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Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – January 2020

Victoria welcomes new Solicitor for Public Prosecutions

Victoria has appointed a new Solicitor for Public Prosecutions to oversee staff budgets and to brief counsel on serious, high-profile crimes.

Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC welcomed Abbey Hogan as the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions (SPP) in Victoria, crediting Ms Hogan with understanding the “challenges and importance” of the work of the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP). Read More 

2019 earnings: What lawyers were worth and what this means for 2020

The average salaries of lawyers at all levels and across many practice areas increased exponentially in 2019, with further growth predicted for 2020.

According to Beacon Legal’s Private Practice Salary and Market Report 2020, lawyers experienced “record-level” salaries, particularly in the areas of litigation, public M&A’s, construction and banking. The firm predicts 2020 will be a “great year” for solicitors to seek a new role and achieve further growth in their salary brackets.

However, this means law firms will see tougher competition in securing talent as there are more opportunities – and higher signing bonuses – offered across the profession. Read More

EU countries averaging 278 GDPR breach notifications per day: DLA Piper

According to new data from global firm DLA Piper, breach notifications under the GDPR are trending upwards.

In its “GDPR Data Breach Survey: January 2020”, DLA found that for the period between 28 January 2019 and 27 January 2020, there were 278 breach notifications per day on average across the European Economic Area, which covers all 28 member states of the European Union.

That amounted to a 12.6 per cent increase from the period from 25 May 2018 to 27 January 2019, which had an average of 247 breach notifications per day. Read More

5 emerging issues for in-house counsel in 2020

Corporate lawyers always face myriad issues day-to-day in their respective businesses, but according to one senior in-house counsel, certain trends are emerging that can and will shape how in-house teams engage with their businesses this year.

Climate change liability risk, professional negligence claims, increases in pro bono work undertaken, increases in IR claims and transparency around the gender pay gap are all shaping up to be key themes for corporate lawyers this year, according to non-executive director and senior in-house counsel Claire Bibby. Read More

Should firms move towards fixed pricing in the wake of FWC requirements?

Movement away from billable hours is the best way to breed a better, more hospitable environment for overworked juniors, according to five NewLaw practitioners – including one who called the new FWC requirements a “sad indictment of the old law model”.

Late last year, new industrial regulations were handed down requiring law firms to log the quantum of hours worked by graduate lawyers and paralegals to ensure that junior staff are being properly compensated for work completed. Read More

Family law system has been ‘neglected, underfunded and under-resourced’

Australia’s judicial system for family law is a “critical piece of social justice infrastructure” that desperately needs greater resourcing and commitments to specific improvements, according to the NSW Bar Association.

In its submission to the joint select committee on Australia’s family law system, the NSW Bar Association said that Australia’s “once world-leading” family law system is “not currently serving the best interests of children and families as well as it could or should”, creating “much frustration” with the current state of affairs. Read More

Trivago misled Australian customers on hotel pricing, court finds

Travel website Trivago misled consumers about cheap hotel deals on its website and in advertising, a federal court judge has ruled. The Netherlands-incorporated company didn’t actually show customers the cheapest deals for hotel rooms but promoted advertisers who paid the biggest fees.

“Contrary to the impression created by the relevant conduct, the Trivago website did not provide an impartial, objective and transparent price comparison service,” the federal court justice Mark Moshinsky said on Monday. Read More


Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – December 2019

Digital adoption and the shake-up of legal practice

Last year Thomson Reuters, in partnership with Lawyers Weekly, launched the inaugural “Tech and the Law” report, shining a spotlight on how law firms are incorporating technology into their business offering.

Lawyers Weekly spoke to James Jarvis, VP of product design and delivery at Thomson Reuters legal professionals, Asia and emerging markets, on some of the results gathered from the report, how these have changed or remained unchanged since its launch and where to next in the world of all things tech and law. Read More

Federal Government to crack down on tech giants

A $27 million investment into the ACCC and a brand new code of conduct are part of the Federal Government’s raft of reforms intended to crack down on unregulated American tech giants.

The reforms come in response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry, which slammed tech heavyweights like Google and Facebook for their impact on the Australian media landscape. Read More 

Volkswagen slammed with record $125 million penalty

German car manufacturer Volkswagen has been ordered to pay $125 million in penalties by the Australian Federal Court after breaching consumer law by making false or misleading representations.

Volkswagen’s $125 million fine is the largest total penalty order ever made by the Federal Court for contraventions of Consumer Law.

The penalty follows Volkswagen’s admission that it lied about its compliance with Australian diesel emissions standards. Read More 

The legal aid crisis is real – and it’s families who are in the firing line

Unlike state funding for criminal, child protection or mental health matters, legal aid funding for family law relies on the commonwealth. Legal aid has traditionally been a shining example of commonwealth-state cooperation, with both levels of government contributing to make assistance available for a range of serious legal problems.

