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List of officers 2013
CEO Report Local Issues
6-16 ADVERTISING AND FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams
Local news Property
STUDIO MANAGER Fern Badman
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ACCOUNTS Joanne Casey MEDIA No. 1306
Driving customer service improvements for conveyancers New and improved digital services from Land Registry Conveyancing Cases Rise 15% in a Year What does the Buyer Want? Feature
PUBLISHED September 2013 © The Surrey Law Society - Benham Publishing
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Nearly 6 months on from the introduction of the Jackson civil reforms how does the land lie? Finance
Three ways to impress your bank manager The deadline is looming… Are you prepared? Management
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London racecourses look forward to themed Christmas party nights Riddle-me-Ree Wellers Auctioneers Expands Operations in Guildford with New £20,000 Sales Floor The Foundation Stones of Sales Excellence Timely outsourcing guide helps law firms to work smarter Have you considered the risk of going cheap?
Zero Hours Contracts: Saviour or Conman of the Employment Market? Education
Applications for University of Law’s LL.B Law Degree Increase by 60% CPD
Surrey Law Society CPD Programme Review
Victim of child abuse uses new book to launch support group Surrey Lawyer 3
PRESIDENT Kieran Bowe Russell-Cooke Solicitors Bishops Palace House, Kingston Bridge, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1QN DX 31546 Kingston upon Thames Tel: 020 8541 2041 Fax: 020 8541 2009 Email: email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT Marek Bednarczyk Hart Brown Resolution House, Riverview, Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, GU1 4UX DX 2403 Guildford 1 Tel: 01483 887704 Fax: 01483 887758 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ELIZABETH EYRE Barlow Robbins LLP Church House, 30 Church Street, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1EP DX 58351 Godalming 2 Tel: 01483 417121 Fax: 01483 426836 Email: email@example.com WIN CUMMINS Mackrell Turner Garrett 21-25 Church Street West, Woking, Surrey GU21 6DJ Tel: 01483 755609 Fax: 01483 755818 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org GRAHAM GUERIN Gray Hooper Holt LLP Solicitors 6 Linkfield Corner, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1BB Tel: 01737 761004 Fax: 01737 764029 Email: email@example.com
DEPUTY VICE PRESIDENT SUSHILA ABRAHAM S Abraham Solicitors 290A Ewell Road, Surbiton KT6 7AQ Tel: 020 8390 0044 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org HON SECRETARY Matthew Truelove TWM Solicitors LLP 65 Woodbridge Road Guildford GU1 4RD DX 2408 GUILDFORD 1 Tel: 01483 752700 Fax: 01483 752899 Email: email@example.com HON TREASURER NICK BALL Howell Jones Solicitors 75 Surbiton Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 2AF DX: 57715 Surbiton Tel (Office): 020 8549 5186 Tel (Fax): 020 8549 3383 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID LUNN Gowen & Stevens LLP 5 Mulgrave Chambers, 26-28 Mulgrave Road Sutton, Surrey SM2 6LE DX 56402 SUTTON Tel: 020 8661 8611 Email: email@example.com GLORIA MCDERMOTT 18 Station Approach, Virginia Water GU25 4DW DX 94652 Virginia Water Email: firstname.lastname@example.org CHARLES PFISTER awb Partnership 3 Jenner Road, Guildford, GU1 3AQ DX 83151 Guildford 2 Tel: 01483 302345 Fax: 01483 301339 Email: email@example.com JULIE ROWE Palmers Solicitors 89-91 Clarence Street Kingston upon Thames KT1 1QY DX 31524 Kingston upon Thames Tel: 020 8549 7444 Fax: 020 8547 2117 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMITTEE MEMBERS DANIEL CHURCH TWM Solicitors LLP 123 High Street, Epsom KT19 8AU DX 30710 Epsom Tel: 01372 729555 Fax: 01372 742101 Email: email@example.com
KEN SEAKENS Seakens Solicitors 18 Station Approach, Virginia Water GU25 4DW DX 94650 Virginia Water Tel: 01344 843666 Fax: 01344 844584 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LAW SOCIETY COUNCIL MEMBERS DAVID STEED Harold Bell & Co 174 Kingston Road, Ewell KT19 0SD Tel: 0208 393 0231 Fax: 0208 393 0155 Email: email@example.com JOHN PERRY Palmers Solicitors 89-91 Clarence Street Kingston upon Thames, KT1 1QY DX 31524 Kingston upon Thames Tel: 020 8549 7444 Fax: 020 8547 2117 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org CHIEF EXECUTIVE & MAGAZINE EDITOR Sue Seakens Surrey Law Society 18 Station Approach, Virginia Water GU25 4DW Web: www.surreylawsociety.org.uk DX 94652 Virginia Water Tel: 01344 860830 Fax: 01344 428511 Email: email@example.com
SUB COMMITTEES QUO VADIS (Strategic Planning) David Lunn Ken Seakens Matthew Truelove Marek Bednarczyk (Chair) Sushila Abraham CONVEYANCING & LAND LAW David Steed* Ken Seakens Matthew Truelove Win Cummins (Chair) FINANCIAL Ken Seakens Matthew Truelove Mike Hughes* Graham Guerin Nick Ball (Chair) SOCIAL Ken Seakens Kieran Bowe John Perry* Sarah Thomas* (Chair) Daniel Church *Non-Committee Member.
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4 Surrey Lawyer
To apply for membership please contact: Sue Seakens, Chief Executive Surrey Law Society, 18 Station Approach, Virginia Water GU25 4DW Web: www.surreylawsociety.org.uk DX 94652 Virginia Water Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01344 860830 Fax: 01344 428511
President’s Jottings for duty solicitor work at police stations and to reduce legal aid fees by 17.5% across the board. Time will tell whether such sweeping cuts will pose a significant risk to the longterm sustainability of legal aid if introduced and implemented in full. The latter part of the summer is traditionally a quieter time in the year for Society engagements. The Society signed off for the summer holidays with The Old World vs New World Wine Tasting Quiz in July. The evening was a great success thanks to our hosts Surrey Wine School. The evening was entertaining, fun and educational and by the end of the evening I was just about able to distinguish Merlot from Shiraz. September marked the beginning of the Society’s inaugural football league in aid of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) with Surrey firms and businesses competing for the glory of being crowned the first ever Champions of the SLS League. Do visit the
In early September as I turned my mind to my final instalment of jottings as President, the topic of legal aid reform was naturally at the forefront of my mind; it has been a standing agenda point at Committee meetings for my year as President. Accordingly the government’s recent announcement of changes to their initial proposals made for some positive news at long last.
website to see how the league progresses and watch out for details of semi finals and finals to be held early in December. The league is a great opportunity to network with other members of the Society, local business and professionals in a fresh and positive way, I have every confidence of its success and look forward to it being a permanent fixture on our social calendar. Thank you to our Social Sub-committee and in particular Daniel Church of TWM Solicitors who can be credited with devising the format of the league. If you would like to participate in next year’s league or have further suggestions for other sporting or social events contact Sue Seakens to register your interest. I am pleased to inform you that Nick Ball a company commercial specialist at Howell Jones has been appointed as our Treasurer. I am grateful to Nick for accepting this appointment. Nick has been a valuable member of the Committee for some years and his commercial insight will be of great value in his new role. On behalf of the Committee I would also like to thank Mathew Truelove of TWM Solicitors who acted as Interim Treasurer during the course of the last few months until a permanent appointment was made. In my year Committee membership has continued to grow and once again I am delighted to welcome our new members, I look forward to their contributions and new ideas in 2014.
If not a complete U-turn, the revised plans are a significant change of direction for the government. It is of course old news that such proposals were highly contentious. In particular the most controversial element of the proposals was Price Competitive Tendering, which was central to government plans to reform criminal legal aid. The risk was a cut-price service provided by the lowest bidder, a race to the bottom which would have impacted upon quality and severely restricted choice of representation. The profession including the national and local law societies argued that “quality” rather than a low bid should be what permits a lawyer to undertake legal aid work. The campaign has been a qualified success, the broadsheets and media eventually rallied to the cause, and the debate moved away from a false perception of “fat cat lawyers” to one about protecting individuals rights. On this occasion, the Justice Secretary listened. The success must be qualified; the revised proposals still include substantial challenges for the legal aid sector. The government plans to put a cap on contracts
I do hope that you will be able to attend the AGM at the Rose Theatre on the 27 November to hear what we plan to do in 2014 under the direction of my successor. Our Guest Speaker will be Jonathan Smithers, Deputy Vice President of The Law Society of England & Wales. Jonathon a partner in a high street firm in Kent, has been involved with local law societies for more than 25 years and was previously president of Kent Law Society. More recently he chaired the national Society’s Conveyancing and Land Law Committee. The AGM will be followed by a Reception to meet with colleagues and engage with the new Committee. It has been an honour to have been afforded the opportunity to serve as President of the Society. I have had great fun throughout the year and have enjoyed the challenges along the way. I could not have managed without the support of our Chief Executive Sue Seakens who has kept me on the straight and narrow. Marek Bednarczyk Deputy President and Sushila Deputy Vice President have been sound advisers and of course I am grateful to the Committee for their continued hard work and efforts in 2013. Finally as always, I would encourage you to engage with the Society in whatever way you can, Do contact us with suggestions for additional CPD, events or future
collaborations with other institutions. n Kieran Bowe Direct Dial: +44(0) 20 8541 2041 E-mail: email@example.com
Surrey Lawyer 5
CEO Report Autumn 2013 We have finalised the new CPD year and think you will agree that we have a brilliant line-up for the coming year, starting this November (see page 33 of this magazine). There are also a few events left to finish off this year to 31st October 2013. Do go online to www.surreylawsociety.org.uk and see what’s on offer to top up your CPD before the end of this year’s programme. Hand in hand with the new CPD programme is the sponsorship programme and I am delighted to confirm that our three key sponsors HFS Milbourne, Thames Water and Benham Publishing have all agreed to another year supporting us. We have some new names coming in too such as St James’s Place Partnership, One Search Direct, Wilkins Kennedy LLP and The Property Search Group (PSG) plus a range of in-kind support for events and courses. We rely on our sponsors to make it possible for us to bring you top speakers at affordable fees to local Surrey venues…so a huge thank you to all of them for their generosity again this year. Our congratulations must go to our wonderful Guildford walk teams and the organisers on this year’s Surrey Legal Walk. I understand that off line funds have been trickling in ever since the walk but I think we’re finished now. So I’m really delighted to tell you that your walkers raised a brilliant £11,189.23 for Surrey Law Centre. Many, many thanks to all the walkers and to the firms who match funded. The Surrey Law Centre is not out of the woods yet but the income and the support from our members really does help. So well done everyone and see you next year on May 19th – please put it in your diaries for 2014.
I just picked up an email telling me there are only 13 more Saturdays until Christmas… and by the time you read this there will be even less. Scary statistic especially when it feels like Summer has only just departed. But there is much to do before SLS starts thinking about mistletoe and wine!
