How law firms can avoid testosterone overload, UK legal aid challenge proceedings begin

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How law firms can avoid a testosterone overload... legal proceedings begin in UK to protect vulnerable from lack of representation... and Canadian lawyers win conflict of interest case...

Law firms losing female staff
There seems to be no shortage of female students studying law and figures show that law firms in the US are hiring more women than men (a 60/40 split). But two years down the line, many of those female recruits have left. Gone from the profession? No; just from the firms. They move to roles such as corporate and government legal services. Only 17% of US law firm equity partners are women. So what is making law firms such a testosterone-heavy environment? One law firm boss claims it’s all down to leadership and how to manage case assignments. His approach seems to be working, with an even gender balance in his firm. Read the full story.

UK legal aid challenge proceedings Begin
With anger growing in the UK over the government’s cuts to legal aid, proceedings have begun to challenge the Ministry of Justice’s decision to push ahead with reforms. Two solicitor’s associations have filed for a judicial review, claiming that the consultation process was not conducted lawfully. They say a key report by accountants KPMG wasn’t released by the Ministry until the consultation period had ended. The government is aiming to save £215 million a year by making the changes but it has already meant some defendants not being able to get representation in court, even in an attempted murder case. Although there is a financial implication for law firms, there is also a genuine concern of serious damage to the criminal justice system in the UK. Read the full story
 
Rethink on Racial Discrimination Act
The principle of free speech is something we all hold dear but controversial changes to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act would have gone beyond their intention and left minority groups open to abuse without the abusers being liable for prosecution. With more than 5000 submissions to the government’s consultation process, and some MPs who had previously supported the proposed changes now adding their concern, Attorney-General George Brandis is now looking at watering down the amendments. Read the full story.

Canadian lawyers win damages from Law Society
Two Canadian lawyers who were accused by the Law Society of a conflict of interest in a case involving Hollinger Inc have won their five-year battle for vindication. The Law Society Tribunal said that while it was right that the case has been initiated, it should have been dropped when it was clear that the lawyers actions were justified. The pair, Torys lawyers Darren Sukonick and Beth DeMerchant had been seeking $3.6 million in damages; however the award was made for $500,000. Read the full story.
 
Piper Alderman aim to silence wind farm
Law firm Piper Alderman has asked that a 140 acre wind turbine farm should be shut down at night after residents complained of excessive noise. The firm says the council have an obligation to tackle the “serious risk to public health”.  The complaints, in Moyne Shire, Victoria, are being investigated. Read the full story.
 
Courts independent from the State – not in Cambodia
After 20 years of discussion, a new bill to reform the justice system in Cambodia is looking like becoming law. Unfortunately for campaigners who have called for an independent judiciary, the law would further enshrine the right of the government to control courts. Rights activists and journalists are among those who often suffer from charges brought for politically motivated reasons and it looks like that won’t change. Critics of the new law say that despite the decades of debate, the law was drafted by the Ministry of Justice with no real transparency or input from anyone other than the government itself. Read the full story.

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