FAQs - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Frequently asked questions

The Legal Services Board and Commissioner is the regulator of the legal profession in Victoria. The Board and Commissioner do not provide legal advice or offer professional services to lawyers or the public.

Below you can find some frequently asked questions about the Board and Commissioner.

General FAQs

What is the relationship between the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, the Law Institute, and the Victorian Bar?
The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner are independent public authorities that regulate legal services in Victoria. The Board and Commissioner operate under the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) (the Application Act).  The Board and Commissioner have delegated some aspects of their functions to the professional associations: the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd. (the LIV) and the Victorian Bar Inc. (the Bar). Delegated functions are carried out in accordance with applicable Board and Commissioner policies and a list of all delegations is available from the Delegations page of this website.

For further information, see the About us page.

Can Board and Commissioner staff give me legal advice ?
No, Board and Commissioner staff cannot give legal advice to members of the public. See further information on the Contact Us page.

Legal Profession FAQs

How do I get a certificate of good standing?
This certificate is generally required by lawyers as evidence they appear on the Supreme Court Victoria roll of persons admitted to the legal profession in Victoria. Please contact the Supreme Court of Victoria.

How do I get a letter of fitness?
Please contact the Law Institute of Victoria for solicitors, or the Victorian Bar for barristers.

Who can witness a statutory declaration?
The Evidence Act 1958 specifies who may witness a statutory declaration in Victoria. These persons include both Australian lawyers and Australian legal practitioners. Under the Application Act, an Australian lawyer is a person who is admitted to the legal profession under that Act (or a corresponding law interstate) but such a person does not have to hold a practising certificate. An Australian legal practitioner is a person who does hold a current Australian practising certificate.

Who can receive an affidavit?
Section 123C (g) of the Evidence Act 1958 states that only an Australian legal practitioner (within the meaning of the Application Act) can receive an affidavit in Victoria. An Australian legal practitioner is a person who holds a current Australian practising certificate.

Can I practise in Victoria on an interstate practising certificate?
An interstate legal practitioner is entitled to engage in legal practice in Victoria to substantially the same extent they are entitled to do so in their home jurisdiction. See further information for Interstate qualified lawyers.

Can I practice Australian law in Victoria if I am an overseas qualified lawyer?
Overseas qualified lawyers must be admitted to the legal profession under the Application Act or a corresponding law interstate before applying for a practising certificate. Foreign lawyers may be able to practise the law of their home countries in Victoria. Further information can be found on the Foreign lawyers page. If you would like further information about admission to the legal profession in Victoria, please contact the Victorian Legal Admissions Board or the Supreme Court of Victoria.

How do I know if I am subject to supervised legal practice?
Section 49 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria) (which is Schedule 1 to the Application Act) places a statutory condition on each Australian practising certificate granted under the Act, that the holder must engage only in supervised legal practice after the grant of his or her first practising certificate, until he or she has completed the required period of supervised legal practice. The required period is either 18 months or two years, depending on how the person qualified for admission.

The supervised legal practice condition does not apply to the holder of an Australian practising certificate who is a barrister. See further information about Supervised legal practice.

Can I volunteer at a community legal service?
A lawyer may practice as a volunteer at a community legal service on any type of practising certificate. That is, if you hold a principal, barrister, employee, corporate or government practising certificate you may also engage in legal practice as a volunteer at a community legal service without having to apply for a volunteer practising certificate. For more information see the Community legal service employees and volunteers page.

If you are an Australian lawyer who does not hold a practising certificate, you may obtain a practising certificate authorising you to engage in practice solely as a volunteer at a community legal service without fee. For more information see the Practising in Victoria section of this website.

I am going overseas and want to maintain my practising certificate while away. What do I need to do?
You have a number of additional responsibilities if you wish to maintain a practising certificate while overseas (unless you are working overseas for a Victorian law practice). The Board has prepared an information sheet for practitioners who are living overseas but who wish to maintain their Victorian practising certificate. See further information on Practising overseas.

My details have changed. What do I need to do?
If you have:

  • changed your name
  • changed your place of employment
  • changed your address for service
  • changed business names (for a sole practitioner), or
  • changed to or from practice solely as a barrister

you must inform the Board in writing.  You can log in to LSB Online to change your details online.

If you wish to make changes to details of your law practice, you must also notify the Board by completing the approved form in LSB Online.

Where can I open a general trust account?
The Trust accounts page provides information on how to open a trust account.

Do I have to notify the Board of my trust account details?
Yes. Section 151 the Legal Profession Uniform Law states that a law practice or approved clerk must notify the Board of the opening, closing or change of information of a trust account within 14 days. For further information see the Trust accounts page.

What happens to the interest earned on a trust account?
Banks who manage solicitors’ trust accounts are required to report daily to the Board on the total deposits, withdrawals and the balance of all trust accounts.

Any interest earned on trust accounts is paid into the Public Purpose Fund managed by the Board. If you become aware that interest is being paid directly into your trust account you need to contact the Board or your bank immediately. Further information on the role of the Public Purpose Fund can be found in the Public Purpose Fund fact sheet.

How do I operate a statutory deposit account?
The Statutory deposit accounts page provides information on how to operate this type of account.

I want to open a trust account in a foreign currency. Is this possible?
Although the Application Act does not prohibit the opening of a trust account in a foreign currency, it is the Board’s experience that Banks are reluctant to operate foreign currency trust accounts. Further discussion of this can be found on the Trust accounts page.

Prohibited Lay Associate FAQs

The Board and Commissioner have prepared a series of FAQs on the specific issue of Prohibited Lay Associates. These FAQs are available for download from the Lay associates page.

Consumer FAQs

How can I find out details about a particular lawyer?
The Board is required to maintain a Register of current legal practitioners and law practices. The Register provides details of current local legal practitioners, current locally registered foreign lawyers, and law practices that engage in legal practice in Victoria. A more detailed register than what is available on this website can be viewed at the Board’s office without charge.

How can I check whether a particular lawyer has been involved in a disciplinary matter?
The Board is also responsible for maintaining a Register of disciplinary action taken against lawyers.

How do I complain about a lawyer?
Before you write out a complaint, please review the What to do when a problem arises page, or contact the Commissioner’s office to discuss your concerns.

Last modified January 6, 2017.