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No one really knows how the Olympics are going to affect everyday life, but there are contingency plans in place nonetheless. Most law firms have a roster system in place where staff agree to start work and leave two or three hours earlier (or start later and finish later), to avoid Olympic traffic snarls. Those lucky enough to have remote PC connections have the option to work from home. According to the daily papers, many Sydneysiders are taking a couple of weeks’ annual leave to escape the city and its Olympic craziness. Most of us at Sydney-based Gilbert & Tobin are planning to stay in town during the Olympics. I think we’re all curious to see what actually happens after all the hype. From a legal perspective, the Olympic action has already begun. Many Olympic athletes are treating their sport as a full-time career, and success is crucial to hooking lucrative sponsorship money. If they are not selected for their chosen event, this may have a huge impact on their level of sponsorship, and their career. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in legal challenges to Olympic team selection. Olympic athletes can no longer simply rely on their physical abilities for selection and success. Today’s Olympians also need to have at least a basic legal knowledge. Unfortunately, the playing field is no longer level, and athletes often need legal assistance to ensure fairness in selection. The Oceania Registry of the Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled on the case of two Australian sailors, Chris Nicholson and Daniel Phillips, whose selection to the Australian team was challenged by two other contenders. A case involving an Australian boxer is pending, and two softball players have also filed proceedings to challenge the decision to leave them off the team. One of the longest selection sagas has involved the Australian women’s Olympic Canoeing Team. A series of appeals and counter-appeals over the selection of the women’s K4 500 crew culminated in a nine-hour hearing just over a week ago. The court decided to dismiss the appeal of Amanda Rankin. She was originally included on the team, then replaced by another athlete, Yanda Nossiter, who appealed against her inclusion. Rankin is considering an appeal, so the saga may continue. DOPING Drug testing is another big issue at the Olympics. The Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA) was blasted by drug-testing opponents recently when it introduced blood tests at the Olympics. But the tests were recently approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They’re used to detect a banned synthetic substance called erythropoietin (known as EPO). The drug, which improves endurance, has not been detectable through traditional urine tests. Opponents argued the blood test was an invasion of human rights — far more so than the urine test that has been required to date. ASDA will need to be extremely careful to ensure that all tests are collected completely in accordance with procedures, and to keep confidential any potentially damaging information it collects. Leaking of athletes’ names and test results may be a denial of natural justice. which may jeopardize the prosecution of a doping offence. The New South Wales Bar Association recently announced its Olympic pro bono plan, offering a free legal service to athletes 24 hours a day. The Association says it expects the bulk of cases to involve positive doping tests and disputes over team selections. — although many Olympic teams will be accompanied by their own legal counsel. UNFAIR MARKETING PRACTICES Just like in past games, ambush marketing is alive and well. The practice, in which companies who aren’t official Olympic sponsors present themselves as associated in some way with the games, was most obvious at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where Nike erected huge billboards around Olympic events that had been sponsored at great expense by Reebok. The sports company also created Nike Town, a gigantic “tent city” covering a car park on the edge of the hub of Olympic activity, Atlanta’s Centennial Park. At the Sydney Olympics, we are unlikely to see another Nike ambush, especially as Nike is now an official sponsor. However, companies have developed new ways to freeload. Take the current Olympic Web site dispute. Leading up to the Games, SOCOG gave IBM exclusive rights to run the official Sydney Olympics Web site. IBM developed a slick web site, appropriately named olympics.com. However, ostensibly because IBM failed to provide Australian-specific content on the site — such as information about the Australian Olympic team, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Channel Seven, the official Australian Olympics television broadcaster — the slighted groups joined to create a rival Internet site, olympics.com.au. IBM doesn’t have an obvious legal remedy to shut down the Web site. It is unlikely that the IOC would support any move by IBM to prevent the AOC from using the domain name. LAWYERING IN SYDNEY It’s not surprising that rival corporations are fighting over Sydney marketing turf. A city of 4 million people and the main Australian trade center, Sydney lives and breathes money. In this respect, Sydney is the Aussie version of New York — money talks, and it talks LOUDLY. The Sydney legal market is dominated by the Big Five Australian law firms, who do the bulk of corporate work for the big name clients. To find the “Big Deals” and the “Big Clients” it would seem logical to work for one of the Big Five. This is certainly true. However, some smaller firms have taken advantage of niche opportunities and been wildly successful in attracting