“A very small percentage” of practitioners jeopardise the good reputation of the Queensland legal profession despite a massive 7% growth number of lawyers certified to practise, according to the state’s Legal Services Commission (LSC).
The LSC’s 2020-21 Annual Report, recently tabled in State Parliament, reveals that, of the 1214 new complaints received about practitioners, 805 were summarily dismissed and that 25 of 64 matters referred for prosecution had been finalised.
LSC Commissioner Megan Mahon said the “one constant” in the Queensland legal landscape had been the increasing numbers of people entering the profession, with a total of 15,167 lawyers certified to practise by the end of June 2021.
Queensland currently has 14,041 PC-holding solicitors and 1136 barristers – with women representing more than half of all practitioners (51.38%).
“Another constant is the profession’s strength and independence, comprising a largely ethical and hard-working profession whose members contribute to the administration of justice and the upholding of the rule of law,” she said.
“While the demand for services from the Commission also grows each year, it is important to maintain perspective and acknowledge that matters progressing through to disciplinary action represent a very small percentage of the profession overall.
“It is of course through strong and effective regulation that the legal profession continues to be the foundation of the administration of justice in Queensland.
Ms Mahon said the LSC would continue to work hard to maintain public confidence in a profession that was ostensibly “robust and ethical”.
“Practitioners who do not honour their oath and act in a manner that falls below the expected standard undermine this confidence to the detriment of the whole profession,” she said.
“It is these few, together with unqualified members of the public who attempt to provide legal services, that jeopardise the good reputation of the legal profession in Queensland and against whom action is required to be taken.”
She said inappropriate personal conduct can and does have significant long term impacts for all involved.
“Importantly however, appropriate disciplinary action does result in ensuring that those who do not maintain appropriate professional standard or are not fit to be members of the legal profession, do not remain legal practitioners,” she said.
“Consumer protection and confidence in the administration of justice is maintained when appropriate action is taken against such persons by the Commission under the jurisdiction of the Legal Profession Act 2007.”
Read the LSC annual report.