find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Real Estate & Projects Lawyer (6+ years PAE)
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Top tier firm with offices nationally · High profile clients
View details
Battle-of-attrition-for-new-LIV-president

Battle-of-attrition-for-new-LIV-president

The ability to work and study remotely could lure lawyers from the city, according to the new president of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).Michael Holcroft has experienced first hand what…

The ability to work and study remotely could lure lawyers from the city, according to the new president of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).

Michael Holcroft has experienced first hand what it's like to run a legal practice in the country.

He also knows what it's like to try and combat high attrition rates in his five-solicitor commercial firm, Holcroft Avery Lawyers.

Having practised in Mildura since 1991, Holcroft can recite a 2009 Law Council of Australia (LCA) report which shows that 42 per cent of lawyers in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas do not expect to be in practice in five years.

Despite recruitment being "a bit easier now with the GFC", Holcroft says retaininglawyers in RRR areas is the hard part. "[My practice] lost probably five people to what I describe as 'love interests' back in the city," he says, explaining that partners often missed their family and friends.

"It was never the work. I get on well with all of those practitioners who have been through our firm and left, but it's getting people set up in a new area and the work you've got to do to do that, and you can still fail just because the partner or family isn't happy to be there."

With senior practitioners in RRR areas having to abandon their practice due to lack of lawyers willing to succeed them, Holcroft says it's getting to "crunch time" for many.

Accordingly, one of Holcroft's main aims for this year is to tackle succession planning for firms in regional areas, the suburbs and smaller cities, and the LIV is currently putting together a succession planning road show to help lawyers develop a plan early on.

After the release of a report by external consultants Hays Night, which the LIV will receive by the end of January, a series of tools setting out different business practices, funding and equity models, and multidisciplinary practices will be trialled before the road show is launched.

"Very few lawyers have taken [multidisciplinary practices] up, but I think there's an opportunity, especially in regional areas," he says. "It may make a lot of sense to have an accounting and a legal practice rolled into one ... It's very difficult for sole practitioners to handle all the work pressures and the business pressures."

Working remotely is another strategy that offers a remedy to the problems facing country practices, says Holcroft, and this is something he does himself.

Commuting between Melbourne and Mildura every second week (via a four-seater plane which he learned to fly in Mildura in 2007), Holcroft is surrounded by iPads, laptops, Wi-Fi and mobile phones - all of which allow him to work remotely.

"I'm learning first hand what you can do easily remotely and what you need to put more time into," he says, adding that over the course of the year he plans to give members the benefit of his experience.

And with a study from the New South Wales Law Society predicting that 50 per cent of young female lawyers will not be in the profession in five years, Holcroft says the availability of technology needs to be addressed.

"We need to allow those who have left to start families stay in contact, to do some work and then to transition back," he says. "I've sent digital dictation files to staff who've left on maternity leave and they type it out when the baby's asleep and send it back."

Law students also need flexibility, he says, if they are to maintain a social support base in country areas.

"With online study opportunities, law students can do the last three or four years of study online, some of them part-time, and they've still got that social base," says Holcroft, adding that if they "spend five years [studying] in the city, forming their social base", it is very difficult to then "drag them away from that to start again".

"It's not just about the law. They're human beings and they need a social and support base that goes on a lot longer than nine-to-five or eight-to-seven ... It's the rest of their life; it's the other part that you've got to make sure they can handle as well."

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Battle-of-attrition-for-new-LIV-president
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
Applauds
Aug 21 2017
LCA applauds proposed Modern Slavery Act
The Law Council of Australia has welcomed new recommendations for the development of a Modern Slaver...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...