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Many solicitors fear a letter from a regulator will spell the end of their legal career. The Professional Conduct Advisory Panel (PCAP) wants to help overcome that fear and spread these words of reassurance: support is freely available.

reassurance: that support is freely available.

The Panel is a service which is there to support solicitors during a difficult time; when they are facing possible disciplinary proceedings, show cause events or trust accounting issues.

The assistance of the Panel is confidential and independent of the regulatory authorities, including the Law Society of NSW. Those who sit on the Panel bring years of professional conduct experience to the role.

They can assist on a whole range of professional conduct issues including practice problems, compliance audits, regulation, external interventions, unqualified practice, and disclosures.

The Panel does not provide legal advice. However, some of the panellists are available to provide legal services to solicitors who choose to engage them. Those services and associated fees are a separate arrangement to the role of the Panel and are something to discuss with the relevant panellist.

When it comes to responding to a letter from a regulator, panel members guide solicitors to consider their response in a timely matter, and not hope in vain that the situation will disappear or be rectified of its own accord.

Options that panel members may suggest in the early stages including seeking an extension of time to reply, or consulting with an expert in the relevant practice area. Remembering the Solicitor Outreach Service is there for solicitors experiencing distress is also critical.

NSW solicitors can submit an expression of interest to join PCAP. The form can be downloaded here. You can also view the list of current Panel members online.