But the commonwealth’s share of legal aid funding has dropped dramatically over the past two decades from an almost equal share to less than 30% in Victoria today. The legal aid scheme for family law in Victoria is teetering on the brink. Read More 

Peak legal and medical groups push to lift minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14

The Australian Medical Association has joined a Law Council of Australia push to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 to prevent the jailing of children as young as 10.

In a joint policy statement, to be released on Tuesday, the country’s peak medical and legal bodies argue that increasing the age to 14 will help reduce indigenous incarceration rates and fulfil international law obligations. Read More 

Western Australia legalises voluntary assisted dying after ‘momentous process’

Under the scheme, terminally ill adults in pain and likely to have less than six months to live – or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition – will be able to take a drug to end their lives if approved by two medical practitioners.

WA follows Victoria in enabling voluntary assisted dying, with the scheme expected to be implemented in 18 months’ time. Read More

Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – November 2019

Victoria’s landmark gender equality laws to improve workplaces

Landmark laws are being introduced to Victoria to hold workplaces responsible for the treatment of women and ensure they are afforded the opportunities they deserve. Read More

New challengers arise

In the not-too-distant future, Australia’s law firms could be up against stiff competition when it comes to serving SME clients. According to NAB’s inaugural Legal Services Industry Survey of 70 law firms and over 750 small and medium-sized businesses, SMEs are much more likely to view the big accounting firms as better placed to offer them complex and diversified advice about their whole business. Read More

Sydney’s lockout laws to be relaxed but will it save the city’s nightlife?

The NSW Government has made the decision to wind back some of the controversial lockout laws that have decimated the city’s once-vibrant nightlife. Extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops, a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules and other changes will be introduced from January. Read More

Westpac CEO and chairman step down amid AUSTRAC allegations

Westpac Group (ASX: WBC) CEO Brian Hartzer and chairman Lindsay Maxstead will step down in the wake of legal controversy surrounding the bank. Hatzer’s resignation follows allegations from AUSTRAC that the banking group contravened the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) on more than 23 million occasions. Read More

CBA’s CommInsure pleads guilty to 87 counts of hawking

A subsidiary of Australia’s largest bank has pleaded guilty to making unlawful and unsolicited phone calls in breach of the Corporations Act. Commonwealth Bank (ASC: CBA) subsidiary Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, trading as CommInsure, has pleaded guilty on 87 counts of the practice known as “hawking” between October and December 2014. Read More

Hold your horses: Body Corporate ban on Airbnbs unlikely to impact most Queenslanders.

A landmark legal decision upholding a ban on Airbnbs in certain strata title complexes is unlikely to impact the broader industry. For the first time in Queensland, a by-law banning short-term letting or Airbnb within a Gold Coast community has been successful. Read More

Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – October 2019


The ‘Uberisation’ of lawyers is picking up pace

Professional services firms, such as legal entities, are now operating in a buyer’s market where digital technologies have fostered new customer expectations, according to a new Westpac report. Read more 

Police want faster data from the US, but Australia’s encryption laws could scuttle the deal

Australian police could quickly access data held by companies like Google and Facebook under a planned deal with the United States. Read more

ACCC takes Google to court over misleading use of user location data

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) has launched proceedings in the Federal Court against Google, alleging the Silicon Valley giant misused users’ location data. Read more

Public servants should be punished for failing to report misconduct, legal experts say

Recommendation adds to a growing push for reforms to Australia’s whistleblowing laws, which fail to prevent reprisals against those who speak out. Read more

Will law firms record overtime of more than just their grads?

New industrial regulations will see 20 law firms record the hours undertaken by their most junior legal professionals. But, given that lawyers with a few years of experience are most dissatisfied with their employers, wouldn’t it make sense to monitor the work this demographic is burdened with, too?  Read more 

NSW trumpets ‘record’ number of female magistrates

Women now make up 47 per cent of magistrates in NSW, marking a 7 per cent increase from one decade ago, according to the state’s attorney-general. Read more

3 in 10 in-house counsel get asked to advise on matters that make them ethically uncomfortable

The “In Collaboration” report is titled “Which way is the wind blowing? Recalibrating the moral compass of in-house legal practice”, it highlights the “tightrope” that in-house lawyers are walking when it comes to business and ethical interests. Published by LOD  the report showcases findings from a period of five years. Read more

Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – September 2019

New Chief Magistrate appointed in Victoria

Her honour Judge Lisa Hannan has been elevated to Chief Magistrate of the Victorian Magistrates Court, having served for eight years as a magistrate and coroner, and 13 years as a County Court Judge. Read More

The Law Institute of Victoria has called for legislative change to increase organ and tissue donations in the state.

