conducted by JP Morgan and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu says the rates will continue to harden across the market due to:

  • the shortage/restriction in the level of capacity within the market;
  • industry participants re-pricing their portfolios to more technically correct levels in an attempt to rebuild profitability in many classes; and
  • the need to meet increasing reinsurance costs.

The NSW government undertook radical re-writing of negligence law hoping to stabilise prices in insurance. If the survey findings are correct then, despite that government’s reform agenda, this will have little or no impact on premium levels. In Victoria the government chose to move more cautiously and it ought to be applauded for this. It appears that the pressure on premiums is coming from factors well outside the Australian market.

ETHICS LIAISON PROGRAM

By the time you read this, the Institute will have formally launched its Ethics Liaison Program. This is a significant initiative to train, educate and provide a forum for exchange of views on ethics issues.

As a profession we are responsible for the maintenance of the highest possible ethical standards and the dissemination of information and debate on ethical issues is something that we must encourage and facilitate. The Ethics Liaison Group is designed specifically to draw people from a broad cross-section of firms debate and discuss the issues and disseminate information to all practitioners. Please contact the Institute on tel 9607 9421 if you require further information.

John Cain

jcain@liv.asn.au

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