Law Society Annual Report 2016
ANNUAL REPORT 2016
The Law Society of New South Wales is the proud voice of the legal profession and represents the interests of almost 29,000 members. We encourage debate and actively drive law reform through policy submissions and open dialogue with governments, parliamentary bodies and the courts. Our mission is to provide leadership to the profession and services to our members.
Contents President’s report
4 8 9
Profile of the profession
Complaints against solicitors
10 14 18 22 26 30 34 37 24
Lawcover Group of Companies CEO’s report
NSW Young Lawyers President’s report
Corporate governance statement
Law Society Councillors
Major law reform submissions
Strategic plan 2013-2016
Concise financial report
© 2016 The Law Society of New South Wales, ACN 000 000 699 , ABN 98 696 304 966 . Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific written permission of The Law Society of New South Wales.
Vision LEADERSHIP OF THE PROFESSION
SERVICE TO MEMBERS A JUST LEGAL SYSTEM
Mission Activities and services determined by the needs and welfare of members A profession effectively represented at government and community levels A competitive national profession A community served by ethical, competent and independent legal practitioners A community with reasonable and affordable access to justice Ongoing reform of the law and the legal system
GARY ULMAN Access to justice for all remains a cornerstone of a fair and democratic society. A key focus of the Law Society’s important law reform and advocacy work over the past year has been pressing governments at both State and Federal levels for their ongoing commitment to proper judicial resourcing and appropriate support for the legal assistance sector.
The consistent message from the solicitors of New South Wales has been that unless the Government delivers greater access to diversionary options in appropriate circumstances, and creates bona fide access to justice by the adequate resourcing of the courts, our constrained courts will remain severely backlogged. between legitimate law enforcement objectives and the civil liberties of all members of the community. It was concerning, therefore, that under new arrangements that came into effect after the 2015 State election, the Minister for Police and Justice became the senior minister in the justice cluster. The Law Society joined with other key stakeholders to highlight our concerns with this arrangement, which has the potential to undermine the traditional role of the Attorney- General as the First Law Officer of the State and principal upholder of the rule of law within government. Also of note is our renewed focus on the Society’s relationship with regional practitioners, an enhanced It is also essential that there is an appropriate balance struck
behalf of the NSW legal profession, and work on the development of a comprehensive history of the Law Society, to be published in October 2016, titled, Defending the Rights of All . Court resourcing Cuts to legal aid funding by successive governments have created a situation in which many Australians, including those living beneath the poverty line, are no longer eligible for legal aid. In response to this crisis, in May the Law Society hosted the New South Wales launch of the national Legal Aid Matters campaign. This campaign, Government to properly fund legal aid in Australia in the lead-up to the 2016 Federal election. This campaign is ongoing and will now focus on the 2017 Federal Budget. At a Federal level, delays associated with a lack of judicial resourcing for the Family and Federal Circuit Courts also have had serious consequences for some of the most vulnerable in our community, including children and victims of domestic violence. The Law Society and Regional and Suburban Law Societies therefore chose this as a key focus for campaign initiated by the Law Council of Australia, called on the Federal
program of engagement with government and the public on
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work in the lead-up to the 2016 Federal election that took place on 2 July. Resourcing issues also continue to be particularly acute in regional areas, where long periods of detention in police cells and court buildings are exacerbated by antiquated facilities and the need to travel long distances for court appearances. Anecdotal evidence for this was backed up by statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in March, which highlighted the need for a more coordinated approach in the New South Wales justice system to reduce the time people are held on remand. Regional and suburban law societies The Law Society provides support to a network of 29 regional law societies across the State. The regional and suburban law societies play a vital role in representing the local interests of practitioners and ensuring they have a voice in their communities. While each regional law society has its own constitution and takes initiative on local issues, the Law Society’s Regional Coordinator organises the conferences and conventions of the Regional Presidents and is in charge of communication between the Regional Presidents and the Law Society. Importantly, this allows us to hear directly from suburban and regional practitioners and harness their support on key campaigns such as our concerns about the NSW Government’s proposed changes to CTP Third Party Motor Accident Insurance and funding for the Local and District Courts. The needs of rural and regional practice are the focus each year of the Law Society’s Rural Issues
