The statutory condition of supervised legal practice
Forms and Resources
What is defined as supervised legal practice?
Section 49(1) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (Uniform Law) imposes a statutory condition on a practising certificate issued by the Law Society Council requiring the holder to, in this jurisdiction, engage in supervised legal practice only, until the holder has completed the period of supervised legal practice required. This condition appears as condition 2 on your practising certificate.
Section 6 of the Uniform Law provides that “supervised legal practice” means legal practice by a person who is an Australian legal practitioner—
(a) as an employee of, or other person working under supervision in, a law practice, where—
(i) at least one legal practitioner associate of the law practice is an authorised principal; and
(ii) the person engages in legal practice under the supervision of an authorised principal referred to in subparagraph (i); or
(b) as a principal of a law practice (other than a community legal service), where the person engages in legal practice under the supervision of an authorised principal of the law practice; or
(c) as a corporate legal practitioner or government legal practitioner, where the person engages in legal practice under the supervision of a person who holds, or is eligible to hold but is exempted from holding, an Australian practising certificate authorising the holder to supervise legal practice by others; or
(d) in a capacity or in circumstances specified in the Uniform Rules for the purposes of this definition.
“Australian legal practitioner” is defined in section 6 of the Uniform Law to mean an Australian lawyer who holds a current Australian practising certificate.
Rule 7 of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 (NSW) (General Rules) provides that, for the purposes of paragraph (d) of the definition of supervised legal practice in section 6(1) of the Uniform Law, supervised legal practice in the case of an Australian legal practitioner who is an employee of a law practice (or who, though not an employee of the law practice, is working under supervision in a law practice) includes supervision by an employee of the law practice who holds an Australian practising certificate authorising the holder to supervise legal practice by others.
Who is authorised to supervise legal practice by others?
As per the definition of “supervised legal practice” outlined above, it is clear that, as a minimum, a supervisor must hold an Australian practising certificate that authorises them to supervise legal practice by others. A supervisor cannot supervise legal practice by others if their Australian practising certificate is subject to condition 2 (supervised legal practice) or a discretionary condition prohibiting supervision of others. A Barrister is unable to supervise the legal practice of solicitors for the purpose of satisfying this condition.
Rule 7 of the General Rules provides guidance for law practice employees who are on secondment.
How long is the period of supervised legal practice?
For most practitioners, the required period of supervised legal practice is 24 months full-time practice, or the equivalent worked out on a part-time basis. This relates to those practitioners who completed a practical legal training course to qualify for admission to the Australian legal profession (e.g. with the College of Law). Otherwise, for practitioners who completed practical legal training principally under an approved training plan supervised by an Australian lawyer to qualify for admission (e.g. a period of Articles), then a period or periods of supervised legal practice equivalent to 18 months full-time practice must be completed. Practitioners who have completed a period of Articles must provide evidence of this when submitting their application to have the condition removed.
If you were exempt from satisfying the requirement to complete practical legal training and are unsure of the period of supervised legal practice required, please contact the Law Society Registry by email at email@example.com.
How is supervised legal practice calculated?
The required period of supervised legal practice can be completed by:
(a) one period of supervised legal practice, worked on a full-time basis, that is equal to the required period worked out on a full-time basis, or
(b) one period of supervised legal practice, worked on a part-time basis, that is equivalent to the required period worked out on a full-time basis, or
(c) two or more periods of supervised legal practice, worked on either or both of those bases, that together are equal or equivalent to the required period (section 49(2) of the Uniform Law and rule 14 of the General Rules.
Public holidays during a relevant period are to be included as days of supervised legal practice, whether or not you engaged in legal practice on those days, and normal periods of leave taken during a relevant period are to be included as periods of supervised legal practice.
Any normal periods of leave accrued that are not taken as normal periods of leave during the period of supervised legal practice being claimed cannot be not calculated towards the required period of supervised legal practice.
Will the condition be automatically removed once completed?
