Solicitors
Find the latest legal news, insights, research and opinions in the Australian Legal industry from legal experts, solicitors, media and associations on Top4 News.
Curated by Top4
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Government commits to business and human rights consultation

Government commits to business and human rights consultation | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has successfully encouraged government to consider adopting a national policy on business and human rights.

 

The Australian Government has formally indicated that it will undertake a national consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights during 2016.

 

The lawyer lobby group previously urged the government to create a National Action Plan (NAP) in line with other countries.

 

NAPs are policy commitments that reflect the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a resolution that was co-sponsored by Australia in 2011.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Smaller firms can punch above their weight in pro bono

Smaller firms can punch above their weight in pro bono | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Partner Heidi Nash-Smith told Lawyers Weekly that boutiques can “absolutely” direct a lot of attention towards pro bono, even if they lack the resources to run entire programs on their own.

 

Smaller firms can access support from the pro bono legal community, including from other firms and the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.

 

“There is a lot of support out there […] to help you develop your program,” she said. “Even if you are a smaller firm, you are not on your own.”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Class actions seek overseas funding against big Aussie players

Class actions seek overseas funding against big Aussie players | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Firms are turning to overseas-based litigation funders for class actions against powerful Australian adversaries for fear local players may be pressured into settlement.

 

In a recent case, Levitt Robinson Solicitors sought out New York funder Galactic Litigation Partners LLC for a class action involving hundreds of sailors against the Royal Australian Navy.

 

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Levitt Robinson Solicitors principal Stewart Levitt (pictured) said that if a party is seeking litigation funding for a class action against an influential Australian entity, there is often concern the adversary will put pressure on a local funder to agree to an unfair settlement.

It’s for this reason that litigation funders based overseas are often sought for class actions against powerful or high-profile opponents.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Constitutional law increasingly international, says Solicitor-General

Constitutional law increasingly international, says Solicitor-General | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Developments over the past year represent the growing influence of foreign elements in constitutional law, according to the solicitor-general of Australia.


Justin Gleeson SC gave the address at this year’s Constitutional Law Conference dinner on 12 February at Parliament House in Sydney.


In his speech, Mr Gleeson said cases concerning the legality of state actions outside Australia demonstrate that “constitutional law is being drawn into an international framework”.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Abolishing time limit on child abuse redress a ‘major step’ for NSW

Abolishing time limit on child abuse redress a ‘major step’ for NSW | Solicitors | Scoop.it

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed a plan by the NSW government to remove limitation periods for redress for victims of institutional child abuse.


The government recently announced new legislation that would remove the limitation period in civil claims, and let child abuse survivors claim for damages regardless of the date of the alleged abuse.


The change is one part of the government's response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


ALA spokesperson Dr Andrew Morrison SC said the announcement is an “excellent development”.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Firms urged to push into non-legal sectors

Firms urged to push into non-legal sectors | Solicitors | Scoop.it

To stay competitive, law firms should consider how their staff’s skillset could be used outside of traditional legal roles, a former tax executive has said.


Giam Swiegers - current CEO of engineering firm Aurecon and formerly of Deloitte Australia - told Lawyers Weekly that law firms are facing an increasingly cutthroat environment, so that diversifying may be the best way to survive.


According to Mr Swiegers, law firms have lagged behind other corporates in expanding their service offerings, especially given the gains made by audit firms in the legal sector.


No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Queensland firm chooses youngest-ever female practice leader

Queensland firm chooses youngest-ever female practice leader | Solicitors | Scoop.it

A 28 year old senior associate has been tapped to head up MacDonnells Law’s 40-strong commercial practice.


Melissa Sinopoli, who has been practising since December 2009, is the firm’s youngest female practice group leader since its founding 131 years ago.


She will take over from partner Luckbir Singh, who has lead the commercial group for eight years.


Mr Singh suggested a younger leader would bring energy to the team.


“The Commercial Practice Group is gaining more and more momentum with an experienced team in a changing legal industry, and the firm believes it is the right time for a new leader who can bring fresh ideas, vigour and scope to the group,” he said.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Legal aid online chat service surpasses 1,000 users

Legal aid online chat service surpasses 1,000 users | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Three months after launching its Legal Chat service, the Legal Services Commission of SA (LSC) has reached 1,000 people in need of legal assistance.