Do you know some-one who would jump at the chance to study for a Masters level course abroad? The HM Hubbard Trust provides Scholarships of up to £27,000 a year, to a trainee or qualified solicitor, to fund a year’s Master’s level course in Canada, Spain or France. Preference is given to trainees and solicitors who have recently passed their Legal Practice Course or have been practising as a lawyer for up to 3 years. This is a life changing opportunity for the selected individual. The application process for this year’s Scholarship is currently open and closes on 30th November. Further information on the Trust and the application process can be found at the Trust website www.hubbardlawscholarship.com. I hope to see you all soon at one of our CPD events and of course at our 2013 AGM 6:30pm at The Rose Theatre in Kingston on Wednesday 27th November – a free event for all SLS members with drinks and a finger buffet. Have a good Autumn. n Sue Seakens
Surrey Wine Buff Quiz 2013 Following last year’s very successful Wine Tasting Evening we spiced things up this year by organising a fun-filled Old World vs New World Wine Tasting Quiz this July in conjunction with the Surrey Wine School. There were six teams competing for the title of Surrey Wine Buffs and this year’s winning wine buffs were Mags Trench, Mark Gough, Kieran Bowe and Matt Hodkinson. They were very closely followed by the wine-wise team from Palmers Solicitors – John and Rosemary Perry, Julie Rowe and Gloria McDermott. It was a brilliant evening and we hope to do something similar next year. n
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Council Member’s Report August 2013
Services Board and the Legal Ombudsman service is next, with a cost of some 18.2% of income. There has been a reduction in the compensation fund levy, and therefore as a result individual PC fees will only go up by £4, with an increase to firms of between 6 – 13 %, dependent on their annual turnover, of course. The Group expenditure in 2014 will in fact be less than 2011.
As most of you will be aware, at the Law Society AGM in July Nick Fluck was installed as the new President, and Jonathan Smithers from Kent was elected to take over the Deputy Vice President role. One of the main items of business at the July Council meeting was the 2014 operating budget for the Law Society Group, and which was agreed at £113.5 million. The total funding requirement from PC fees was set at £116.8 million, with the running costs of the SRA requiring 24.4% of this figure, which when you add in the costs of shared services such as providing IT to the SRA and the Society, is by far and away the biggest slice of the Society’s income, although the amount payable to the Legal
The outgoing President, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, presented her end of year report to Council. During the last year she had spoken at a varied and diverse range of events to try and improve public access to, and awareness of the profession. She had held numerous meetings both at home and abroad to promote the brand of Solicitors, and had led campaigns to ensure that, even after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, the rule of law would still underpin our democracy. In fact over the last year both Lucy and the Chairs of the Society’s Criminal Law and EU committees met with the lead MoJ ministers to discuss government proposals to opt out of the 130 pre Lisbon crime and justice measures. The Society also contacted MPs and peers on a number of issues arising from the future legislation proposed in the Queen’s speech. With regard to CQS, the Society is proposing to set up a conveyancing portal at some stage in the future, and this is a project which is being worked on at the moment, subject of course to budgetary constraints. The Wills and Inheritance Quality scheme is due to launch in the near future, and firms can of course obtain further details and can register for further advice and information though the Society’s website. As always if either John Perry or I can help or assist in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch. n David Steed DS@haroldbell.co.uk 0208 393 0231
Surrey law firm pull together to raise funds for local hospice Leading Surrey law firm, Morrisons Solicitors, took part in St Catherine’s finish in the top ten. Impressive against Hospice Dragon Boat Festival to raise over £1,200 for the vital local charity. other boats crewed by fitness trainers and rugby players! Paul Harvey, Managing Partner, comments, “Operating in the local community goes beyond building a successful business, and we are proud to support our local charities. We are committed to making a contribution to the communities in which we are located and also further afield.” The Firm was also involved with St Catherine’s Hospice Blue Bag Campaign which has raised £868 so far.
On a sunny Sunday in early September Morrisons’ staff were one of 33 crews taking part in the race across Tilgate Lake in 40 foot dragon boats.
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After a bit of practice the Firm’s team of 16, plus a pirate drummer to shout and keep paddlers in time, pulled their boat, ‘The Black Pearl’, through four races, to
Morrisons supports many other charities local to its office locations as well as many national charities. For further information about the work Morrisons does in the community and for local charities please visit www.morrlaw.com/our-communityand-the-environment or contact us on 01737 854 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org n
The changing face of the cosmetic industry James Colville MBBS BSc MSc FRCS(Plast)
The number of cosmetic operations performed in the UK has increased year on year over the last 5 years according to figures from the (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) BAAPS; in 2008 there were just over 34,000 cases and in 2012 more than 43,000; this is despite the recession, the PIP breast implant scandal and a government review of cosmetic surgery published this year. Surgical and non-surgical treatments are now worth many billions of pounds a year and draw a wide variety of practitioners to the table, leaving the patient open to exploitation. There are signposts that can help including membership of reputable bodies such as BAPRAS (British Association of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeons) and BAAPS but the patient is none the wiser unless they have done their homework. They need to have discussed the problem with their GP, with friends and reviewed the Internet to see what treatments are available and what is involved. The consultation, when it comes, needs to define what the patient requires and what the surgeon can offer and whether there is sufficient overlap between the two to proceed to surgery. Some surgeons give the patient unrealistic expectations or have overstated their experience and some will not recognise the problem patient who may want an operation urgently or is secretive, unable to identify his or her desires, very
demanding, narcissistic or maybe overly concerned with a minor problem. Informed consent is therefore essential where the details of the discussion are recorded legibly in the notes as well as potential complications; these are mentioned if they occur more frequently than 2% and if they are rare, life altering or threatening complications, such as blindness after blepharoplasty (eyelid) surgery which occurs in 0.04% of cases. Complications must also be recorded on the consent form which is not a legally binding document but is supporting evidence that the patient was sufficiently informed before surgery. Photographs are essential for cosmetic work and these should be taken with good lighting and in well defined positions. The patient may be dissatisfied after ‘successful’ surgery, which could be due to unrealistic expectations; this is very subjective and unlikely to lead to a successful claim against the surgeon. There
maybe complications after surgery which are well recognised and presented in the medical literature which are also unlikely to be successful. However, if there have been problems after using unrecognised techniques, or the surgeon is not qualified to carry out such procedures, or there has been gross negligence, these are more likely to meet with success. Cosmetic surgery is a difficult area to police since there are very few restrictions placed on practitioners, but the Keogh report published in April this year, may help protect cosmetic patients from the unscrupulous practitioner; it proposes adequate training, that all fillers should be prescription only and the establishment of an ombudsman for poorly treated patients. James Colville is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Hand Surgeon. He is a member of BAAPS and BAPRAS and consults privately at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Cheam. n
World class healthcare with a local approach St Anthony’s Hospital combines the most advanced medical procedures and skills with the kind of personal care that many hospitals have forgotten how to provide. We specialise in complex cardiac cases, orthopaedics, urology, vascular, breast and colorectal cancer surgery – and in the dedicated, compassionate care of the individual. St. Anthony’s has been established at North Cheam for over 100 years. The only independent hospital in the area to provide full intensive care, it offers a safe and secure setting for complex and routine surgery. For more information please call our Helpline
020 8335 4646 St Anthony’s Hospital, North Cheam, Surrey SM3 9DW Registered Charity no: 1068661
www.stanthonys.org.uk Surrey Lawyer 9
Forget the car, let’s take the horse! VACANCY Trustee-Legal Surrey Family & Mediation Service Epsom ,Surrey VACANCY BACKGROUND Surrey Family &Mediation Service (SFMS) was established in 1981.We are the only not for profit family mediation service in the County. We offer a safe and experienced service to all those going through the process of separation and divorce ,We provide high quality professional mediation,child counselling,supervised contact and a range of services that support the needs of the separating family, All our mediators and counsellors are accredited or working towards accreditation. We have a high success rate 70% of mediation cases result in resolution. We are seeking individuals with a Legal background to join our Board of Trustees and support us in the management of the organisation.
More than 40 members of staff at a firm of solicitors will be scooting, riding and walking three-legged to work Friday (August 2nd) to raise funds for Kent, Surrey Air & Sussex Ambulance. TWM Solicitors are aiming to complete a 54-mile adventure relay of all six branches on various slow, difficult and unusual modes of transport. Some will be commuting by push scooter and horseback while others will be walking dressed as helicopter pilots - all in aid of their Charity of the Year. Organiser Dan Church said: “Starting at our Wimbledon office, individuals can complete any leg they wish whether it be all or just one. “The only rule is that no form of engine may be used unless it’s suitably crazy. The aim is to do this in one day, no matter how long it takes.” The schedule for Friday is as follows: • • •
Wimbledon to Epsom (9 miles): Running and scooting Epsom to Leatherhead (4 miles): Walking dressed as helicopter pilots Leatherhead to Reigate (11 miles): Walking, mountain biking and horse riding Reigate to Cranleigh ( miles): Road biking Cranleigh to Guildford (10 miles): Threelegged walking and road biking
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In 2010, TWM Solicitors raised more than £2,000 for the Air Ambulance from a bike ride taking in all their offices and the former helicopter base at Dunsfold. Dan, 29, added: “I’ve had a lot of feedback over the past couple of years that all our fundraising events seem to be focused on running and cycling, and many of them require a high level of fitness. “This event is achievable by all no matter what their level of fitness and if they can think of a creative way to get around the TWM offices, then they’re in. This is a great chance to get the firms together raising money for such a great cause.”
• • • •
Key responsibilities of the role include:to proactively participate in formulating and reviewing our strategic plans to ensure the that the organisation complies at all times with its governing document,charity law,company law,employment law and other relevant legislation to be involved in the development of policy,defining goals ,setting targets and evaluating performance to support the operational management of the organisation to ensure that risk assessments for all aspects of the business are carried out to review the Financial performance of the organisation to attend Committee and Trustee Board Meetings
Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance relies almost entirely on public donations and needs £5 million a year to keep both helicopters flying.
Head of Corporate Relations Cheryl Johnson said: “This is such a fun fundraising idea and will most certainly help raise awareness of our life-saving work.
“TWM has supported the Air Ambulance since we launched our second helicopter back in 2007 and it’s great to have them on board. “Each year, the company comes up with some great fundraising ideas involving their whole team and since 2007 TWM has raised more than £35,000 for the charity which is a fantastic achievement.” n
Either a qualified Solicitor, Barrister or ex Judge, a knowledge of Family ,Company,or Trustee Law would be helpful but not essential.
