Latest news – Sexual harassment unacceptable; Talent crisis needs managing; Cyber risks the number one threat
Framework targets sexual harassment in legal profession
As part of its efforts to stamp out sexual harassment in the legal profession, the Law Council of Australia has released a National Model Framework to guide firms and organisations in the development and implementation of effective workplace policies.
“Sexual harassment is pervasive and damaging. Everyone should feel safe and supported within their workplace,” the Law Council of Australia’s outgoing President Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said last month. “It is unacceptable that women and men are experiencing workplace sexual harassment in Australia today.
“Sexual harassment is inconsistent with the inherent values of the Australian legal profession, the principles informing the administration of justice, and the pursuit of integrity, fairness and equality before the law. The Model Framework will assist the profession to proactively prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
“At the end of last year, the Law Council unveiled the National Action Plan to Reduce Sexual Harassment in the Australian Legal Profession. The Model Framework reflects the ongoing commitment of the Law Council and our Constituent Bodies to eliminate sexual harassment within our profession.”
Organisations can adopt The Model Framework in its entirety as their own sexual harassment policy, or use the Model Framework to augment and/or refine their existing policies. In addition to the Model Framework, the Law council has developed recommendations for complaints procedures and three Guidance Notes which provide information for those who report sexual harassment, information for those who respond to sexual harassment, and information for those alleged of committing sexual harassment.
“The Model Framework and associated recommendations for complaints procedures have been developed to provide guidance and promote best practice for organisations managing and responding to complaints of sexual harassment,” Dr Brasch said.
“This not only includes workplaces who are managing internal complaints, but also those bodies responsible for managing external complaints of sexual harassment, such as disciplinary bodies. I strongly urge all organisations to utilise the Model Framework to ensure they are taking every possible measure to protect their staff and every member of our profession.”
The Law Council of Australia’s National Model Framework to address sexual harassment in the legal profession is available here.
Talent war the latest danger for law firms
Having regained their footing after navigating the depths of the pandemic, law firms are facing a growing talent war that threatens to upend the legal industry’s newfound momentum.
But the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market, issued by the Centre on Ethics and the Legal Profession in the US, warns: “The traditional law firm response of just throwing more money at the problem is not likely to work as well going forward.”
The report notes the law firm market has rebounded strongly and firms are performing well financially, despite the ongoing pandemic. Demand soared in 2021 following a disappointing start, driven primarily by real estate and corporate practices. Litigation is one of the major practice areas that is still below pre-pandemic levels. Firms continue to raise rates aggressively, helping push profitability to record levels.
However, the industry’s recovery has also sown the seeds for a rapidly growing series of cascading problems. The rising demand for legal services is colliding with lawyers’ evolving work preferences in a war for talent that is hitting unprecedented levels. Associate compensation is now surging at double-digit rates – some of the highest levels in more than a decade – driving up costs for firms. Yet at the same time, retention has plummeted.
Attorney turnover has risen to record levels for firms, “edging dangerously close to losing almost one-quarter of their associates in 2021.”
The report warns that relying on higher compensation to retain talent may not be sustainable nor particularly effective.
Download the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market at https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/legal/state-of-the-legal-market-2022.
Cyber risk tops list of threats in global survey
Cyber risk is the No. 1 current and predicted future risk globally for business, according to a survey by professional services firm Aon.
The 2021 Global Risk Management Survey gathers input from more than 2300 respondents in 60 countries across 16 industries at public and private companies. With more emphasis and reliance on technology, respondents identified cyber risk as the key danger for their operations.
The top 10 risks also strongly reflect the current landscape, namely COVID-19 and its impact on organisations. Amidst a backdrop of challenging market conditions, this is testing the ability of firms to manage volatility and make better decisions. Organisations are shifting their focus from event-based to impact-based risk assessments: for example, business interruption was once seen as a linear risk, but the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how it can affect multiple industries and companies simultaneously and globally.
Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighting the interconnectivity of risk, the top 10 global risks according to the survey are:
- Cyberattacks, data breaches
- Business interruption
- Economic slowdown, slow recovery
- Commodity price risk, scarcity of materials
- Damage to reputation, brand
- Regulatory, legislative changes
- Pandemic risk, health crises
- Supply chain or distribution failure
- Increasing competition
- Failure to innovate, meet customer needs.
“Historically, risk managers and insurers have learned and made decisions by analysing data from loss events as they have occurred. This approach must evolve in order to proactively manage emerging exposures such as complex supply chains; we can’t rely solely on the past to inform future risks,” says Rory Moloney, Chief Operating Officer for Enterprise Clients at Aon.
“Several of the top risks identified in this year’s survey highlight four key areas of client need we’ve identified, particularly unmet needs in the form of long-tail risks that are no longer on the horizon. Those risks are on our doorstep. There is an increasing realisation of the need to address these ‘known unknowns’. As we face unprecedented events, the challenge will be how to best develop solutions to properly prepare for and manage through them.”