Regulating Law Firm Ethics Management: An Empirical Assessment of the Regulation of Incorporated Legal Practices in NSW

Journal of Law and Society, 2010

40 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2009 Last revised: 13 Aug 2014

See all articles by Tahlia Ruth Gordon

Tahlia Ruth Gordon

NSW Office of the Legal Services Commissioner

Steve A. Mark

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Office of the Legal Services Commissioner

Christine Parker

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Date Written: December 23, 2009

Abstract

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) was the first jurisdiction to fully deregulate law firm structure and allow incorporated legal practices without restriction on ownership. At the same time it also required that these firms implement ‘appropriate management systems’ for ensuring the provision of legal services in conformance with compliance with professional ethical obligations. This paper presents a preliminary empirical evaluation of the impact of this attempt at ‘management-based regulation’ to require firms to implement an ethical infrastructure. We find that the NSW requirement that firms self-assess their own compliance with this requirement leads to a large and statistically significant drop in complaints, but that the (self-assessed) level of implementation of ethical infrastructure does not make any difference. The applicability of these findings to other firms and jurisdictions is discussed, and the NSW approach distinguished from the English Legal Aid approach to regulating law firm quality management.

Keywords: legal ethics, business regulation, management-based regulation, law firms, incorporated legal practices, alternative business structures, legal profession, consumer complaints

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Tahlia Ruth and Mark, Steve A. and Parker, Christine, Regulating Law Firm Ethics Management: An Empirical Assessment of the Regulation of Incorporated Legal Practices in NSW (December 23, 2009). Journal of Law and Society, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1527315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1527315

Tahlia Ruth Gordon

NSW Office of the Legal Services Commissioner ( email )

Level 9, 75 Castlereagh Street
Sydney
Australia

Steve A. Mark

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Office of the Legal Services Commissioner ( email )

Level 15, Goodsell Building
8 - 12 Chifley Square
Sydney, NSW 2000
Australia

Christine Parker (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/christine-parker

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
631
rank
39,146
Abstract Views
2,952
PlumX Metrics