Law firms targeted by new email scam; Plans to stop jurors researching cases online

by NZ Lawyer21 Jul 2014
New Zealand Law Society warns of new fake email
The New Zealand Law Society is advising lawyers and law firms to ensure their IT security systems are up-to-date and checked regularly. This follows reports of an email which is being sent to New Zealand lawyers from a law firm based in Queenstown. The email purports to be sent from a lawyer in that firm and contains a link to malware which should not be clicked upon. The Law Society says a lawyer who responded to the email received a reply which stated that the message was genuine. This is a clear indication that the law firm's systems have been hacked. Another recent example of a lawyer's computer system being hacked occurred when the law firm received a genuine email from a client confirming that they would be paying a large sum of money into the firm trust account. The client later received an authentic-looking email purporting to be from the law firm. It asked the client not to deposit the money into the trust account due to issues with bank documentation. The client was told that new bank account details would be sent later. The attempted theft was detected before matters progressed. 
Researching cases online could lead to criminal conviction for jurors
New Zealand is leading the way for an international consensus on dealing with jurors who ignore court rules by searching for case information online. A meeting of Attorneys General from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US met in London last week and discussed the issue among other common concerns. Currently contempt of court is a common-law offence and carries a fine and potential prison sentence, but it could be revised to a criminal offence.

SA Law Society issues guidance on trust accounts
The Law Society of South Australia has issued an alert to remind law firms of the new trust accounting regulations that came into effect at the start of July. The changes to the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 and the new Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014 have introduced new requirements including the appointment of an ‘External Examiner’ who must be approved by the Society. Law firms must also now inform the Society of any changes to the signatories on trust accounts and any accounting irregularities. Failure on the latter could mean a fine of up to $50,000.
Justice Secretary calls for end to ‘ambulance chasing’ law firms
The UK’s Justice Secretary has hit out at law firms that encourage people to “blame someone else". There has been a large increase in firms that market themselves as specialists in compensation claims and Chris Grayling says he and the UK government are “out to slay the health & safety culture". There are a lot of lawyers worldwide who encourage claims with a ‘no win, no fee’ deal and even those that offer iPads and similar incentives to make a claim. Mr Grayling said that employers who do the right thing should be protected from being sued in cases where an employee has an accident at work that is “entirely their own fault". While genuine claims, such as negligence by an employer, quite rightly receive legal backing, there is a feeling among many consumers and law professionals that some of these compensation specialists use practices that tarnish the professional as a whole.