THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE WESTMINSTER & HOLBORN LAW SOCIETY | AUGUST 2020
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Contents Page 11
SALES DIRECTOR Karen Hall ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey STUDIO MANAGER Lee Finney
MEDIA No. 1707
11 The Law Society
PUBLISHED August 2020 © Benham Publishing Ltd.
Council Elections 2020
LEGAL NOTICE © Benham Publishing. None of the editorial or photographs may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publishers. Benham Publishing would like to point out that all editorial comment and articles are the responsibility of the originators and may or may not reflect the opinions of Benham Media. No responsibility can be accepted for any inaccuracies that may occur, correct at time of going to press. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us. DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are the views of the individual writers and not the society unless specifically stated to be otherwise. All statements as to the law are for discussion between members and should not be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law, are of a general nature and do not constitute advice in any particular case or circumstance.
18 Assertiveness 19 A new reality brings new opportunities for lawyers
24 Diversity: There’s
more to do, but we’ve come a long way
25 Torture of British HK Consulate Employee Simon Cheng
Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice.
27 LegalTech in the
COVER INFORMATION © Lion – The Law Society by Aleem Yousaf from Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons license.
Copy Deadlines Autumn 16 October 2020 Winter 29 January 2021 Advertising Anyone wishing to advertise in Central London Lawyer please contact Karen Hall before the copy deadline. firstname.lastname@example.org 0151 236 4141 Editorial Members wishing to submit editorial please send to: email@example.com Editor in Chief: Ivan Ho. Guest Editor: Matthew Allan. Editorial Board: Coral Hill, Suzanna Eames & Sarah Bradd.
05 President’s Foreword 07 Rising Star Award 2020 09 ‘Legally Disabled?’
most advanced digital society in the world
29 Pandemic pressure
tempts companies to non-compliance
31 How does a Bill become a law?
34 How to be
productive when working from home
Follow us on social media @CWHLawSociety https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/ company/westminster-holbornlaw-society CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 3
Carolina Marín Pedreño President
Carolina is a Spanish Abogado, who cross-qualified as a Solicitor in 2006. She specialises in international cases particularly child abduction, registration and enforcement of foreign contact orders, leave to remove, residence, contact and public law cases. Carolina is a Fellow and elected Governor of the European Chapter of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Counsellor of the Union International des Avocats Human Rights Commission, member of the International Committee of Resolution, elected Executive member for international affairs of the Bar Association of Murcia, Founder and Secretary of the Spanish Association of Collaborative Lawyers and co-chair of the European Family Justice Observatory. Carolina is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Child Abduction and Children Law – disputes between parents or relatives. Carolina’s full profile can be found at https://dawsoncornwell.com/en/the-team/partners/carolina-marín-pedreño.html
Anthony Seymour Treasurer
Anthony is a Solicitor in the Property Department of Pothecary Witham Weld. He acts for Charities, Company and Private Clients and deals with Commercial Property, Landlord and Tenant and Residential Conveyancing. He also specialises in Leasehold Enfranchisement. He has worked at established City Firms and was for many years a Partner in the Property Department of a Central London Law Firm. He is a member of the University of Bristol Alumni Association London Branch Committee and holds a Masters Degree in Law from Kings College, University of London.
Paul Sharma Senior Vice President
Paul is the founder and managing partner of Sharma Solicitors. Sharma Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice acting for both claimants and respondents, small and multinational firms. Paul worked as a trade union official before qualifying in a firm that acts exclusively for the large trade unions for their members. Paul went on to head the employment law departments of an outer London commercial firm before doing the same for a large city practice.
Matthew Allan Junior Vice President
Matthew is a commercial litigator focusing on domestic and international dispute resolution. He also puts his Canadian roots to work as a member of CWHLS’s International Committee. Matt is a former Council Member of the Law Society of England & Wales and sat on its Regulatory Affairs Board, alongside positions with the Junior Lawyers Division national executive committee. He enjoys writing and often adds his two cents to legal debates.
Anisha Birk Honorary Secretary
Anisha is a second year trainee at Farrer & Co LLP. Anisha previously sat as Secretary of the WHLS International Sub-Committee before becoming Honorary Secretary. She was awarded the 2017 Gamlen Prize by WHLS for outstanding performance on the LPC. Prior to joining Farrer & Co, Anisha worked for the British Museum as a trainee curator. Anisha worked across various aspects of the British Museum’s collections, chiefly completing an online documentation project of the Museum’s vast Sasanian seal collection. In 2014 she was awarded a Sackler Scholarship to complete this project and a Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grant from the Art Fund to visit Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq, to study their Sasanian collections.
Ivan Ho Editor in Chief
Ivan has been a member of the main committee of WHLS since November 2008. He began his training with Hunters in 2004. On qualification, he joined the Property Department of Hunters and specialises in residential and commercial work. He became an Associate at Hunters in April 2010.
