Adopting Law Firm Management Systems to Survive and Thrive: A Study of the Australian Approach to Management-Based Regulation

St. Thomas Law Review, Forthcoming

Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-02

47 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2015

Susan Saab Fortney

Texas A&M University School of Law

Tahlia Ruth Gordon

NSW Office of the Legal Services Commissioner

Date Written: January 22, 2013

Abstract

In Australia, amendments to the Legal Profession Act require that incorporated legal practices (ILPs) take steps to assure compliance with provisions of the Legal Profession Act 2004. Specifically, the legislation provides that the ILP must appoint a legal practitioner director to be generally responsible for the management of the ILP. The ILP must also implement and maintain “appropriate management systems" to enable the provision of legal services in accordance with the professional obligations of legal practitioners. Because the new law did not define “appropriate management systems” (AMS) the Office of Legal Services Commissioner for New South Wales worked with representatives of other organizations and practitioners to develop guidelines and an approach for evaluating compliance with the statutory requirements. The collaboration resulted in an “education toward compliance” strategy in which a designated director for an ILP completes a self-assessment process (SAP), evaluating the ILP’s compliance with ten specific objectives of sound legal practice. To evaluate the new regulatory regime, Professor Susan Fortney conducted a mixed method empirical study of incorporated law firms in New South Wales Australia. In Phase One of the study, all incorporated law firms with two or more solicitors were surveyed. In Phase Two, legal services directors were interested. This article discusses the survey findings, focusing on the relationship between the self-assessment process and the ethics norms, systems, conduct, and culture in firms.

Keywords: law firms, lawyer regulation, limited liability law firms, risk management, self-assessment, ethical infrastructure, management-based objective, incorporated law firms

JEL Classification: L20, L21, K10, K42, K10

Suggested Citation

Fortney, Susan Saab and Gordon, Tahlia Ruth, Adopting Law Firm Management Systems to Survive and Thrive: A Study of the Australian Approach to Management-Based Regulation (January 22, 2013). St. Thomas Law Review, Forthcoming; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2205301

Susan Saab Fortney (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States
817-212-3902 (Phone)

Tahlia Ruth Gordon

NSW Office of the Legal Services Commissioner ( email )

Level 9, 75 Castlereagh Street
Sydney
Australia

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