The NSW Legal Services Commissioner has the authority to conduct compliance audits of law practices where there are "reasonable grounds" to do so based on the conduct or complaint history of the law practice or one or more of its associates. The purpose of the compliance audit will be to ensure that the law practice is complying with LPUL, the Uniform Rules and other applicable professional obligations.
The law practice will be given at least three weeks' notice of the intention to conduct a compliance audit and an OLSC officer will work with the law practice to arrange a mutually convenient date to cause minimum disruption for the law practice.
In many circumstances the principals of the law practice will be asked to complete a questionnaire before the compliance audit so that time and resources can be more effectively targeted during the course of the on-site audit.
Most audits take about two days and include a general discussion with the principals and brief, informal interviews with other key members of staff. A selection of current and recently closed matter files will also be reviewed.
At the end of the two day audit, OLSC staff will meet with the principals of the law practice to provide initial feedback and answer any queries that the principals may have.
A draft Compliance Audit Report will be provided to the principals within approximately ten business days. The principals will have the opportunity to comment on the Report. Once the Report is finalised a copy will be provided to the Law Society.
The Report may provide management system directions if the Commissioner has concerns that need to be addressed as a matter of priority. A law practice must comply with a management system direction given to it. (See s. 257(3) of LPUL.)