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Law Society of NSW Committees in 2017

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to alternative dispute resolution.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include engaging in the NSW Law Reform Commission’s consultation on dispute resolution frameworks in NSW; reviewing and contributing to the development of the NSW Civil Justice Strategy; educating and promoting solicitor mediators and arbitrators; and arbitration in family law matters.

Business Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to business law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include reviewing the Australian Consumer Law final report; data sharing in the corporate sector; regulation of the financial sector; monitoring continuing competition law reform; and developing practitioner guidance in identified areas.

In 2017, the Committee intends to establish subcommittees on the following legal areas: Competition and Consumer Law; Contract Law; Corporations; Financial Services; Insolvency; Taxation; and Intellectual Property.

Children's Legal Issues

In 2017, the Juvenile Justice Committee changed into a Children's Legal Issues Committee.

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to children and child rights, both in the civil (including care and protection matters) and criminal contexts.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include the issue of young people in long term segregation; remand rates, and the intersection between juvenile justice and care and protection, including the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in both systems; use of early intervention in care and protection matters; adolescent peer sexual relationships and the welfare and criminal justice responses; and children as victims of domestic violence.

Corporate Lawyers

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to corporate lawyers.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include running quarterly forums to discuss issues of relevance to in-house lawyers; and preparation of practitioner guidance.

Costs

The role of the Costs Committee is to review and comment on costs issues and costs law. It prepares the Law Society’s costs precedents and web content including the Costs Guidebook and reviews these for updates as required.

As part of its role to educate the profession, it provides guidance from queries received from practitioners.

The costs committee is occasionally called upon by other Law Society committees and others to comment on costs policy and legislation.

Criminal Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to criminal law and to uphold the rule of law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 are sexual assault offences, including the Royal Commission’s work on historical and child sexual assault and changes to the Evidence Act 1995; funding of the criminal justice system; the rising prison population, including the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system; and police powers and accountabilities.

Disclosure Committee

The Disclosure Committee, under delegation of Council of the Law Society, deals with the matters that solicitors are required to disclose to the Society under Chapter 3 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (LPUL).

These matters include show cause events, including matters involving convictions and bankruptcy related events, and notification of events under section 51 of LPUL.

The Disclosure Committee is comprised of both members of the profession, including at least two Law Society Councillors, and lay members. The Committee works in consultation with the Society's Professional Standards Department and meets on a monthly basis to consider the matters disclosed.

Diversity and Inclusion

The role of this Committee is to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in the legal profession, in particular by progressing initiatives to ensure the equality of opportunity for all members of the profession, regardless of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include supporting the implementation of Advancement of Women initiatives; revising and updating the 2001 Equal Opportunity Handbook and Model Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Grievance Handling Policies; developing resources, including the business case for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and flexible working arrangements; reviewing available diversity data and considering what additional data may be useful; and, in collaboration with other relevant Law Society Committees, developing policy in relation to marriage equality.

Elder Law, Capacity & Succession

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to elder, capacity and succession law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include engaging in the NSW Law Reform Commission’s review of guardianship laws; elder abuse issues, including engaging in the Australian law Reform Commission’s inquiry and the NSW Legislative Council’s inquiry; developing resources for the legal profession on capacity issues; policy in relation to powers of attorney, enduring guardians and advance care directives; updating the Law Society’s intestacy commentary; and other legislative changes, such as in relation to family provision (and, in particular, step children).

Employment Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to employment and industrial law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include employment arrangements of legal graduates; online employment law resources for practitioners; and monitoring practical issues for Fair Work matters in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Environmental Planning and Development

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to planning and environmental law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include reviewing the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2017; reviewing the just terms legislation; reviewing Aboriginal cultural heritage laws; and reform of the Local Government Act 1993.

Ethics

The role of this Committee is to provide leadership for the profession in ethics.

The Committee gives guidance to individual solicitors who wish to raise ethical issues. It also provides continuing education for the broader profession, including ethics presentations and publications for both the Society's website and the Journal.

The Committee is involved in submissions internally and externally on ethical issues, including the legislation regulating the profession.

Family Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to family law issues in NSW.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include advocating for adequate judicial and other resources in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court; identifying measures to address court delays in family law matters; promoting access to legal representation in family law matters; developing information and resources on domestic and family violence for legal practitioners practising in family law; and promoting the use of arbitration and mediation in family law property matters.

Fidelity Fund Management

The role of this Committee is to meet the requirements of the legal profession legislation in relation to the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund in accordance with the powers and functions delegated by the Council.

Government Solicitors

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to government solicitors.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include assisting in developing a detailed plan/strategy to raise the profile of government solicitors within the legal profession; identifying initiatives to increase the engagement of government solicitors within the profession, other segments of the profession and within the government segment itself; preparation of practitioner guidance; advising on topics for the Government Solicitors Conference; and promoting and managing the John Hennessy Research Scholarship and the Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence Award in Government Legal Service.