The time commitment would be approximately 10-12 hours a quarter as a result of attendance at Quarterly Committee and Trustee Board meetings plus analysis of relevant data and information.Flexibility to attend daytime meetings is essential. As children will be on the premises a CRB check will be required. n
Contacts 01372-749780 and leave a message for the Chairman if not available or email email@example.com. Website www.sfms.org.uk
Hart Brown unveils new management structure Paul Tobias to chair new executive team Leading Surrey law firm Hart Brown is pleased to announce that, after a strategic review lasting two years, it has implemented a new management structure, with a team of six partners chaired by Senior Partner, Paul Tobias. With the advent of new regulations affecting the ownership of law firms (alternative business structures), new players such as the Co-Op and consolidation in the market with many smaller firms amalgamating, Hart Brown decided to undertake a major strategic business review. This review covered all aspects of the business and consulted with key stakeholders and every member of the firm. The outcome of the review was to recommend a new management structure based on a more consultative approach with more delegation to partners and senior staff. As a result the firm has implemented a new executive team of six partners, all of whom have specific roles and responsibilities. After over 28 years with Hart Brown Bettina Brueggemann has stepped down as Managing Partner, a role she has fulfilled with distinction for thirteen years. Bettina, who is assisting with the orderly transfer of her duties, has decided to leave the firm to pursue other interests. As managing partner she has successfully
Surrey Resolution Family Law Day – are you being blinkered? May 2013 Continuing our race theme, the going was good at Sandown Race course this year for the third outing of the Surrey Resolution Family Law Day on the 22nd May. The Grandstand was packed and the ‘punters’ were treated to a varied and interesting racecard. Runners and Riders this year included the thoroughbreds Marc Saunderson, Harry Oliver, and Nick Yates, newcomers Richard Bryant and Kate Hart and popular DJ’s Letts and Rich. The blinkers were certainly off by the end of the day thanks to our speakers. We welcomed Wesleyan for lawyers as our sponsors for the first time and congratulate the winner of the Kindle presented by them. Once again Molton Brown was on hand to provide much needed pampering and nosebags were suitably filled with the excellent buffet. A big thank you to all those who attended the event and we look forward to your support again next year. n Jenny Mundy Surrey Resolution
driven the firm forward and latterly steered a clear path through the economic crisis. Due to Bettina’s skilful management and leadership Hart Brown was able to avoid making redundancies when the economic crisis hit in 2008 and instead she led it in its expansion program by the acquisition of its Wimbledon Village office and ongoing recruitment of high calibre staff. It also led to Bettina winning the prestigious LawNet managing partner of the year award in 2009. Her contribution to the firm’s success, its excellent reputation and strong position in the market place has been invaluable. “This is an exciting time for the firm and I’m proud to become the Chair of the executive team.” comments Senior Partner Paul Tobias, “We have undertaken an extensive strategic review of our business, including consulting with all staff and key stakeholders. We are now able to implement the optimum management structure to lead Hart Brown in the new legal landscape. We feel a more collaborative approach and a devolved management structure gives us the opportunity to drive the business forward effectively and with consensus. I would particularly like to thank our outgoing Managing Partner, Bettina Brueggemann, as she worked tirelessly in the capacity as Managing Partner and she will be greatly missed by us all.” n
Admiration for Half a Century of Service Recent studies show that the average tenure of an employee in the UK is 4 to 5 years; however, Weybridge based law firm Meadows Ryan have excelled in longevity of service for decades. Several secretaries and solicitors have remained with the firm for over 25 years; but even this pales into insignificance beside Legal Assistant Maureen Savill who has been with Meadows Ryan for 50 years! Starting with the then Mason & Co in 1962, Maureen has seen 3 office moves and 4 mergers the latest being with McNamara Ryan in October 2012. Peter Meadows, Senior Partner of the firm - who has worked with Maureen for approximately 20 years - said “Maureen’s enthusiasm and positive attitude to her work can only be admired. She’s a hard worker, never leaving the office much before 7pm; and with 50 years with the firm, there’s not much she doesn’t know about the legal profession.” Maureen, who has direct client contact, has been looking after some clients since joining in 1962 and has seen many changes in the industry, not the least of these being the advent of technology. “I remember when there had to be 28 days between the exchanging and completing of a property” she said. “I first used a computer in 2000, prior to that everything was by letter and telephone. Now, with email, we’re turning around correspondence within minutes instead of days!”
As a thank you and celebration of her tenure at Meadows Ryan, senior partners treated Maureen to a special evening at her beloved football club, Fulham, and dedicated an advert in the following match programme to thank her for her hard work over half a century of service. Piers Meadows, Managing Partner, said “Fulham Football Club is a very special place for Maureen, so it was a fitting tribute. Her father, the late Arthur Stevens, is one of the Club’s ‘legend players’ and Maureen dedicates much of her spare time as steward for the away fan coaches. I can’t remember the last time she missed a game!” When asked if she had any plans to retire, Maureen responded “No chance! I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!” n
Surrey Lawyer 11
5 Reasons Why Inbound Marketing
Content Is King It’s not a secret - people are more likely to buy from people they trust, and in today’s market we need to view ourselves as salesmen and ambassadors for our products. The best salesmen the ones who don’t need to paint their customers into corners, but rather let them come to decisions themselves - are evangelists, and who’s a better evangelist for your business than you? By providing potential customers with content that’s of real use that simultaneously extols the values of your product, you can engage with an entirely new audience of people that a) already know what you do and b) know that you’re informed and active in the space you’re working in. This beats any cold-calling CMC hands down and shifts the paradigm - your clients don’t feel harassed into making a claim, and you have complete control over their onboarding and flow through your company. With no further ado, here’s our top 5 reasons why your business should be looking at inbound marketing as the next step in your lead sourcing.
1 Inbound Marketing Builds Trust To an extent, inbound marketing is a “long game”, meaning you’re investing time now in order to get a return in the future. The advantage is that you’ve already provided your potential customer with something of value. By giving them something they can use for free you’re more likely to attract their paid business in the future, and you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy and authoritative voice.
2 Inbound Marketing Costs Nothing But Time Though time’s at a premium in all of our lives, 30 minutes a day spent on the core inbound activities - blogging, website optimisation, social media interaction, content curation and sharing - could help bring down your average cost-per-lead by 62%, with no capital investment.
3 Inbound Marketing = SEO By taking control of your inbound marketing and focussing your efforts around your website, you’re acting as your own Search Engine Optimisation consultant. Creating content that people want to read and share, placing the main bulk on your website and sharing it through multiple channels can help your site to seem more trustworthy and so appear higher in Google and Bing’s search results.
4 Inbound Marketing Covers Thousands of Channels By using a CMC, you’re limiting yourself to a single sales/marketing channel with a high cost. By making the switch to inbound, the blog that you write for your site can be shared on Twitter and Facebook, be broken down into an infographic to share on BuzzFeed or Pinterest, be turned into a presentation to throw up on Slideshare, a webinar, a workshop…the possibilities are as endless as the number of channels available. It also means that, if one of your channels should become closed, you have many others still available to use.
5 Inbound Marketing Snowballs Over Time Rather than print advertising which, by its nature, is ephemeral, inbound marketing sticks around. As you create more content, you’re creating a database of knowledge and wisdom that potential clients - and you! - can draw upon months or years in the future. This is the power of inbound the long tail. The content you create will keep working for you. Even armed with all of this new knowledge, venturing into the world of content and inbound marketing can be daunting. For help and advise on creating sharable content, or developing your inbound marketing strategy, contact Oriel Responsive today. As the team behind Lawyerly.co.uk, Oriel Responsive has industry-leading experience in creating innovative and attractive products for the legal services industry. Call us today on 0151 242 6755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our services. n
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Driving customer service improvements for conveyancers We know the importance of customer service to mutuals and conveyancers, so are delighted that conveyancers have once again recently highlighted the exemplary customer service and quick turnaround times from the water companies that provide the Law Society’s CON29 Drainage and Water Enquiry in England & Wales. Over 150 conveyancers were independently surveyed across England about the order process and customer service received when purchasing the CON29DW during the house purchase cycle. Once again, over 97% confirmed the search order process either ‘met or exceeded their expectations’, with a rise of 3% in conveyancers who thought the service had improved since their last search.
John Pickford, Head of Thames Water Property Searches and Chair of Water Industry Property Information Network (WIPIN) commented, “We know that customer service is critical in the conveyancing world, and this survey really helps us to analyse our processes and service. Undertaking the survey as an industry allows us to benchmark our service nationwide, and ensure we can target industry improvements where they will really benefit the homebuyer.”
Following the inaugural survey in November 2012, WIPIN, which comprises the water companies who provide the CON29DW, commissioned the survey to run bi-annually. This second survey, undertaken in April/May 2013 revealed a significant 5% increase from 2012 in respondents who would speak highly of their CON29DW provider without being asked. “This demonstrates a genuine intent across the water companies to continually improve service” Pickford went on to say. n
For more information about the CON29DW or to find your CON29DW provider, visit the website www.con29drainagewater.co.uk.
To find out more about the full range of searches available from Thames Water Property Searches, visit www.thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk or call 0845 070 9148.
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Why risk it? The CON29DW has been updated to offer even more clarity and relevance. As an official CON29DW data provider with experience spanning 16 years and a dedication to all your search needs, Thames Water Property Searches couldnâ€™t be better connected, so why risk looking anywhere else?
Visit thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk .co.uk or call call 0845 070 9148 to speak to our team team mo of experts who understand understand the he importance impo ortance ce of speed an and accur accuracy. acy.
New and improved digital services from Land Registry
Conveyancing Cases Rise 15% in a Year But firms handle more work and increased compliance without extra resource • • • • •
We have been working hard to provide straightforward and convenient digital services for our customers. The electronic Document Registration Service (e-DRS) offers a fast, safe and cost-effective alternative to sending and receiving Land Registry applications through the post. It is used by over 1,200 customers who have lodged over 160,000 applications digitally since December 2012. With e-DRS, professionals can submit the majority of their Land Registry applications electronically and experience: • reduced end-to-end processing times through electronic submission of applications • no need to post original documents and risk their loss • reduced manual processing and postage costs, and reduced paper consumption • an electronic audit trail. All applications are received and responded to electronically, creating an audit trail that will help to prevent fraud. You can meet e-DRS representatives from Land Registry at the Conveyancing and Land Law Conference in Cobham on 24 October.
