Monday, 24 August 2015

AdLaw Group - $22k Law Jobs - Why this is a problem.

I read this article on The Australian, which set out a little bit about the AdLaw group's $22k law jobs. The comments on the article, however, demonstrated just how little people understand about what it takes to become a lawyer. I thought I would try to clear that up.

I acknowledge the irony - this explanation will appear on a blog written by a lawyer, and probably read mostly by... well, me, but a few people around me who DO know what it takes to become a lawyer.

How does one become a lawyer?
This sounds like a simple question, but there is a bit more to it than is obvious.

Firstly, and obviously, one must earn a law degree. This involves completing the requisite courses to the requisite standard... duh.

Secondly, (in South Australia at least) you have to complete a post-graduate program, called a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. This involves the practical side of working as a lawyer, and includes at least 6 weeks' placement with a law firm (or legal body, such as the Crown or DPP). Frankly, this practical experience is the most valuable part of the Graduate Diploma, and is why people who work in legal firms as secretaries and clerks are often the most sought-after graduates - they have simply been around the business, and know what they are doing.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Joe Hockey's 'living away from home' entitlements - why aren't we more upset by this?

The Bishop scandal has nearly blown over, but I want to draw attention back to the ongoing abuse of 'entitlements'. I suspect most politicians will tread carefully for a while, but without some form of accountability, I doubt there will be a long-term change in attitude.

But why aren't we more upset by Hockey's taxpayer funded accommodation in Canberra? Whatever the numbers, the facts seem to be as follows:

  • Hockey owned a house in Canberra, which at some stage, he transferred to his wife (or to a company run by his wife). 
  • He claims 'living away from home' expenses, which he uses to pay his wife (or his wife's company) rent. 
  • The effect is that he is renting from his wife, and the taxpayer is paying the rent. 
I have said before that politicians should be given privileges associated with their office. They SHOULD be able to travel around their electorate to meet people, attend official functions, They should also be able to live comfortably when they are away from home, and a 'living away from home' allowance is most appropriate. 

But this just stinks. I am certain that it is within the rules, but can anyone say that it feels right? To me, it feels morally insidious, and I can't believe that we aren't screaming about this from the roof-tops!

I am not certain that 'rules' can fix it. I do think that integrity could. The 'living away from home' allowance, or indeed ANY allowance or privilege shouldn't ever be used to profit the person, or their associates. They or their family (or their political party, Bronnie...) shouldn't be better off because of the privileges. 

I don't see things changing, and that is depressing. 

Music Video of the Day - 'School Song' from 'Matilda: The Musical', Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin

We went to Sydney on the weekend to see Matilda: The Musical. Anything by Tim Minchin is usually funny, but this was spectacular. 

The following song introduced us to the school, 'this living hell.'

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Friday, 31 July 2015

Young Lawyers' Golgen Gavel Competition 2015

I had the great pleasure to once again represent... myself at the Young Lawyers Golden Gavel competition last night. Although I didn't win (again), I had a heap of fun, and got a free bottle of wine! Yay!

The YLGGC is a 5 minute stand-up routine, where we are given our topics 48 hours prior. Usually the topics are funny, except the ones they give me.

This year's topic was "Yes father: 5 reasons why nepotism in the legal profession is underrated." Urgh. Naturally enough, I spent most of my time off-topic, but at least I got a few laughs.

Other topics were "The Bronwyn Bishop guide to creatively billing your clients", "I withdraw that, Your Honour: 5 things you should never say during sentencing", "Things that should never slip out of your mouth in court" and "How your friends know you are a lawyer".

Music Video of the Day - Oh, Vertigo! by Kate Miller Heidke

This song was running through my head all morning, and now it can run through yours too! I just love her soaring vocals and intensity. If you ever get chance to see her live, she is fantastic. She is absolutely tiny, but puts out the most spectacular voice.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Where is the Hyperbole! The MP's Expenses Scandal and the Lack of Reaction

Normally this topic is reserved for confected outrage, where mountains are made from molehills, and national threats are made from banana peels.

In this case, however, I am surprised at how little noise has come from the Opposition about Bronwyn Bishop's expenses.

Privately, I think that is because if they made too much noise, they would all end up with egg on their faces - this sort of 'expenses' rorting can't be isolated to the Coalition!

There are a few cases of egregious 'expenses' rorts which I want to highlight. The first is the Peter Slipper scandal, whereby he used about $1,000 in taxi charges to attend wineries. To put this in context, this became a public issue only after he 'betrayed' the Coalition and accepted the speakership, thus handing Labor a majority in the house. He effectively became 'public enemy #1' to the Coalition, and of course this