Legal bill offers potential business boost

THE Legal Practice Bill introduced into State Parliament this week has been heralded as a boost to WA business, both large and small.

Expected to be law by the end of the year, the bill will allow WA legal practitioners to form multi-service companies for the first time.

Law Society president Clare Thompson said the interest from members in new business structures had been intellectual in the lead-up to the bill’s introduction.

However, judging from the experience in New South Wales when a similar change was introduced a few years ago, there could be significant moves towards partnerships, Ms Thompson said. Small legal businesses would benefit in particular, being able to set up multi-disciplinary practices, perhaps with accountants and land valuers, she said.

One practitioner, however, suggested large firms may not be so keen, pointing out the experience of Andersen, where the legal division had been keen to keep itself separate from other Andersen services.

Another initiative within the new bill that would prove particularly good for WA business was the local registration of foreign lawyers, Ms Thompson said.

“This will be good for WA business, facilitating and strengthening ties with our near Asian neighbours,” she said.

The new bill also introduces some convenience to the national industry.

All Australian-registered lawyers will be allowed to practise nationwide, rather than go through a new admission process every time they wanted to practise in a different State.

The Legal Practice Bill will replace the original 1893 bill.

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