Boutiques on the rise; law firms operating in Vietnam hit by work permit regulations

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Boutique law firms seize opportunity in changing market... Baker & McKenzie finds tough work permit rules in Vietnam... and why social media is becoming a factor in divorce settlements...

​Boutiques boom
A growing number of experienced law professionals are choosing to start a boutique firm, often having left a large law firm but with still a long way to go before retirement. Peter Keel, formerly of Clayton Utz, is co-founder of Ash Street – a law and consultancy firm that has grown in its first six months but has no ambition to compete with the big names. Keel tells The Australian that he wants to stay “small enough that we don’t lose collaboration". Keel says his firm’s cost base is much lower than the big firms with more affordable offices and no large marketing or compliance teams. He says that it’s not easy as a start-up in the law business but the disruption to the panel system for large corporates, resulting from global players entering the market and frequent changes to partners, has created an opportunity for small boutique firms.
Law firms operating in Vietnam hit by work permit regulations
Law firms in Vietnam who want to employ foreigners may fall foul of the recently changed law on work permits. The Ministry of Labor rules mean that non-Vietnamese workers must be highly qualified; having a university degree or similar higher education qualification and also have at least five years experience in their field. Law firm Baker & McKenzie found that a worker who had been with the firm for three years was not able to join its Hanoi practice due to being two years short of the requirements. Critics say the law is too complicated and unreasonable.

Social media status add extra layer to divorce settlements
As technology continues to shape our world there’s a new consideration for couples getting married; if it ends in divorce how will we manage our social media? There are two main issues; the intellectual property in the images and videos posted to social networks and the use of social media as a weapon after a break-up. In an interview with Radio Australia Heather McKinnon of Slater and Gordon says that what is created and shared on services such as Facebook and Twitter may help relationships develop in the beginning but can be used for unpleasant means if those relationships go sour. There is a growing use of pre-nuptial agreements and while social media is not necessarily incorporated into those contracts specifically, general clauses on communication confidentiality are.