Laura Uberoi Immediate Past President
Laura is a real estate finance solicitor at Macfarlanes LLP and was previously with Farrer & Co LLP, where she qualified. Prior to her election as President of WHLS, Laura sat on the International Committee and served as Honorary Secretary. In 2017 Laura was also elected as a Council Member at the national Law Society, where she represents junior lawyers up to five years qualified. Before becoming a solicitor, she worked with young people in detention facilities across the UK and separately on capital punishment cases for the Texas Defender Service in the USA. Laura is passionate about social mobility and access to justice – she mentors students to encourage participation in the profession and assists with local free legal advice centres. Laura has also lectured on human rights and war crimes in The Hague and taught a variety of legal subjects, including taxation law, corporate law and international law in the UK and abroad. 4 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
The President’s Foreword AUGUST 2020
fter a glorious summer, though with many plans interrupted, not many in the profession are facing a return to a normal routine. The impact of COVID-19 on the legal sector is concerning from many different angles. Some of our members have not been able to take time off and have continued to be glued to computer screens, all this whilst there have been salary cuts and the increased fear of redundancies in the autumn. There are stories of an alarming number of colleagues on furlough facing redundancy and firms having to close whole departments. Newly qualified solicitors are not being retained and offers are being withdrawn. Criminal Solicitors and Legal Aid practitioners are amongst those most affected yet again in this crisis and they need our support. We are witnessing the Justice System going through a forced reform and we need more than ever to get involved. If we don't take action, justice will become a privilege for the wealthy few. The Law Society Council Member elections are coming up. This Society has two seats in contention and the statements of the nominees can be found in this edition. If you have not done so yet, I encourage you to vote and also to get involved with us, your local Society. This edition of our magazine has some very interesting pieces with articles on how to help affected lawyers; how to be more productive when working from home from Sarah Bradd; on workers’ rights in the current environment by Neta Meidav; as well as all of our usual updates and features, including a look at international arrest warrants by Michael Polak and Rumer Ramsey.
I am really pleased to have received emails from our members indicating how important our webinars have been for them during this difficult time. We have adapted well to our new way of meeting, training and discussing what concerns us. Despite the current restrictions, we have continued to meet remotely and have had interesting and helpful webinars from employment law to tips on communicating online from Sylvia Cohen. A very thoughtful roundtable meeting, 'Legally Disabled?' was organised jointly with South London Law Society and The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division, at which research undertaken by Cardiff University was presented and discussed. It was positive to hear how our colleagues with disabilities are benefiting in the new remote working era. My special thanks to Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) for organising the event and to Jane Burton for sharing the findings of this research with us. We have continued to strengthen our relationship with other European colleagues. The Society was invited to visit the Law Society of Cluj in Romania in the first week of July following the visit by our Romanian friends to London in 2018. Not being able to travel, we still met remotely and information about the discussions we had can be found on page 8. We will continue with these European exchanges as soon as we can, ever more important given the implications of Brexit. Please continue to send us your proposals for webinars and do join our committees if you wish to be more vocal. ■
Carolina Marín Pedreño
President Westminster & Holborn Law Society
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 5
WESTMINSTER & HOLBORN EVENTS
Events 2020/21 Booking is essential for all events due to restrictions of space
TBC – September Enforcing judgments post-Brexit
TBC – January 2021 The Gamlin Prize Award & President’s New Year’s Drinks
Join us for what promises to be an engaging and topical panel discussion considering how English (and Welsh) judgments can be enforced in the EU and how EU judgments are set to be enforced in England & Wales following the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020. This will be hosted via Zoom with more details to follow in due course.
The Society’s Gamlin Prize is awarded each year and is coupled with our in-coming President’s New Year’s celebration. Details of this event will follow in due course.
MARCH OCTOBER TBC – October WHLS NQ Award – Rising Star 2020
The Society’s annual award for newly qualified solicitors celebrates the inspirational achievements and hard work of trainee solicitors who have qualified 2020. Details of how to apply can be found in this edition. We hope that you can join us for a virtual presentation in advance of our in-person ceremony which we hope to hold in early 2021.
Tuesday 13 October, 18.00 Annual General Meeting
Our AGM will be held at 6pm via Zoom. At the meeting the President will present her annual report and new Officers will be elected. Please watch this space for further details of how to attend virtually.
TBC – March 2021 WHLS Annual Dinner
Continuing the tradition of our Annual Dinner, the Society looks forward to welcoming members and guests to what we hope will be an excellent opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues after a long (and possibly socially distant!) winter. Details will follow in due course.
ADDITIONAL EVENTS Additional events are under discussion. If you have suggestions or would like to host an event, please contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website calendar also shows our events www.cwhls.org.uk. All our events are run in line with current Government advice and we will notify our members of any updates.
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Photo © Ben Wilkin @ benkin.co.uk
WESTMINSTER & HOLBORN EVENTS
Cynthia Jakes and Joseph Morgan, awarded the inaugural Newly Qualified Rising Star Award at the Newly Qualified Rising Solicitors’ Celebration back in 2019.