Legal Chat uses a website chat window to connect the public with lawyers and legal information.


The free, real-time chat service is an Australian first. A number of interstate legal aid commissions have expressed interest in the service following its launch in October 2015, according to LSC.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Family law support service minimises court delays

Family law support service minimises court delays | Solicitors | Scoop.it

The Legal Services Commission of South Australia’s Duty Lawyer service helps minimise delays in the court process by providing assistance to unrepresented people at court.


This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Legal Services Commission of South Australia’s Duty Lawyer service and the 40th anniversary of the Family Law Act, which overhauled Australian divorce laws and paved the way for increased self-representation.


As the number of unrepresented people seeking free legal assistance in family law matters grows, the Legal Services Commission of South Australia’s Duty Lawyer service has experienced a 10 per cent year-on-year increase on the use of its services.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Hyper-productive, overconfident lawyers could be ‘toxic workers’, study suggests

Hyper-productive, overconfident lawyers could be ‘toxic workers’, study suggests | Solicitors | Scoop.it

While most law firms actively reward lawyers who smash billable hour targets, self-centred overachievers can poison office culture and cost firms money, according to a new study.


A recent study by Harvard Business School identified the key traits of ‘toxic workers’, drawing on a pool of 50,000 workers across 11 companies.  The researchers found that toxic workers, which ranged from colleagues who were simply annoying through to bullies, had four main traits.


These included over-confidence, self-regard and a tendency to insist that rules should be followed.  Toxic employees also tended to be much more productive than the average worker. “This could explain why toxic workers are selected and are able to remain in an organisation for as long as they do,

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Lawyer pushes friendly divorce

Lawyer pushes friendly divorce | Solicitors | Scoop.it

A LOCAL lawyer has become the first on the Coast to officially test a trend developing in legal circles - dealing with friendly divorces.

Much like actress Gwyneth Paltrow and singer Chris Martin's famous "conscious uncoupling" approach, more people are trying to reach agreement with goodwill instead of animosity - a change that has led to the development of a new branch of law known as collaborate law.


A growing number of Queensland couples are changing the way they separate in an attempt to do away with protracted legal battles and minimise the impact on their children.  Recently 74 Queensland lawyers underwent further training to use the collaborative law approach.


The first Coast-based lawyer to work in the field is Garland Waddington family lawyer Micaela Chomley.    She says the adversarial nature of traditional legal processes in a marriage or relationship break-up can be detrimental to ongoing relationships.


"Parental separation disrupts the lives of one in five young Australians, whether that's financially, physically or emotionally," she said.  "Parents may not realise it at the time, but they are writing the story their kids will tell about their childhood. Most people don't want their kids to remember those years for the endless bickering that happened in and out of the courts.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Mindfulness training an antidote to lawyers’ toxic lives

Mindfulness training an antidote to lawyers’ toxic lives | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Training the mind to focus on the task at hand can increase productivity while reducing stress, according to the architect behind Herbert Smith Freehills’ mindfulness program.


Murray Paterson (pictured), the head of learning and development at HSF, has run over a dozen formal mindfulness programs at the firm over the past year, with “extraordinary” results.


Based on self-reported data, program participants experienced a 45 per cent increase in focus, a 35 per cent decrease in stress and a 35 per cent increase in effectiveness.


“[It is] quite common to see such an improvement,” said Mr Paterson. “People say things like, 'This has made the biggest difference in my professional life ever’.”


The program introduces the theory and practice of mindfulness from a secular perspective, teaching lawyers the physiological basis as well as practical ways to build their concentration.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Mid-tier law firms are getting squeezed by an avalanche of competition

Mid-tier law firms are getting squeezed by an avalanche of competition | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Growth among mid-sized law firms is patchy with some succeeding by combining quality, value and a niche focus, while others struggle to find new pockets of growth in a slumped market.


Figures from The Australian Financial Review's bi-annual Law Partnership survey show a high level of movement and a rampant lateral hiring market, with some firms contracting significantly while others boost their partner and fee-earner ranks.


Thomson Geer and Mills Oakley Lawyers grew their partnerships while DLA Piper, K&L Gates, Hunt & Hunt Lawyers and Macpherson Kelley shed partner numbers. Hall & Wilcox also boosted its ranks, having recently poached a chunk of Sparke Helmore's insurance practice.


