Ashurst to lose staff in support shake-up; Lawyers face tribunal over phone hacking

by NZ Lawyer11 Aug 2014
Ashurst out-of-hours changes
Ashurst is cutting back on out-of-hours staff in its UK offices and adopting the model the firm uses in Australia. The firm has begun a consultation with half of its document production team whose jobs are at risk of redundancy. The plan is for a central hub in London to handle out-of-hours work and outsource where necessary.

Lawyers face tribunal after phone hacking scandal
Two lawyers who were working for Rupert Murdoch’s News International at the height of the phone-hacking scandal are to face a tribunal. Lawrence Abraham worked at Harbottle & Lewis who were hired by News International and Jon Chapman was an in-house lawyer at the News of the World title. They are accused of having seen evidence of phone-hacking at the newspaper but not revealing it to the company’s board. The Guardian reports that the nature of the investigation is said by the two lawyers and Harbottle & Lewis to have been of a ‘narrow’ nature and was not intended to give an opinion of the company as a whole. There is also dispute over whether some of the emails that were said to have been seen by the lawyers were in fact viewed. The pair will face a tribunal by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in October.
Ukraine law firm divides as 5 partners quit
Divisions in Ukraine are in the headlines daily, but this time it’s one of the country’s law firms making news. Almost half of the partners of Vasil Kisil have left the firm and started their own. The five partners, the entire corporate and M&A team launched Aequo this week saying that it is a logical step for the team to enable them to serve their clients better. Vasil Kisil has wished them well and said that it will not have a significant effect on its service.
Law Society calls for digital ‘bill of rights’
During a speech on mass surveillance by governments around the world, UK Law Society president Andrew Caplen joined calls from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Al Gore for a Digital Magna Carta: “Legal privilege must be protected from any system of surveillance. The development of a global digital Magna Carta is an international effort that we consider should command the support of lawyers, their bar associations and law societies worldwide.” The issue of privacy has become a big issue recently following the Edward Snowden revelations and the Google ‘right to be forgotten’ case in Europe.
New ways to engage with clients
As the traditional models for the business of law change, some firms are choosing to engage with clients in new ways. Visiting clients at their premises, using technology such as webinars and even Twitter are all gaining ground, particularly when dealing with small businesses. Online technologies make it possible for businesses with small teams to engage with law firms without having to leave the office.