The Legal Profession Uniform Law creating a common legal
services market across New South Wales and Victoria comes into
operation on 1 July 2015, bringing with it changes to admission and
practising certificates for in-house lawyers.
The key message is that all in-house lawyers
will need to be admitted to the profession and maintain a
practising certificate. But the good news is that there are
exemptions and grace periods to give a more relaxed transition to
the new regime for those who are either not admitted or do not
currently hold a practising certificate.
Other changes introduced by the new regulatory reform package
include legal costs disclosure and trust accounting.
Government in-house lawyers
The most significant exemption is for government in-house
If you are a government in-house lawyer employed as a government
lawyer (including employed by the Crown) in the 12 months before 1
July 2015, and have never been admitted, you will
be permanently exempt from any requirement to be admitted, and thus
will not need a practising certificate, but only while employed as
a government in-house lawyer.
If however you are a government lawyer who is admitted
as at 30 June 2015, you will need a practising
certificate, even if you have never held one before, but you will
have two years from 1 July 2015 to get one. Note : In Victoria, a
new category of practising certificate called "Government
Practising Certificate" will be available after 1 July;
Victorian government lawyers who need to obtain or maintain a
practising certificate will be eligible to apply for this.
Corporate in-house lawyers
Corporate lawyers who are employed in-house but are not admitted
will have a three-year grace period from 1 July 2015 to get
In addition (and as with government in-house lawyers) there is
also a two-year grace period effective from 1 July 2015 for
admitted corporate in-house lawyers to obtain their practising
Newly appointed corporate and government in-house
lawyers employed from 1 July 2015
Similar transitionary arrangements apply to new in-house lawyers
employed in the three years after 1 July 2015 – they too will
have up to three years to be admitted and obtain a practising
After 1 July 2018, all new lawyers employed in-house
will need to be admitted and obtain a practising
Supervised legal practice and unrestricted practising
certificates – more good news
There is full credit given to any period of legal practice
(supervised or not) served prior to 1 July 2015 for both corporate
and government employed lawyers. This will count towards (and in
many cases, be fully substituted for) the statutory period of
supervised practice that would otherwise be required after 1 July
2015 to obtain an unrestricted practising certificate.
Both government and corporate newly appointed lawyers employed
after 1 July 2015 will need to serve the full term of supervised
legal practice unless they seek a discretionary exemption under the
Uniform Law. We expect this exemption will be extended to
practitioners with overseas qualifications employed in-house
after 1 July 2015 but not yet admitted in
Notifying the regulators and Admissions Boards about
exemptions or grace periods
Government lawyers seeking permanent exemption from admission
will need to serve notice on the Admissions Board within 12 months.
Similarly, for unadmitted corporate in-house lawyers, notice
seeking a three year grace period must be given to the Admissions
Board within 12 months.
An in-house lawyer seeking any other transitional exemptions or
to use a grace period must give notice to the NSW Law Society or
the Law Institute of Victoria within six months, detailing the
exemption or grace period they are seeking and their entitlement to
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and
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