Conference. The event held in October 2015 was once again a great success, covering issues including succession planning and floodplain management. Law reform and advocacy Incremental incursions into the common law and human rights of the people of New South Wales continue to be of serious concern. Thorough scrutiny of draft legislation is necessary to protect the rights of individuals from legislative encroachment. This important issue was raised by the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the Hon Tom Bathurst, in his 2016 Opening of Law Term address in February. The Law Society’s 19 policy committees make more than 100 submissions to government, law reform bodies, parliamentary inquiries and courts each year, advocating for positive reform in the legal and justice systems. Two high-profile examples were the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Act 2016 , which limits officer can make an assessment as to whether interference is necessary on “reasonable grounds” to avert “serious risk to safety”. However, we raised our concerns through a policy submission and media engagement about this continued expansion of police powers, where sufficient common law powers to restrain or detain for their own or others’ safety already exist. The introduction of the Crimes (Serious Crime Prevention Orders) Act 2016 and Criminal Legislation Amendment (Organised Crime and Public Safety) Act 2016 also reflect this trend towards the right to peaceful protest in New South Wales. Under this legislation, an individual police
the introduction of legislation that adversely impacts individual freedoms, without prior consultation. One of these Acts allows for the making of “serious crime prevention orders” against a broad range of individuals. The other allows police to issue “public safety orders” against individuals, or classes of people, prohibiting them from being at specific premises or public events. Graduate work In June 2014 , the Law Society Council established a working group to consider the question of employment prospects of law graduates. This was in response to growing anxiety within the wider community about a lack of employment opportunities for law graduates. The working group, which represented a cross section of the legal profession in New South Wales, made a number of key findings and recommendations. These included the need to gather more data on graduate numbers and track law graduates to obtain evidence of employment trends, to work more closely with universities to provide relevant information about job prospects to graduates, and to work with other law societies to develop a coordinated approach to this issue. NSW Young Lawyers In addition to collaborating on our graduate work, the Law Society’s work with NSW Young Lawyers has been sustained through our fully staffed NSW Young Lawyers’ Department
as well as the strong bilateral communication between office- bearers of both organisations.
Since the Elections last October, NSW Young Lawyers have intensified their engagement with Council. In addition to Elias Yamine’s appointment as a
NSW Young Lawyers representative, NSW Young Lawyer Cassandra Banks, a Coffs Harbour-based solicitor, was elected an Ordinary Member, while David Porter, of Armstrong Legal, was elected Large Firms Representative. Renée Bianchi, 2016 President of NSW Young Lawyers, occupies an Observer role. The winding up of the financial year also saw the successful conclusion of the 2015/16 Mentoring Program, which partnered experienced practitioners with newly admitted lawyers. I am grateful for the support of both Law Society members and our capable NSW Young Lawyers Department for contributing to the program, which has already restarted for 2016/17 . FLIP – Thought Leadership The legal profession is undergoing significant change with factors such as globalisation of the legal services market, shifting client expectations and the impact of new technologies disrupting the old way of doing things for the profession. It is important that the Law Society is in a position to lead the legal profession in preparing for these changes. The Law Society established a standing committee to investigate the issue and, as part of our Thought Leadership program, in early 2016 the Future of Innovation and the Legal Profession (FLIP) Commission of Inquiry began. This work allows us to research, analyse and respond to these changes and help shape the provision of legal services into the future, with a full report due in mid-December.
President’s charity In 2013 , my firm, Minters, lost an outstanding young lawyer, Jennifer Barton, to ovarian cancer. This tragic loss deeply impacted those who knew Jennifer and I therefore nominated Ovarian Cancer Australia to receive the financial and in-kind support of the Law Society as the President’s charity for 2016 . I am pleased to say that a number of events supporting the charity have already taken place and the Law Society will continue this work for the remainder of 2016 . I wish to thank all those who offer their financial and in-kind support to this worthy cause. Conclusion I wish to commend the outstanding work of our 27 standing committees, our outstanding council members and dedicated staff team, for their effective advocate for the State’s legal profession in a constantly challenging environment. While it is difficult to single out individual contributions, I would like extend my personal thanks to our outstanding Chief Executive Officer, Michael Tidball, whose support and guidance have made my year thus far both productive and enjoyable. help in ensuring that the Law Society remains a relevant and
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“The legal profession is undergoing significant change with factors such as globalisation of the legal services market, shifting client expectations and the impact of new technologies disrupting the old way of doing things for the profession. It is important that the Law Society is in a position to lead the legal profession in preparing for these changes.”
PROFILE OF THE PROFESSION On 30 June 2016, there were 30,627 solicitors registered in New South Wales, an increase of 1,397 since last year.
Solicitors in NSW
Age of solicitors
3,983 6,509 3,542 4,621 3,066 2,571 3,001 1,285 1,748 301 3,115 4,466 2,439 3,526 2,260 3,037 1,823 1,790
Category of solicitors
Corporate 5,618 (18.34%) Government 3,205 (10.46%)
Experience of solicitors
Location of solicitors
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COMPLAINTS AGAINST SOLICITORS In 2015-2016 , 449 complaint files were opened by the Professional Standards Department.