"The market is difficult if you consider strong and open competition to be a one off. We don't. This is how it should be and always will be, we are settling in and are ready for another hard-fought and fast-changing 2016," Thomson Geer chief executive partner Adrian Tembel said, adding the firm had a stable year with growth evenly spread.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Legal profession nearing equal gender split

Legal profession nearing equal gender split | Solicitors | Scoop.it

While the percentage of women in the legal industry is nearing half, more needs to be done to ensure women make it to the higher ranks of the profession, according to the Queensland Law Society.

 

The QLS is cautiously optimistic about achieving gender equity in the legal profession, the QLS deputy president, Christine Smyth, has said.

 

“Women now make up 47.9 per cent of our full members, which is an increase of 0.7 per cent from 2014-15. Early career lawyers are surging ahead, with 61 per cent of those with five years or less post-admission experience being women,” Ms Smyth said.

 

“We’ve seen a significant increase in participation of our female members at the highest levels, from achieving specialist accreditation to appointment as principals of law firms and senior management and board roles, to judicial appointments.”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Nationals firms preferred when stakes are high

Nationals firms preferred when stakes are high | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Clients are less likely to call on global firms to manage high risk transactions, according to the former head of M&A in Australia at Norton Rose Fulbright.

 

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Minter Ellison partner Con Boulougouris (pictured) said clients are more concerned about securing the best advisers than engaging a firm with a global footprint.

 

“There are certain types of work where the globals can work well,” he said.

 

“But in terms of the high-risk, high-stakes work, clients will be looking for the best lawyers in each jurisdiction irrespective of whether they are or aren't part of the global network.”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Lawyers’ habits prohibit efficiency

Lawyers’ habits prohibit efficiency | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Lawyers need to review their personal habits to maximise their efficiency, according to a workplace productivity expert.

 

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly ahead of her webinar series with CPD For Me, Cholena Orr (pictured), director of pac executive Human Capital, said that lawyers need to hone in on their bad habits to improve their productivity.

 

“Research tells us that around 40 to 45 per cent of the choices we make each day are due to habit,” Ms Orr said.

 

“Unfortunately, most of us have never been taught how to work and this means that over time many lawyers have developed inefficient habits.”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Legal Aid NSW launches new website for Independent Children’s Lawyers

Legal Aid NSW launches new website for Independent Children’s Lawyers | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs) are set to receive extra support with the launch of a new online resource.



The resource website (www.icl.gov.au) will provide access to significant cases, legislation, up-to-date social science resources, guidelines for ICLs, as well as access to a mentoring program and training resources.


The website was created by Legal Aid NSW on behalf of National Legal Aid and targets ICLs that represent children in around 4,800 family law matters every year.


“There are almost 550 ICLs nationwide,” said Kylie Beckhouse, director of family law at Legal Aid NSW.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

One-court solution to Aussie family law crisis

One-court solution to Aussie family law crisis | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Australia’s family court system is in crisis - it’s time we considered adopting a New Zealand idea which could be the answer, writes Jennifer Hetherington.


Recent reports of more than 300 pending matters in a backlog at Brisbane with only two judges trying to work through the logjam highlighted the critical need for an urgent overhaul of our family law system.


There is reluctance on behalf of the government to free up more money for wider Family Court matters.


A Federal Circuit Court judge from Brisbane is being sent to Rockhampton to help them, but this also strips Brisbane when we need more judges.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Senate backs family law system review

Senate backs family law system review | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Crossbench senators have won support for a root-and-branch review of the family law system to make it non-adversarial.


Labor objected to the motion in the Senate on Tuesday, with Claire Moore saying there was no basis for a review of the system and that provisions were already in place to make it less adversarial.


But the motion put by seven of the eight crossbenchers was agreed to without going to a vote.



No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Law firm metrics ‘not much use to clients’

Law firm metrics ‘not much use to clients’ | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Popular metrics for comparing law firms, including profit per partner and rankings systems, are poor indications of firm quality and status, according to one consultant.


While law firms place considerable weight on metrics such as profit per partner, Chambers rankings and M&A league tables, these measurements are unreliable at best and irrelevant at worst, according to Jordan Furlong, a partner at Edge International.


