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ItemFalling in love with litigation: The difficulties of reconstructing China's legal system.(Law Faculty, Monash University, Clayton, Vic, 2003) Regan, FrancisChina has undertaken a program of widespread legal reform since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s. From the chaos and lawlessness of that period China has in the space of a quarter of a century re-established a functioning although imperfect legal system. However, the reconstruction of the legal system is creating a major headache for the reformers. Have the Chinese fallen in love with litigation? It appears that they have and to a degree that will seriously stretch the legal system.
ItemHow and Why is Pro Bono Flourishing? A Comparison of Recent Developments in Sweden and China.(Federation Press, 2001) Regan, FrancisThe pro bono activity of the private legal profession in a given society can best be understood as part of a partnership between the profession and government. The purpose of that partnership is for the profession, together with government, to take responsibility to try to ensure that, in theory, all citizens are equal before the law. The precise nature of that partnership varies widely between societies. Regan examines recent pro bono developments in Sweden and China. In the former country pro bono work by the profession had, until recently, disappeared but recent restrictions upon legal aid prompted the profession to re-establish a basic scheme. In China the recently established national legal aid scheme relies heavily upon the pro bono efforts of the emerging private profession.
ItemLawyers, lawyers and more lawyers: Can the profession cope with the growing numbers of law graduates?(Legal Service Bulletin Co-operative, Law Faculty, Monash University, 1996) Regan, FrancisWe are often reminded of the startling fact that there are more students currently studying to be lawyers in Australia than there are lawyers practicing law. And the expansion of law schools over the past 10 years means that there will be more and more law graduates entering the labour market in the future. So will there be a crisis in employment in the Australian legal profession in the near future? Will the new graduates have difficulties finding work? And will the practicing profession have difficulties absorbing the graduates? While it is clear that the legal services industry faces a major increase in supply of legally trained graduates it is probably still too early to predict what the precise consequences will be. And it is probably too early to argue that there is a crisis looming. Nevertheless it is worth asking whether we can currently detect early signs of problems in the industry.
ItemRolls Royce or Rundown 1970s Kingswood? Australia's legal aid in comparative perspective.(Law Faculty, Monash University, Clayton, Vic, 1997) Regan, FrancisThe Commonwealth Attorney-General, Daryl Williams’ comment earlier this year that Australia’s legal aid was a ‘Rolls Royce’ scheme was surprisingly ill informed and created an unfortunate perception that legal aid commissions (LACs) were well funded but mismanaged, bloated and wasting public money. The comment was made in order to support the 1996 Budget decision to cut Commonwealth funding to legal aid but as I demonstrate below, it showed a surprising lack of knowledge about Australia’s legal aid scheme. In particular, Williams ignored the evidence demonstrating that Australia’s legal aid is, by comparison with similar large, publicly funded schemes, one of the meanest in the western world. In this article I explore some context issues which may help explain why Williams cut legal aid and then I examine Australia’s scheme in a comparative perspective.
ItemWhatever happened to Legal Expense Insurance? Recent successes and failures of legal insurance schemes in Australia and overseas(Law Faculty, Monash University, Clayton, Vic, 2001) Regan, FrancisLegal Expense Insurance (LEI) is one of the ‘access to justice’ mechanisms that was considered in many societies in the 1980s and 1990s. Governments, legal professions and legal reformers in rich western societies highlighted the potential of mechanisms such as LEI, contingency fees and class actions to improve citizens’ access to justice by controlling the cost of legal services. By controlling these costs, LEI and the other mechanisms promised to improve citizens’ access to legal services and the courts. LEI was particularly popular because it promised to improve access to legal services for the ‘in betweens’ of middle income groups. That is to say, it promised to improve access to legal services for the income groups that were not poor enough to qualify for legal aid but not rich enough to easily afford the costs of legal services. The evidence from the last two decades suggests, however, that LEI has been a qualified success in improving citizens’ access to justice. In general, it seems that the reformers had unrealistic expectations about the ease of developing LEI. The result is that while LEI is successful in some societies, the cost of legal services continues to be a problem for the ‘in between’ in many others. This article takes stock of LEI developments in a number of societies in the last two decades and considers its prospects for the future. First, it describes the development of LEI in a group of common and civil law societies. It demonstrates that LEI has fared best in the societies with civil law traditions but that the picture is more ambiguous in the common law societies. It concludes by highlighting some lessons to be learnt from these developments.