Major complaint categories
Complaints opened, by solicitor type
Principal of a law practice 297
Employee of a law practice 89
Complaints against firms
Government legal practitioner 8
Corporate legal practitioner 4
Trust Account matters
Areas of law
Complaints opened, by type of complainant
Third party (other side)
4 4 7
Purchase Real Property
Solicitor for client 7 Legal Services Commissioner 7 Other 1 6 Executor 0 Attorney-General 0
Wills & Deceased Estates
1 Other includes Judge, Court Registrar, Government Department and Beneficiary
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
MICHAEL TIDBALL The Law Society of New South Wales represents the interests of almost 29,000 members. Its responsibilities are numerous, and include everything from statutory obligations to representative functions. This work is carried out under the guiding principles of leadership of the profession, services to members and promotion of a just legal system.
30 June 2016 , the Law Society again finishes the year in excellent shape. While the majority of the increase in the Society’s asset position relates to a land and building revaluation, it is nevertheless pleasing to report that from a financial perspective our core operations continue to perform well. Further to this, the Society’s investment portfolio – which remains conservative consistent with approved guidelines – has again outperformed the benchmarks set by Council. This is yet one more positive outcome for the period. The consolidated Law Society group, which includes Lawcover Insurance and the Solicitors’ Mututal Indemnity Fund, has reported a surplus after tax of $11.49 million, with total net assets increasing to $260.98 million at year end. Following what was another favourable underwriting period for Lawcover, the board of that company has approved a premium rebate that will be remitted to policy holders during the 2016-17 financial year. Additional information pertaining to both the Law Society and consolidated group financial results can be found in the Treasurer’s report and accompanying concise financial statements.
The Law Society draws upon the collective knowledge and experience of its members to promote public debate on law reform and legal policy issues. Our output in this area has continued apace during the 2015/16 reporting period, with more than 100 legal policy and law reform submissions generated by our 19 policy and practice committees. Providing representation through the Law Society’s policy and submission work gives members the opportunity to interact and learn from others, fostering collegiality within the legal profession. As well as engaging in a frenetic program of reform and advocacy work, other key areas of focus for the past 12 months have included the commencement of a new three-year strategic plan, the continued strengthening of member services with a specific focus on continuing professional development, the commencement of work to develop and refine our segment-related offerings, and an enhanced program of member benefits. Financial performance With a surplus of $1.97 million, and net assets of $66.9 4 million as at
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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
raised by the profession about the responsibility of Government to provide certainty around State guarantee of title. The NSW land title registry underpins billions of dollars of economic activity in the State each year. It is worth noting that the Primary and Torrens Title registers have served to protect land title by government guarantee in NSW since 1863 . Privatisation of the core functions of the LPI poses a number of potential risks, including the need to preserve the immutable importance of certainty of title to the State economy. The Law Society has also focussed on the NSW Government’s proposed overhaul of the NSW Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) scheme in recent months. In March 2016 , the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, the Hon Victor Dominello MP, announced that the Government would be undertaking a major review of the scheme. The stated aim of the Government’s proposed changes to CTP is to put downward pressure on Green Slips, delivering political capital in marginal seats in the run up to the 2019 State election. In initial meetings with the Law Society and other key stakeholders, the Minister made a commitment to sharing Government data and voiced his intention to draw heavily on the knowledge and expertise of the New South Wales legal profession. The Law Society continues to advocate on the strongest possible terms for a scheme that delivers benefits to injured motorists and retains access to legal representation. The legal profession opposes the abandonment of the current NSW CTP scheme and its replacement with an inadequate and unfair workers compensation-style model.
Other key submissions made during the 2015/16 reporting period were: • Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment (Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2015 • Statutory Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 • Statutory Review of the Relationships Register Act 2010 NSW • Letter to the Prime Minister calling for an urgent review of resourcing in the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court • Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 • Review of the NSW CTP scheme • Establishment of a National Integrity Commission • Crimes (Serious Crime Prevention Orders) Bill 2016 and Criminal Legislation Amendment (Organised Crime and Public Safety) Bill 2016 • Strata Scheme Management Regulation 2016 • Submission in response to the Australian Consumer Law Issues Paper • Royal Commission into abuse of children in detention • Inquiry into sexualisation of children and young people • Inquiry into Crown Land • Productivity Commission Inquiry into Data Availability and Use • Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016 • The Law Society’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) makes a strong commitment to the promotion of indigenous representation in the legal profession and the protection and promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in New South Wales.
