There have been two significant developments for the Centre’s National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme:
• in June the Council of the ACT Law Society approved the Scheme; and
• in July the Council of the Law Society of New South Wales confirmed that it had amended the conditions of its approval of the Scheme in order to facilitate more pro bono legal work.
Approval of the Scheme in the ACT
On 15 June 2015 the Council of the ACT Law Society approved the Centre’s National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme which is underwritten by Lawcover. This means that lawyers in the Australian Capital Territory who wish to undertake pro bono legal work that falls within the definition in the Centre’s policy are now able to access free PI insurance under the Scheme.
The Centre would like to take this opportunity to thank the ACT Law Society for taking this positive step towards facilitating access to justice in the ACT.
The Scheme is now approved, and facilitates pro bono legal work, in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.
Amendment to the Scheme’s approval in New South Wales
On 14 July 2015 the Council of the Law Society of New South Wales confirmed that, in response to a joint submission made by the Centre and DLA Piper, it had amended its approval of the Scheme to remove the condition requiring the Supervising Lawyer to hold an unrestricted principal practising certificate.
Previously, in order to access coverage under the Scheme in NSW it was necessary for any pro bono legal work to be supervised by a Supervising Lawyer who held an unrestricted principal practising certificate – a type of practising certificate unlikely to be held by in-house lawyers. In order to obtain an unrestricted principal practising certificate a lawyer must first complete a Practice Management Course which costs approximately $2,000.
In response to the Centre’s submission regarding the limiting impact of the current approval the Council of the Law Society of New South Wales amended its approval of the Scheme so that the Supervising Lawyer must hold an unrestricted practising certificate, rather than an unrestricted principal practising certificate. The Council has also confirmed that a Supervising Lawyer, who holds an unrestricted practising certificate and is covered by the Scheme, does not need to complete the Practice Management Course in order to be listed as the “solicitor on the record.” These changes will allow many more NSW in-house counsel to access the Scheme and make valuable pro bono contributions.
The Centre would like to take this opportunity to thank the Law Society of New South Wales for recognising the importance of removing obstacles to pro bono legal work and for its continuing support of the Scheme.
If you are interested in obtaining coverage under the Scheme please complete an Application Form and forward it to the Centre.