Law firms: fast to fire, slow to hire

Job advertisements for solicitors were still 26% below the same period as last year (November 2020 v November 2019) whereas job advertisements for ‘all occupations’ Australia-wide had risen to the extent that they were at the same level as last year. For ‘all occupations’ December 2020 was the eighth consecutive month on month increase in job advertisements which now stand 11.1% (or 17,100 advertisements) above the level recorded in December 2019. Job ads statistics provide an indication that law firms took advantage of the uncertainty to reduce staff numbers and have been much more conservative about re-hiring. Law firms and […]

Covid breaks law firm merger activity

The US Experience: After a record-breaking year in 2019, US law firm merger and acquisition activity dropped 43% from a high of 115 combinations in 2019 to 65 in 2020, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. Deal flow fell off sharply in March as firms reacted to the COVID-19 crisis, but began to rebuild in the second half of the year. “Most law firms set aside strategic growth plans in the first half of the year,” says Altman Weil principal and merger advisor Tom Clay.  “But as their financial positions have stabilized, firms have begun to re-engage. We don’t expect to return […]

The Small Firm Billing Problem

by Hunter Steele* Multiple large-scale studies have shown that fee earners in small law firms are billing, on average, only 2.02 hours per day. The first time I read one of these studies, I dismissed the stats as some kind of marketing ploy. Lawyers are always talking about reaching billing targets and filling out time sheets, and the majority I speak with are working 10+ hours per day. The studies must be wrong was my assessment. After the second and third reports came out saying the same thing, I decided to dig in myself. I set about to understand two […]

Law Council response to Committee’s final report into the Litigation and Class Action Industry in Australia

“The Law Council agrees in principle with a number of the 31 recommendations made in the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services’ final report on Litigation Funding and the Regulation of the Class Action Industry in Australia. While the Australian class actions are generally working well, a number of the recommendations provided in the report offer an opportunity to improve the system. The Law Council fully supports the Committee’s view that the potential benefits of permitting contingency fee arrangements do not outweigh the risks. The Law Council is particularly pleased to see that the Committee has called for […]

Hacked Law in Order giving advice from the trenches

Law in Order is now in week two of its hacking / ransomware crisis. The company had to shut down systems, disrupt operations and face a public relations nightmare. As its systems are brought back online, the company has not disclosed whether it paid the blackmailers. In its latest update (3/12/20) Law in Order advises: We have already taken additional steps to enhance the security of our network, including: Deployment of advanced endpoint monitoring across all servers and workstations Improved log collection, correlation and monitoring Password changes and implementation of multi-factor authentication We are continuing to review what additional steps […]

Five skills every lawyer needs in 2021

By College of Law. The skills required of lawyers are endless and complex And we’re entering an age where your practical toolkit is more vital than ever. Why? After an eventful 2020, you’ve probably felt a cool shift happening in the legal sector. While you already have excellent legal skills, to be a successful legal services provider in 2020 and beyond, you need to continually be adding new skill-feathers into your legal cap.  With ongoing professional development, you can hone your skillset – or learn a new part of the law entirely.  From mediation and negotiation to cost law and […]

The case for mediation

By The College of Law. FROM ‘BEING RIGHT’ TO ‘DOING RIGHT’ It’s long been your role as a lawyer to prove yourself and your clients right. But amid a global pandemic and a slow turn towards a more conscientious society, doing the right thing seems to be at the forefront of many people’s minds. Could mediation be the way forward?  A cultural, social shift is at play. Here’s how to ride it. The rise of tolerance and goodwill It might seem wild to claim that society is becoming more tolerant while global unrest continues to stream across our airwaves.  You […]

Outdated court system is failing small businesses

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is calling for an overhaul of the dispute resolution framework, saying the current court system doesn’t work for small businesses. Releasing her Access to Justice Report, Ms Carnell said small businesses urgently need pathways to resolve their disputes quickly and cost-effectively. “Trying to resolve a dispute through the courts is just not a viable option for most small businesses,” Ms Carnell says. “It’s prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. We know small businesses are more likely to abandon both the dispute and the commercial relationship, than suffer the cost and mental load […]

Seeking Legal Help Online – Understanding the ‘missing majority’

Justice Connect has released a major research report Seeking Legal Help Online – Understanding the ‘missing majority’   Justice Connect explains the ‘missing majority’: Online self-help resources can help people to solve common legal issues on their own. They are especially important for people who can neither afford a lawyer nor access free public or community legal assistance. In Australia this group is known as the ‘missing middle’. With an ever-growing cohort of people in this ‘justice gap’, we have renamed it ‘the missing majority’. Key Insights include People in the missing majority use online resources not only to understand and […]

Justice Connect wins Hesta Community Services Excellence Award

Justice Connect is recognised for helping people and community organisations access legal support by designing and delivering high-impact interventions. Their work ensures people can access the right legal help at the right time, avoiding the negative impacts on their wellbeing or organisational health caused by legal problems. Justice Connect helps those who would otherwise miss out on assistance, focussing on people disproportionately impacted by the law and the organisations that make our communities thrive. Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey said bushfires and COVID-19 were going to have a big impact on legal need. “Legal problems are life problems,” Mr Povey […]