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What is the “Catch 22” of the legal profession?
I had to explain it to my boss this afternoon – after having watched the video of the altercation that occurred at our recent employment tribunal (which was broadcast by the ABC at about the half hour mark). I am the lawyer who handled the case last year, so I am aware of the Catch 22 of the legal profession, which is it is hard or very difficult to obtain work within the system for an unlicensed practitioner.
There are so many “catches” within the system that it is difficult to know which system is most beneficial to your profession – that could be the licensed system or the unlicensed system. As I was discussing this matter with the employer, I realized that a much more practical way to determine the system that is most favorable to my clients (and those seeking them) would be to look at the rate at which the unlicensed profession is licensed or unlicensed at the end of the year. If the number of licensed lawyers in an industry goes down, then that means there are fewer unlicensed practitioners available. If the number of unlicensed practitioners in an industry goes up, then that means there are more licensed lawyers available.
In the above referenced video, this is the Catch 22 described – if there is an unlicensed practitioner available and being sought by an unlicensed client, then the applicant will face a very high rate of rejection because of a perceived conflict of interest between practicing for a Licensed lawyer and representing unlicensed clients in relation to a particular case(s). The point being is that there is so little room for disagreement in the unlicensed system (there is only 1,200 practising in Australia) that even a single disagreement can drastically effect a client’s case. The result is that more lawyers end up in this system than there are licensed lawyers.
My colleague and fellow barrister from West Perth, Mr. Stephen Risley, has studied this issue very closely. In an article for an Adelaide newspaper, he stated that of the 2.4 million lawyers in Australia, only 600,000 of them were licensed. He suggests, however, that the problem of unlicensed practitioners is caused by the fact that there are a limited number licensed lawyers (1,200 in 2010), the reason being that there is a huge number of unlicensed solicit
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