Lawyers ready in case of Y2K mayhem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


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While everybody else is partying this New Year's Eve, law firms will be running hotlines and working help desks in case computer systems seize up with Year 2000 glitches.

Nobody expects Armageddon. As Dean Ellinson, a consultant at Clayton Utz says, they are doing it "just in case".

Clayton Utz will have about 25 teams on call for clients, with specialists in such areas as litigation, insurance, corporate law, intellectual property and specialists in the client's industry.

The firm has also set up a help desk for general advice.

Mallesons Stephen Jaques has given clients a contact list of lawyers who will be available on the night.

The list gives details of their whereabouts on the night, including telephone numbers of their office, home, mobiles, fax lines and the occasional beach house.

The head of Mallesons Year 2000 Practice, Mr Emilios Kyrou, said the national list was not just for clients who had engaged the firm for Y2K work.

"All our key clients will be able to contact our Y2K team, whether they will be at their holiday homes or visiting a friend," Mr Kyrou said.

And in case clients had misplaced the contact list, Mallesons will also have a hotline operating all night, right through until 6pm on 1January. In the ultimate piece of contingency planning, clients will be put through to a voice mail if the line is busy. They will given a number to press so that they could contact the lawyer directly.

Mr Kyrou said the normal charge rates would apply. "We are not going to be charging extra because somebody has been got up at 3am," Mr Kyrou said.

Minter Ellison will also have a small team available. Six lawyers in mainland capital cities will be on call 24 hours-a-day from 29December to 7January.

In its latest newsletter to clients, the firm says they will be supported by large teams of specialists.

"If Y2K issues arise, you may need to issue an injunction, deal with an industrial relations issue or obtain urgent insurance advice," the newsletter said.

"We hope it doesn't. If it does, experience from other major incidents, such as the Longford gas incident, highlights the need for a team of advisers to be appointed quickly."

Freehill Hollingdale Page will also have Y2K legal teams on call. Its clients too have been given mobile phone numbers in case they need help on the night.

A Freehills partner, Ms Denise McBurnie, said six lawyers would be available in Melbourne and a similar number in Sydney, although nobody would be sitting by their desks.

"Those individuals will be on call and able to access other resources in the firm if needed," Ms McBurnie said.

"In our profession, most people are on call to the extent that they often get calls outside hours and need to provide advice in a timely fashion, and Y2K is no different," Ms McBurnie said.

And if disaster strikes, the kind of advice will be less likely to do with court action than ensuring the client's liability is no greater than necessary.

This would cover such issues as dealing with the media and government authorities, disclosure obligations, contractual issues like dealing with hapless suppliers who might be inundated with calls, and requirements under the Victorian essential services year 2000 legislation.

-- Steve (, December 23, 1999


Wow. Teams of Shysters on call over the new year. I can sleep well knowing how well protected I am by the "gentleman" of the law. Shakespeare was right (even if he didn't mean it).

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), December 23, 1999.

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