Queensland Law Society

Ethics News

11 December 2017 – Beware of the Leopard: How safe must safe custody be?

Solicitors store all manner of documents for clients, and have an obvious obligation to keep those documents sufficiently safe - but what will be considered safe enough?


8 December 2017 – Is it Ethical (or legal) for law firms to pay cyber-ransom?

Is it Ethical for a Solicitor to pay ransom to unlock data?


14 November 2017 – Not all Security is Cyber

It doesn’t take a computer hacker or virus to violate client confidentiality - it can be done in the simplest of ways.


1 November 2017 – A mislabelled file ends three careers: some practical steps to avoid e-discovery disasters

Learning from our mistakes is good, but learning from someone else’s is a lot less stressful.


17 October 2017 – The ethical boundaries of a solicitor’s right to take security for fees

You work hard – how to negotiate some security over your fees?


5 October 2017 – Discourteous and offensive behaviour

To be honest and courteous in all of our dealings in the course of legal practice is a fundamental ethical duty.


21 August 2017 – Mates Rates = Dire Straits

Free work for friends can cost more than you think - some tips to avoid empathy-induced ethical conflict.


10 August 2017 – Cyber criminals successfully divert Qld Solicitor’s trust transfers

Due to recent email based cyber attacks, the QLS Ethics Centre recommends that caution should be exercised by solicitors in the manner in which they receive instructions for the transfer of trust monies that may be received by email.


13 July 2017 – First response checklist for law firms subjected to a cyber incident

The QLS Ethics Centre first response checklist has been designed to provide invaluable assistance if you suffer a cyberattack.


27 June 2017 – What’s in a name?

A rose by any other name may be as sweet, but the titles used by lawyers have specific meanings, and using the wrong one can get you into trouble. This handy table outlines to practitioners what they can call themselves, and what documents they can sign or witness.


14 June 2017 – Delivery of electronic bills

Electronic delivery of bills - Legislative change


18 May 2017 – The Graduate

There is no such thing as a graduate solicitor or graduate lawyer, and giving such titles to unadmitted law graduates can create significant issues for law firms, including potential disciplinary action and/or accusations of misleading and deceptive conduct. This note explains how to avoid these issues and ensure that firms use the correct nomenclature for their graduate employees.


17 May 2017 – WannaCRYpt ransomware – Just the tip of the cyber risk to law firms

Successful ransomware attacks on Queensland law firms are on the increase. Many firms can be hacked in minutes due to simple mistakes by computer users. This note identifies the issue and the desirability for education.


12 May 2017 – Closed courts have open ears

Solicitors are urged to keep in mind that in Queensland Courts, the recording devices in the courtroom are always active, unless turned off by order of the Judge or magistrate even during breaks in proceedings or after the court has been closed.


3 April 2017 – Guidance for law practices affected by flooding or extreme weather conditions

The QLS Ethics Centre has published guidance on the management of the issues resulting in the damage, destruction or loss of client documents or property by flood or extreme weather conditions.  


16 March 2017 – Ethics and client confidentiality in a digital world

One of the pillars of the solicitor-client relationship is the solicitor’s duty of confidentiality-a duty which is increasingly onerous in the face of the challenges of the digital world.


12 January 2017 – Self-reporting obligations under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (‘LPA’)

End of year parties can leave a lot of mess to clear up. Unfortunately, this may include solicitors charged with criminal and traffic offences arising from festive celebrations.


25 November 2016 – How do experienced lawyers prepare a complex costs estimate?

The key to a good outcome for both the client and solicitor is a retainer agreement that is clear, precise and provides an accurate estimation of costs right from the beginning.


8 November 2016 – Practice Support Tip – Project Management in Legal Practice – Part 3

This is Part 3 in the series on Project Management in Legal Practice - Project management of legal matters is becoming more common in the increasingly competitive legal market.


25 October 2016 – Practice Support Tip – Project Management in Legal Practice – Part 1

This is Part 1 in the series on Project Management in Legal Practice - Project management of legal matters is becoming more common in the increasingly competitive legal market.


21 April 2016 – Practice Support Tip - File Management Essentials - Part 1

File Management Essentials – Part 1


24 March 2016 – Practice Support Tip – Verification of Identity (VOI) of Mortgagors

The Registrar of Titles has recently announced updated guidelines for the verification of identity ‘VOI’ of mortgagors. The intention is to bring the VOI of mortgagors in paper transactions into line with the obligations of financial institutions and other subscribers who undertake land titling transactions electronically under the Queensland Participation Rules developed pursuant to the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (Queensland) Act 2013.


24 March 2016 – Potential exposure to Counsel’s fees

A solicitor has a right to have a barrister’s bill assessed within a period of 60 days. If the solicitor passes up this opportunity and the client subsequently obtains a reduction in its liability to the solicitor for the barrister’s fees, the solicitor may be left solely responsible to pay the barrister the amount of the reduction.


