Regulating Law Firm Ethics Management: An Empirical Assessment of an Innovation in Regulation of the Legal Profession in New South Wales

35 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010

See all articles by Christine Parker

Christine Parker

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

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

Abstract

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) was the first jurisdiction to fully deregulate law firm structure and allow alternative business structures in the legal profession. At the same time it also introduced an innovation in regulation of the legal profession, requiring that incorporated legal practices implement ‘appropriate management systems’ for ensuring the provision of legal services in compliance with professional ethical obligations. This paper presents a preliminary empirical evaluation of the impact of this attempt at ‘management-based regulation’. We find that the NSW requirement that firms self-assess their ethics management leads to a large and statistically significant drop in complaints. The (self-assessed) level of implementation of ethics management infrastructure, however, does not make any difference. The relevance of these findings to debates about deprofessionalization, managerialism, and commercialism in the legal profession is discussed, and the NSW approach is distinguished from the more heavy-handed English legal aid approach to regulating law firm quality management.

Suggested Citation

Parker, Christine and Gordon, Tahlia Ruth and Mark, Steve A., Regulating Law Firm Ethics Management: An Empirical Assessment of an Innovation in Regulation of the Legal Profession in New South Wales. Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 37, Issue 3, pp. 466-500, September 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1667636 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2010.00515.x

Christine Parker

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

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

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
5
Abstract Views
1,208
PlumX Metrics