Rising Star Award 2020 T
he WHLS Rising Star Award is made to an outstanding newly qualified solicitor member of the Society each year and celebrates the inspirational achievements and hard work of trainee solicitors due to qualify in 2020. Our panel of judges, comprising esteemed solicitors renowned in their respective fields, are now inviting nominations for the Award. The judges are looking for trainees who have demonstrated an exceptional standard of work in addition to superlative dedication to the role of being a trainee. The judges are looking for trainees who are both excelling in their role and also in their wider commitment to their firm or to the wider legal community. The judges invite nominations for any trainees who have excelled during their training contract but who have, in particular, demonstrated excellence in the following areas: ■ Setting up a new or creative initiative for the firm ■ Exceptional commitment to pro-bono activities ■ Exceptional work in relation to writing topical legal insight / internal or external legal publications ■ Excellence in marketing their firm ■ Excellence in promoting awareness of e.g. mental health awareness or lawtech within their firms
■ Working on any particularly interesting or ground-breaking areas of law ■ Exceptional commitment to their profession during the circumstances of COVID-19, e.g. setting up new initiatives within their firm relating to COVID-19 ■ Quality of work carried out to date ■ Outstanding teamwork skills and communication skills Nominations of 500 words (+/-10%) should be emailed directly to email@example.com. Nominations should include full contact details of the nominee and their firm as well as confirmation of membership of WHLS. Entries can be submitted for yourself or for your colleagues. Nominations close at midnight on Friday 18 September 2020. Interviews will be held remotely during the week beginning Monday 21 August 2020. A presentation will take place (virtually) on 8 October 2020; further details to follow. For enquiries regarding your submission please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 7
WESTMINSTER & HOLBORN EVENTS
Cluj Bar Association hosts (virtual) exchange with WHLS I nstead of the Society’s long-awaited visit to Cluj, Romania, a virtual meeting was held to celebrate friendship between the two law societies. Among those attending from London were Carolina Marín Pedreño, Suzanne Eames, Jeffrey Forrest, William McKay, Coral Hill and Sara Chandler. Members of the Cluj Bar, including Calin Luga, Dan Sebastian Charles and Oana Muratu addressed the meeting. We talked about the structure and role of our two respective organisations, understanding the representative and regulatory
roles. We discussed the impact of COVID-19 on our members and the changes this has brought on legal practice in the two jurisdictions. We agreed that next year when the pandemic is (hopefully) over we will re-organise the visit to Cluj for WHLS members. Details of this will be made available at the earliest opportunity. ■
Prof Sara Chandler QC (Hon)
Co-Chair, International Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society
Redundancy in 2020 O
n Friday 7 August, Westminster & Holborn Law Society hosted a virtual employment law event focusing on the unfortunately very current topic of redundancy. We heard from an excellent panel consisting of Maurice O’Carroll and Alex Adamou, of 33 Bedford Row’s employment law team and Tom McLaughlin of specialist employment law firm BDBF. The event provided our employment lawyers with an update on redundancy generally and provided additional considerations for the wave of redundancy procedures being initiated as a result of the economic downturn, precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
and what happens if an employee does not accept an offer; ■ considerations for enhanced redundancy payments; ■ the timeline of essential steps legally required during a redundancy procedure; and ■ the documents needed during a redundancy exercise.
Highlights of the talks given by our expert panel included:
If there are any events you would like to see, or if you are interested in joining our committee, please do get in touch with me. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter @NicolaRubbert. ■
■ an overview of the principles of redundancy; ■ the latest relevant cases such as Gwynedd Council v Barratt UKEAT; ■ the recent advice provided by ACAS on redundancy on 5 August; ■ alternative offers of employment, including the duty on employers to see if there is suitable alternative employment 8 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
The formal presentation was followed by an engaging Q&A session. We are missing our in-person events but are so grateful to our speakers for giving us their time and energy to provide us with the next best thing in order to keep our knowledge up to date.
Chair, Education & Training Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society
WESTMINSTER & HOLBORN EVENTS
‘Legally Disabled?’ Report Roundtable O
ver two years of research have culminated in a first of its kind report ‘Legally Disabled? The career experiences of disabled people working in the legal profession’ by Professor Debbie Foster of Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University and Dr Natasha Hirst an independent researcher. The research for the report was co-produced with The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division. The project encompassing the research and its associated work has been named ‘Legally Disabled?’. The report, published earlier this year, highlights the challenges faced by aspiring and current lawyers with disabilities from entering, progressing and succeeding in the profession. One of the biggest obstacles at all levels is the lack of provision of reasonable adjustments necessary to simply put people with disabilities on a level playing field. On Wednesday 29 July 2020, the Legally Disabled? project, along with The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division (LDD), chaired by Jane Burton, hosted a roundtable with Westminster & Holborn Law Society and South London Law Society to discuss and address the findings of the report. The roundtable was full of energy and enthusiasm to bring the very important and under-discussed matter of lawyers with disabilities and their experiences to the forefront. It was an incredibly enlightening and informative session for all in attendance. It was encouraging to see key representatives from law firms and to learn some are making a concerted effort to give the issues experienced by lawyers and aspiring lawyers with disabilities the attention they deserve.