Law Graduate Tracking Study The Law Graduate Tracking Study is one of a suite of research and data initiatives implemented in response to the findings of the Law Society’s Future Prospects of Law Graduates Report . The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of law graduates’ career aspirations and employment experiences, so as to identify the role the Law Society might play in respect of this issue. Once completed, the study will potentially benefit not only the Law Society, but also law schools, law graduates, prospective law students and law firms. Law graduates for the study will be drawn from 16 institutions, including the Legal Profession Admission Board and 15 universities and education institutions based in NSW and the ACT. It is planned that the full cohort of 2017 final-year law students will be invited to participate in a benchmark survey, and then a subsection of the cohort will be tracked and surveyed twice over the next 18 months to three years post-graduation. Legal policy and representational work The Law Society’s legal policy work has seen it dealing with a number of major developments over the past 12 months. On 8 January 2016, the NSW Treasurer, The Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, announced the NSW Government proposal to sell all or part of the State’s Land and Property Information (LPI) service. The sale, which was announced via media statement, lacked essential detail. However, at the time concerns were
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
Mentoring Program is in its ninth year, comprising more than 100 pairs and has expanded to include a targeted regional mentoring program. The Women’s Mentoring Program arose from the Law Society’s Advancement of Women project and was launched in 2012 . Supporting the advancement and retention of female solicitors has been at the forefront of the Law Society’s initiatives designed to have a positive impact on the experiences of women in the legal profession. Established in 1992 , the Law Society’s Specialist Accreditation Program offers members of the Law Society the opportunity to strengthen expertise in a particular area of practice and acquire a reputation for excellence in their chosen fields. There are currently 1,600 Accredited Specialists in 14 areas of practice. The Accredited Specialists are highly regarded within the profession. In the last two years, we have seen record numbers of applicants wanting to take part in the process (which generally includes three assessments) to become an Accredited Specialist. They must be reaccredited each year and do extra professional development in their chosen area, as a guarantee that the original performance standards attained are maintained. The Law Society offers more than 300 face-to-face sessions, more than 100 eLearning modules and podcasts, and numerous online and webinar sessions each CPD year. The program covers all the mandatory CPD requirements, skills workshops, legislative and case law updates as well as presenting new and ever changing business skills topics. The programs are presented by experts drawn from the profession,
Reconciliation Action Plan The Law Society’s Reconciliation Action Plan was launched in July 2012 and the Law Society has made significant progress on meeting its commitment to reconciliation. This includes having fulfilled two years of financial and in-kind support for Ngalaya Aboriginal Corporation , the New South Wales association of Indigenous lawyers and law students. The Law Society’s support has enabled Ngalaya representatives to attend the World Indigenous Conference held in Brisbane, and to hold a Law Week event featuring Indigenous female lawyers. The next iteration of the Law Society of NSW Indigenous Reconciliation Strategic Plan, as it will now be known, will run parallel to the Law Society’s 2016-2019 Strategic Plan and will continue on the themes of the 2012- 2014 Reconciliation Action Plan. The Law Society’s Indigenous Issues Committee has been very active in building relationships with relevant stakeholders and making submissions to government on relevant policy areas, including native title, land rights, child protection and reforming the Aboriginal culture heritage system in New South Wales. Profile of the legal profession The New South Wales legal profession continues to grow. At 30 June 2016, there were 30,627 practising solicitors in New South Wales. This is a 4.78 per cent increase from 30 June 2015 . It is also worth noting that we are also fast approaching the point at which the number of female solicitors will outnumber the number of male solicitors in the state, with 15,287 and 15,340 practising certificate holders respectively.
Relationship with the Law Council of Australia More than 70 years ago, the Law Society was instrumental in establishing the Law Council of Australia, and we are actively
committed to assisting the Law Council to play its role as a body well positioned to facilitate an Australian single legal services market. It is also committed
to resourcing the Law Council so it can be a critical junction point
between Australia and the global legal services market. The Law Society takes pride in its work as a leader in policy development and works closely with the Law Council on key national policy and advocacy matters, providing members with a national forum for broader policy issues impacting the profession. Uniform profession The Legal Profession Uniform Law delivers important benefits to the profession and consumers. Effective from 1 July 2015 , the scheme has been running smoothly. The rollout of Legal Profession Uniform Law has been a major ongoing project for the Law Society. A program of CPD seminars was conducted by the Law Society, with a special focus on the matter of costs. Online fact sheets and helplines also did much to assist the profession in the adopting the new scheme. Career advancement and support Mentoring constitutes another critical element of the Law Society’s strategy to support lawyers in their career. To assist with this objective, the Law Society runs two programs: the NSW Young Lawyers Mentoring Program and the Women’s Mentoring Program. The NSW Young Lawyers
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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
and programs are designed for practitioners at all stages of their careers. Programs vary from one hour updates or podcasts, to a two-day course or conference, up to a 12 -week online assessed course. Practice and personal support Member Connexions continues to provide members with discounts and benefits relevant to members’ lifestyle and personal needs. Member Connexions now partners with 12 childcare and early education brands, with over 160 NSW and ACT childcare centres offering a 10 per cent saving in childcare gap fees for new enrolments by Law Society members. Another new Member Connexions partner is Australia’s leading experience gifts retailer, RedBalloon. StudentHub was also launched in February this year. This online resource contains extensive content and is designed to assist law students and recent graduates in forging a successful career in the legal industry. Information on the site covers areas such as career, personal development, the Graduate Employment and Summer Clerkship Program, mentoring, and finding information relevant to admission as a solicitor. In another exciting development for members, the Law Society Library has now successfully incorporated the loaning of CCH eBooks, via CCH’s online Wheelers platform, into the Society’s digital library resources offering. CCH is planning to roll out a looseleaf service on the same platform in the very near future, which will make this an increasingly valuable addition to our library service as time progresses.
