The Ethics Committee can provide guidance to solicitors on ethical issues. This is a purely voluntary process, only available if all solicitors concerned consent. Irrespective if another solicitor wishes to seek guidance, solicitors do not have to agree and the Committee will not consider the issue unless all solicitors agree to the process.
Members of the Law Society’s Ethics Committee are practising solicitors from a variety of practice types and geographic areas. The Committee steers the development of policy issues affecting professional conduct and the ethical obligations of solicitors, and regularly considers questions referred to it on matters such as conflict of interest and solicitors’ communications and relationships with clients, colleagues and third parties.
The Ethics Committee meets monthly. The current committee members are:
|Legal Aid NSW
|NSW Department of Communities and Justice
|Cohen Entertainment Law
|Walker Gibbs & King University of NSW
|Kingston Fox Lawyers
|Legal Aid NSW
|Colin Biggers & Paisley
|Norton Rose Fulbright Australia
|Herbert Smith Freehills
|Financial Rights Legal Centre
|Countrywide Legal & Business Services
|Stern Law Solicitors
|Law Enforcement Conduct Commission
|Pearson Emerson Family Lawyers
Staff: Paul Monaghan and Linden Barnes – Professional Support Unit
Committee guidance can be particularly useful to resolve issues between solicitors, for instance whether one solicitor has a conflict of interest. Although the guidance is not binding, solicitors may find the independent, experienced opinion of the Committee helpful. Guidance is on the basis of the information provided and it is not given on conduct which has already occurred.
The process for obtaining the Committee’s guidance is as follows:
- Contact the Ethics Unit to ascertain the due date for submissions. The Committee meets monthly and submissions need to be finalised one week prior to the meeting to be included in agenda papers. However, urgent matters can be dealt with between meetings.
- Contact any other solicitor involved to seek their consent and invite them to provide a submission. This helps to ensure there is no breach of confidentiality.
- Prepare a one page submission for the Committee and send it to the Ethics Unit and also to any other solicitor involved, who should also prepare their own submission.
- The submissions are then put to the Committee and the result is communicated to the solicitors after the meeting.
- Submissions must be kept to one page, with no attachments. Clients must be de-identified to ensure confidentiality.