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Is it time for stricter guidelines on how solicitors describe themselves?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and is often used to remind us how unimportant names can be. Call a rose something else and it still looks, smells and acts like a rose.

However, the same does not work in the reverse: calling something else a rose does not make it so. This principle is no more important than in the legal profession.

To call yourself a solicitor in NSW, you need to clear a number of hurdles: you must clear a tertiary qualification, a graduate diploma and admission by the Supreme Court.

To call yourself a specialist in an area of law or a principal of a law practice, there are further hurdles you must clear such as the Law Society’s Specialist Accreditation Program or completion of a Practice Management Course.

However, the same type of regulation on a solicitor calling themselves a “Senior Lawyer”, “Senior Solicitor”, “Senior Associate” or simply an “Associate” does not exist.

In addition to this, there is nothing preventing a solicitor from advertising themselves as having “considerable”, “extensive” or “significant” experience despite the fact that they may have been admitted for just a short time.

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