Time billing still preferred by firms

					COMMENT & DEBATE: Elisa de Wit on the Copenhagen Accord – Success or failure? >> page 3                                                             1




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EDITOR: KATE.GIBBS@REEDBUSINESS.COM.AU          I   ADVERTISING: AMY.VIVIAN@REEDBUSINESS.COM.AU                                   27 JANUARY 2010




Time billing still                                                              >> local news
                                                                               Lawyers work pro bono for
                                                                               Victorian bushfire victims

preferred by firms                                                              Victorians affected by bushfires
                                                                               are about to access free legal
                                                                               information as part of a Legal Aid
                                                                               and pro bono initiative in the state.
WHILE firms were willing to                “Given the current climate, it is
                                                                                  A bushfire legal help website
drop their rates to accommodate         surprising that so few firms have      provides free legal factsheets, while
flailing clients in the global finan-   altered their billing practices to     information and support is also
cial crisis, only a small per cent      better reflect the value they have     available over the phone.
changed their billing structures.       delivered to the client,” said Matt       Insurance and mortgage
   But despite firms’ unwilling-        Parry, the CEO Stratatel Softlog.      problems have been the key legal
ness to budge on time billing,             “Irrespective of the fee model,     area for victims, as well as replacing
                                                                               lost or destroyed documents.
clients are demanding more              increasingly clients want detailed
                                                                                  The initiative is part of ongoing
detailed explanations of exactly        invoices fully describing the serv-    help from Legal Aid, community
what they’re paying for.                ices provided as well as details of    legal centres and private lawyers
   Within widespread commentary         all other costs incurred.              acting pro bono.
on emerging alternate fee models,          “There’s no doubt the day of the       Bushfire legal help was
most firms are still wedded to bill-    one line invoice is well and truly     established to provide pro bono
ing time, a new survey has found.       over,” Parry said.                     legal support. It includes Victoria
                                                                               Legal Aid, the Federation of
   According to a survey of legal          While accurately tracking and
                                                                               Community Legal Centres, the Law
professionals by cost recov-            analysing time sheets and billable     Institute of Victoria, Victoria Law
ery software provider Stratatel         time is a key indicator for profit-    Foundation, Public Interest Law
Softlog, 80 per cent of respond-        ability, it also forms the basis of    Clearing Hour and the Victorian Bar.
ents reported clients had reduced       most alternative fee models.
                                                                               Lawyers turn contributors
their spend on external legal              “But whatever fee model is
                                                                               Readers of The New Lawyer may have
advice as a result of the economic      adopted, a firm has to be able to
                                                                               noticed an extra page every day. It’s
downturn, yet only 34 per cent          evaluate how much time it will         our new Comment & Debate section,
adapted their billing processes to      take before it can project a realis-   written by some of the country’s            TO ADVERTISE
demonstrate the value of the serv-      tic fee,” Parry said.                  top lawyers, partners, experts and
ices provided.                             The survey found that an over-      commentators. Barristers, managing         HERE CONTACT
   Not surprisingly, the majority       whelming 93 per cent of respond-       partners and in-house lawyers have
                                                                               been selected to write for these very
                                                                                                                                AMY ON
of firms reported clients are more      ents still issue invoices based on
focused on their legal spend, with      time billing alone.
                                                                               pages. To register your interest to          02 9422 2970
                                                                               write, email the Editor here.
86 per cent saying that custom-            Also surprising is that even
ers either questioned an invoice        though 86 per cent of respondents
or requested more detailed              have an automated cost recovery
timesheets for work done.               system, 80 per cent don’t believe
   According to the survey, law-        they accurately capture billable
yers have had to work harder            time when they are attending              CONTENTS – CLICK BELOW
for the same results as clients         to client matters away from the                                                 IF THIS IS NOT YOUR
                                                                                  2   >> WA SEARCH LAWS                 COPY, SUBSCRIBE NOW
become more demanding, credi-           office or on their mobile phone.
tors more angry and debtors                                                       3   >> COMMENT & DEBATE               >>   CLICK HERE
increasing dramatically.                               >> READ MORE




