After a low profile year media-wise, the Legal Services Commissioner hit The Sunday Age today with a few statistics about year one of the new regime:
- 1200 files inherited from the Legal Ombudsman, the Law Institute’s Professional Standards department, and the Victorian Bar Ethics Committee;
- 2000 disciplinary complaints, pecuniary loss disputes and costs disputes lodged with her (an average of a bit less than 10 per day her office is open by my estimate);
- 1930 of them (97%) about solicitors;
- 70 (3%) about barristers;
- 1100 (55%) involving a disciplinary complaint;
- 213 pecuniary loss and/or costs disputes referred to VCAT;
- only 6 solicitors prosecuted for misconduct.
Interestingly, the journalist’s investigative powers do not seem to have extended to uncovering the fact that the Commissioner has referred many disciplinary investigations back to Professional Standards and to the Bar, or if they did, it was not an interesting enough snippet of information. (Nor did the journo ask the Commissioner why she thought the Premier had asked the Government Solicitor, until recently CEO of the Law Institute, rather than her office to investigate the secret dossier about Clayton Utz’s role in the Rolah McCabe case “leaked” to the Sunday Age. But I guess it wasn’t that kind of article.)
The choice of cases for inclusion in the article as examples is interesting: three of them involved wins for the solicitor and the only win for a client reported was an order cutting a whopping $52.25 off the disputed bill. Not exactly lawyer bashing is it?