potential impacts in New South Wales, make recommendations to the Law Society Council including how to help solicitors adapt to change, and convene a Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession. Hearings have been scheduled to take place from May to November 2016 , and by mid- December the commission will submit its first report to the Law Society Council. Conclusion Senior staff are now well advanced in developing actions, targets and measurements, allocation of responsibilities and timings in relation to strategies contained within the Law Society Strategic Plan 2016 – 2019 . In the coming months we will also be working to gain a clearer understanding of what Law Society membership currently offers, and identifying how best to bring all of our offerings together in a cohesive way to form a well-defined, segment- specific strategy. Through delivering a clear value proposition, we will assist practitioners in not only making the decision to continue with membership, but also help them by providing the tools to effectively communicate the benefits of Law Society membership to their organisations. Gary Ulman came to the role of President having embarked on his association with the Law Society back in 2005 . He has been an active and productive member of the Society’s Council since 2011 and has made a significant contribution to the work of the organisation through leadership and membership of various committees of the Law Society. It has been a pleasure working with him and I thank him for his contribution and tireless work as President.
Thought Leadership The Law Society’s Thought Leadership series delivers on topical projects. In 2011 , the Law Society embarked on its flagship Thought Leadership project with the Advancement of Women in the Profession program. The final report was published in December 2011 , with 12 recommendations; and a progress report was published in June 2013 . In February 2016 , the Law Society announced a new phase in this program of work, which will build on past initiatives. The Law Society will progress initiatives under three main themes: the Law Society demonstrating leadership in the profession; addressing barriers experienced by women; and assisting women to build leadership skills. One of the main initiatives under the first theme will be the The Law Society has established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which has a broad remit to deal with diversity and inclusion issues within the profession. The Committee’s initial focus will be on the advancement of women, but other areas to be covered include LGBT issues, lawyers with disabilities, and Asian and Aboriginal lawyers. The Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) Program has been introduced in 2016 to help solicitors prepare for the threats and opportunities that lie just around the corner. From fresh collaborations, cutting-edge technology and nimbler services, to outsourcing development of a Charter for the Advancement of Women.
and unbundling, the FLIP commission is surveying the disrupted new landscape.
Its key aims are to investigate trends in legal services and identify their
LAWCOVER GROUP OF COMPANIES CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
MICHAEL HALLIDAY The 2015–16 reporting year has been another strong one for Lawcover. We have achieved strong financial results, increased activity across the broad range of our Risk Management Education Program and continued to refine our business operating model to deliver efficient and effective professional indemnity services to insured law practices.
The entire Lawcover team is focused on delivering absolute value given that professional indemnity insurance (PII) is a necessity rather than a choice for law practices. Our value proposition is focused on six key areas: • Informing through various media channels • Supporting through practice support services, claims management and advice • Protecting through financial strength backing a broad PII policy • Engaging through risk management and claims prevention programs and workshops • Connecting through online facilities to make our interactions quicker and more efficient • Participating to champion the interests of the legal profession within the insurance environment It is worth repeating that Lawcover’s role extends beyond that of a simple transaction-based professional indemnity insurance company. By our corporate structure we are a part of the legal profession and we have both the desire and the obligation to serve and meet the needs of the profession. This extends to the
objective that Lawcover operates within a framework which is in the best interests of the legal profession and consumers of legal services. That framework ensures that Lawcover seeks appropriate outcomes in claims arising from allegations of negligence – by rigorous defence of unmeritorious claims but also quick and fair compensation for legitimate claims. Our focus and commitment to working for and on behalf of the profession has contributed to our strong performance outcomes this year. The Lawcover Board and Executive will continue to investigate avenues to improve and extend the value proposition of our services to our insured law practices. Financial performance The 2015/16 reporting year has delivered strong financial performance, again driven primarily by better than anticipated claims outcomes. The continuation of these results is due to a number of factors including internal operational efficiencies, but most notably by law practices continuing to embrace Lawcover’s extensive risk management and claims prevention activities.