Digital developments We continue to work with customers to identify and develop improvements to the digital services we offer. This August, 8 months after launch, we opened e-DRS to every professional customer and simplified its terms and conditions following a consultation. Professionals can now use e-DRS without signing a Network Access Agreement (NAA) which was designed to govern a far more complex scheme of electronic conveyancing. We are developing a free web-based digital service, Map Search. Customers will be able to search an online version of the index map to swiftly check whether land and property in England or Wales is registered and obtain title numbers and details of freehold or leasehold tenure. We expect Map Search to be available later this year. You can stay up to date with Map search, e-DRS and Land Registry’s other digital services by signing up to Landnet, Land Registry’s customer magazine. http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/ professional/landnet n Angela Jackson Head of Product Development and Management Land Registry
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59% of legal firms reported an increase in conveyancing work in last twelve months But sales volumes are down 3% year-on-year according to the Land Registry Three fifths have seen workloads rise over the year due to increased compliance Only one fifth of firms have bolstered resource to cope with the increase in workload Panel selection viewed the greatest threat to business in the next year
The amount of conveyancing work being undertaken by legal practices and conveyancers in Britain has risen 15% over the last year. A national survey of conveyancing and legal firms by property search provider SearchFlow found the majority of solicitors have seen their conveyancing workloads increase over the last year. 59% of firms reported a rise over the last twelve months while only 7% have seen levels fall. The rise in workloads is in contrast to the number of property transactions taking place in the market. According to the latest Land Registry House Price Index, sales volumes are down 3% year-on-year. Nearly three quarters (73%) of firms said that increased legal practice compliance has led to a rise in the amount of work their businesses need to do in order to maintain their standards. Only a fifth (22%) of firms have bolstered resource in order to meet the increased requirements. Nearly half of firms (46%) are managing this increased workload with the same resource. Marshall King, chief executive of SearchFlow, said: “The fact that firms are not yet taking on resource indicates that the recovery is still seen as fragile. The combination of the rise in workload and increased compliance requirements mean firms need to ensure their processes and procedures are as streamlined and efficient as possible ”
Threats to Business More than a quarter of solicitors and conveyancers (27%) expect the main threat to the industry in the next twelve months to come from lenders’ panel selection decisions. Despite initial fears regarding the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), legal firms don’t yet regard
them as an immediate threat. Just 13% of firms felt ABSs were a significant threat to their business. A fifth (21%) felt the weak property market posed the greatest threat – a threat that might increase should artificial props such as low interest rates and Funding for Lending be removed. 15% felt the increasing cost of insurance would have the biggest impact this year.
Greatest threats in next 12 months Panel Selection Weak property market Increasing cost of insurance Competition from ABSs Commoditisation of legal services Increasing risk of liability
27% 21% 15% 13% 13% 11%
The low proportion of legal firms that see competition from ABSs as a significant threat is reflected in the year-on-year change in the proportion of firms who are considering becoming an ABS, however, it appears the majority are undecided on what to do regarding their structural status. In 2012, 21% of firms said they would consider becoming an ABS. This has fallen to just 11% in 2013 with a quarter of firms (25%) saying they won’t consider it. However, the proportion of firms undecided about their future has increased significantly, from 36% saying they didn’t know whether they would become an ABS in 2012 to 63% in 2013. Marshall King, said: “The fact that Panel selection and market weakness is top of mind for many solicitor firms probably indicates that security of incoming business remains the overall top concern – which reinforces the lack of clear confidence in the market recovery” n
What does the Buyer Want? Generally, the short answer is, no hindrances to the fulfilment of his or her dreams and aspirations in respect of the property he or they want to purchase, whether it be a hovel or a palace. What he really wants to know is: should he buy the property? Is it sound, does it have good title and is all the correct paperwork in place? There are of course the wise and sensible who want the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed but in reality the majority just want to know they can have the mortgage, whether the furniture will fit, whether the mobile phone will work and where can they save a few pennies.
Hopefully, with a phone call, minimal formality and a modest investment the buyer can be helped through the minefield and, who knows, he, she or they may even be able to renegotiate the purchase price, save a few pounds and enjoy their new property. n Christopher Winser FRICS
The RICS has undertaken research and about 80% of purchasers rely upon the mortgage valuation. The same research has revealed the average unexpected bill for renewals and repairs exceeds £5,000 and that 20% wouldn’t have bought the property at all if the problems were known. Moral, they shouldn’t rely upon the mortgage valuation which is for the lender and that tells the buyer very little! What the purchaser needs is, of course, a helping hand to guide him, her, or them, through a complex, sometimes protracted process which starts with the estate agent and, hopefully, ends with the removal men and not the builders and a headache. What he, she or they ought to know is: are they buying into trouble or paying too much. Its easy for them to use the internet to get general information as to the price but they shouldn’t be relied upon and there is no substitute for good old fashioned experience and common sense. From the likes of me, he or she needs a clear and concise report and follow up advice starting with the RICS Homebuyer Report and Valuation which uses a proforma report and a system of “traffic lights” (red for stop/investigate/think, yellow for significant works which may be expected and green for only ordinary maintenance required). If the property is old or more complex, a Building Survey is a much better option because it gives the surveyor the freedom to inspect more thoroughly and to report more fully taking into account the clients specific concerns and questions. In both instances the surveyor can help to ease the process by acting as the eyes and ears of the solicitor in pointing out actual and potential issues such as extensions, roof conversions, tree preservation orders, asbestos matters and rights of way.
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Nearly 6 months on from the introduction of the Jackson civil reforms how does the land lie? 2 Surrey solicitors - Helen Goatley of Barlow Robbins and our own Vice President Marek Bednarczyk of Hart Brown look at the reforms to take stock and to work out who are the winners and losers in the great civil litigation shake up. Were you in favour of the Jackson reforms prior to their implementation? MSB No. If the old CFA system appeared to some as being too much in favour of claimants then I view the Jackson reforms as swinging too far in favour of defendants. It should be noted that in personal injury claims defendants are usually backed by big insurance companies or in clinical negligence cases the defendants are backed by the NHSLA or big defence bodies with deep pockets, not your average private individual.
HMG It was absolutely mad for a couple of months! It was in our clients’ clear best interests to ensure that funding arrangements were reviewed and sorted out to ensure that they fell within the ‘pre Jackson regime’. Otherwise our clients would have been significantly worse off than they needed to be. This was the case not only in relation to our fees but also any barristers’ fees and insurance products. So we entered into CFAs with counsel on cases where we might need advice at some future point and took out ‘top up’ legal expense insurance where the client’s case might exceed the maximum indemnity already contracted for. My whole team worked round the clock.
HMG I recall reading the Jackson review and thinking it was extremely detailed and thorough. We had a new coalition government and the press was full of the pressing problem of deficit reduction. It seemed to me, at the time, that the proposed reforms were inevitable, given that they would likely significantly reduce claims against local authorities and government departments. I felt deeply sad that the most seriously injured amongst my clients might lose out as a result.
Did you see increased activity in litigation in the period leading up to the implementation of the reforms on 01.04.13? MSB Yes. This was inevitable because of the significantly worse position for claimants post 1 April 2013. It was widely reported that a solicitor could be negligent if they did not take reasonable steps to finalise conditional fee agreements and after the event insurance under the old regime before 1 April deadline. After all claimants in personal injury cases including clinical negligence claims after 1 April 2013 will face a prospect of a deduction of 25% from their past loss claim and general damages to pay for the solicitor’s success fee. Avoiding that scenario was therefore sensible and this prompted a considerable amount of activity.
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Do you think that the ban on referral fees in personal injury cases is a good thing? MSB Yes. At least hopefully in the long run. For many paying referral fees was a necessary evil. Some would argue that paying referral fees was no different to paying for advertising save you got a better return on paying referral fees! So I do sympathise with firms whose business model was based on the referral fee system and on the use of claims management companies. The ban is a real sea change and it will cause pain in the short term. There is no logic though in my view in referral fees being banned in personal injury but not being banned across the board in all other areas of legal activity.
HMG I wish referral fees had never been invented in the first place! However, I don’t think that the public will see an end to the annoying behaviour that the ban was designed to remove. We have seen the most successful mass marketing companies in this field swoop in as ABSs to purchase law firms. They have become vast corporate enterprises who will continue to ‘farm’ claims. Instead of profiting from referral fees they will earn the profit from the lawyers they now employ.
Do you think the personal injury market and litigation generally has changed already, and if so, in what way? MSB When a new system beds in things slow down and then pick up. I think this is happening now. The government in my view rushed the implementation of these reforms therefore not allowing the market to keep pace. Insurers struggled to adapt their after the event insurance policies in time for the change and some companies only offered their new products weeks or even months after 1 April. The reduction in fees for smaller value claims (which has been brought in at the same time) and the new Jackson proportionality rule and costs budgeting will combine to make lower value claims less attractive. Personal injury firms – who do no other work have either adapted or closed. There are reports that lawyers experienced in personal injury, but who have never undertaken clinical negligence work are trying to “muscle in” on the clinical negligence market. This may appear an attractive option, but there are dangers there for both the lawyers and their prospective clients.
HMG The market is the same, in that people continue to be injured by the negligence of others and want to claim compensation. The potential customers have not gone away. What has changed already is the business model adopted by many law firms and the stance taken by a number of legal expense insurers. Some insurers have withdrawn from the market completely, others have radically changed their products. Several law firms have decided to stop doing the work and several others have been taken over by big business with corporate finance backing. The new client is faced with an increasingly polarised choice between the traditional solicitors firm with a proven track record and the new big business model.
How do you see things developing in the longer term? MSB In the longer term we will perhaps be surprised with how things turn out. The past may be a foreign country but so is the future! There may well be less low value litigation. Consolidation of firms may continue as a trend. We will become familiar with the new approach to risk and we will have to accept lower returns on taking risk. If qualified one way costs shifting (QOCS) works that could encourage more litigation, but I doubt it. How quickly
defendants will start complaining about QOCS is a moot point. Tactics will change and early exchange of Part 36 offers will increase. The court will find costs budgeting a burden and I hope common sense will prevail so that unnecessary bureaucratic work on things like costs budgeting will become streamlined and judges will be more flexible and they will avoid imposing Draconian penalties for breaches which are in reality low level failings. I already look forward to the reform of the new proportionality rule!
HMG After initial despair I am now feeling increasingly confident that the future will not be as bleak as we first imagined. The cap on the fees which can be charged on lower value cases means that a top quality traditional service can no longer be delivered, at a profit, to clients with claims worth only a few thousand pounds . There are firms who will still try – but my prediction is they will either do the work as an occasional loss leader or will go bust. Instead the low value claims will only be run in a highly commoditised way by less qualified lawyers situated at some geographical remove from their clients. There is already evidence that clients with complicated, high value claims are not prepared to go down that route and will seek out the best representation for them, even at a cost. If you have a claim in clinical negligence you do need a lawyer who has a medical education and a track record for winning. The same applies to those unfortunate enough to have suffered real life changing injuries – amputations, brain injuries and those who are paralysed, for example. The public are not fools and appear to be recognising that paying part of their lawyer’s bill themselves is worth it if the award they achieve is much bigger as a result. This is work with a long ‘tail’ however. Firms will continue to profit from cases started under the old regime for at least another couple of years. It is only after then that we will see who has survived to operate profitably into the future.
What are the main challenges facing litigators in the short term, post 01.04.13? MSB Getting work without referral fees. Working within a system that has yet to be tested. Working in a way that does not breach the proportionality rule. Coping with costs budgets and rigid court timetables. There will be plenty of short term challenges for us all.