clients, too. For instance, Sydney-based Gilbert & Tobin has grown from two to 180 lawyers (and a total staff of 300) in 12 years by specializing in the technology and communications industries. No doubt the Olympics will cause a temporary spike in the price of some goods and services. (There was public outrage recently when it came to light that the traditional Aussie meat pie will cost $2.10 (AUD$3.50) at Olympic venues — about a 50 percent increase over the norm.) Legal salaries in Sydney are good in the Australian market, but unfortunately they haven’t been pumped by the Olympics. A three- to four-year year lawyer will earn $35,000-$47,000 (AUD$60-$80,000). The same lawyer will earn $29,500-$35,000 (AUD $50-$60,000) in Perth. It has become somewhat of a tradition for young Australian lawyers to pack their bags and head off to the bright lights of London or New York. There have been reports that the influx of Australian lawyers to those markets is pushing up salaries in the depleted Australian market. This doesn’t seem to be happening quite yet — at least certainly not in the explosive manner of the U.S. legal market. There were rumors that this year legal salaries would increase by up to 25 percent across the board, but that didn’t seem to happen. Insurance, property, IT and IP are some areas where the market is extremely tight at all levels of seniority. Rather than competing for lawyers by offering a higher base salary, firms have been introducing other “carrots,” such as attractive bonus programs (which have only recently been introduced in many firms), training and mentoring programs, and more opportunity for responsibility and earlier seniority. Firms now seem much more motivated to actively encourage lawyers’ career development. This means a rotation into a different practice group. A lawyer may request to move from mergers and acquisitions into technology law to gain different experience and perhaps just for a change. Many firms have made conscious efforts to make their culture more attractive to the younger generation of lawyers. Niche firms sometimes have an advantage over large firms in this respect in that they are far more likely to be able to present as a group of dynamic individuals, rather than a faceless, commercial juggernaut. As part of this trend, some firms are trying to shed the image of a legal “sweatshop.” DOT-COM DEMANDS Those working in any technology related industries know that demanding dot-com clients are not shy to make demands of their lawyers — everything needs to be done YESTERDAY! As in other parts of the global community, clients in the Internet and communications industries expect super-fast turnaround times and find anything less from their advisers hard to comprehend. Firms are also seeing senior lawyers and partners being lured away with the promise of better pay and conditions (and, of course, no time-sheets). This seems to be an industry-wide phenomenon — albeit slowed by the recent tech stock shake-up — and not too good for young lawyers who are forced to find new mentors on a regular basis. The upside of this for young lawyers is that the opportunities for partnership can arrive sooner. AUSSIE FIRM CULTURE Long hours are par for the course at Big Five Australian law firms, and everyone wears suits and ties. Although partners are trying to change this image. You still need to do your time to rise through the various ranks — graduate, lawyer, associate, senior associate, and partner. Lawyers are attracted to Gilbert & Tobin’s flat management structure — and the lack of bureaucracy. There are lawyers and partners — and nothing in between. Lawyers can range in seniority — junior, mid- and senior — but the idea is to avoid having titles of rank. Rewards are given commensurate with effort and results, rather than title or time spent at the firm. ECONOMIC LINK TO ASIA The economic future of Sydney is bright. Since the return of Hong Kong to the Republic of China and the slowing of the Asian tiger economies, Sydney has become a popular Asian base. A solid communications and business infrastructure and a stable government make it an attractive option for a company doing business in Asia, but not wanting to take chances on regional political or economic instability. Sydney has a long history of international trade. If you know the right people, there is plenty of investment money around — making for excellent funding opportunities for the entrepreneurially inclined. Sydney has attracted most of the big names in the IT and communications industries that want to do business in Australia — Microsoft, Cisco, SAP, IBM, Siemens, SunGard, Cable and Wireless Optus, Hong Kong Telecom; the list goes on. The Olympics is probably the best advertisement for a city. Many multinationals are flying large business teams into Sydney for the Olympics, which will give many of their deal-makers a first-hand view of Sydney. The Olympics will definitely have an effect on Australian business; it is expected to generate an additional one percentage point of growth in gross domestic product for the September quarter. Sydney will be a great place to be during the next few months, with the Olympics extravaganza starting to swing into action, a growing business outlook, and summer on the way. All we have to do now is work out a way to practice law from the beach! Tim Jones is a 28-year-old 4th year lawyer working at Sydney technology and telecommunications law firm, Gilbert & Tobin. Like a surfer in search of the big waves, he came to Sydney a year ago from sleepy Perth in Western Australia — in search of the “Big Clients” and the “Big Deals,” and maybe to squeeze in some sightseeing as well.

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