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Commissioner Update March 2021

Image of Fiona McLeay

In this edition

  • Message from the Commissioner
  • Removing the ‘My employer will pay’ option from practising certificate renewal
  • Improvements to the SDA exemption process
  • End of dual regulation for migration lawyers
  • New and improved lawyer enquiry form
  • Annual report released
  • Update your details before 29 March

Welcome to another practising year.

After the challenges of 2020, I am sure many of you, like me, are hoping this year brings less uncertainty and more stability.

While it was difficult, 2020 showed that many things can be done when they must be done, and that the legal sector is capable of adapting quickly when necessary. In some instances, more flexible working and expanded use of online technology has brought benefits for lawyers and clients alike.

At the VLSB+C we continue to do our important work to help maintain public trust and confidence in the legal profession. Since launching our strategy ‘A clear direction’ in 2018, we have been making progress improvements to the way we work. In this issue you will read about how some of these changes will streamline your experience with us.

I wish you all the very best for a safe and productive year.

Be well,

Fiona McLeay
Board CEO + Commissioner

Removing the ‘My employer will pay’ option from practising certificate renewal

On 29 March, 2021 LSB Online will open so you can renew your practising certificate. We have an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in the delivery of our services. We have made several changes to LSB Online to improve your experience and to make renewing easier.

A key change is to remove the option to select ‘My employer will pay’ and have your employer make payment for your practising certificate. You will need to instead pay by credit card, or select BPAY and arrange payment from your employer.

This change addresses the significant problems faced by employers where LSB Online is not able to allocate payment directly to an individual, causing administration and reconciliation problems for many users.

If you select credit card you can make immediate payment within the portal. If you select BPAY, LSB Online will email you with payment details which you can pass onto your employer, or pay yourself.

Frequently asked questions and step-by-step guides will be available online during the renewal process to assist you to complete your application and make payment. 

Improvements to the SDA exemption process

A streamlined process is now in place for those law practices or approved clerks who wish to apply for an exemption from making a quarterly SDA deposit.

The application process on LSB Online is now more user-friendly, providing clear guidance so that we get the information we need to make a prompt decision about an application.

Improvements include:

  • In most cases a decision about the application will be provided immediately
  • If a recalculation of the amount to be deposited is required, notification will occur immediately
  • It’s expected 90 per cent of applications will be given an immediate response - meaning SDA obligations are completed in one session
  • If an application needs to be assessed by a decision maker, that option is still available.

End of dual regulation for migration lawyers

Lawyers who provide migration legal advice and services and who hold current practising certificates will no longer be registered migration agents – or eligible for registration – following the passage of the Federal Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020. 

From 22 March, 2021 the following changes apply

To provide migration legal services to the public you need to hold:

  • a principal practising certificate; 
  • a barrister’s practising certificate; or 
  • an employee practising certificate, working for a law practice.

There are also changes for lawyers subject to supervised legal practice conditions. You can read more about this on our website.

Read more here.

New and improved lawyer enquiry form

Last week we launched an upgraded lawyer enquiry form. The new form allows you to attach documents and will speed up our response time to your enquiry. When you select an enquiry category, the form will display some frequently asked questions and answers related to that topic to help you find the answers you need.

Over the past year we received over 10,000 enquiries via the lawyer enquiry form. If you are unable to locate the information you need either on the website or in the questions and answers, or require an action from our teams, we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible. However, if your enquiry relates to information that is readily available on our website it will not be responded to.

Visit the lawyer enquiry form

Annual report released

In December last year our 2019/2020 annual report was tabled in parliament. The report outlines how we have supported you to continue to meet your regulatory obligations despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19. It also details the work we have undertaken to strengthen the protections available for consumers of legal services.

You can read our annual report online

Update your details via LSB Online

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