The practice of law by those not properly qualified is prohibited by section 10 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) [LPUL]. Any advertising or representing that an unqualified person or body is entitled to engage in legal practice is prohibited by section 11 of LPUL.
The purpose of this prohibition is to ensure, in the interests of the administration of justice, that legal work is carried out only by those who are properly qualified to do so; and to protect clients of law practices by ensuring that persons carrying out legal work are entitled to do so.
Unqualified practice exposes the public to the risk of poor legal advice and representation, deception and no recourse to assistance should something go wrong.
Unqualified practice also damages the reputation of the profession. It is unfair to solicitors who comply with all professional legislative and ethical obligations.
Who is an unqualified practitioner?
An unqualified practitioner is a person who engages in legal practice, or holds out that they are entitled to engage in legal practice, when they do not have a current practising certificate allowing them to work as a solicitor.
What are the penalties?
The penalty for engaging in unqualified legal practice is a fine up to 250 penalty units [$27,500 on 1 July 2015] or imprisonment for 2 years or both.
The penalty for falsely holding out as entitled to engage in legal practice is up to 250 penalty units.
How to report unqualified practitioners
The Law Society’s Find a Lawyer facility provides a list of all solicitors in NSW. If a person does not appear on that list then they do not hold a current practising certificate entitling them to work as a solicitor.
If you believe that a person is doing legal work as a solicitor but without holding a practising certificate, information setting out your concern should be provided, in writing, to:
Professional Standards Department
Law Society of New South Wales
170 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000
- Professional Standards Department
- Law Society of NSW
- 170 Phillip Street
- Sydney NSW 2000
- DX 362 Sydney
- T: (02) 9926 0390
- F: (02) 9221 5804
- E: firstname.lastname@example.org