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HMG Costs budgeting is by far the biggest challenge, in my view. It is having its effect on all civil litigators – whatever the nature of the claim and whoever the client. The Judiciary have received hardly any training and seem at sixes and sevens in their approach. I have heard of a budget being slashed to just under half its proposed value in a relatively short hearing. That was for a multi million pound clinical negligence case for a brain injured child. The Judge was apparently not interested in the detailed break down of the work required, but just wanted to look at the headline figures for each stage. It remains to be seen if the lawyers in that case can provide real access to justice within the limits set.
And what will be the long term challenges? MSB Develop a business model which is sustainable in the light of the referral fee ban and taking into account the perceived difficulties with the reformed system.
HMG My view is that all the challenge lies in the short term. Lawyers have always been good innovators. My instinct is that the best will survive while the rules committee sorts out some of the worst ‘blips’ in the system and the competition falters. Those who pull through the next five years will, I suspect, be there in the long term.
Do you think that it will be more difficult for claimants to gain access to justice now? MSB In the short term I think that claimants will face difficulties in obtaining justice. Risky cases, where the potential return if you win is going to be markedly less than would have been the case prior to 1 April, will be turned down. An effective approach to risk assessment was crucial before 1 April, but new factors (how the success fee is assessed now and the new proportionality rule) will affect that process and not in a good way for claimants. It is also important to note that despite Lord Justice Jackson’s call for the retention of legal aid especially for clinical negligence cases the government went ahead and dramatically reduced the scope of legal aid at the same time. Now brain damaged baby cases may get legal aid funding, but very few others will obtain that benefit. It should be remembered of course that the government indicated that the reforms were designed to reduce the number of claims. The Jackson reforms will work together with the other changes including the new lower fees in so called “portal” cases and this must work regrettably to the disadvantage of claimants.
clinical negligence cases for many years now and have a fair idea which ones will succeed and which won’t. That method of funding will simply be extended to those who were formerly entitled to legal aid. I did think that access to justice would be denied to some claimants because they would refuse to pay towards their legal costs – but we have seen quite the opposite effect. It is almost as if the general public always suspected that a professional service which cost them nothing was highly suspect – and anecdotal evidence shows new clients willingly accepting that their lawyers will require payment for a good service delivered effectively.
Will the Jackson reforms be good for litigators and clients in the long run? MSB The prudent response would be for me to say: “Ask me in five year’s time”! As I indicated above we may all be surprised at how things work out. QOCS may be a great success and that could help both litigators and their clients. I would like to be positive, after all lawyers have a track record for dealing with change and litigators have had plenty of practice in that regard – just look at the Civil Procedure Rules which are constantly being updated. We are now at the 65th update!
HMG The reforms are self-evidently not good for either litigators or their clients. Both will be worse off financially than they were before. Many legal firms will struggle. But those who innovate will probably do alright.
Overall who would you say are the winners and who are the losers post –LASPO? MSB Regrettably I do think that the insurance industry and their shareholders will be the chief beneficiaries of these reforms. Low value high volume practices that were solely dependent on obtaining cases by paying referral fees will certainly in the short term be in huge difficulty. However, in order to survive all of us will need to adapt to the new litigation environment.
HMG The reforms are clearly very good for motor/general insurance companies and their shareholders. Will that advantage be passed on in the long term to policy holders? I rather doubt it… There may be some considerable benefit to the tax payer if the number and amount of claims against the public purse reduce. In the light of the recent publicity surrounding failing hospitals, however, I can’t see the number of clinical claims against the NHS reducing any time soon.
HMG Yes and no. Firms are going to be much more selective about the risks they run, because the rewards will no longer be there for pushing the boundaries of the law. That will certainly limit the choice for those with difficult or arguable cases. We may see a reduction in the number of group actions against pharmaceutical companies and the like. I am less troubled by the removal of legal aid. The specialists in the profession have been offering CFA funding to clients with
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The principal losers are the injured victims who, by reason simply of the later date of their catastrophe, will end up with less money than they could have had. And we must not forget the hundreds of employees of the well publicised law firms who have lost their jobs already as the administrators moved in. I found it rather ironic that they had lost their livelihood not as a result of recession but because of deliberate government reform. n
Three ways to impress your bank manager Chris Marston, Head of Professional Practices, SME Banking at Lloyds Bank, suggests some priorities for 2013. The Legal Services Act is here, OFR is in place, and Alternative Business Structures are trading. These sideshows are over and it’s time to concentrate on having a legal business that is profitable and viable on a sustainable basis over the next several years. With that in mind, I’d like to suggest some practical steps you can take to help enhance the relationship you have with your bank, improve your prospects of obtaining the finance you need to support your business and ultimately help your firm to end 2013 in better shape than it is now.
Review and discuss your financial forecasts When was the last time you asked for a meeting with your bank manager so that you could discuss your firm’s latest performance figures and your latest forecasts for the year? Often, banks have to chase for financial information, and customers sometimes consider this intrusive. Let me offer a different view on this. Good management information can allow you to create a dashboard of all key performance measures in your business and help to keep you on course. Without this, it’s a bit like pilots flying without instruments – it could end in disaster! Your accountant can help if you don’t have the expertise in the firm to do this yourselves, but the real benefit of good financial information is that you can identify at an early stage what your finance needs are going to be. Banks are more likely to support a business with sound financial information than one relying on instinct. A review of your financial outcomes and forecasts may also open up some ideas for improvement. For example, do your invoices ask for payment in 30 days? Why not 14 days, 7 days or even ‘by return’? Could you get paid quicker by accepting credit card payments? Would your clients settle faster if you were to email invoices rather than post them? Who chases outstanding bills, and do you allow fee-earners to stall that process? Finally, do you benchmark your firm’s financial performance against its peers? There’s some excellent data available, not least the Law Society’s LMS Annual Financial Benchmarking Survey, sponsored by Lloyds Bank. For participants, this is free, and allows firms to compare their own performance against firms of similar size, or geography, or doing similar work.
Get better at cross-selling Most solicitors provide great service to their clients and resolve their legal problems. However, many fail to spot opportunities to do more for those clients - either now or in the future.
There are some great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software packages out there, and using these effectively can help capture client information, key future events and dates and thereby form the basis for contact programmes. Clients are impressed when you approach them proactively, and it’s surprising how often a legal need arises at that point or shortly thereafter. This approach works for business clients as well as for individuals. Of course people naturally focus on what gets measured, and this means you’ll need to give some thought to your performance management process. If you are only measuring chargeable hours and recovery, then this could mean that there’s little incentive for people to do what’s ultimately right for the client and for the firm. For a practical insight into how banks approach this subject, talk to your bank manager. For years, banks have used systems to ensure we do all we can to do more business with existing satisfied customers.
Explore your client account interest policy The SRA Accounts Rules require you to set an interest policy and communicate it to your clients, but have you made any changes to the model that was in place before the new SRA Handbook? Many firms have retained the ‘old’ rule; sometimes because they believe it is fair and reasonable, but more often because it’s just easier to maintain the status quo. Should you review the ‘de minimus’ figure, express a rate or even a set of tiered rates? Interest rates are historically low at present, and you might contend that there’s nothing to be gained by making a change. The counter argument is that changing now would bring benefits when rates start to rise again. And another question: do you run designated accounts and if so why? Since the requirement for controlled trusts to be kept separate was removed, the only reason for maintaining a designated account is the client’s insistence. Monies held in a general client account present an opportunity to generate an interest income while meeting your obligations to your client under the terms of your interest policy. It is likely that your practice management software can make all the calculations for you, but if it won’t, or you prefer to have bank involvement, we can provide a virtual client record within a general client account that is entirely compliant with the Accounts Rules and which allows you to provide transaction data to your client. n
Chris Marston, Head of Professional Practices, SME Banking at Lloyds Bank.
Even though it’s generally accepted that a satisfied client is more likely to want to do more business with you, many of our solicitor customers feel more comfortable spending money on marketing activity directed at strangers than they do on working more closely with existing clients. All too often, fee earners regard the client as belonging to them personally rather than to the firm, and can be reluctant to refer clients to colleagues elsewhere in the firm – don’t they trust them?
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The deadline is looming… Are you prepared? Rod Milne from pension specialist HFS Milbourne provides a snapshot of setting up an AutoEnrolment scheme and suggests that going it alone without the benefit of expert advice is not for the faint hearted. HFS Milbourne Financial Services is authorised and regulated by the FSA, and specialises in wealth management; pensions; finance on divorce; employee benefits and corporate financial planning. For further information, please visit www.hfsmilbourne.co.uk or call 01483 468888.
The staging date of auto enrolment for legal firms with PAYE schemes supporting between 3-249 employers will fall between April 2014 and October 2015. As the Pensions Regulator routinely writes out to employers 18 months before their designated implementation date, it is likely that many legal firms across Surrey will have already received detailed information about their obligations under the new scheme. The administrative and regulatory burden of this new legislation should not be underestimated and generally the advice is to act sooner rather than later in terms of getting to grips with all that the new rules encompass. There are a number of significant challenges and risks to all employers, irrespective of whether there is an in house HR resource to manage the implementation of a new process, including the transition from any existing scheme structure. The sort of things which need to take priority at the planning stage include:
How best do we structure our scheme to comply with the regulations? The starting point is a review of any existing pension arrangements to see what changes, if any, are required to comply with Auto-Enrolment. Potential fines can be hefty, ranging from £400 to £10,000 per day so non compliance is not an option, especially as any remedial action that may be necessary may result in back-payment of both employer and employee contributions with interest.
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What is the best scheme design and recommendation? The initial assessment should include a thorough audit and assessment of the workforce and provides an opportunity for ‘data cleansing’ to remove out of date and inaccurate information. Once a shopping list of requirements is created, it should be possible to identify which scheme from the numerous options available on the market best meets the needs of the workforce as well as the provider that can offer the most attractive terms.
How do we align the structure to any reward objectives? It is possible to incentivise staff as part of a benefits package through more attractive pension provision and this can be built into any new scheme, a priority being to ensure that staff appreciate the full value of the contribution made by the employer. Higher pension contributions can help attract and retain quality staff so are worth considering for key personnel.
How do we forecast and manage the financial implications? There is of course the costs associated with all the administration required to set up and manage the ongoing scheme and at the very least this can include additional manpower, training, new software and technology which all has to be factored in. There are also the contributions which have to be made by the employer on the employee’s behalf which are linked to salary and run at 1-3%.
How do we effectively communicate and implement the changes to maximise employee engagement? It is vital that staff are involved every step of the way in order to achieve ‘buy in’. On-going communication in the form of both group presentations and individual ‘one to one’ pension surgeries is vital. Information packs will need to be provided and updated on a regular basis to keep staff informed of scheme progress. Some clients running larger schemes even operate online portals and e-communication programmes to keep employees updated on pension news and these are options that can be considered.