There is much more to be done to implement the report’s findings however, and these roundtables are vital to keep the conversations going. Westminster & Holborn Law Society will be hosting another roundtable later this year, so please encourage a representative from your organisation to attend, join the conversation and not get left behind. The full report and a summary is available at: http://legallydisabled.com/research-reports/ A survey is currently being run by The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division and Legally Disabled? to obtain information about the experiences of disabled people in the profession during the lockdown due to COVID-19. The survey has a deadline of 16 August 2020 and can be found at www. lawsociety.org.uk/topics/lawyers-with-disabilities/will-thenew-normal-be-a-disability-inclusive-working-environmentquestionnaire To find out more about The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division and to join please visit www.lawsociety.org. uk/topics/lawyers-with-disabilities/about-the-lawyers-withdisabilities-division. ■
Chair, Education & Training Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society
Those in attendance were taken through key findings from the report and issued with a document ‘Easy Wins and Action Points for the Legal Profession’. The document provided various actions employers can take to drastically improve their accessibility and the overall working experience for people with disabilities. Many of the proposed ideas and adjustments are relatively simple and should really already be part of normal practice in law firms and legal departments.
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 9
MOVERS & SHAKERS
EBL Miller Rosenfalck boosts its real estate team with the appointment of Kamila Segieñ as an Associate
amila Segieñ is a Solicitor with significant experience in advising UK and international clients in respect of the whole range of property related matters, including: 1. Acting on the sale and purchase of high value residential property (including off plan and new build properties): 2. Auction purchases; 3. Property financing; 4. Transfer of equity and gifts of property; 5. Drafting documentation including deeds of trust dealing with ownership of the property, tenancy agreements, cohabitation agreements; 6. Acting on lease extensions, lease variations, Right to Manage and Freehold Enfranchisement claims. 7. Property related litigation and dispute resolution. Emmanuelle Ries, Managing Partner, says: “We are delighted to welcome Kamila Segieñ to the EBL Miller Rosenfalck property team. Kamila is a perfect fit for our international firm, being able to advise clients in Mandarin Chinese, French and Polish on one of the most complex areas of English law for businesses setting up or wishing to invest in the UK. Kamila will work directly with Peter Welburn, who heads the EBL Miller Rosenfalck property team. With her extensive property experience and knowledge, she will also work closely with our expanding dispute resolution team. We are proud that EBL Miller Rosenfalck continues to attract talented lawyers like Kamila, and as we continue to win more clients from larger city firms and attract new clients who are expanding their businesses to the UK from our core international markets, we are continually searching for talented lawyers to join our friendly team. We are confident that Kamila will be an asset to our clients, our team, and our EBL offices across Europe”. ■
Wanted – A Solicitors’ take on ‘back to work’
s we look towards returning to some normality, it's crucial we take time to understand solicitors' experiences over the last few months and ask what challenges might lie ahead, to be able to shape our support moving forward.
www.sba.org.uk/covid-19/back-towork-survey 10 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
The Solicitors' Charity's new survey looks at what you've experienced during the pandemic but also how the future looks to you and what concerns you may have. Please could you take ten minutes to complete this survey and also please share with your colleagues to help them to provide the most accurate and widest view possible. ■
The Law Society Council Elections
2020 Stay home and vote!
s many readers may know, the Law Society Council elections open on Monday 17 August. This is your chance to elect representatives who will champion your views on a national level. One candidate each will be elected to the constituencies of The City of Westminster and Holborn to join our other three elected representatives, and if you are a solicitor member of this Society or are registered in either constituency with the SRA, then you will be receiving voting papers on or around 17 August. The Westminster & Holborn Law Society has the privilege of sending five representatives in total to sit at Chancery Lane (or via Zoom, as has been the case recently). This number is only matched by The City of London and highlights the traditional importance that our unique location has had playing host to solicitors and their businesses. For this election, the ballot papers will be sent by Civica Election Services by post to the member’s mySRA registered address and by email (to those, who opted-in to receive email communications) from the email@example.com email address.
We encourage members to ensure that their organisation’s mail rooms are aware of those papers coming in. We suggest that to avoid being caught in spam/junk filters, mail rooms “whitelist” the firstname.lastname@example.org email address by adding it to their contacts. You will find the election manifestos of your six candidates below (in alphabetical order) and I urge you to take the few moments required to vote in due course. This is your local law society and it can work to its full potential when members speak up and are engaged. The successful candidates will be announced at the Law Society AGM on 15 October 2020. Voting will close at 4pm on Monday 21 September. ■
Junior Vice President Westminster & Holborn Law Society
Election Candidates The City of Westminster Edward Macey-Dare Nicola Rubbert Nehal Vasani
Holborn Pavel Klimov Paul Sharma Rakhi Samani CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 11
MANIFESTO: THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER
Edward Macey-Dare I
am a partner in Lee Bolton Monier-Williams Solicitors in Westminster, specialising in employment law.
importance of carving out a defined role for itself, so that it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.
I trained at Brown Cooper in Southampton Place, London between 1994 and 1996 and remained there until 2002, when we merged with Monier-Williams and Boxalls and moved to Lincoln's Inn Fields. During this period, I was a member of the Holborn Law Society.