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LAWCOVER GROUP OF COMPANIES CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
These results have for the second time resulted in a policyholder rebate which will be paid to eligible insured law practices in September 2016 , while we retain a modest surplus to ensure Lawcover’s continued capital strength. Lawcover’s Board and Executive are focused on deliberate capital management strategies to ensure efficient use of capital within the company’s risk appetite. This has resulted in recent initiatives including: • Ensuring premium revenue is set at levels which reflect the capital requirements of the company, minimising risk of under or over collection of premiums • Reviewing the company’s investment strategy to ensure an appropriately balanced portfolio within the company’s risk appetite • Reducing and ultimately dispensing with quota share reinsurance in 2016-17, resulting in a reduction in the amount of outward reinsurance expense, while maintaining strong levels of aggregate stop loss protection • Actively managing the company’s capital adequacy ratio to the company’s target operating range Our focus is to maintain prudential capital management and risk management in order to afford certainty and stability in the cost of insurance. In doing so, our objective is to diminish volatility in premiums with the consequence that the need to make policyholder rebates may also diminish. At 30 June 2016 , Lawcover’s net asset position was $115.25 million, up from $112.54 million at 30 June 2015 . This was after the provision of $15 million for the 2016 policyholder rebate.
Premiums and cost of insurance
Percentage of notifications – area of practice The following table presents the percentages of notifications by area of practice for the 2015-16 year with comparisons to prior years. We continue to monitor emerging trends in claims and circumstances and, where appropriate, target areas of concern through risk analysis and targeted claims prevention strategies. Solicitors’ Mutual Indemnity Fund Lawcover Pty Ltd manages the Solicitors’ Mutual Indemnity Fund (SMIF) on behalf of The Law Society of New South Wales. There are no current claims liabilities against the SMIF and it ended the year with funds of $84.78 million. Summary In closing this report, I wish to once again acknowledge the strong commitment of Lawcover’s Board and staff for their dedication and professionalism in working with and on behalf of the legal profession. It is also important to acknowledge the ongoing support of the legal profession in respect of Lawcover and our objectives. With that support, we remain a strong organisation, operating from a secure financial
Last year, the 2015-16 premium pool was reduced by 12 percent compared to the amount collected in 2014-15 . The premium pool for 2016-17 has been maintained at the same level, in spite of continued growth in the number of insured law practices and solicitors. For the vast majority of insured law practices, premiums on a like-for-like basis have decreased markedly since 2013 . It has been a matter of considerable satisfaction for the Lawcover team that, while increasing the financial strength of the company over the past three years, it has also been possible to provide for two policyholder rebates of $23 million (2014) and $15 million (2016) together with a reduction in the target premium pool of $9.6 million since 2012-13 . Combined, these result in a total of some $47.6 million released for the benefit of eligible insured law practices over the past three years. Notifications (claims and circumstances) Overall, the total number of claims and circumstances notifications to Lawcover has been trending downwards over the last several years, despite an increase in the number of insured law practices and solicitors, and an increase in reported circumstances which may give rise to a claim. The number of notifications reported during the year to 30 June 2014 was 623 . This has fallen to 582 notifications for the year to 30 June 2016 . As a proportion, the number of claims has continued to decline.
position and maintaining a commitment to purpose.
LAWCOVER GROUP OF COMPANIES CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
Number of claims and circumstances notified
380 202 582
361 256 617
329 294 623
Percentage of notifications - area of practice
% of Total reported 2015-16
% of Total reported 2014-15
% of Total reported 2013-14
Area of Practice
Sale and Purchase of Business
3 4 4 6 2
4 5 4 5 2
3 6 4 4 2
Mortgages and Commercial Borrowing Tort and Workers Compensation
Out of Time Personal Injury
Out of Time –Other
19 10 10
Probate and Wills
* Includes: criminal, immigration, defamation and revenue
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LAWCOVER GROUP OF COMPANIES CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
Lawcover’s role extends beyond that of a simple transaction-based professional indemnity insurance company. By our corporate structure we are a part of the legal profession and we have both the desire and the obligation to serve and meet the needs of the profession.
NSW YOUNG LAWYERS PRESIDENT’S REPORT
RENÉE BIANCHI NSW Young Lawyers represents solicitors and barristers under the age of 36 or in their first five years of practice, as well as law students. This totals more than 15,000 members, or 30 to 40 per cent of the profession.
