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Professional Standards Research

Striking the right balance: The practice of law is evolving but is the regulatory framework of legal practice evolving fast enough?

As observers of all the professions in Australia, and regulators of a few, we have noted that professions generally have an uneasy relationship with the government forms of regulation that control their own environments. This certainly seems to be true in the legal profession that has demonstrated confidence and vigour in interpreting rules, policy and politics in the environment of relevance to a client, but less apparent interest in the regulatory architecture that governs their own practice and professional identity.

In an article originally written for the Law Institute of NSW's June 2017 Journal, CEO Dr Deen Sanders, rasies the question  of whether the regulation framework of legal practice is evolving as fast as the pactice of law is evolving.

Dr Sanders calls out the complexity of multiple models of regulation within the legal profession. However the legal profession is not alone in confronting new challenges to the way it operates and is regulated. He states, "nationally and internationally, professions are grappling with technology, globalisation, deregulation, increased competition and practice evolution, all of which impact on the role of professional associations."

The article explores ways that government responds to changing role of professions, the importance of the Professional Standards Legislation and striking the right balance between government intervention and professional (self) regulation.

Dr Sanders concludes by questioning how much the legal practice community wants to be in charge of its regulatory future and professional identity.