It’s one of those afternoons – you’ve sent one of those dreaded “capacity emails” – not because you actually want to work, but because the blank timesheet staring back at you is making you start to hyperventilate. The only task you’ve received in return is one where you need to provide copies of legislation for a hearing tomorrow. Easy right? You’re sure the SA has only given this to you because she felt sorry for your desperate-billable-unit-plea and wants her secretary to pick up her dry cleaning instead anyway. Surely you didn’t go to law school to hit Control-P from an AustLII page…
Before you get in a huff about your lack of “quality work”, be warned that the reliance on out-of-date legislation, even if only out-of-date by a day, has been known to cause lost cases, failed negotiations and embarrassment for the lawyers involved. Hit Control+P from AustLII at your peril: you might not need need to worry about billable units for much longer. Goodbye grad offer.
In practice, working with current legislation is essential. Clients don’t have questions about legislative provisions that have remained unchanged for years and can be safely reprinted in each edition of your textbook without amendment. They tend to work in areas of constant policy development and legal challenges – the stuff of legislative amendments. Before you rush this task so you can tag along to some schmoozy client lunch meeting, remember that the ability to find what the law is at any given time – with confidence - is what you’re here for. This article will help you get it right and get it done in time for the lunch.
5 Comments January 12, 2009