“What's interesting is that all these measures are employed by law firms in what amounts to preening contests among themselves to determine which is the ‘best’ firm, but they're not much use to clients,” Mr Furlong told Lawyers Weekly.


Profit per partner is the most prominent metric used to compare firms in Australia and the US, but is not used in Canada, where Mr Furlong is based.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

New Perth legal service to cater exclusively to domestic violence victims

New Perth legal service to cater exclusively to domestic violence victims | Solicitors | Scoop.it

arah Kelly, who will live forever with the scars from an assault by an abusive ex-partner, hopes a new cut-price legal service which caters exclusively to domestic violence victims will provide survivors with the support she never had. Sarah Kelly's partner of 11 years was convicted and jailed for 18 months after he destroyed one of her eyes in the 2013 assault. 


Police pressed charges because the attack was public – three men intervened – but it took more than a year for her ex to be convicted, and he was released on parole just before Christmas. 

Meanwhile the mother of two, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the attack, still feels embarrassed in public without a pair of sunglasses shielding her dead eye from scrutiny.


Ms Kelly said a Perth lawyer's launch of a service, believed to be Australia's first affordable legal clinic catering exclusively to domestic violence victims, could help survivors negotiate a legal maze so daunting it could deter women from pressing charges against their abusive partners. 

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Class actions remain at a ‘low and steady rate’

Class actions remain at a ‘low and steady rate’ | Solicitors | Scoop.it

The launch of a class action by Maurice Blackburn against competitor Slater and Gordon towards the end of last year might have captured the public’s interest, but these kinds of actions are still rare in Australia.


Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Ben Slade, NSW managing partner and class action principal at Maurice Blackburn, said class actions, while “closely followed”, have been historically low.


“Based on historical data over the past 20 years, on average less than 0.5 per cent of ASX-listed companies have faced a class action per year and we expect that low and steady rate to continue,” he said.


However, Mr Slade agreed that the coming year would see some interesting activity in the class action area.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Flexibility becoming more feasible

Flexibility becoming more feasible | Solicitors | Scoop.it

One young lawyer has proved that pursuing other interests while practising as a lawyer is possible, having qualified as a vet while working as a senior associate at a global law firm.


Clifford Chance senior associate Gemma Bentley (pictured) studied, graduated and practiced law before deciding she wanted to retrain as a vet.


“I didn’t think I’d be able to combine the two or continue working in law while I did the other, so I resigned from my position at a national firm and started my vet degree,” Ms Bentley explained.


However, as law firms are increasingly embracing flexible working environments and universities are making studying from home possible through technological developments, Ms Bentley realised she could in fact go back to working as a lawyer while studying.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Slater & Gordon could be forced to raise capital, cull dividend

Slater & Gordon could be forced to raise capital, cull dividend | Solicitors | Scoop.it

An "emergency" capital raising, a reduction in dividends and a swingeing write-down of goodwill sparking a breach of debt covenants could be on the cards for Slater & Gordon, according to analysts.


Slater & Gordon's share price fell again on Friday as investors digested the law firm's shock earnings downgrade and the prospect of a broadening investigation by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and potential class actions by top-tier firm Maurice Blackburn and boutique outfit ACA Lawyers.


The beleaguered law firm conceded on Thursday it was struggling to accurately forecast its financial performance, after worse than expected results from its British business forced it to abandon its earnings guidance.


Slater & Gordon had reaffirmed its 2016 financial guidance – for revenue of $1.15 billion and earnings before interest, depreciation, amortisation, and movements in work and progress of $205 million – only on November 30.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Top4
Scoop.it!

Lawyers blasts AU Government for pandering to China over jailed businessman Matthew Ng

Lawyers blasts AU Government for pandering to China over jailed businessman Matthew Ng | Solicitors | Scoop.it

Lawyers for jailed businessman Matthew Ng have accused the Australian Government of refusing to grant him an early release from prison out of fear of China.


Ng was convicted of bribery in China in 2011 and sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison but late last year he became the first person to benefit from Australia's prisoner swap deal with China.


He is now serving out his sentence in New South Wales, but his lawyers argue he is eligible to be released immediately under the terms of the deal, given the prison time he has already served and trauma he has suffered.


The Government has so far rejected the requests, citing advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs which warned China was watching the case closely and granting an early release would "very likely have a negative effect" on the scheme and "prejudice other or current cases".

No comment yet.