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  • Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law, government and corporate lawyers will generally be required to be admitted and hold a practising certificate.
  • Various exemptions will apply, including for government lawyers who engage only in legal policy work.
  • Transitional arrangements will phase in the new requirements for government and corporate lawyers.

This article is the fourth in a series of articles for the LSJ on the various aspects of the new Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (‘Uniform Law’) that will soon regulate the legal profession in NSW and Victoria. The article alerts practitioners to new practising certificate requirements that will affect government and corporate practitioners.

Currently in NSW, government and corporate lawyers are generally not required to be admitted or to hold a practising certificate. A person who, as an employee provides legal services to his or her employer (or a related entity) is exempt from the requirement to hold a practising certificate if:

  1. he or she acts in the ordinary course of his or her employment; and
  2. receives no fee, gain or reward for so acting other than his or her ordinary remuneration as an employee.

No equivalent exemption exists under the new Uniform Law. The Uniform Law prohibits a person or organisation from engaging in legal practice unless it is a ‘qualified entity’. As a result, government and corporate lawyers in NSW will for the first time be required to be admitted and hold a practising certificate (unless exempted on other grounds).

The term ‘engage in legal practice’ includes ‘practise law or provide legal services, but does not include engage in policy work, including developing and commenting on legal policy’ (Uniform Law, s 6).

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