No. Even if you have completed the required period of supervised legal practice, the condition will remain on your practising certificate until you make a successful application to vary your practising certificate to have the condition removed.
Must all supervised legal practice be undertaken at the same law practice, place of employment, or under one supervisor?
No. There is no requirement in the legal profession legislation that you must undertake the required period of supervised legal practice with the same employer and/or supervisor (see rule 14(c) of the General Rules). You can count multiple different periods towards your period of supervised legal practice.
What is the standard of supervision required?
Rule 37 of the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 (NSW) provides that:
“[a] solicitor with designated responsibility for a matter must exercise reasonable supervision over solicitors and all other employees engaged in the provision of the legal services for that matter.”
The legal profession legislation does not define “reasonable supervision” and much will depend on the particular circumstances.
In Legal Services Commissioner v Michael Vincent Baker  LPT 002, at , it was held:
“A practitioner should properly supervise all legal professional work carried out on their behalf. Vicarious liability aside, a practitioner’s legal and fiduciary duties to a client are not avoided or reduced by delivering that client into the care of an employee, whether or not that employee is legally qualified. The supervision required however varies according to the employee’s experience, qualifications and role and with the type and complexity of the work”.
It is suggested that a reasonable step to take is to have in place strong compliance management systems, guidelines, and tools appropriate for the particular practice. Effective management systems facilitate consistent standards of supervision to ensure clients do not receive legal services sub-standard to that which they would receive if the principal him or herself had carriage of the matter.
Can supervised legal practice be completed remotely?
Practising certificate holders who are subject to the statutory condition of supervised legal practice and who are supervised remotely for all or part of their practice are asked to consider the Law Society’s remote supervision guidelines.
How can government and corporate lawyers claim an exempt period of practice?
Clauses 19-22 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 (NSW) provides transitional arrangements for government and corporate lawyers under the Uniform Law. Government and corporate lawyers who were practising under the transitional arrangements can claim that period towards the period of supervised legal practice required.
Any period of legal practice engaged in by a government or corporate lawyer prior to 1 July 2015 or pursuant to a transitional exemption, and whether holding a practising certificate or not, is an exempt period of practice. An exempt period of practice will be subtracted from the period of supervised legal practice required under section 49 of the Uniform Law.
For many government and corporate lawyers, the transitional arrangements expired on 1 July 2017, requiring a practising certificate for that practise thereafter.
Please see the factsheet for further details of the arrangements.
If you were a government or corporate lawyer and wish to claim an exempt period of practice, please contact the Law Society Registry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I make an application to remove condition 2 from my practising certificate?
Once you have completed the required period of supervised legal practice, you will remain subject to the condition until such time that you have successfully applied to vary your practising certificate to have the condition removed.
If you have completed the required period of supervised legal practice, then you may submit a standard application to the Law Society Registry by lodging a Supervised Legal Practice Guidelines form by email to email@example.com. You will be required to provide certification from your supervisor(s).
How will I be informed of the outcome of my application?
Applications are initially processed by the Law Society Registry. Applications are then assessed by a solicitor and approved by the Director, Licensing and Registry. If any further information is required, a member of the Law Society Registry will contact you by email.
Once varied, you will be able to download an updated copy of your practising certificate by logging into your LawID portal. An updated physical copy of your practising certificate will be sent by post and your “practising certificate type” will be updated on the publicly available register of solicitors.
Can I claim legal practice outside of Australia?
Legal practice outside of Australia cannot be relied on for the purposes of a standard application pursuant to section 49(1) of the Uniform Law. If you wish to rely on legal practice outside of Australia, please contact the Law Society Registry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if my circumstances fall outside of the legislative provisions?
If your circumstances fall outside of the legislative provisions, or if there are other issues affecting your application, please contact the Law Society Registry by email at email@example.com.
Your application may be referred to the Law Society's Licensing Committee for consideration. The Licensing Committee meet on a monthly basis.