Firm launches student service

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Norton Rose Fulbright has launched a flexible legal service using law students to carry out tasks in what it says will be a timely and cost-effective way.

The hand-picked law students will be working on tasks which require no knowledge of existing matters.

“They draw upon the students’ already well-established proficiencies in tasks such as legal research and writing,” senior associate Amie Crichton told Australasian Lawyer.

“So far they have worked on court forms, chronologies, research memos, discovery and summaries of expert reports, and even prepared external presentations.  The scope of tasks is incredibly broad and our expectation is that as the students’ skillset evolves over the course of their employment, so too will the nature of the tasks.”

Crichton and senior associate John Moran drove the implementation of the new service, which is the brainchild of Tricia Hobson, head of the Australian Insurance team.

Hobson said she came up with the idea when she realised she needed to free up junior lawyers who were bogged down in simple yet time-consuming work, and the model would give second and third-year law students much needed experience.

“It is a very hard market for law graduates right now and so I was all for the chance to provide a group of students with hands-on, practical experience,” Hobson said.

“The concept of outsourcing to create a flexible legal platform is obviously not new but when I looked at the type of tasks that my juniors were doing I realised many did not need to be done by a qualified solicitor.

“I also realised they would be perfect for a law student who was in the process of being trained to research and think like a lawyer.”

The service offers law students flexible work and allows the firm to expand the resources of the team only when they need it.

“The students are very task based and the graduates maintain full-time roles. In fact, the graduates are, as a group, one of the key advocates and users of the program,” said Hobson.

One-hundred and thirty jobs have been logged through the system since the pilot was launched in April. The firm will begin to roll out the service in the next phase of the project.
“Our solution gives law students an early insight into the industry and an understanding of how their task, be it a piece of research or a memo, fits into the overall advice to the client,” said Moran.

“The feedback we continually receive from the students is incredibly positive and encouraging.”
  • C on 24/10/2015 12:03:58 PM

    So paralegals? If your selection process for students for this "service" is entirely an internal decision how is this any different to paralegals? There was nothing in this article that distinguished this 'service' from paralegals. All large-mid to to-tier firms have plenty of these.

  • Matt on 24/10/2015 10:30:12 AM

    Perhaps they could get one of the students to return phone messages, of which I have left three in the last week and not received a return call.

  • J on 22/10/2015 11:28:40 AM

    I was retained as a law student to do this type of work 25 years ago. Nothing new here.

  • Annette Fontana on 22/10/2015 10:47:42 AM

    Are you not reading the market? There is a growing glut in law graduates, who can't find jobs, there is a shrinking consumer market, more competition for work from the influx of international firms and Norton Rose only see fit to add to the problem by employing non graduates, add to that conveyancers, self represented litigants, consumer advocates, and the internet warriors, and increased alternative dispute resolution avenues which lock out lawyers, where is the sense in this project other than short-sighted savings for Norton Rose!

  • Anon on 21/10/2015 9:03:38 PM

    So NRF has invented student paralegals? Bravo, legal innovation!

  • Will on 21/10/2015 7:59:56 PM

    It sounds like NRF have discovered paralegals - amazing.

  • Mark on 21/10/2015 11:58:20 AM

    So basically another law firm is skirting the legal profession's rules in order to find efficiencies in a highly competetive market. If experienced lawyers did more work and charged more reasonable rates consumers would be much better off

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