The past two decades have seen significant changes in the demographics of the profession and the nature of legal practice in the Pacific region. Lawyers play a central role in the enforcement of civil and legal rights and the implementation of the rule of law.
The importance of lawyers in developing countries is underscored by their essential role in the protection of human rights; indigenous interests in land and the environment; and as civil society actors in the implementation of treaties and global policy such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Unfortunately, lawyers are often located at the heart of activities that have negative social impacts such as corruption, illegal transactions and alienation of indigenous land rights. Robust regulation is essential to maintaining high ethical standards. There is little existing research on the legal profession and its regulation in PICs.
No studies have been conducted which seek to determine locally relevant evaluate efficacy of regulation of lawyers and few governments in the region have undertaken law reform in this area in the past 25-30 years.
In response to these issues, this project seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What do lawyers, judicial officers and regulators consider to be the skills, attitudes and attributes of a good/bad lawyer?; (2) How is lawyers’ conduct influenced by informal (non-official) structures (eg. social, professional norms, custom, church ideology on ethics)?; (3) What elements are important to effective lawyer regulation in Fiji, Kiribati and Vanuatu?
David Naylor is PhD candidate at RegNet. My research aims to ‘re-think’ legal profession regulation in Pacific Island Countries in the context of the both the environment and the legal pluralities within which pacific lawyers practice. In 2005, I completed a double degree (LLB(hons)/BMgt) at the University of Canberra and a Masters in Laws by coursework - focusing on international law and South East Asian legal systems - at the University of Sydney in 2013.
In February 2015, I took up a position as a lecturer with the University of the South Pacific to pursue my interest in education and the legal profession in the South Pacific. Prior to this, from 2006-2015, I was a policy lawyer with the Law Council of Australia. My work there focused on WTO/GATS, liberalisation of legal services internationally and coordination of research projects. From 2008-2015, I was also Administrator of the South Pacific Lawyers’ Association where I was responsible for supporting its development, research, events and its engagement with member law societies and bars.