Building a Better Lawyer Discipline System: The Queensland Experience
9 Legal Ethics 187, 2006
24 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2014
Date Written: 2006
In many jurisdictions, lawyer-run discipline systems are inefficient, overly lenient and insufficiently responsive to consumer's concerns. Queensland's Legal Profession Act 2004 (Qld) breaks away from that model by moving lawyer discipline out of lawyers' professional associations and into an independent agency. It articulates a decidedly consumer-oriented approach to lawyer discipline and gives Queensland's new Legal Services Commissioner the power to investigate and prosecute all discipline complaints. This article looks at Queensland's recent reforms, and considers how well the new system is meeting its twin goals of consumer protection and traditional lawyer discipline. Using interviews and other data, the article identifies some of the strengths and weaknesses of Queensland's new discipline system and considers, inter alia, the meaning of “consumer protection” within the context of a lawyer discipline system and the role of lay input in discipline cases. It concludes by noting that while there are some structural problems with Queensland's new system, there is also much that other jurisdictions can learn from Queensland's experience.
Keywords: lawyers, legal profession, lawyer discipline, legal ethics
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