Review and support Once the scheme is in place, it will be important to establish a structured process for ongoing assessment and review. Employees, especially those approaching retirement age, will want to discuss their individual pension plans and may even require retirement counselling. As well as opportunities for face to face discussions, a system for dealing with queries by telephone and mail should also be made available so that urgent issues can be resolved quickly. Regardless of the compliance burden, most employers will want to achieve the greatest possible return on their pension investments and will therefore appreciate an annual performance review along with an update on any relevant changes to the Regulations. Perhaps your firm will be one of the very few that will be bold enough to implement the changes without any external advice. It is the finer technical details that will cause employers the biggest problems and it is prudent for any company with no experience of running workplace pension schemes to call in financial specialists for assistance. HFS Milbourne has made it easier for companies to embrace Auto-Enrolment be creating a menu of services designed around the key stages of implementing an Auto-Enrolment scheme – from data gathering and scheme assessment at the beginning of the process to ongoing review and assessment once the programme is in place. Clients can choose to ‘buy’ in as much expertise as they require – HFS Milbourne can manage the whole process or just specific elements of it, whichever best suits the client’s needs. This provides the flexibility that small businesses need particularly those that will be implementing a pension scheme for the very first time. n
London racecourses look forward to themed Christmas party nights Sandown Park, Kempton Park and Epsom Downs Racecourses are getting in the festive mood with as they look forward to their popular Christmas party nights, with each racecourse offering a distinct theme to provide a fun and varied choice for Christmas party planners. Packages include customised corporate and private events, as well as sharer options taking place on selected dates throughout December. Sandown Park Racecourse is transporting guests back in time with its Victorian themed Christmas packages, re-creating the traditions and magic of Christmas past. Priced from £50 per person, the package includes a mulled wine reception and a ticket to Sandown Park’s splendid Victorian festive fair before a delicious three course dinner and a night of dancing to a disco and DJ, all taking place in the setting of a 19th Century festive London. A unique festive favourite, Kempton Park Racecourse is welcoming back its hugely
enjoyable Reindeer Racing Christmas party nights, starting from £59 per person. Rudolph and friends won’t be the only fourlegged stars in action this year, as there will also be the inaugural Kempton Park Shetland Pony Grand National and a unique opportunity for corporate bookings to get involved in a hilarious turkey costume race (advance entry, subject to availability). Having collected a warming Winter Pimms on arrival, attendees can meet the reindeer and ponies then place their bets and cheering their favourites before enjoying dinner and dancing back indoors. Visitors to Epsom Downs Racecourse will enjoy an evening of 1920s glamour, elegance and a not-so-silent-night as the
venue is transformed to the glittering party atmosphere of the roaring 20s. From £55 per person, attendees will be treated live jazz at a sparkling wine reception before a sumptuous three course feast and dancing the night away in the luxurious setting of a beautifully decorated suite boasting stunning views over the world-famous racecourse. Alice Everitt, conference and events marketing executive-London, said: “Christmas is an extremely important time for our business, so we ensure our packages are designed to offer our guests a unique, fun and memorable experience. With the impressive array of themes on offer this year, Christmas 2013 is set to be an unforgettable experience for all involved.” n
Surrey Lawyer 23
Riddle-me-Ree Today, we are mostly concerned with riddles in one guise or another. Some are easy – what’s full of holes but still holds water? – a sponge. What does everybody do at the same time? – grow older. Some are harder – why is a raven like a writing desk? There is a (vanishing) generation of solicitors for whom the words “the Mekon” conjure up an indelible image. There are far more populous generations of lawyers for whom “Darth Vader” has much the same effect. How are these observations connected? It is something of a stretch, I concede, but consider this riddle:Why does the Law Society (TLS) persistently emasculate solicitors? – nobody really knows. The generational difference referred to above would also, I suspect, apply to any consideration of the latter riddle. The Mekon generation wonders when and why professionalism turned to commercialism and Darth’s generation hasn’t really noticed. When the practice of the learned profession of law is handed, by its purported regulator, to a trucking company, a grocer, undertaker & failed bank and a tour operator for the elderly one might well ask how the professional ethos is to be inculcated into such singularly commercial organizations. And if it is not and the bottom line alone rules how can that be professional? How can one act in the best interests of one’s client and/or uphold the rule of law if profit or ROC is the only criterion? Can you imagine doctors permitting or encouraging market traders, jewellers, or hoteliers to set up GP practices? Or accountants allowing doormen, doubleglazing salesmen, or nurses to practise accountancy? Quite. Where are the TLS voices reminding the world of these issues and inaugurating the debates around the topic? Muttering – “it is a done deal, move on” – is simply a cop-out and hardly worthy of what is supposed to be a learned professional society which ought to have due regard to the public interest and not simply the narrow consumer-focus it appears to embrace. Let the LSB pursue the latter function which it was designed to do, even if it is not very good at it.
24 Surrey Lawyer
Another timely riddle is:- why is TLS hell-bent on accreditation schemes and Divisions – this one’s easy Money, of course. There is no objective evidence to support the proposition that the Conveyancing Quality Scheme measures quality or attracts clients. It is an expensive and unfairly weighted rod for the profession’s back inappropriately “sold” to the profession as the saviour of Lender panel membership and a flag of excellence. It is neither. It is an administrative burden, costly to maintain and yet another stick for the Lenders to beat us with – as if innocent breach of trust were not enough. In similar manner the Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme presently being promulgated by TLS will not measure quality, reduce your insurance premiums or attract droves of clients eager to instruct you just because you have a WIQS logo on your website or headed paper. It is another chimera. Neither STEP nor SFE have enthusiastically endorsed WIQS, albeit this is hardly surprising as it trespasses precisely upon their long established turf, so why, if patently unnecessary, did TLS float the scheme in the first place? Answers on a postcard to Third Floor, Law Society’s Hall, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL. Both the Mekon and Darth Vader were control freaks of the highest order and it is not unreasonable to explore the similarities between them and TLS. For a soi-disant “representative“ body TLS appears unduly keen on regulatory-style schemes of one form or another, be they Quality or Divisional. One might fairly enquire what business TLS has in initiating and managing potentially divisive and certainly costly projects which effectively seek to emasculate the brand solicitor which so many have worked so hard to attain. Apart from mere money-grubbing that is. We shall probably see much earnest advocacy on behalf of Divisions in the not too distant future emanating from Chancery Lane despite their rejection by all individual legal groupings save women solicitors. They would provide the usual TLS criteria of control and cash so why ever not? Who, at Chancery Lane, cares what the profession thinks or even endeavours to consult it? Are these activities merely a self-serving endeavour now that regulation has been removed from the TLS’s immediate ambit? Do Council or the high ranking (and highlypaid) staff actually know what representative means? One could be forgiven from any casual reading of the comments on the electronic Gazette submitted by grass root practitioners for believing that the majority of the actual profession (not terminally apathetic) seriously doubt the effectiveness and purpose of TLS. This is a very sad state of affairs but relief does not seem to be breaking down the doors of Chancery Lane. The statements emanating therefrom more nearly resemble valedictory addresses for the profession of law. If you doubt the above do please try to remember the time when any comment from Chancery Lane over the last several years actually inspired you. Tough, isn’t it? But it’s not a riddle so:Can you decipher the following common phrase – it’s almost a riddle? TMC AUO HSM WTE That was easy and so is this one – when is a profession not a profession? When it is represented by TLS and regulated by SRA. Simples! As for ravens and writing desks, not even Lewis Carroll knew. n O.C.Mandias 2013
Wellers Auctioneers Expands Operations in Guildford with New £20,000 Sales Floor Wellers Auctioneers and Valuers, Surrey’s principal Fine Art, Jewellery & Antiques auctioneers is to open a new first floor salesroom this week, following a £20,000, refurbishment over the heat of the summer, which will allow it to become the new hub of operations for their Special Fine Art, Jewellery & Antiques. The new space has been created on the first floor of the Guildford premises, which will allow a greater number and variety
The saleroom at Guildford has ample free parking for clients
with easy access for the delivery of furniture and larger items. n
of auctions to be held on the site. Leading the expansion plans and redevelopment of its Guildford Salesroom has been Jane Brown, Head of Fine Art who’s vision will vastly increase Wellers market share within the area, having had a run of fantastic sales
Established in 1866, Wellers Auctioneers have a long established reputation for selling on behalf of Surrey residents
“Our recent sales have been a great success, in particular our Oriental sales, and we were fast outgrowing our available space. The new floor will also mean all Wellers Fine Art, Jewellery and Antiques sales can be held at one venue for the convenience of our customers.” Comments Brown.
Wellers Auctioneers & Valuers
already this year.
Jane has 25 years of continuous expertise gained at Sotheby’s, Phillips and Bonhams. During the 1990’s Jane was Head of European Ceramics and Glass at Bonhams Knightsbridge and was seconded to Doyle’s, New York to head the joint sales of Decorative Arts and Design. Jane is well known within the South East having successfully orchestrated the South East regional Country House sales for Phillips then based in Guildford. Before joining Wellers, Jane curated the Registered Designs at The National Archives and followed this with an appointment at Kensington Palace as a historical interpretation specialist. Jane is a recognised authority on European Ceramics and Glass and is a member of the European Ceramics Vetting Committee for the Olympia Fine Art Fairs. Wellers will continue to hold regular free valuation days at their Chertsey saleroom with items consigned being sold at Guildford. These will continue to take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10am-4pm and a Jewellery specialist will also be available at these times. Free Valuation days at Guildford for Fine Art and Antiques will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Their newest Jewellery specialist, Elliot Franks will be available for consultation on Tuesdays and Fridays at Guildford.