24 March 2016 – Practice Support Tip - Stakeholder Ledgers

The Society’s trust account auditors have noted that a common oversight by law firms concerns their obligations when acting as the solicitor for the seller or the buyer in a contract of sale and also acting as the stakeholder pursuant to that contract.


8 March 2016 – Keep an eye on supervision

Supervision is a challenge for all of us but is a key tool for effective law management.


14 December 2015 – Solicitors referring clients to third parties for reward

A solicitor is a fiduciary. Subject to our duty to the Court and the administration of justice, we must serve the best interests of our client.


19 October 2015 – 'Chinese Walls' on the rise

Babcock & Brown DIF III Global v Babcock & Brown Int'l Pty Ltd [2015] VSC 453


19 October 2015 – Counting the costs in QCAT? Think again…

Babcock & Brown DIF III Global v Babcock & Brown Int'l Pty Ltd [2015] VSC 453


21 August 2015 – Communication with the Court

A recent decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court in FAL Management Group Pty Ltd v Denham Constructions Pty Ltd1 has reinforced the long established rule that unilateral communication with the Court is unacceptable.


1 July 2015 – Commencement today of Legal Profession Uniform Law in Victoria and New South Wales

The Legal Profession Uniform Law (Uniform Law), which has created a uniform system of legal professional regulation for Victoria and New South Wales, takes effect from today, 1 July.


11 June 2015 – Application of Legal Profession Uniform Law to Queensland legal practitioners from 1 July 2015

The Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) sets out the requirements for costs disclosure by a solicitor to clients. Disclosure is not required for "sophisticated clients".


9 June 2015 – 1215 and all that … Magna Carta 800 years on

Why should we care about an agreement signed between an English King and fractious nobles 800 years ago?


4 June 2015 – What is a sophisticated client?

The Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) sets out the requirements for costs disclosure by a solicitor to clients. Disclosure is not required for "sophisticated clients".


20 May 2015 – New legal capacity handbook for practitioners

The Queensland Handbook for Practitioners on Legal Capacity was launched yesterday, 19 May, at Allens by Supreme Court judge, the Honourable Justice Ann Lyons.


5 May 2015 – Guidance Statement No. 2 - Ongoing Costs Disclosure

Queensland Law Society is pleased to release QLS Guidance Statement No.2 – Ongoing Costs Disclosure. Developed for the profession, QLS Guidance Statements set out our position on a particular subject, and set out a statement of a solicitor’s responsibilities in that subject area.


30 April 2015 – Can I use client contact details for mail-outs, newsletters and advertising materials?

Whether a solicitor or law practice can use a client’s contact details to provide a client with advertising or promotional material will depend on whether the client has consented to receipt of such information. 


30 April 2015 – Should restricted practitioners be engaged as contractors?

No. It has come to the Society’s attention that solicitors holding restricted practising certificates (i.e. entitled to engage only in supervised legal practice) are being asked to enter into contracts for services instead of employment agreements.


24 April 2015 – Does the cab-rank rule apply to solicitors?

No. In Queensland, the solicitors’ branch of the profession is governed by the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 (ASCR) which does not include provision for the cab-rank rule. Solicitors are free to accept or reject matters without consideration as to the constraints of the rule.


24 April 2015 – Is a bill required prior to transferring monies held in trust to firm’s general account

The authorities suggest that it is not necessary for a solicitor to have rendered a bill of costs prior to the transfer of funds from the firm’s trust account to a general account for professional costs. However, it is necessary that solicitors ensure that the authority given in the costs agreement is in fact wide enough to permit such a transfer.


20 April 2015 – What is inadvertent disclosure?

Inadvertent disclosure occurs where we receive material which we know or reasonably suspect to be confidential and we are aware that the material has been disclosed inadvertently.


20 April 2015 – If I have overseas qualifications but no practising certificate, how can I describe myself?

The Ethics Committee of the Queensland Law Society recommends that lay associates in Queensland who are admitted in an overseas jurisdiction may be held out under one of the following titles as appropriate to their seniority and experience.


19 March 2015 – Welcoming the future of legal practice

Queensland Law Society will use its annual Symposium to look into the future of legal practice.


18 March 2015 – QLS Ethics Centre – new easy-to-use website

The QLS Ethics Centre has refreshed and changed its website. We believe the improved navigation will make it easier for you to find the resources you need in practice.


17 March 2015 – Acting for friends and family

The cliché (or perhaps aphorism) that a lawyer acting for themselves has a fool for a client is based on longstanding experience.


9 March 2015 – Justice P A Keane - A True Profession

Read ‘A True Profession’, the inspiring speech delivered by High Court Justice Patrick Keane to the Queensland Law Society’s Legal Profession Dinner on 20 February.