Have your say on the proposed new rule regarding the qualification of foreign lawyers for admission

Date issued: 8 August 2019

The Legal Services Council Admissions Committee (Committee) invites public comment on the draft Legal Profession Uniform Admission Amendment (Qualifications) Rule 2019 (Draft Rule) in accordance with s 426 of the Uniform Law (UL). The Draft Rule relates to the admission of foreign lawyers in NSW and Victoria, a function performed by the admitting authorities (Boards) in each State.

A paper outlining the background to the Committee's decision, attaching a copy of the Draft Rule and the text of the Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015 (Admission Rules) if the rule is made, can be accessed here.

A summary of the effect of the Draft Rule follows.

  • Currently the Admission Rules demand that the academic requirements are only satisfied by study in Australia. A foreign lawyer may be granted a partial or full exemption from further study by a Board. The proposed amendment formally acknowledges that a foreign lawyer who has complied with directions by a Board to complete further study, satisfies the specified academic qualifications and/or practical legal training (PLT) prerequisite for admission.

  • The proposed amendments attempt to draw a distinction between experienced and inexperienced foreign lawyers who apply for admission. When assessing the application for a direction by a foreign lawyer with five or more years of experience, a Board, prior to directing further study and/or PLT, will be compelled to take into account the applicant's legal skills and experience, with reference to specific factors such as whether the foreign jurisdiction in which the lawyer practised was codified or applied common law, whether the legal profession was regulated, the number of years and type of legal practice engaged in, and the nature of the applicant's previous work including their level of responsibility and handling of trust money.

  • Assisting the Boards to apply s 18 UL by listing in a new Admission Rule the factors the Boards must take into account when considering granting an exemption from further study and/or PLT.

  • Enhancing perceptions of transparency. If a request is made by the applicant, the Board will be compelled to provide reasons for giving a direction or for failing to give an exemption.

This Draft Rule is publically released for written submissions for a minimum period of 30 days in accordance with s 426(3)(b) UL. Submissions can be sent to the Committee to submissions@legalservicescouncil.org.au on or before Monday 16 September 2019.