A large pair of Chinese famille rose vases, 69cm high – Sold for £16,000
Valuations for auction sale, insurance, probate, family division and tax purposes. For further information contact our Valuation departments. +44 (0) 1932 568678 (Chertsey) | +44 (0) 1483 802280 (Guildford) email@example.com ÀQHDUW_MHZHOOHU\_DQWLTXHV_ZDWFKHV
FL Surrey Lawyer 25
The Foundation Stones of Sales Excellence As market conditions change and evolve, the need for businesses to think and act differently is intensified. Yet, so many companies continue to do what they have always done, albeit with small improvements, in the hope or belief that it will be enough to see them through the challenges awaiting them. Inevitably, at some point in their journey, change happens and a crisis ensues. The company is forced to think and act differently, trying alternative ways of operating, adopting new technologies and initiatives and transforming their processes. Whilst many thrive, too many businesses go into decline and struggle to survive having reacted too late to the changing environment. Some companies however will not wait for the crisis to happen. They anticipate the potential issues and change course before disaster strikes. These companies ensure they are suitably equipped with the skills and processes required to drive their business forward in the new environment. They are determined to create a new reality and realise in order to do this they need to think and act differently. I impress this point to simply illustrate the need for the legal sector to possibly shift its attitude towards sales and business development. The legal sector is clearly in the midst of change and with the introduction of Alternative Business Structures, for example, will face increased competition from big brands with massive marketing budgets and established sales and marketing systems and processes. Like other sectors, the legal sector will have to sell their way out of the recession and sell through these changing market conditions. The imperative to act before the crisis is increasing in urgency by the day, as is the need to understand, clarify and differentiate your offering and to engage with your existing and potential clients in a professional and compelling way, making it easier for clients to buy. It is worth noting that in sales terms the ultimate level of sales proficiency is the ‘Trusted Advisor’, a status automatically inhabited by solicitors by the very nature of what they do. So, what characterises the Trusted Advisor in sales terms? • They are not driven by making the sale, but by helping their client to avoid pitfalls, save money and solve their current and future problems • They focus fully on the needs of the client and not on their own capabilities. They are capable of uncovering needs skilfully through asking ‘Powerful Questions’. • They are very strong at expressing the value of the offered solution to the client
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They provide relevant, valuable insights and perspectives, advice and ongoing consultation
Sound familiar? The Trusted Advisor’s mindset is helping, not selling and they establish relationships that result in trust, loyalty and referrals. They do not manipulate or coerce, they only help. As acknowledged experts in their field, the legal sector is nicely positioned to sell successfully. There are three fundamental elements that need to be well managed to ensure a constant stream of new clients and opportunities; 1
Lead Generation – the generation of well qualified sales leads and customer referrals
Sales Conversion – The use of tools and skills to predictably convert leads into sales
Customer Development – getting your existing clients to spend more for mutual benefit
In order to master these three elements, your business will need to be aligned across six dimensions. These ‘Foundations Stones’ must be laid before you begin the process of training and developing your Practice Managers and others responsible for selling. The Six Foundation Stones are:
1 Define Strategy - Set Goals and Objectives e.g. Is value proposition clear, understandable and differentiated? • Do you know and understand the value of what we do for our customers? • Is each sales channel well defined and tested?
2 Understand your Client and Market e.g. Do you work continuously to understand your clients’ needs? • Is your understanding of the market up to date and can you communicate valuable industry insights? •
3 Sales Performance e.g. Are your sales skills aligned to your goals and objectives? • Are you clear on the functional competencies and attitude motivation required to be successful?
Glen Williamson CEO GWC Sales Consulting
4 Sales Processes e.g. Are there clearly defined and robust processes in the 3 key areas of business development understood and followed by all in the practice, i.e. Lead Generation, Sales Conversion and Customer Maximisation? • Is there a system or a selling methodology that is consistently applied, reviewed and improved? •
5 Culture and Environment e.g. Are there high levels of commitment to reaching the business development goals and contributing to the company’s success? • Are those responsible for sales absolutely clear about what is expected of them?
6 Support Systems e.g. Are sales supported in the areas of Competitive intelligence, Business Intelligence and Performance Management Information? • Does customer care do what it should? How does customer feedback reflect this view? •
Companies who employ a sales and marketing system in any sector quite simply sell more than companies who do not. By aligning across the six dimensions you lay the Foundation Stones that will enable the creation of an effective Sales and Marketing system that delivers in the 3 crucial business development areas of Lead Generation, Sales Conversion and Client Development and provides a strong basis for controlled sales growth. n
Timely outsourcing guide helps law firms to work smarter In an effort to introduce legal practices to smarter and commercially focused ways of working, Quill Pinpoint has published a guide on how outsourced cashiering works. As the profession continues to suffer mass redundancies and law firm closures, as well as face increased competition from the growing number of ABSs and newly merged adversaries, the handy guide aims to instruct the uninitiated on the merits of outsourcing as a means of surviving and thriving in a challenging marketplace. The guide explains in layman’s terms the procedure for outsourcing legal accounts as a simplified 5-step process, along with the extensive range of benefits to be gained from alleviating the burden of this heavily regulated back office function. Quill Pinpoint has over 20 years’ experience in outsourced cashiering. Their expertise brings a tried-and-tested cashiering solution direct to law firms. Benefits cited in the report include higher earning power by refocusing on fee earning and marketing; financial savings with less manpower and infrastructure requirements; healthier cash flow resulting from up-to-date bookkeeping; business continuity and disaster recovery planning with continuous cashier support and 24/7 software availability; streamlined annual
accounting with a current set of accounts and privileged accountants access to your data; and automatic compliance as the cashiering service adheres to the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules and other regulatory guidelines. Julian Bryan, Managing Director at Quill Pinpoint, explains how the “difficult market conditions are hitting law firms hard”. “In this harsh economic climate, firms are finding it difficult enough to stay afloat, let alone make a profit”, Julian adds. “We’ve published the guide now because practices need all the help they can get, and may not yet have considered the possibility and advantages of outsourced support. Outsourcing is a survival strategy”. Julian admits to having an ulterior motive for the guide’s publication – dispelling any myths about outsourcing being an expensive and complicated solution. “The guide gives me the opportunity to set the record straight”, states Julian. “Contrary to often-held beliefs, outsourcing is much more cost effective than running an in-house
Quill Pinpoint clients have increased profit costs by over 25%... how could you?
outsource your cashiering...
it’s a no brainer!
Dedicated cashier – personal service Data in the cloud – business continuity assured
No cashier employment costs – no office space rental
No admin distraction – you focus on fee earning
cashiering team. The monthly fee is based upon activity levels on a pay-as-you-go contract. Moving to an outsourced environment couldn’t be easier. There’s no software to install locally and firms have their own assigned cashier so it’s a friendly service. If practices are just setting up in business or their cashier has recently resigned, they should give us a call”. The guide is published on the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers website at http://www.infolaw.co.uk/newsletter/2013/ 07/quill-pinpoint-how-outsourcedcashiering-works. As well as its Pinpoint Interactive legal accounts outsourcing service, Quill Pinpoint offers a payroll service for companies who want to reap the full benefits of outsourced support. If you want to find out more on Quill Pinpoint’s products and services, get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0161 236 2910 or visit www.quill.co.uk. n
Legal accounting experts – that’s us
No staff absence costs – we’re always in SRA compliance – we’ve got it covered No overheads – just pay as you go
Cloud hosted software – no capital spend needed
Reporting – instant business intelligence
email@example.com | www.quill.co.uk | 0161 236 2910
Surrey Lawyer 27
28 Surrey Lawyer
Who’ll keep him happy when your client’s gone? We will – as long as your client has a Canine Care Card. It’s a FREE service from Dogs Trust that guarantees a bereaved dog a home for life. At Dogs Trust, we never put down a healthy dog. We’ll care for them at one of our 18 rehoming centres, located around the UK. One in every four of your clients has a canine companion. Naturally they’ll want to make provision for their faithful friend. And now you can help them at absolutely no cost. So contact us today for your FREE pack of Canine Care Card leaflets – and make a dog-lover happy.
020 7837 0006
Or write to: Dogs Trust, Canine Care Card, FREEPOST WD360, 17 Wakley St, London EC1B 1NA (no stamp required) Please quote “DTSL”. All information will be treated as strictly confidential. This service is currently only available for residents of the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands & the Isle of Man
www.dogstrust.org.uk Registered Charity Numbers: 227523 & SC037843
Surrey Lawyer 29
Have you considered the risk of going cheap? Written by Brian Rogers, Director of Regulation and Compliance.
The professional indemnity insurance renewal season is now upon us and proposal forms are dropping through the door, but could your choice of insurer this year lead to it being your last year in business because you chose to go cheap? has chosen to leave matters relating to the provision of professional indemnity insurance to the financial regulator. However, faced with the fallout from the Lemma failure and the risk of 1300 law firms and their clients being affected by the fall of the unrated insurer Balva, it has finally decided to act, and is now starting a review of the unrated insurance market. If Balva does eventually succumb to an insolvency event it will leave the firms it covers not only having to find a new insurer within four weeks but also the money to pay for the new policy; these firms are likely to be with Balva because of the attractive low premiums so one has to question whether they would be able to find the extra money for a new policy even if they could find the rated insurer willing to take them on.
The Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority have both issued warnings to law firms about the risks involved with choosing an unrated insurer, but many firms are likely to ignore these warnings and go with an insurer that offers the lowest rates even though this carries significant risks!
So what are the risks with going cheap? If an insurer becomes insolvent during a term of insurance policy holding firms would be required to arrange alternative cover within a month and pay a second premium, likely to be at a higher rate due to the circumstances involved; If an insurer became insolvent after 1 October 2013 and new policies could not be secured firms would have to cease practice.
Another unrated insurer has apparently thrown its hat into the ring as an option for Balva firms to consider, but could this just be jumping from frying pan into another! As mentioned above, firms choosing to place their business with an unrated insurer in 2013 could put themselves under the microscope with the SRA, but an added complication will come in October 2014, when in all likelihood the SRA will have concluded its review of the unrated insurance market and decided to ban them from the law firm arena, if this happens the firms going with unrated insurers in 2013 are likely to have real problems being able to get rated insurance at the 2013/14 renewal point. The SRA has announced a number of changes that will be implemented for the indemnity year starting on 1 October 2013, and these are: •
Removal of the Assigned Risks Pool - firms that cannot find open-market insurance by 1 October will no longer be afforded cover through the ARP, and instead will have a 90-day extension period with their last insurer. After the first 30 days, if no cover can be found, the firm cannot take on any new business and will be expected to focus on an orderly winddown over the next 60 days
Alterations to the length of cover - for policies incepting on or after 1 October 2013 there will no longer be a requirement for policies to expire on 30 September. Firms will be able to negotiate any length policy they like, assuming their insurer agrees
List of insurers - as suggested by the Law Society, the Qualifying Insurers List will change its name to the Participating Insurers List. This is to remove any misunderstanding that the insurers involved have undergone any vetting by the SRA
There are a number of messages that could be given out by firms going with unrated insurers, which regulators could use as a means of determining whether these firms need further investigation, for example: •
Are the firm’s finances so precarious that it is not able to pay a rated insurer’s premium?
Has the firm been rejected by rated insurers for being too high risk (high claims and/or complaints rates, no compliance plan or risk register, etc.)?
Does the firm take risk management seriously if it is happy to expose itself to such a high risk, especially when clear warnings have been given?
Clearly, it is for firms to decide for themselves which route to go down, but if it is the unrated route it should not come as any surprise that the regulator may then come knocking wanting to know why! Since the fall of Quinn and Lemma the SRA has been under pressure to take a more active role in assessing which insurers should be allowed to provide insurance to law firms, but until now
30 Surrey Lawyer
Quite clearly firms have much to think about in relation to what is, one of their most costly business expenses, they cannot do what many firms have done to date, and think it is just a form filling and cheque signing exercise! n
Zero Hours Contracts: Saviour or Conman of the Employment Market? A recent debate that has sprung up involves the issues revolving around the zero-hours contract; as you may well be aware, these offer no guaranteed hours or times of work, instead relying on the worker to make themselves available for work allocation throughout the day. As a result, a worker could be offered no work and subsequently no pay. These contracts have become popular in areas such as catering and retail; one company that employs this method with almost its entire workforce is Sports Direct, a retailer that has become the target for much of the criticism and controversy surrounding this topic.