LIV president Stuart Webb has written to the state’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy, asking her to refer the Human Tissue Act 1982 to the Victorian Law Reform Commission. Read More

NSW passes bill to decriminalise abortion

NSW parliament has passed a bill decriminalising abortion, overturning a 119-year-old law and achieving what advocates say is a “massive step forward for women” in the state. Read More

Australia must do more to attract international arbitrations

The world of international commercial arbitration has not yet been “adequately penetrated” by the Australian Bar, but there are ways to bring such arbitrations to our shores, argues a former Federal Court judge. Read More

The future of the governance professional

Increased regulatory scrutiny, business complexity, and technological disruption will define governance practice for the foreseeable future. And the digital skills and ethical mindset of millennials will mean that they will be more sought after on boards. Read More

Finalists revealed for 2019 Women in Law Awards
Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with Taylor Root has announce the finalists for this years’ Women in Law Awards. Read More

Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry – August 2019


NSW: looming legal aid crisis

NSW is on the brink of a legal aid funding crisis and risks replicating the United Kingdom experience where strikes by lawyers over low fees have plunged the justice system into chaos, according to a confidential report to government. Read more.

Australian worker wealth gap grows

Today, millennial workers globally have less wealth compared to predecessors at the same age. Although Australian household assets have tripled since 1990, “the wealth bonanza has been far from equally spread,” with increases concentrated in “older households.” Read more.

Algorithms and big data are entering the often shrouded world of alternative dispute resolution. 

Robots and artificial intelligence seem worlds away from the sensitive and nuanced area of international mediation. Here, battles are largely settled behind closed doors and skilled mediators pick their way through sticky negotiations. Algorithms and big data, however, are fast entering the often mystery-shrouded world of alternative dispute resolution. Read more. 

Are micro-practices the boutique firms of the future?

Micro-practice law firms – which refer to legal practices that employ only lawyers, who undertake all of the financial and administrative tasks themselves rather than hiring or outsourcing to others – are shaping up as increasingly popular and attractive for boutiques across the country. In an increasingly modern legal marketplace, it is integral for lawyers to consider every vocational option and opportunity to ensure success and productivity. Read more. 

Monthly compilation of key updates for the legal industry. July 2019

Are the big four accounting firms a threat to traditional legal service or are traditional legal firms taking over the market share of the big four?

Several lawyers have spoken out about whether the big four accounting firms present a genuine threat to the traditional legal service offering, showcasing mixed opinions.

Here is a report from Lawyers Weekly who spoke to five lawyers, with varying levels of expertise across the business of law, to find out whether there is a perception that the big four is something the legal profession should be concerned about. Read More

Do organisations need to do more than just comply with the Modern Slavery Act? If so, what?

For companies, going “beyond compliance” might mean implementing new strategies or adopting new approaches:

The commitment of the company’s leadership to making change is key. Allocating responsibility and setting metrics are ways that the leadership team can make clear how seriously it is taking the problem.

Undertaking assessments of the likely social impact of any actions that the company takes. For example, a “compliance” mindset might be to terminate a supplier contract the moment that modern slavery is identified. A kneejerk reaction like this might be more detrimental (it might force the immediate closure of a factory, pushing workers further into poverty). A more positive approach might be to work with the supplier on remediation and improving standards.

Building relationships with NGOs who work in high-risk markets where companies source goods. NGOs can help with risk identification or assessment, and be a source of local advice on remediation if modern slavery is found.

Raising staff awareness and understanding through training and internal communications. Some companies have organised for staff to visit areas from where products are sourced, to gain first hand experience of the problems. Staff who understand the “why” of compliance are more likely to be motivated to push for change and improvement.

Read this complete article written by Michael Milnes, head of commercial and competition law at Practical Law Australia.

Whistleblowers in Australia have reason to rejoice – so long as they are in the private sector.

Thanks to new laws that came into effect this month, private-sector whistleblowers have a range of new protections. This includes, in certain prescribed circumstances, the prospect of being compensated if they experience adverse outcomes after taking their concerns to the media. Read More 

Crowdfunding litigation: A problem or a solution?

The reality, however, is that the rise of crowdfunding litigation has prompted complex professional, ethical and practical questions that the community, courts and the legal profession must carefully work through. To ensure what is done with good intentions does not have the unintended consequence of undermining the rule of law, the merits of a case, or public confidence in our courts or justice system. Read this article by Arthur Moses SC,President, Law Council of Australia . Read More

ACCC: Facebook and Google’s power distorts companies’ ability to compete

The long-awaited Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report into the out-of-control growth and dominance of digital platforms has been released, with the watchdog critical of giants Facebook and Google.

The overarching theme of the report can be distilled into the ACCC not trusting the platforms to self-regulate, with “holistic reform” required to stop them from growing further out of control. Read More