The organisation is structured around an Executive Council and more than 20 committees, working groups and subcommittees. Although most of the work of NSW Young Lawyers is carried out by volunteers, NSW Young Lawyers has the support of The Law Society of New South Wales in respect of its administrative and logistical requirements. In this regard, NSW Young Lawyers has the support of Liesel von Molendorff, Head of NSW Young Lawyers and Graduates, Chloe Visser, Events and Committee Leader, and Katherine Ducker, Events and Committee Coordinator. Each year, the membership of NSW Young Lawyers selects a Patron and Charity. The 2016 Patron is Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human
Services for the profession Mentoring The NSW Young Lawyers Mentoring Program continued in 2016 , connecting young lawyers with experienced practitioners. The annual program began in 2008 with 15 pairs of mentors and mentees and has continued to grow, with more than 110 pairs in 2016 covering all areas of the state and the profession. program with the Graduate Services department of the Law Society for final-year law students and first-year graduates. Applications for this program opened in August 2016 and the program will begin in 2017 . Confidence in the Courtroom program Confidence in the Courtroom is designed to help young advocates learn their craft in a supportive and non-threatening atmosphere, with the guidance of judicial officers. Already rolled out in the Family Court and Local Court (civil jurisdiction), advocates appear in real courts, before real judicial officers, and receive feedback on their advocacy skills. NSW Young Lawyers expects to expand the program into other jurisdictions as time and resources allow. The next program will cover the criminal jurisdiction of the Local Court. NSW Young Lawyers is also developing a new mentoring
Rights Commission, and the 2016 Charity is The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. In 2016, NSW Young Lawyers focused on engagement with
members, the profession, and the community; and ensuring that the services the organisation provided were what members wanted. This meant that many new initiatives were launched, and NSW Young Lawyers continued to demonstrate that it is a peak professional organisation.
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NSW YOUNG LAWYERS PRESIDENT’S REPORT
In 2015 , the NSW Young Lawyers “Confidence in the Courtroom – Family Law” program was recognised internationally, winning an ACLEA
• GST treatment of digital currency (Taxation Law Committee) • Biodiversity Conservation and
“supertrawlers” operating in Australia’s marine jurisdiction (Environment and Planning Law and International Law Committees) • Commonwealth Consultation Discussion Paper: Free-range egg labelling (Animal Law Committee) • Foreign Bribery (International Law Committee) Services for students NSW Young Lawyers has sought to actively involve itself in student initiatives. In conjunction with the Special Committee of Law Student Societies (SCLSS), NSW Young Lawyers has: • Delivered a Public Interest Careers Fair, in conjunction with the Australian Law Students Association (ALSA) • Exhibited at law careers fairs for each NSW university • Been involved in an intervarsity sports day • Been involved in an intervarsity negotiation competition • Provided speakers for the Law Society Graduate Services professional development skills sessions • Assisted in the preparation of an intervarsity women’s mooting competition, the only competition of its kind in Australia NSW Young Lawyers has actively sought to engage with students through platinum sponsorship of ALSA. The SCLSS was formed as an initiative of NSW Young Lawyers to bring together representatives of each NSW Law Student Society to ensure the organisation is engaging with students and is providing resources and events for students.
Land Management in NSW (Environment and Planning Law Committee)
(International Association for Continuing Legal Education) “best” award.
• Treasury Consultation Paper – Implementing a Diverted Profits Tax (Taxation Law Committee) • Review of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Civil Litigation Committee) • Penalties for White Collar Crime (Business Law Committee) • Revised Community Consultative Committee Guidelines (Environment and Planning Law Committee) • Preliminary submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission Review of the Guardianship Act (Civil Litigation, Human Rights and Public Law and Government Committees) • Cross-border profit allocation • Options for Low Rise Medium Density Housing as Complying Development Discussion Paper (Environment and Planning Law Committee) • Greyhound Racing Industry – Issues Paper on Governance and Social Contribution (Animal Law Committee) • Proposed National Court Framework Consultation Process (Civil Litigation Committee) • Review of intensive correction orders (Criminal Law Committee) • Proposed roll-over relief for small business restructures (Taxation Law Committee) • Impacts of large-capacity fishing vessels commonly known as and income tax – review of transfer pricing rules (Taxation Law Committee)
One-day programs NSW Young Lawyers has continued to organise one-day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs. A number of committees organise programs for their area of law, each with a stellar line-up of speakers and topics. Harman of the Federal Circuit Court approached the NSW Young Lawyers Family Law Committee to partner with the Federal Circuit Court in Parramatta to host workshops for junior lawyers on topics such as client interaction, ethics, preparation and court room advocacy. The NSW Young Lawyers Professional Skills Series was launched in February 2016 and is aimed at young lawyers with 0-5 years’ experience. The series will continue in 2017 . Submissions NSW Young Lawyers produced a large number of submissions on a diverse range of topics, including: • Regulation of Australian Agriculture (Animal Law Committee) • Kosciuszko National Park Draft Wild Horse Management Plan: Public consultation (Animal Law Committee) • Submission to the legislative review of the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 (Criminal Law Committee) Professional Skills Series In July 2015 , his Honour Judge
NSW YOUNG LAWYERS PRESIDENT’S REPORT
The NSW Young Lawyers Mentoring Program continued in 2016, connecting young lawyers with experienced practitioners. The annual program began in 2008 with 15 pairs of mentors and mentees and has continued to grow, with more than 110 pairs in 2016 covering all areas of the state and the profession.
