MINTER ELLISON, which will become a single partnership from 2004, has just rolled out a sophisticated conflict management system at the behest of the firm’s newly installed professional standards committee.
The latest developments were flagged by Minters chairman Peter Bartlett, who also heads up the committee, in an interview with Lawyers Weekly.
Bartlett said one of the committee’s first items of business since taking shape mid-year was improve the firm’s online conflicts avoidance system, which had previously only listed the names of clients in a central database.
But after two-and-a-half months of intensive internal upgrades, a more advanced mechanism is now in place detailing all undertakings provided to clients via tender applications or in service contracts. A brief survey of other national firms last week revealed that few had developed such an in-depth system.
“We’ve got different clients and different offices, which can lead to variations in terminology,” Bartlett said. “Now we’ve gone way beyond having a simple conflicts register, so that any lawyer can access the database and look up any set of wording given to any particular client.”
The new application is expected to be most effective in cutting down on repetitious follow-up searches of client undertakings, some of which were made over a decade ago, but remain in place today.
In other news, Bartlett also revealed that Minters would operate as one partnership from the start of next year. At present the firm’s 14 worldwide offices, despite trading under the same name, are members of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne partnerships.
The amalgamation, Bartlett continued, would “have no effect whatsoever” on the way in which business was being conducted or on current profit and equity sharing measures.
“It’s being done to make things simpler for our internal accountants. Instead of receiving three sets of figures, they’ll now only have to sift through one,” he explained.