Due to the fact that my firm's partners' meetings have invariably clashed with CWHLS meetings, I have not been as actively engaged with CWHLS at committee level as I would have liked, but with 4 other Council members on the Main Committee, I do not think this has had a material adverse impact. Fortunately, this will not be an issue going forward, given that we have now moved to weekly partners' meetings, during working hours.
In 2008, my firm merged with Lee Bolton & Lee in Westminster. I started to attend City of Westminster & Holborn Law Society (CWHLS) events and was soon co-opted onto the Litigation subcommittee. In due course, I put myself forward for election to the office of Junior Vice President (JVP), to which I was duly elected in 2013. In my year as Senior Vice President, it came to my attention that the future of the LCGP – which, although founded originally by the Holborn Law Society, had for many years been run by a stand-alone committee – was in serious doubt; in short, the committee had run out of steam and the default proposition was to disband it. I felt, very strongly, that this should not be allowed to happen given that, if the LCGP was disbanded, it would never be reformed and therefore all the legal charities that it supports (namely: the Solicitors' Benevolent; the Barristers' Benevolent; the Institute of Barristers' Clerks' Benevolent; the CILEx Benevolent; and Lawcare – many of which are very reliant on donations from the LCGP) would suffer. Accordingly, I set about trying to save the LCGP and, after much deliberation, the Committee agreed not to disband the LCGP and to hand over the running of the event to CWHLS. A new sub-committee was formed, of which I was Chairman; we persuaded the two previous patrons, Lord Neuberger and Sir John Mummery, to continue their patronage; and we convinced representatives of the charities we support to rejoin. The event was a huge success, such that we were able to continue running it until its 50th anniversary in 2018. In October 2015, I was elected President of CWHLS, my "manifesto pledge" being to do whatever I could to increase membership and members' participation. I was successful on both counts and CWHLS is now a thriving organisation once again. In February 2016, a casual vacancy arose on Council for a City of Westminster seat. Having already experienced law society workings at the micro level, I decided to throw my hat into the ring and experience the macro picture. I was successful and, when the seat came up for re-election in July 2016, I decided to re-apply and was re-elected for a full 4-year term. What have I achieved on Council? As a result of sitting next to our current President, who urged me to make my maiden speech in the chamber at my second Council meeting, I have been a regular contributor in debates and have championed causes such as the status of paralegals who have passed their professional law exams but have been unable to secure a training contract. I have also repeatedly highlighted the continuing existential threat facing the Law Society and the 12 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Why should I be re-elected again? Council is a very idiosyncratic beast and you spend much of your first term getting to know your way around its structures and trying to understand how it works. This has been compounded during my tenure by the fact that, early on, there was a root and branch governance review which resulted in a major overhaul of the (then) structure and the appointment of an overarching board. I am Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, and given my involvement with CWHLS and the LCGP, I am very used to sitting on committees. Much of the excellent work that Council does is carried out through its various committees. The Membership and Communications Committee (MCC) develops and oversees the services the Law Society provides to its members and how it communicates with members and other stakeholders. Earlier this year, I was invited by the Chair of the MCC to apply to join and I was one vote away from being elected. If I were to be re-elected to Council now, I would certainly wish to stand for the MCC again and feel I have a good chance of being elected and making a real impact on that committee – particularly championing the interests of my constituents. I believe we belong to a great profession, but we live in times of enormous change and therefore, in order to meet the major challenges ahead – which, in the post-COVID era, will be greater than ever – we need to evolve and diversify sufficiently, such that we can continue to provide legal services effectively to an increasingly discerning public, in a market that is set to become ever more competitive. I am firmly of the view that, if we are to achieve these things, we are better off together – and thus all solicitors need to get behind the Law Society. Increasing our membership engagement is therefore at the very top of my list of priorities. In conclusion, having had the advantage on sitting on Council for the past 4.5 years, I now have an excellent understanding about the workings of Council, what is expected of me as a constituency member and how I can make a meaningful contribution. I therefore believe that I am best placed to represent the City of Westminster for the next four years. ■
MANIFESTO: THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER
Nicola Rubbert W
ith an ever-changing legal landscape, regulatory developments and an uncertain economic time ahead, support for solicitors has never been more essential. Every lawyer should feel supported in the same way they work hard to support their clients, their firms, their companies and the industries they are involved with. Ensuring we all feel supported by The Law Society so that we can all enjoy the viable and prosperous career we set out to achieve, which in turn leads to better talent retention, is paramount. The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion within our profession to ensure that everyone has their voice heard and is afforded an equal opportunity to thrive is essential. I believe there is scope for engagement between The Law Society and its members to be greatly improved so that every solicitor feels more informed about what The Law Society does; how it operates; and is given the opportunity to have their opinions aired. I personally first felt truly part of the legal community in London when I became a member of the London Young Lawyers Group as a Trainee Solicitor. I found the network and informal support so useful in navigating my way through the initial stages of my legal career. I relished the opportunity to meet so many fledgling and established lawyers. I was delighted to join the committee and later elected Chair of the organisation as it was a fantastic way to give back. Our work has helped lawyers feel connected with other lawyers through the hosting of so many different events with networking opportunities; enabled lawyers to stay up to date with changes to the law with the provision of seminars; and additional support to aspiring solicitors has been given via a mentor scheme. I currently Chair Westminster & Holborn Law Society’s Education & Training Committee. I was drawn to becoming involved with Westminster & Holborn Law Society (WHLS) as it is another organisation that really cares about its members. Those involved in running the Society and on its committees work hard to put on lots of interesting events and provide added value to the legal community in a number of ways, including a brilliant magazine. As a result our members are able to meet other lawyers, keep up to date with their area(s) of law, stay abreast of changes to the profession, career development opportunities and more, all in an enjoyable way. It was a natural next step for me to become involved with WHLS as it is open to lawyers at all levels which has enabled me to broaden my understanding of the issues that impact those at the junior end through to those at Partner/ General Counsel level and everyone in between. It has also enabled me to meet lawyers in the local area. Being able to hear the stories of so many different individuals and find out what they love about their jobs as well as their concerns in our everchanging profession is incredibly illuminating. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t want to be immersed in the wider professional community in order to continue meeting other lawyers.
