The 10 things young lawyers should know about the law today

By Naomi Neilson|29 June 2020
10 things young lawyers should know

Lawyers Weekly’s Protégé looks at the past fortnight’s top 10 headlines law students should know about. Between your exams, check out what’s going on!

1: Former High Court Justice Dyson Heydon sexually harassed six women

In news dominating the legal profession, Justice Dyson Heydon – who was kind of big in the High Court of Australia – sexually harassed six women who worked with him as judge’s associates. The profession as a whole has condemned this conduct and has expressed disappointment that this kind of behaviour went unchecked for so long. 

2: Protégé takes a look at the student vs Monash Uni showdown

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Law students with Monash University went head-to-head with the faculty over the new exam conditions. Almost 1,000 law students signed a petition, a handful of others were open in a survey and everyone was left pretty disappointed with the university’s overall response to the matter. We wanted to give these students a voice.  

3: Victoria’s class action market got a refresh, but NSW is not happy

While Victoria was pretty stoked with its decision to introduce contingency fees so that failed class actions aren’t billed to the unsuccessful client (and lawyers are still getting a payday), the NSW Bar Association has pretty much shut down that idea in the state. NSW President Tim Game SC said the intention to introduce contingency fees for the plaintiff solicitors in representative hearings “should not be emulated”. 

4: The Catholic Church has been labelled ‘hypocritical’ by a top barrister

The Catholic Church – which we have to remind you have completely avoided liability for priests’ sexual abuse crimes – has been called “hypocritical” by Andrew Morrison RDF SC, a barrister speaking on behalf of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, for applying and using the JobKeeper allowance. This meant that on one hand, they are not really an employer so cannot be held accountable for employees (priests) gross behaviour, but the second it comes to employee/employer monetary benefits, that all changes. 

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5: Lawyers Weekly examines vicarious trauma in the profession

In a few pieces – including one written with law students and graduates in mind – we’re examining vicarious trauma in the legal profession. In the most recent one, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) and Judicial College of Victoria’s Carly Schrever encouraged lawyers to think about their mental health during COVID-19 and seek help if needed. 

6: Should the BLM protests be legal? Of course. But experts weigh in anyway

Should the Black Lives Matter protests be legal in Australia while we are still sort of in lockdown restrictions? Obviously – we think so too. But we found some experts in law and human rights to back us up. From Amnesty to the Human Rights Law Centre, the seven groups argued the Australian government’s response to the protests was only “inconsistent” with democratic freedom rights and called for more protests, but safely. 

7: The ACT Law Society got a new CEO and she’s pretty impressive

New president of the ACT Law Society, Simone Carter, has over 20 years’ experience across various sectors and a really diverse legal history. She has worked for a range of legal, governance and operational roles across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Prior to joining the ACT Law Society, Ms Carton was the CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine – kind of amazing!

8: We’re getting ready to crown a champion in law – have your say! 

In the 20th anniversary of the Australian Law Awards, presented with UNSW Law, we have launched The Lawyers Weekly Award. This award will recognise one person who has been recognised by their peers across the country. While law students are maybe too young for this particular award, you can nominate an impressive legal professional that you think might deserve this! There’s also an award or two you can sign up for. 

9: One law firm considers dropping the hierarchy completely

An Australian firm, Law Squared, has confirmed it will remove the hierarchical structure from its titles and adopt a “cluster-based model” where lawyers will be referred to by their practice area. The NewLaw firm said while internally it has always operated like this, the titles did not reflect that, so it was time to do away with them. 

10: An NSW solicitor has been found guilty for not completing CPD points

A solicitor based in NSW has been publicly reprimanded and ordered to pay a fine for failing to comply with an undertaking by attaining mandatory continuing professional development points. The tribunal said there was no reasonable explanation for this conduct and ordered a reprimand and a costs penalty.

The 10 things young lawyers should know about the law today
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