It is a lawyer's legal duty and moral responsibility to act and represent their clients in an honest and professional manner. In order to ensure that lawyers meet this high standard, they are required to hold and continually renew a practicing licence or certificate. However, if your lawyer’s licence is revoked or you are concerned about their professional conduct, it is difficult to know what to do.
Why lawyers lose their licencesGenerally, it is illegal for a lawyer to engage in legal practice without a license. Your solicitor must renew their practising certificate every year by meeting strict requirements and upholding their professional obligations. A list of solicitors holding current practising certificates for each state can be found on the relevant Law Society websites (for example QLD, NSW, VIC).
Solicitors can lose their licence for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Failing to keep up with education;
- Insurance and administration requirements; and
- Engaging in conduct that demonstrates they are unfit to practice (for example theft, negligence, or misconduct).
What it means for youIf your solicitor does not have a current practising certificate, or loses their licence during the progression of your case, they will not be held legally accountable for their actions. This leaves you vulnerable if something goes wrong, and can have serious consequences for your case if not resolved.
Recently, Shine Lawyers was called on to represent the clients of a de-licenced Gladstone firm, who were concerned about the way their cases had been handled, and what would happen to their cases in the future. Shine’s Gladstone team was able to assist these clients by investigating their legal options against the firm, and taking on their cases going forward.
How to protect yourself
- Know your rights – As a client, you have a right to receive honest and professional legal services from your lawyer.
- Contact the Law Society – If you are concerned that your lawyer is not acting ethically or up to professional standards, contact your relevant Law Society to make them aware of your concerns.
- Bring an action – If you have suffered loss as a result of your lawyer’s negligence, you may be able to bring a claim for professional negligence against your legal representative.
If you are concerned with your legal representation, or simply want more information, contact Shine Lawyers’ Professional Negligence department today.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: July 12, 2017.