The reason for this recent interest is the publication of figures from a survey held by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that puts the number of zero-hour contracts at about one million in the UK (about 3% of the workforce). This is around four times the number the Office of National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey indicated in 2012. There have been critics and defenders from all sides, with the Labour party being especially scathing about this method of employment, arguing that they strip workers of their rights; Ed Miliband described it as exploitation. Stephen Timms, the Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, blamed zero-hour contracts for the ‘underemployment crisis’ as many workers were unable to work the hours they would willingly do so otherwise. The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has called on Labour to pledge a ban on zero-hours contracts at the next election to re-establish Labour as the ‘party of work’. Others have accused Labour of hypocrisy in light of the fact that (allegedly) Labour led Councils use these contracts. On the other side of the fence, the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) has said that the British labour market’s flexibility is a major factor in economic recovery. John Cridland, the director general of CBI, argued that the contracts kept people in work, thus lowering unemployment. Business secretary Vince Cable has argued that, whilst regulations need to be set in place to ensure workers are protected from exploitation, an outright ban is unnecessary, as zero-hours contracts ‘can work for the employer as well as the worker.’ So what are the pros and cons of zerohours contracts? The main argument in favour of zerohours contracts is that of flexible working hours. This is more of a benefit for the employer in any given situation, especially in industry where work comes and goes in waves. As a worker is only paid for the work done under a zero-hours contract, the employer doesn’t have to worry about paying a worker when there is no work being done.
Another pro for employers – though not for workers – is that zero-hours contracts are seen as drastically reducing the legal obligations of the employer. Contracts will often refer to the individual as a ‘worker’, limiting their rights and entitlements, such as sick and holiday pay. The arguments against these contracts revolve predominately around “the theory versus reality” debate; the theory is good but the reality is not. Whilst zero-hours contracts offer flexible working hours, the method of calling a worker up as and when they’re needed to work offers neither predictability nor stability. A contract doesn’t need to specifically state that the worker cannot work for other employers whilst under a zero-hours contract, but the need for constant availability at any time of day implies this restriction. Flexible hours are also particularly difficult on those workers with children, especially those with young children where last minute childcare would be difficult to find. In theory, workers can refuse the offer of work from an employer at any time, but the reality of this refusal brings up its own issues, with workers who turn down an offer of work not being called again. The reality of these contracts also rears its head in the offers themselves. Ideally, employers phone any workers available to work for the given hours needed. But in practice, this may lead to discrimination and bias, with employers calling up favoured workers, avoiding those who do not fit the company mould. Despite the National Minimum Wage requirements also applying to zero-hours contract workers, as well as health regulations set in place in the working environment, the limitation of rights and entitlements is a main argument used by much of the opposition. It is this that has the organisation 38 Degrees backing a former employee in a case against Sports Direct for its liberal use of these contracts. n Rachel O'Connell Just Employment Solicitors & Advocates Telephone: 01483 303636 www.justemployment.com
Surrey Lawyer 31
Applications for University of Law’s LL.B Law Degree Increase by 60% ULaw extends LL.B programme from four UK centres to seven in 2013 Application numbers for The University of Law’s innovative new LL.B law degree have risen by nearly 60 per cent in its second year, with close to 1,000 applications received so far for the 2013 programme compared with around 600 last year. ULaw has developed over 600 multimedia learning resources specifically for the LL.B to bring the law to life including videos and avatar animations to illustrate problem-solving scenarios. Employability is a key feature of the course, with workshops to help students exploit the career opportunities inherent in the fast-changing UK and global legal services markets. A recent survey of current LL.B students found that 86% say the quality of teaching is high, 79% are satisfied with the course’s quality, 96% think that their subject tutors are supportive and understanding and 94% agree that ULaw’s careers service is of high quality. Josephine Onwubiko, currently studying at the London Bloomsbury centre, said: “The University tailors everything around becoming a lawyer and you constantly get tutor feedback and great advice. Everything we do is about how to become a solicitor or a barrister, it’s extremely practical. The whole career service is tailored to the legal sector, it’s all about employability.” Sheron O’Connor, studying at the Guildford centre added: “I have had a great experience on the LL.B so far. The programme is very good and the tutors are excellent and really know their stuff. I like the practical approach of the course and the way it is split over three terms, with exams following each one, is ideal.” There are places available on the LL.B starting in September 2013 through clearing. Domestic students should call the admissions team on 0800 0680 053 and international students should dial: +44 (0)1483 216024.
The success of the LL.B (Hons) Law, which launched in September 2012 at four of The University of Law’s eight nationwide centres, has led the university (ULaw) to extend the programme to three additional centres for 2013. Initially introduced as a two-year course, it is now also available in a three-year format at ULaw’s London Bloomsbury centre. ULaw’s LL.B is the first of its kind, focussing on practice-based learning and boosting students’ employment prospects. In contrast to many traditional law degrees, it has at its heart the teaching of professional skills that are essential when entering the legal industry, including analysis, problem solving, drafting and research. In 2012 it became the most successful law degree launch in England and Wales in 10 years, with a higher number of students in its first year than any of the more than 50 law degrees launched in England and Wales during the previous decade, according to figures published by UCAS.
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The programme is available at ULaw’s centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, London Bloomsbury, Manchester and York. Professor Nigel Savage, ULaw’s President and Provost, said: “The legal profession offers excellent career opportunities for talented students. According to High Fliers Research, median graduate starting salaries in law are the second highest across all industry sectors at £39,0001. Law firms are also providing more paid internships and work experience placements this year than many other professions with work experience places in law going up by 8.2% in 2012/13 compared with 2011/122. “Here at The University of Law we focus on teaching students the important skills and knowledge they need to kick start their careers in law, which is why 89 per cent of students who graduated from our postgraduate Legal Practice Course in 2012 found work in the legal sector within a few months of leaving.” n
Footnotes 1 2
Surrey Law Society CPD Programme from 1st November 2013 to 31st October 2014 Date
November Wednesday 13th Thursday 21st
Will Drafting, Tax Planning & WIQS The Jackson reforms - and how to cope
John Bunker Dominic Regan
December Thursday 5th
Property Transactions: 20 topical traps
January Wednesday 15th Tuesday 21st Wednesday 29th
IHT Update and Capital Tax Planning COLPs & COFAs Healthcheck –are you doing it right? Conveyancing – New Year miscellany of hot topics
Chris Whitehouse Prof Peter Camp Hannah Mackinley
February Wednesday 5th Thursday 27th
Wills & trusts: children from previous marriage Residential Conveyancing Update AML, CML & Fraud
Elizabeth Webbe Denis Cameron
March Wednesday 12th Wednesday 26th
Shareholder Disputes Risks and Pitfalls in Private Client Practice
Dov Ohrenstein Prof Lesley King
April Wednesday 2nd Wednesday 30th
OFR, ABS, SRA & LeO: the latest from the coal face Data Protection for COLPs
Tony Guise Peter Wright
May Wednesday 14th Wednesday 21st
Buying & Selling Small Businesses Funding Care: Asset Protection & Anti Avoidance
Keith Lewington Jon Wilkey
June Wednesday 4th Wednesday 18th
Selling Land to a Developer Dealing with your DJ: CPR Reforms & Best Practice
Peta Dollar Stephen Parker
July Thursday 3rd Tuesday 15th
Essential Guide to Building Regulations for Conveyancers Will Drafting Problems & Pitfalls
Richard Snape John Thurston
September Tuesday 9th Wednesday 24th
Profitable Conveyancing Topical Issues in Financial Remedy Proceedings
Andrew Crawford Ann Hudd
October Wednesday 1st Wednesday 8th
Business & Marketing Plans for Law Firms Cross Border Estates, Spouses and Civil Partners
Vaughan Gordon Richard Frimston
The courses listed above are all half-day courses from 2.00pm to 5.15pm at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking and carry 3 hours SRA Accredited CPD points. n Course Fees: £126.00 inc VAT (members) or £252.00 inc VAT (non-members) Season Ticket: £100.80 inc VAT for bookings of 4 courses/delegates paid in advance Please check the Terms & Conditions on our website www.surreylawsociety.org.uk/terms before booking. For further information about these events please visit our website www.surreylawsociety.org.uk or contact Sue Seakens on 01344 860830 or firstname.lastname@example.org Surrey Lawyer 33
Victim of child abuse uses new book to launch support group For many victims of child abuse, they never get over that experience and it can completely change the course of their lives. However, Chris Tuck was determined that was not going to happen to her.
Through the eyes of a child by Chris Tuck PUBLICATION DATE: 1st September 2013 ISBN 978-1-908691-68-2 UK £11.99 193 pages Paperback 210 x 148 x 14mm Filament Publishing Ltd www.filamentpublishing.com +44 (0)20 8688 2598
“When you’re a child, your mind is vulnerable. So when you are constantly bullied, put down and told you’re worthless by your carers, your teachers, social workers and other kids, your mind gets messed up. You grow up believing it was all your fault. The guilt and sense of blame eat into everything you do and everything you are. No one cared and no one listened. In my world, I became a mum when I was seven. My siblings and I could have wound up being just another statistic of child abuse. For us, it wasn’t just one or a few isolated incidents but a tidal wave of neglect, bullying, starvation and survival.” It look her many years to pluck up enough courage, but now at 43 she has at last told her story in powerful new book Through the eyes of a child to give strength to others who have had the same experience. “It took me five years to write it, but I felt like I had come out of a long, dark and desperate tunnel,” said Chris. “I was now ready to show others that, no matter what has happened in the past, it doesn’t need to dictate your future. “One of the reasons why I wouldn’t want to share my story before now was because of the shame. But I have now come to realise that’s not my shame, it’s their shame. Child abuse never leaves you. You’re not supposed to be beaten, touched or starved when you’re a child. Mummies and Daddies are supposed to love you, not leave you, beat you, or molest your little sister.” Drawing on her traumatic experiences, Chris, along with NLP therapist Mel Collie, has now formed a new help group called Survivors Of aBuse (SOB!) and now runs courses to help people to regain their confidence, their health and control over their lives. The group reaches out in a secret Facebook group and other social media to give victims a safe space to share their feelings and to get help in rebuilding their lives. “I co-founded Survivors Of aBuse to help people like myself who have had an abusive childhood to move them on from whatever it is that might be holding them back to becoming the true person that they want to be.” The “Breaking The Cycle” C.L.E.A.N Living Programme, which Chris and Mel have cocreated, is a health and well-being programme that enables people to look at their mindset, look at their habits, look at their nutrition and look at their lifestyle. It is by taking back control of these aspects of your life that enables you to have the physical and emotional strength to face up to the dark experiences of the past. n
34 Surrey Lawyer
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