Latest news – ‘Freewheeling’ managers flunk hiring test; Spotlight on national security laws; MinterEllison tops ‘attractiveness’ rankings

[Australasian Law Management Journal,Finance & Accounting,General Management,Marketing & Business Development,Strategy & Leadership] August 29, 2019

Lack of management structure hurts hiring outcomes

A “freewheeling” approach to management is likely to result in poorer hiring and firing results, according to new research from MIT Sloan.

In a paper, entitled Building a Productive Workforce: The Role of Structured Management, the researchers consider how personnel-management practices relate to HR outcomes and workforce productivity. The key to success appears to be around holding regular reviews of employee performance, along with consistency of hiring and incentive practices. Those who do this are typically superior at hiring, firing and retaining workers, which in turn results in a more productive workforce. Key points to emerge from the research include:

  • firms with structured management practices are better at hiring the ‘best’ people. These are employees with the most valuable portable skills — that is, traits and skills that have value in the labour market as workers move across jobs;
  • firms with structured management practices also do better at keeping those workers over time, retaining a much larger share of workers in the top quantile of worker quality distribution;
  • firms with structured management benefit from lower levels of firing – and, when the need arises to dismiss someone, they are more skilled at identifying which underperforming workers to let go.

Tread carefully with national security laws: Law Council

Disclosure of classified intelligence information by journalists and whistleblowers should only be criminalised if it can be proven there is a real threat to national security, according to the Law Council of Australia. In its submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s (PJCIS) press freedoms inquiry, the Law Council said that currently there was a broad scope of journalistic conduct that may be innocuous but which could be caught under espionage, sabotage and foreign interference laws. President Arthur Moses SC said that, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, Australia’s secrecy provisions had developed inconsistently, in an environment of ever-increasing powers to intercept and access data. He said national security measures should be proportionate to any threat posed and should not unduly impinge freedom of expression, human rights or rule of law principles. The recent directive to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to take into account “the importance of a free and open press” before launching investigations into journalists was a positive step. However, this will require the AFP to make a difficult determinations about what constitutes a free press. These freedoms should be protected by the laws enacted by our Parliament. It is clear more remains to be done, Mr Moses SC said.

“Recent events have shone a spotlight on the extent to which the powers of security and law enforcement agencies potentially surpass legitimate aims of safety and national security and enter the realm of stifling democratic freedoms and liberties,” he said. “This is a balancing act and one we must get right. Press freedom and freedom of expression are central to the Australian ethos and must be fiercely protected. While the Law Council recognises strong national security protections are essential for the safety of Australians, disclosure of classified information should only be criminalised if it can be proven to have posed real harm to national security.”

MinterEllison tops ranking as ‘most attractive’ firm

MinterEllison has taken the crown as the law firm that is deemed most attractive to Australian legal professionals. Breaking Herbert Smith Freehills’ four-year streak at number one, MinterEllison topped the rankings in the 2019 Top 25 Attraction Firms list. The list is part of the annual Legal Firm of Choice Survey, produced by Momentum Intelligence. The rankings are based on the following question: “Which firms would you most likely consider a move to if you ever decided to leave your current firm?” Respondents are able to select more than one firm. This year’s survey was conducted between June 3 and August 3, 2019, recording the views of more than 1000 legal professionals across Australia. This year’s list is:

25. DLA Piper

22. Jones Day

22. Gadens

22. Colin Biggers & Paisley

21. White & Case

20.Allen & Overy

19. Sparke Helmore Lawyers

17. K&L Gates

17. Deloitte Legal

16. KPMG Legal

15. Mills Oakley

13. Lander & Rogers

13. Baker McKenzie

12. PwC Legal

11. Hall & Wilcox

10. HWL Ebsworth Lawyers

9. Norton Rose Fulbright

8. Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers

7. Corrs Chambers Westgarth

6. Allens

5. Clayton Utz

4. Ashurst

3. King & Wood Mallesons

2. Herbert Smith Freehills

1. MinterEllison