Use of the title Senior Legal Counsel


21 Nov 2019

It was recently brought to the attention of the Legal Practice Board (Board) that a number of practitioners are using the title ‘Senior Legal Counsel’ in Western Australia.

As described by the Australian Bar Association, Senior Counsel are barristers of “seniority and eminence”, and “the designation of Senior Counsel provides a public identification of barristers whose standing and achievements justify an expectation, on the part of those who may need their services as well as on the part of the judiciary and the public, that they can provide outstanding services as advocates and advisors, to the good of the administration of justice”.

In addition, regulation 5(2) of the Legal Profession Regulations 2009, made under section 14(2) of the Legal Profession Act 2008, provides that the entitlement to use the title of ‘Senior Counsel’ or ‘SC’ extends to an Australian lawyer who holds the status of Senior Counsel, as recognised by the High Court of Australia or a Supreme Court of any jurisdiction.

The Board has considered the matter and unanimously resolved that it is satisfied that the use of the word ‘senior’ in conjunction with the word ‘counsel’ is misleading, whatever other descriptor may be employed.

The Board wrote to practitioners, who it had identified as using the title ‘Senior Legal Counsel’, to request that they amend their title and confirm with the Board that they had done so. In response, the Board received a number of submissions and responses opposing the Board’s request.

In light of the submissions and responses received to date, the Board resolved to further consider this matter.

Accordingly, the Board invites any further submissions and responses in relation to this matter to be provided to the Board by 15 January 2020.

Submissions or responses should be directed to the Board’s Executive Director, Libby Fulham, at general@lpbwa.com.

The Board will advise the profession of the outcome of the Board’s further consideration of the issue in due course.