Human Rights

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to the obligations of Australia and NSW under international and domestic human rights law, and to uphold the rule of law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include asylum seekers; counter terrorism and human rights; and business and human rights.

Indigenous Issues

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on legal policy and practice issues arising in relation to Indigenous people in NSW.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include indigenous incarceration rates (including driver licence disqualification reform; disability and cognitive impairment; birth certificates and identity documents; sentencing and diversion, police accountability; and deaths in custody); care and protection and family law; domestic and family violence; and housing and homelessness.

Injury Compensation

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to injury compensation law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include motor accidents reforms; workers’ compensation reforms; implementation and issues arising in relation to the NDIS/NIIS; compensation/redress schemes for victims of abuse; and State regulation of automated vehicles.

Legal Technology

The role of this Committee is to provide information, education and recommendation on technology matters for members and the wider legal industry.

The Committee’s priorities include identifying issues that the profession should be aware of, while also promoting guidelines and recommendations that assist members within their legal practice. When invited, the Committee also responds to technology initiatives that originate outside of the Law Society but which may impact its members.

Licensing

The Law Society Council is mandated with statutory responsibilities under the legal profession legislation. Some of those obligations have been delegated to the Licensing Committee pursuant to section 32 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW).

The functions of the Committee traverse a variety of regulatory responsibilities including the granting and renewal of, and imposing conditions upon, practising certificate as well as ensuring compliance with Continuing Professional Development requirements and other conditions. The Committee also considers applications for practising certificates by both new admittees, practitioners admitted under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act, and where they arise, matters in respect of foreign lawyers. It makes recommendations to the Legal Profession Admission Board concerning pre-admission applications for exemption from practical legal training, and it considers and reviews Law Society policy on licensing issues.

A consistent approach to the statutory responsibilities is important for both practitioners and for the Council of the Law Society's role as a co-regulator of the profession. Accordingly it is helpful for the Committee to have some long serving members in order to achieve that desired consistency in approach to applications and to ensure thorough understanding of the relevant legislation and associated policies. Of course consistency is balanced with a recognised benefit in fresh perspectives and the Committee aims to achieve this balance by trying to introduce at least one new member to the Committee each year.

Litigation Law & Practice

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to civil litigation.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include reviewing and contributing to the development of the NSW Civil Justice Strategy; liaising with courts and tribunals about issues affecting practitioners, including recovery of costs for garnishee orders and liability of solicitors for court fees; monitoring the operation of the new Federal Court National Court Framework; monitoring developments in relation to online courts in Australian jurisdictions and overseas; and preparing guidance for the legal profession on civil litigation issues, including flexible working arrangements and court timetabling; Search Orders (Anton Piller orders); and working with barristers.

Medico Legal Liaison

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues of mutual interest to the medical and legal professions, and to maximise co-operation between the professions.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include coronial matters, including streamlining practice and procedures; preparing practitioner guidance in relation to the interaction between the medical and legal profession generally; and organising a seminar of interest to both professions.

Office of State Revenue / Law Society Liaison

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to state revenue issues in New South Wales.

Privacy and Communications

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to privacy, including in the context of modern communication.

The Committee's priority areas for 2017 include: online privacy issues and appropriate remedies; regulation of the collection, retention and use of data, including in civil proceedings; regulation of the use of surveillance techniques in both the public and private sectors; and the tort of privacy and other alternative mechanisms (such as codes and statements of principle) and remedies.

Professional Conduct

As a delegate of the Council of the Society, this Committee is charged with making determinations (and recommendations to the Council) on matters of conduct. This includes complaints from members of the public and others which have been referred to the Law Society by the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner or initiated by the Society itself.

It has as its core value the maintenance of the high standards the profession, the public and the judiciary demands of its members.

Property Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to property law and conveyancing practice.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include reviewing and updating the Law Society Lease for changes made by the Retail Leases Amendment Bill, once passed; updating the contract for sale and purchase of land for new strata laws and any changes in vendor disclosure with the remaking of the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2010; and assisting solicitors to transition to electronic conveyancing.

Public Law

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to public law issues, including constitutional law, administrative law, civil liberties and the rule of law.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include monitoring counter-terrorism and national security legislation for its impact on civil liberties and the rule of law; monitoring the protection of human rights and civil liberties in new legislation and policy; identifying opportunities to improve review frameworks in relation to administrative decisions; monitoring the powers and independence of investigative bodes; and monitoring the changing relationship between areas of public law and private law.

Rural Issues

The role of this Committee is to represent the Law Society and its members on policy and practice issues arising in relation to rural NSW.

The Committee's priority issues in 2017 include better access to justice in rural and regional areas, including the provision of adequate judicial resources in rural and regional areas; identifying topics for the Rural Issues Conference; and regulation of water brokers.

 

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