With amendments to family law coming, LEAP’s integration partner is helping practitioners stay on top of these new changes, as well as other updates in all common areas of law.

Real-time updates across all common areas of law revolutionise legal practice

With amendments to family law coming, LEAP’s integration partner is helping practitioners stay on top of these new changes, as well as other updates in all common areas of law.

By Lawyers - which provides practical up-to-date matter plans, precedents, commentaries and reference materials authored by experienced practising lawyers – is an exclusive integration partner of LEAP Legal Software, backed by a team of over 50 Australian lawyers.

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, By Lawyers managing editor Brad Watts said they provide an “absolute treasure trove of material” in all common areas of law.

“We’re proud of the depth and breadth of our publications. We help lawyers work more efficiently, and free them to focus on delivering excellent legal advice and client service,” he says.

How By Lawyers stays ahead

Brad Watts

“We currently have 253 matter plans covering all the common areas of law in most state and federal jurisdictions. They each contain a full and detailed commentary on each area of law. Collectively they include over 5,500 drafted precedents, plus the thousands of government and court forms applicable to each matter type - all of which are automated within LEAP, of course,” he said.

— Brad Watts

“The depth and breadth refers to the quality and quantity of the content - the practical detail in the commentaries, the hyperlinks to cases, legislation and external resources; the folders of example court orders and additional clauses, the deeds and agreements, the letters to clients, other parties, courts, agents, valuers, doctors… whatever is required. Then there’s our 101 Answers reference materials series, such as 101 Family Law Answers, 101 Succession Law Answers, and 101 Subpoena Law Answers with even greater detail on specific issues and discussion of relevant cases.”

Expert Insights: By Lawyers’ team keeping content current

The By Lawyers content is kept up to date by a team of in-house lawyers and editors with relevant developments in law and practice across Australia. The team is assisted by over 50 authors across the country who help write, review and update the publications.

“We triage information every day to determine whether it will affect our publications. We monitor legislation in all Australian parliaments. We monitor the websites for professional associations, government departments, and courts in each jurisdiction. We receive updates, bulletins, and notifications from many public and private sources about developments in the law and practice. We talk to our authors and interact constantly with our colleagues and subscribers in the profession.

“We monitor, analyse, and assess all this information on an ongoing basis. Then we make the legal and editorial decisions required to ensure that any necessary amendments to our content, be it to matter plans, commentaries, precedents, reference materials, or all-of-the-above, are published when they are required. And of course, the advantage of being an online publisher is that our updates are immediate – our guides are usually updated the same day as any new or amending legislation commences,” Mr Watts added.

“In addition to the daily triage for legislative and procedural updates, the process of reviewing and enhancing our content is continual. We have an ongoing, responsive, proactive approach to revising and enhancing our content. For example, we often create and add new precedents, whether in response to changes in the law and practice, requests from our subscribers, or suggestions from our authors.”

This content also includes timely updates when laws are amended, including the recently passed Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 and the Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023, both of which are set to impact family law matters and present new challenges for lawyers.

What you need to know about recent Family Law updates

By Lawyers author and accredited specialist in family law Keleigh Robinson said that the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 (Cth) amends parenting orders, including a refined list of factors for the court to consider when determining the best interests of the child, the emphasis now being on safety and the needs of individual children; provisions that allow the court to consider any views expressed by the child to the independent children's lawyer; and the repeal of the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and the related equal time and substantial and significant time provisions.

In addition, the new law includes bespoke parental responsibility orders – enabling the allocation of joint or sole decision making in relation to all or specified major long-term issues, codification of the rule in Rice v Asplund that requires a court to be satisfied a significant change in circumstances has occurred before varying parenting orders, and a mechanism for the court to address repetitive filing of applications by one party to oppress another party.

“Those changes commence on 6 May 2024. They will alter the way lawyers need to approach parenting cases,” Ms Robinson said.

“It’s going to be an interesting time in family law over the next couple of years.”

In terms of how practitioners deal with these changes, Ms Robinson said that having access to accurate and timely information will make all the difference.

“While we can read amendments and understand the new legislative provisions, what’s also important is how the Court interprets them. Just as there is now a substantial body of jurisprudence about the interpretation of the current provisions, such as the concept of equal shared parental responsibility and what constitutes substantial and significant time and the parenting pathway, it will take time for a body of cases to develop whereby the Court interprets the new legislation and practitioners can have greater clarity about the advice they need to give their clients.

“For a while practitioners will need to be careful about the advice they give and closely monitor developments. That’s where By Lawyers content is such a great resource for practitioners because it is so dynamic,” she added.

Immediate Impact: Leveraging By Lawyers for Alerts and Summaries

“Not only will By Lawyers’ family law guides be updated immediately once the new laws commence, but the By Lawyers team will be monitoring the court’s procedures and the important cases. I expect to be in close consultation with the By Lawyers team as the jurisprudence develops on the new legislation over the coming period, and we will be able to add the relevant cases and procedural changes to the guides as they happen.” – Keleigh Robinson.

And moving forward, lawyers can stay updated about developments in their areas of law by registering an email address with By Lawyers, added Mr Watts.

“It’s easy to register an email address to receive updates on a chosen area of law whenever we update something. We put an Alert at the top of any matter plan where there has been an important recent update, to draw the practitioner’s attention to any changes,” he said.

“Also, we publish summaries of any significant legislative amendments in advance of their commencement under the heading Looking to the Future in the Reference Materials folder on the matter plan for any publication affected by such a change. All our Family Law guides, for example, currently contain helpful summaries of the amendments to the Family Law Act that are coming in the new year. It helps practitioners get their head around the changes and start to prepare for them.”