Section 59(1) of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Tas) imposes a statutory condition on practising certificates that the holder must engage in supervised legal practice only, typically for a period of 2 years after being admitted.  “Supervised legal practice” is defined to only cover practice by an employee of a law practice or a partner in a law firm.  Barristers practise as sole practitioners, not employees or partners.

Cinar v. Law Society of Tasmania [2014] TASSC 44 was an appeal from the refusal of the Law Society of Tasmania to grant a barrister’s practising certificate to an applicant with no prior experience as a practising lawyer.

The appeal was heard by Blow CJ as a hearing de novo.  Section 59(3) allowed the Law Society to grant an exemption from the requirement to engage only in supervised legal practice if satisfied that the person did not need to be supervised or needed only to be supervised for a shorter period of time, having regard to the length and nature of any legal practice previously engaged in by the person.  Not having any prior experience as a practising lawyer, Blow CJ ruled that he could not be satisfied that the applicant did not require supervision or only required supervision for a shorter period of time and refused to grant the applicant a barrister’s practising certificate.

The practical effect of the judgment is that unless granted an exemption under s59(3) newly admitted lawyers will have to complete 2 years supervised legal practice (usually as an employed lawyer) before becoming eligible to be granted a barrister’s practising certificate.

Read the judgment in Cinar v. Law Society of Tasmania [2014] TASSC 44 here.