Remote supervision

Guidelines for completing supervised legal practice

Supervision of legal practitioners who are subject to supervised legal practice (condition 2)

The requirement to complete supervised legal practice (SLP) is a statutory condition imposed under s. 49 the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW). 

Due to the unprecedented office closures and remote working arrangements that have arisen as a direct result of the current COVID-19 situation, the Licensing Committee of the Law Society has resolved as follows:

  1. That legal practitioners who are subject to the statutory condition of supervised legal practice (condition 2) may, until further direction by the Council of the Law Society, be supervised on a remote basis in the following circumstances:
    1. where the need for remote supervision of a legal practitioner has arisen as a direct result of COVID-19; and
    2. the supervision provided by legal practitioners is in accordance with the remote supervision guidelines contained on the Law Society’s website.
  2. For those legal practitioners and their supervisors who, having regard to their exceptional circumstances, are already subject to, and recorded as having, specific supervision arrangements, please ensure that the previously approved arrangements continue to be adhered to. 

The Law Society will keep the profession informed of any changes to the above guidelines.

Please contact our Licensing Department regarding any SLP questions at registry@lawsociety.com.au with the subject ‘Supervision COVID-19’.
 

Remote supervision guidelines

Remote supervision guidelines are threefold in purpose. They are provided to:

  1. Accommodate those situations where the supervising legal practitioner and the supervised legal practitioner are unable to work in the same location due to exceptional circumstances, and to do so without compromising the consumer protection objectives of the Uniform Law or the professional standards of legal practitioners.
  2. Inform legal practitioners whose practising certificates are subject to the statutory condition of supervised legal practice (condition 2) (SLP) as to the manner in which they are required to be supervised, so as to ensure that at the end of their period of SLP and following the removal of condition 2, they will be:
    1. sufficiently competent to have the carriage and conduct of legal matters without supervision; and
    2. sufficiently competent to supervise the practice of other solicitors subject to the SLP condition; and
  3. Inform those legal practitioners, who are properly authorised under the terms of their practising certificate, of their obligations in respect of supervising practitioners who are subject to the SLP condition.

In order to be satisfied that the statutory condition of SLP has been met, particularly when the period of SLP (or part thereof) is proposed to be completed pursuant to a remote supervision arrangement, the proposed SLP arrangements must be appropriately comprehensive. To assist and protect both supervised and supervising practitioners, please accommodate the following key elements when formulating a remote supervision arrangement:

  • How risk management strategies will be affected (i.e. confidentially, conflicts of interest, client retainers/cost disclosure, complaint procedures, onboarding of clients, file opening/closing procedures, etc.);
  • How regular meetings between the supervisor and supervised practitioner will be effected (i.e. by way of teleconference or an online video platform);
  • How the supervisor will be available for contact at all other times with an ‘open door policy’ (i.e. by way of daily contact, email, telephone, an online video and message platform, etc.);
  • How the supervisor will effect workflow management and have authority over and be aware of all legal work/instructions/critical dates (i.e. by way of cc’ing the supervisor on legal work, shared calendar system, etc.);
  • How the supervisor will review and approve or provide feedback for all legal work prior to emission, and may include dialling into meetings where advice may be furnished;
  • How file and document sharing logistics will be managed (i.e. email, shared system, post, safe custody, file notes, etc.); and
  • How the supervisor will conduct regular file reviews.

Further information regarding SLP can be found on the Law Society website.