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Welcome to another practicing year

Commissioner update

Welcome to another practicing year.

It has been a challenging and tragic summer for many of our communities with the devastating bushfires and now the ongoing impacts of the COVID 19 virus. The legal profession has stepped up to help affected people, via Disaster Legal Help. It’s a great example of what lawyers can achieve when they get together.

Changes to CPD requirements

Earlier this month I joined the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar to visit bushfire affected communities in Gippsland and the North East.  We met with many people who were volunteering their time and expertise to help people who have been impacted by the fires, to find out how we can support them. 

From these talks, and with the current advice from the government about managing the spread of COVID 19, we have decided to make two changes to CPD requirements for this current practising year. First, we have removed the requirement that you complete face-to-face CPD points. This means you can complete your CPD via online courses. Secondly, lawyers in bushfire affected communities who are unable to complete their CPD points are exempt from completing CPD this practising year.  You can read more about this on our website.

For practices that are required to appoint external examiners to review their trust records, we are looking at ways we these examinations can be done remotely, via a desktop, or ‘virtual’ examination.  We will provide more information to Principals with Trust and external examiners about this soon.

Priorities for 2020

Already this year I’ve spoken to many lawyers about the role of the regulator and our challenges and priorities for 2020.  In February, I had the opportunity to address senior leaders in the profession at the LIV State of the Profession event.  In this speech, I talked about the importance of ethics and culture in legal practice. I asked the audience to think about what a good lawyer looks like, what makes a lawyer worthy of public trust, and what are the values we want to bring to our work in the profession.

You can view my speech on our YouTube page, and I encourage you to watch this.  I’ll be talking more about our priorities and the work we’re doing in these messages across the year.

Sexual harassment survey update

Next week I will be launching the findings of our sexual harassment in the legal profession study, along with our regulatory response.  Sexual harassment is a serious issue for the legal profession. It can amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or even professional misconduct. It create unsafe workplaces. It can have damaging effects on people’s lives and careers. And it’s not the sort of behaviour which should be acceptable in a profession which holds itself to the highest standards of ethics and professional practice. I’ll be sending you more information about our report and what we intend to do in this area next week.

Practising certificate renewal

Don’t forget to renew your practising certificate!  At this stage renewals are still on track to start on 30 March and we will send you a reminder when LSB Online is open. 

This year we are collecting information about diversity, areas of practice and workplace culture.  These questions are voluntary, and will help to build a better understanding of the profession.  You can also opt-into tailored communications relevant to your area of practice.  We will continue to send critical information about regulation matters to all registered lawyers.

We have also made improvements to the process, and simplified the communications you receive. Last year we held a workshop with a number of lawyers and gathered great feedback on what works and what can be improved.  We will continue to make improvements to our processes and will let you know as these happen.

COVID 19 and the VLSB+C office

At this point, our office remains open and we continue to work as normal.  Be assured that if anything changes, we will let you know, and if you have any concerns, you can contact us on admin@lsbc.vic.gov.au.

Fiona McLeay
Board CEO + Commissioner

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