07 August 2018
HSBC Australia's General Counsel, Bridget Powell, is not allowed to work without supervision, RollOnFriday has learned.

The Law Society directory of New South Wales specifies that Powell's Practising Certificate type is "Corporate Legal Practitioner (Supervised)". Under Australia's Legal Profession Uniform Law, it means that HSBC Australia's General Counsel cannot provide legal advice, interpret law or draft legal documents unless she is monitored by another employee who holds a practising certificate. She can still do paralegal work.

Neither the Law Society, HSBC or Powell would explain why she has been placed under supervision, or for how long. Asked if it was for disciplinary reasons, a spokesman for the Law Society of NSW's Professional Standards Department said details were confidential unless they were published on the NSW Disciplinary Register. It contains no entries relating to Powell. There are other reasons why a qualified lawyer might be placed under supervision. Lawyers moving from one jurisdiction to another may be required to undergo a period of supervised practise. However this wouldn't appear to apply to Powell, who was admitted in New South Wales in 1999. 

Powell was promoted from deputy GC to General Counsel in 2010, when she was also given a seat on HSBC's executive committee. But the bank refused to confirm whether Powell was still its GC, or whether she was still employed. After stonewalling RollOnFriday's enquiries for days, a spokesman for HSBC Australia said, "We have no comment to make on this".

    Bankers without lawyers. 

Despite the bank's refusal to identify its General Counsel, a bizarre position for a company the size of HSBC to take, there are a few clues. Rani Mina, an HSBC Associate General Counsel based in London, has updated her LinkedIn profile. It now lists the former Mayer Brown partner's location as Sydney, and her new role as General Counsel for HSBC Australia. Powell, whose LinkedIn profile also identifies her job as General Counsel for HSBC Australia, did not respond to a request for comment.
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Comments

Anonymous 10 Aug 18

Having a supervised PC is not unusual. It simply means you haven’t applied to the Law Society to amend your certificate to be unsupervised.

Story is a total beat up.

Anonymous 10 Aug 18

7:18 - I think the story’s saying her PC was unsupervised but it’s become supervised for some mysterious reason.

Anonymous 12 Aug 18

How is this newsworthy? Is RoF now going to splurge the details of every in-houser's PC over its news along with scurrilous defamatory insinuations like a tart blackmailing her clients? An unpleasant prying article with no public interest.

Anonymous 12 Aug 18

Don’t be so pious. There’s nothing defamatory about this article at all. It points out that a General Counsel at the largest bank in the world has a restriction on her practising certificate and has left the bank, with neither the bank nor the GC commenting on the circs. It suggests that there could be a number of reasons for this. But it’s clearly newsworthy. If a senior partner at a Magic Circle firm had a restriction placed on their certificate and left the firm with all parties refusing to comment, that would be newsworthy too.

Anonymous 21 Aug 18

"If a senior partner at a Magic Circle firm had a restriction placed on their certificate and left the firm with all parties refusing to comment, that would be newsworthy too."

That might be newsworthy. But the article doesn't say that the restriction is new, and it doesn't say that the lawyer has left either. So...?

(The author misunderstands the regulatory position but it's too crushingly tedious to go into)

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