Society. I will embrace the challenge of representing all solicitors within the unique City of Westminster constituency, which includes those working in various types of law firms representing clients locally, nationally and internationally, made up of various sizes and structures; those working for Government; Legal Aid lawyers representing those most in need; and the vast amount of in-house lawyers working in various industries including entertainment, arts, science, technology, retail and transport to name a few. I have 7 years PQE and currently work in-house for one of the big West End theatre companies, Nimax Theatres. I have previously worked in private practice including a stint as a Partner specialising in commercial and employment law and also as a Legal Aid housing lawyer. My unique experience has enabled me to sample lawyer life in a variety of practices and has further given me a rounded perspective of our profession. Whether I’ve been stopping evictions, settling discrimination claims, helping international companies expand in the UK or ensuring productions will appear on a West End stage, I have always remained interested in the profession as a whole and its direction. I am someone that cares a lot about the legal community and finds it incredibly valuable listening to other lawyers in order to understand current concerns as well as triumphs. I am approachable and open to hearing from every one of you about any issue you would like me to advocate on your behalf which matters to you. I hope that I can bring my dedication to the profession and the legal community, my positive energy and enthusiasm, as well as my experience from other voluntary roles to this position. Thank you for reading this and please do take the time to cast your vote. ■
I am seeking to be elected as a Council Member for the constituency of the City of Westminster because I want the opportunity to represent solicitors in our constituency at The Law CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 13
MANIFESTO: THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER
Nehal Vasani I
seek your support for a second (though not consecutive) term as your Council representative for the Constituency of Westminster. I am a determined, focused, industrious solicitor and have worked hard to assist, promote and represent the profession of which I am a proud member. I firmly believe in equality, democracy and promoting the profession. With your vote I can again effectively contribute and represent your interests. For many of us, our careers, our livelihoods and our businesses are at stake. Now more than ever we need to make sure that we are represented and considered in all decisions taken that will affect our futures. It is this that motivates me to represent you as your Council member, I have the skills and experience to make sure that you are represented effectively from day one. I won’t take this opportunity to tell you about my personal views on the issues of the day, as my personal views aren’t the point – yours are. It is my capability as an advocate that is relevant and the key to my capability to be your Council member. I can assure you that if elected for another term I would seek to build on my past successes in making sure your views are represented, to always get the best outcome for you and do so by representing your views honestly, professionally, impartially and with passion. A little about me … I am a solicitor advocate specialising in litigation. I commenced my career in a high street legal aid practice, then moved to the Treasury Solicitor’s Civil litigation department before joining the Serious Fraud Office in July 2017. This experience has given me a wide perspective of the challenges faced by colleagues in private practice, in house, and in civil and criminal fields of law. I have always valued the work and support of voluntary legal groups and have been actively involved with such groups including my local society since I was a trainee solicitor. I am a past President of West London law society and I remain their Sponsorship Secretary. I organise and raise sponsorship for social and educational events for the benefit of the members. I am familiar with the workings at Chancery Lane and I am a former member of the Scrutiny and Performance Review Committee and the Council Conduct Committee. Though this meant more volunteering hours, being immersed in all levels of the Law Society made me a better advocate for our members and will serve me well if elected again. If elected I will not only attend the Council meetings at Chancery Lane, which I know is only one element of the work required, I will also work hard to keep in contact with you by regular attendance at the City of Westminster and Holborn Law Society meetings and other local meetings, as I did previously, to make sure I hear you and represent your views.