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WA lawyers riled Firm Minter Ellison
over search laws supports HK school
THE lawyers of Western Australia                                                 MINTER Ellison has conducted a         nity of the school’s special needs.
have expressed their consterna-                                                  2010 Chinese New Year card com-           Entries were received from stu-
tion over the proposed extension                                                 petition as part of its partnership    dents aged between 7 and 12 years.
of police powers and the inevita-                                                with Hong Kong’s The Fresh Fish        The winning design, by Kwong
ble consequences of changes to                                                   Traders’ School.                       Ming Wai, features a drawing of
stop and search laws.                                                               Students of the school were         a tiger – 2010 is the year of the
   The state’s Law Society has                                                   invited to win HK$10,000 for           tiger – surrounded by the other
expressed its concerns in its                                                    their school and book coupons for      11 Chinese zodiac signs. The card
submission on the Criminal                                                       themselves by designing the firm’s     will be used as Minter Ellison’s cor-
Investigation Amendment Bill                                                     Chinese New Year card. The win-        porate Chinese New Year card to be
2009 to the Standing Committee                                                   ners were announced at the prize       sent or emailed to the firm’s clients
on    Legislation       (Legislative                                             presentation ceremony today.           across the world.
Council) and has also requested                                                     At the prize presentation cer-         Ed McMullen, a senior associ-
the opportunity to appear before                                                 emony, Minter Ellison Hong Kong-       ate, and Joyce Chua, an associate,
the Committee to give evidence in                                                based partner, Steven Yip, spoke       Minter Ellison’s relationship law-
support of the submission.                                                       about the firm’s partnership with      yers for The Fresh Fish Traders’
   “Giving police the power to            Laws akin to a police state: lawyers   The Fresh Fish Traders School.         School, said the quality of the
conduct searches on people and                                                      “By running this competition, we    entries received from the students
their vehicles without requiring       Police already have very wide             have been able to build on our rela-   had been outstanding.
them to have any suspicion that        search powers targeted at crimi-          tionship with the school and make         “For several years Minter Ellison
an offence has been committed          nal activity and there has been no        a positive contribution to the com-    has supported Fresh Fish Traders’
will result in thousands of com-       credible evidence that their exist-       munity in which we live and work.”     School with a number of pro-
pletely law abiding citizens being     ing powers are inadequate,” said             The Fresh Fish Traders’ School is   grammes, including teaching assist-
inconvenienced and having their        Quail this week.                          one of the organisations that Minter   ance, book and furniture donations
privacy violated,” said Society           “Aspects of this Bill have the         Ellison supports in Hong Kong as       and fund raising activities. So when
president Hylton Quail.                hallmarks of laws usually found           part of its community investment       the firm was looking around for a
   Late last year, as the laws were    in a police state and people’s            programme. The school’s focus is to    corporate card to send to our clients
being debated in Parliament, the       rights as citizens in a free soci-        provide quality education to chil-     for Chinese New Year, we immedi-
Law Society labelled them “a gross     ety will be significantly eroded if       dren from disadvantaged back-          ately thought of utilising the creative
erosion of our civil liberties”.       Parliament does not reject these          grounds. Th Chinese New Year card      talents of the students at Fresh Fish
   “What’s worse is that the gov-      proposals.”                               competition aimed to raise funds       Traders’ School.”
ernment has not made a case for                                                  for the school and also help raise
the need for such draconian laws.            >> MORE NEWS HERE                   awareness within the local commu-             >> MORE NEWS HERE




                                                                                     Time for a change




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                                                                                                                       27 JANUARY 2010                         3



                                         THE NEW L AW YER EXPERTS COM MENT & DEBATE




Copenhagen: Success or failure
                                                                                                                       make a new one in Mexico”.
                                                                                                                         The real issue is, if a legally
                                                                                                                       binding agreement could not be
                                                                                                                       reached in Copenhagen notwith-
                                                                                                                       standing the high level of political
                                                                                                                       involvement, is it really likely that
                                                                                                                       agreement will come forward at
                                                                                                                       Mexico? There are some who are
                                                                                                                       even wondering whether the con-
                                                                                                                       sensus process of the UNFCCC is
                                                                                                                       the right approach going forward.
                                                                                                                         In the more short term, the next
                                                                                                                       key date is 31 January 2010, when

