Latest news – Domestic violence rethink; Move to limit cyber attacks; Spending focus on contract management software

[Australasian Law Management Journal,Finance & Accounting,General Management,Technology] July 5, 2021

Legal profession leads change on domestic violence

Domestic violence experts from across the country recently came together to take part in the Law Council of Australia’s National Roundtable on Family Violence: Awareness, Education and Training, to start a new discussion on how the legal profession may rethink its responses to and understanding of domestic and family violence.

Participants included experts from the legal profession, the legal assistance sector, including Women’s Legal Centres and Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services, and from family violence prevention and victim support organisations, all of whom agreed that there needed to be greater emphasis on identifying and responding to family violence across the entirety of the legal profession.

The President of the Law Council, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, said the Law Council convened the roundtable following the findings of several recent inquiries that called for the legal system to be better equipped to respond to family violence and protect vulnerable individuals.

“This roundtable shows that lawyers are invested in leading the way and changing the thinking around domestic and family violence in our communities,” Dr Brasch QC said.

“Clearly, the plague that is domestic and family violence is not diminishing, nor does it discriminate. It could be any client, any file. Or any person in any workplace. There is a very real benefit to the wider community if we, as legal professionals, show further leadership in this space and ensure we have the additional skills needed to protect and assist vulnerable clients.

“While resourcing of legal assistance services and the justice system remains perhaps the most critical issue and an instrumental part of any response to addressing family violence, there are other factors that the various reports into domestic and family violence and the family law system point to as needing reform.

“Participants agreed that problems caused by the differing definitions of domestic and family violence between jurisdictions should be further considered, as well as having wider discussions on the benefits of family violence training across the entire legal profession. It’s naive to think family violence is only relevant to family lawyers.

“The Law Council has an important role to play in leading the debate and working with our state and territory counterparts and stakeholders in developing and advocating for potential legislative reforms regarding definitions of domestic and family violence that include agreed core principles, as well as ensuring the legal profession is equipped to deal with issues of family violence.”

 

Regulators up the ante to limit cyber-attack risks

Regulators have begun elevating enforcement action to board and executive levels and increased their focus to decrease the risk of cyber attacks, according to a MinterEllison report,  Perspectives on Cyber Risk 2021.

The report notes that there are cyber-risk regulatory changes relating to privacy, data protection and governance, with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission and the ASX increasing their focus and action. Significant changes to Australia’s privacy landscape are also coming into focus. The survey pointed to the following four key takeaways:

Testing of data breach response plans growing

“More organisations are testing their data-breach response plans than ever before, but it’s still not enough. An untested data-breach response plan may not be effective when dealing with a data breach. Pleasingly this year, 55 per cent of survey respondents indicated that their data-breach response plans were being tested at least annually.”

People remain prime targets

“Despite the high-tech nature of some cyber attacks, people remain the prime targets of attacks, and hence a critical focus of ongoing investment. Again in 2020, both our survey and the Australian Privacy Commissioner’s notifiable data-breach reports found that human error and phishing emails are by far the most common cyber incidents impacting organisations in Australia.”

Low adoption of external cyber frameworks

“The rate of adoption of external cyber frameworks remains low. External frameworks, such as the Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight, provide valuable guidance on best practice for managing cyber risk. However, less than 50 per cent of organisations have taken steps to assess their cybersecurity maturity against such a framework.”

COVID-19 creates security challenges

“Almost 40 per cent of survey respondents faced increased cybersecurity risks due to the shift to remote working. Others found that COVID-19 exposed latent or underappreciated security issues.”

 

Contract management software tops spending list

A global study conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel reveals that contract management software tops the priority list of in-house legal departments when it comes to spending on technology.

The organisation’s 2021 Law Department Management Benchmarking Report, which was published in partnership with legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, asked departments to rank the top three legal technology areas in which they are investing the greatest amount of their legal spending.

It found that departments are spending the most on contract management technology, with 42 per cent of respondents nominating this budgetary expense as the key focus. Compliance and legal research services came next with 15 per cent and 10 per cent of participants, respectively, while intellectual property management (7.4 per cent) and matter management (six per cent) completed the top five spending areas.

The report surveyed 493 legal departments across 30 countries from March 2021 to May 2021. The results indicated that for 84 per cent of the respondents, the function of compliance fell within their remit. Overall, in terms of mean composition, a legal department is generally made up of 66 per cent lawyers, 12 per cent paralegals and various other administrative staff. Almost half of the respondents (46.9 per cent) reported that they have a formal strategy to bolster diversity in their departments.