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It is my firm belief that the Law Society must work on behalf of our profession to ensure that they are constantly promoting and representing solicitors, keeping them informed and striving for excellence in a difficult, constantly changing environment. If elected, I will work to ensure that the Law Society supports solicitors as we work through the challenges that the corona virus pandemic has brought with it. There are likely to be tough times ahead as there are in any recession, but there will also be sector specific pressures on our market which will require careful thought and decisive action. If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to office again, I will continue to objectively, tirelessly and passionately represent members of my constituency no matter their specialism, work environment or experience and I will do so fairly, robustly and fearlessly. If you would like to know more please contact me at NehalVasani4@gmail.com I hope to receive your vote. ■
Pavel Klimov D
ear Colleague, “As the professional body for solicitors, every week the Law Society is working hard to influence the legal and regulatory environment on behalf of our profession and to promote solicitors at home and abroad. We support practice excellence, are an informed source of legal sector news and support members at every stage of their career.” This quote is taken from the Law Society President’s email update. I want to ask you three questions: – When was the last time you searched for legal information on the Law Society website? – When was the last time you unwrapped the Law Society Gazette to read legal sector news? – When was the last time you contacted the Law Society for professional or career advice? I suspect many of us will answer with “never” or “I can’t recall”, and that’s very unfortunate. But this can change and the Law Society can become more relevant and helpful to you on a day-today basis, and you can help to make it happen. And this is how. The Law Society Council is the main governing body of the Law Society responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Law Society’s work on behalf of all its members. I encourage you to participate in this Council members election and ask to vote for me. I have over 20 years of legal experience working for major multinational corporations in the UK, USA, Australia, Russia and Switzerland, including 10 years as a General Counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa. During my career I had opportunities to work closely not only with solicitors practicing their trade inhouse, but also with many private practice solicitors in large City firms, regional and high street practices, and sole practitioners. That work covered a wide spectrum of legal matters and allowed me to observe and compare the issues and challenges facing in-house lawyers and their private practice colleagues. Together with my team I was able to assist on a pro-bono basis many different charities and non-for-profit organisations in the UK and abroad. Our efforts were recognised by a prestigious Thompson Reuters Foundation award for the best in-house probono project. This year I was appointed a Fee-paid Employment Judge and a Fee-paid Judge of the First-Tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber). I am the Chairman of the Law Society Technology and Law Committee, a member of the Law Society Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee and the Law Society Conduct Committee, and a trustee of the Law Society Charity. In those roles I regularly work on a wide range of issues facing the legal profession as a whole, and in particular the impact of emerging technologies on legal services, on access to justice, and on broader societal relationships.
The Law Society can and should play the leading role in maintaining and enhancing the prestige of the profession, and in helping its members to tackle new challenges and to remain successful in competing against emerging non-traditional forms of legal services. The fallout from the Coronavirus crises makes these tasks especially important and urgent. The challenges for the profession are unprecedented, both in terms of their complexity and the scale. Turning these challenges into opportunities requires a good degree of foresight, forward thinking, business acumen and serious engagement with all relevant stakeholders. My experience working within the Law Society’s structures has been a mixed bag. The Society has excellent dedicated people committed to doing their best to help the profession navigate the challenges and promote the profession to the public, both in the UK and worldwide. On the other hand, some of the Society’s outdated governance structures and processes often frustrate these efforts, making the pursuit of these goals hindered by artificially created bureaucratic barriers and often lost in a maze of archaic structures and self-vested interests, which in turn causes the engagement between the Society and its members to become more distant. The Council with its 100 seats and 6 committees, three different Boards, the Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee, the Membership and Operations Committee, 25 Specialist Committees (with each of those committees having at least a dozen members), plus the executive team and hundreds of employees, makes, in my view, the Law Society’s governance and management structure unwieldy, and not providing value for money to the members, who have no choice, but to continue to fund it by paying their annual practicing certificate fee. The good news is that the Law Society is aware of these issues and has already started the process of streamlining its processes and simplifying its governance structure, but more needs to be done – and to be done more urgently. A stronger business acumen and drive needs to be injected into the workings of the Society to make it more agile internally, and more relevant to all sides of the profession, so that it can truly serve all the solicitors it represents, and help them to prosper. I would like to join the Council to drive these changes from the top of the Law Society’s governance structure. With my extensive business and management experience, my considerable knowledge of the profession, and my personal insights into the Law Society’s strong and weak points, I firmly believe I can make the difference, and I am fully committed to succeed in transforming the Law Society into a modern representative body serving the needs of all its members. I ask you to support me in that pursuit. Thank you. ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 15
Paul Sharma I
seek election to the Law Society Council not to praise it but to change it. You may think that the Society is just a professional association. But you’d be wrong. The Law Society is also a trade union that dare not speak its name. Does the British Medical Association speak its name? On the first line on its home page, it boldly proclaims: “The British Medical Association is the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK.” What does the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy say? It says: “…professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 59,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.” What about the Law Society? In contrast, it cannot bring itself to admit its true function. Individual members only As you know, there is no corporate membership of the Law Society, only individual members can join. True, for most of us, the employer pays the membership fee, but it is you and not your firm who is the member. So, we have to ask: what has the Law Society ever done for you as an individual member? The truth is very little. Yet there is so, so much to be done. Where was the Law Society? The government’s imposition of employment tribunal fees in 2013 hurt hundreds of thousands of employees seeking justice in the employment. But it also hurt thousands of solicitors who lost their clients. Between April and June 2014, claims had fallen by 81%, compared with the year before. Solicitors firms lost income and solicitors livelihoods were jeopardised. But it was a trade union that acted. Unison mounted a legal campaign and won in the Supreme Court, overturning the fees. Where was the Law Society? The withdrawal of legal aid from family law and its run down for criminal law have left clients struggling and solicitors impoverished. There needed to be a high-profile campaign and lobby to challenge this. But where was the Law Society? In both cases, the Law Society failed its members with its meek response. As far as governments are concerned, the representatives of solicitors can be bypassed. It’s not as if lawyers are not in a position of influence. Yet, given that lawyers are the single biggest grouping in the House of Commons, the Law Society’s failure to make use of this and influence government policy is truly remarkable. In contrast, even a small trade union like the RMT is able to muster its MP trade union sympathizers to greater effect. Refusal to represent members Hapless Claire Matthews, a junior solicitor, suffering mental health was prosecuted by the SRA. While they used a heavy weight legal team, she was left to represent herself. The result was that the SRA ended her legal career there and then.