Elisa de Wit
                                                                                                                       “Descriptions have
 >> PRACTICE AREAS                                                                                                     ranged from ‘climate
JUST over a month since the dust                                                                                       change scepticism
settled on the last-minute, all-
                                                                                                                       in action’, ‘fiasco’,
night negotiations that went into
making the Copenhagen Accord,                                                                                          ‘death warrant’ or,
viewpoints on the outcome of the                                                                                       more graphically,
Copenhagen climate change talks
have been extremely mixed.
                                                                                                                       a ‘colossal pile of
   On the positive side, the                                                                                           fudge’.”
Copenhagen Accord has been
described as an “important politi-                                                                                     both developed and developing
cal tool”, “vital first step”, or in                                                                                   countries are required to submit
the words of President Obama, a                                                                                        information to complete the two
“meaningful and unprecedented                                                                                          appendixes to the Accord.
breakthrough”.                                                                                                            Developed       countries     are
   On the negative side, however,                                                                                      required to submit their emissions
the descriptions have ranged from                                                                                      reductions targets for 2020, and
“climate change scepticism in          Regardless of where you stand, most people would                                developing countries are required
action”, “fiasco”, “death warrant”                                                                                     to put forward their nationally
or more graphically, a “colossal
                                       agree that the outcome of Copenhagen did not live                               appropriate mitigation actions.
pile of fudge”!                        up to expectations, writes Elisa de Wit, head of                                   However, with no legal impera-
   Regardless of which side of the     climate change at Norton Rose Australia.                                        tive driving this process, the ques-
fence you stand, it is fair to say                                                                                     tion is, which countries will step
most people would agree that the                                                                                       up to the mark, and will there be
outcome of Copenhagen did not          targets. In earlier versions of the    ature to 2 degrees Celsius, with a       any greater levels of commitment
live up to expectations.               Accord, there was inclusion of an      call for a review in 2015 to consider,   than those already publicly stated?
   So, where did the Copenhagen        80 per cent reduction target for       amongst other matters, whether           We wait with bated breath.
Accord succeed or fail?                2050, and reference to 2020 tar-       the goal should be increased to a
   Dealing firstly with the nega-      gets (although the percentages for     limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. (Of        Elisa de Wit is the head of
tives, the primary failure is that     these was not specified).              course, if the science is right that     the climate change practice
the Copenhagen Accord is not a            By the final version of the         peaking needs to occur by 2015,          at Norton Rose Australia,
legally binding document; it is        Accord, all targets had disap-         this review may be too late).            formerly law firm Deacons.
merely a political agreement.          peared. The other main omission           Another positive was the com-         She joined her Norton Rose
   Moreover, the Conference of         was reference to a peaking year.       mitment of finance to the devel-         colleagues in Copenhagen
the Parties (COP) (the main deci-         Texts of earlier documents          oping countries by the developed         for the 2009 United Nations
sion maker) of the United Nations      included reference to 2015 which       countries, namely US$30 billion          Climate Change Conference.
Framework Convention on Climate        is considered on the latest science    for the period 2010 to 2012, with
Change (UNFCCC) did not feel           to be when emissions should peak,      a goal of US$100 billion a year                   >> COMMENT HERE
able to do any more than “take         however, the Accord simply talks       by 2020. A Copenhagen Green
note” of the Accord. It had been       about achieving peaking “as soon       Climate Fund will be established to
anticipated that the Accord might      as possible”.                          provide allocation of such funding.
be “adopted” or at least “accepted”       On the positive side, however,         What does the future hold? To
by the COP.                            the Accord documented that the         quote United Nations Yvo de Boer,
                                                                                                                         WE WANT YOUR WORDS
   In terms of the actual content      aim should be to achieve a reduc-      “Copenhagen did not produce the
of the Accord, what is missing is      tion of global emissions so as to      final cake, but it left countries          >>   CLICK HERE
any specified emissions reduction      limit the increase in global temper-   with all the right ingredients to

				
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Description: Time billing still preferred by firms