Change

Just when everyone finally stopped calling the Legal Profession Act 2004 the ‘new Act’, we’re set to have another one from early next year.  This is supposed to simplify things, just like the new Act was intended to simplify things. Sigh.  You can read about it here (and if you do, you will learn the surprising fact that the obligation on lawyers to charge no more than fair and reasonable costs is a ‘change’ in the law.)

And there are other developments which are more obviously changes too.  The functions traditionally carried out by the Law Institute, first as the regulator, and then as a delegate of the independent regulators created by statute — the issuing of practising certificates and the investigation of disciplinary complaints — are no longer being carried on by it.  Old names from this part of the Institute are gone — Joe Barravecchio, Jim Leach, Helen Hartsias.

Of course Steve Mark retired recently, and the hunt continues for a new Commissioner for NSW, and Robert Brittan replaced John Briton in Queensland.

One thing that’s not changing is Victoria’s Legal Services Commissioner, Michael McGarvie, who has just been reappointed for a further 5 year term in which he will preside over an expanded local regulatory empire with exciting new powers while liaising to an unprecedented extent with his NSW — and perhaps soon other states’ — Commissioners.

But there have recently been two key new appointments worthy of reportage:

First, the Attorneys-General of NSW and Victoria have appointed an inaugural Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation, Dale Boucher.  He was formerly a partner of Minter Ellison, head of the Australian Government Solicitor and has, according to his Linkedin profile, in recent times been in private practice in Canberra. He has also been involved in the regulation of tax practitioners, a group who probably really need a good spank.  His job will be to oversee the implementation of the Uniform Law in each jurisdiction to ensure that there is cross-jurisdictional consistency in the interpretation and implementation of the provisions.

Secondly, the Law Institute of Victoria has appointed a new CEO to replace Michael Brett Young after eight years, Nerida Wallace.  According to that national treasure Richard Ackland in Justinian recently:

‘Wallace, daughter of a magistrate and with 30 legal years under her belt, comes from the world of change. Uncle Theodore, as portrayed by Evelyn Waugh, may have loved to sing “Change and decay in all around I see,” but now the watchword is change and not decay.

Wallace’s business, Transformation Management Services, sounds like a front for spooks, but the word is it has been effective in tipping metaphorical buckets of ice water on all sorts of outfits to wake them to the 21st century.

So she has given her rapid-fire attention, direct as a firehose, to scarcely progressive mobs such as the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service, Workcover, the Victorian Law Reform Commission, Family Court, and the Attorney General’s Department. To their benefit.

Kicking off as a humble court registrar, she’s been  a conciliator, solicitor, principal legal officer and policy adviser. Unlike the Commonwealth Attorney General she has an intimate familiarity with computers and how they help the law.’

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