A further objective of the SCLSS is to ensure knowledge sharing. NSW Young Lawyers has continued to develop the “Day in the Life” series, first created by the NSW Young Lawyers Criminal Law Committee. We expanded the series in 2016 to include criminal and civil jurisdictions. The series pairs a student with a practitioner, with the student accompanying that practitioner to court. Future prospects of law graduates In 2015 , the Law Society created a new department, Graduate Services, that works closely with NSW Young
Lawyers on all student-related initiatives. The department has made significant headway into the recommendations and objectives that arose out of the 2014 Future Prospects of Graduates report. The Law Society has engaged Urbis, an interdisciplinary consulting company, to design a tracking mechanism to obtain evidence about law graduate employment. A baseline survey will be sent to all final-year law students in NSW and ACT in 2017 , with the SCLSS playing a major part in distribution and uptake of the survey. The survey will be a longitudinal study, surveying the first cohort in March 2017 then again at 18 -month and three-year intervals. The primary purposes of the tracking mechanism are to ascertain:
• The number and proportion of graduates planning to seek employment in the legal profession • The reasons NSW law graduates are seeking or not seeking employment in the legal profession The Law Society has developed strategies to increase the participation of firms, government and corporate practices with the graduate recruitment process. Work is underway to expand the program to include large, mid-tier and small firms, as well as corporate and social justice organisations looking to hire law graduates. The Law Society has elevated the status and efficacy of its job boards, with a new legal industry job board to be launched in late 2016 .
20 | ANNUAL REPORT 2016
NSW YOUNG LAWYERS PRESIDENT’S REPORT
The Law Society has continued to work with NSW Young Lawyers to provide professional development sessions targeted at graduate lawyers. There are now 11 new professional development sessions run by the Law Society, ranging from curriculum vitae writing to transitioning from a student to a lawyer, with members of NSW Young Lawyers presenting at specific practice area sessions. The Law Society has included information on its website to provide law graduates with a better picture of what is happening in the NSW job market. StudentHub is pioneered by the Law Society and NSW Young Lawyers, and the site is designed to assist students and recent graduates to forge a successful career in the legal industry. The Law Society has continued to work with the Law Deans from all NSW universities and now organises, and attends, quarterly meetings with the Law Deans to update them on the progress of the recommendations from the 2014 report, provide accurate information on employment options and prospects, and to discuss other issues. Services for the community Fair Work Commission Pro Bono Scheme NSW Young Lawyers was asked by the Fair Work Commission to create and support a pro bono service for the Commission. This award- winning service is coordinated by the NSW Young Lawyers Workplace and Safety Law Committee, which sources and coordinates volunteer solicitors. Solicitors are trained and supervised, and two appear on a rotating roster one Friday each fortnight. The program has been
running for two years and feedback confirms it is having the desired effect of reducing unproductive court time for the Commission and providing an important service for unrepresented litigants. Refugee Assistance Project The NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee launched a new project, run jointly with the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (Australia) Inc., in 2016 . The Committee will coordinate volunteers (lawyers and interpreters) to assist unrepresented people in Australia requesting asylum. Young Justice Program NSW Young Lawyers continued the community education program for school students in Years 5 to 8 . The “Young Justice” program was held at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. More than 100 students will attend each program in 2016 , with each session aiming to educate participants about social justice topics. The NSW Golden Gavel was a resounding success in 2016 , with 800 guests in attendance. The public speaking comedy breakfast event was held at The Westin, Sydney, and remains one of the flagship events of the legal profession. Cross Industry Charity Trivia Night NSW Young Lawyers collaborated with Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand in 2016 to host a Cross Industry Charity Trivia Night. The event attracted 200 lawyers and accountants. All proceeds were donated to The Networking and skills development events Golden Gavel
Alannah and Madeline Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation. Connect Series The Connect series was launched in 2016 by the NSW Young Lawyer’s Continuing Legal Education Committee, following an identified need for business networking opportunities that were industry specific. The NSW Young Lawyers Communication, Entertainment and Technology Law Committee held the first Connect Event on 21 July 2016, on the topic of “Sport, Media and the Law: the current state of play”. State of the Profession Address The State of the Profession address is an opportunity for members to hear from the current Patron of NSW Young Lawyers. Professor Gillian Triggs spoke on the topic “The legal profession and human rights: where to from here?”. Young Professionals Charity Ball The annual Young Professionals Charity Ball was held at Four Points by Sheraton in 2016 . Five hundred young professionals attended the event with all proceeds to be donated to The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. Wellness for Lawyers Guide NSW Young Lawyers is in the process of completing work on a self-help guide for legal professionals to help them combat the cause and effects of depression and other mental health issues. The hardcopy guide will be available for all lawyers and law students at the Law Society library and will also be available to download for free. The guide will be launched in late 2016 at an exclusive breakfast event.
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