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The Law Society is lost. It fails to represent its members as a group and it refuses to represent it members individually. The Law Society does not represent its members before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Why? Why does the Law Society abdicate its primary function of representing its members at the most crucial time of their career? Abdication does not happen with the BMA or the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. They manage to be professional bodies and provide advice and assistance to its members when in trouble. The BMA has the BMA Law. What the Law Society should be Whilst the Law Society will always be a professional organisation representing its solicitor members, it has much to learn from the BMA on how to be effective. Whilst I, of course, respect the professional role of the Society, I want it to act resolutely in the interests of members. The job of your council member is to represent your views to the Law Society Council and to report back to members the actions (inaction) of the Law Society. To do this your Council member should deliver a written report to Westminster and Holborn Law Society following Council meetings. Accountability is fundamental. I will do that. I am currently the Senior Vice President of Westminster and Holborn Law Society and I strongly believe that through its structure the Council members should be democratically accountable to all solicitors in our constituency. But there is more. The Law Society should put resources into being a better campaigner and a better lobby than it is now. It should also represent its individual members like Claire Matthews. I seek election to the Law Society Council to radically overhaul it, to make it truly represent our members like the BMA represents doctors. ■
Rakhi Samani T
hank you for taking the time to read my statement. I am asking you to vote me to be your representative in the Holborn constituency. I qualified as a solicitor on the 15 August 2001 and am dual qualified as a Lawyer and a Lecturer in higher education. After having worked on the small firms business committee I was inspired to join the governing Council. I can be a voice for the diverse profession that I am fortunate to be a member of. My extensive experience as a property and business lawyer includes: – freelance property and business lawyer for over 150 firms, some traditional, others innovative ABS’s; firms; – 5 years practice under my own law firm; – in-house legal counsel for; – mentoring start ups and entrepreneurs; – tutor at a London University teaching prospective solicitors on the LPC. These experiences enable me to understand what members of the profession feel about the future of the legal profession. The uncertainty caused by Brexit, changes to business practice, qualification (SQE) and indemnity insurance areas I too have been affected by and can constructively find solutions to. This is what I shall represent to the Law Society Council when you vote for me. I am accessible and listen with humility. Lawyers’ confide in me about their professional experience. With your vote I can help shape the future of the profession. I appreciate that to do this effectively, we have to address where we are coming from. With conscious activism we can bring about change, shaping a strategy that works in harmony with our profession. I have always enjoyed interaction with my fellow professionals and want to make a positive difference for them with your vote.
Education & Professional Qualifications May 2020 BPP University – Law School Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy August 2001 The Law Society Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales 1999 – 2001 College of Law, London Professional Studies Course Electives: Wills Trusts and Estate Planning; Drafting Contracts for Sale of Commercial Properties; Civil Procedure Rules and Drafting; Acquisition and Disposal of Shares; Drafting Commercial Contracts and Standard Terms & Conditions for Business. 1998 – 1999 The Legal Practice Course 1997 – 1998 The Common Professional Examination 1992 – 1995 South Bank University London BA (Hons) Modern European Politics and History 1984 – 1991 Grey Coat Hospital Girls School, Chelsea A’ Levels and GCSE’s 1996
Cavendish College, London Marketing Diploma
1995 Sight & Sound Education Ltd, London Advanced Secretarial and Word Processing Skills 1993 Institut de Direction Commerciale Europeenne, Besanon, France Certificate in European Business Practices
I believe technological change, emerging markets and new areas of law need to be capitalized upon. I would be delighted to represent the profession at the Law Society to enable this for our members, helping them navigate through uncertain but exciting times. For you I have time, effort and strong wilful leadership to offer. So please, I ask that you vote for me as your representative for Holborn. Thank you, Rakhi. ■
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Assertiveness: the tightrope between confidence and arrogance Helen Broadbridge, a Trainee Solicitor at Macfarlanes LLP and member of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee will explore some of the qualities often suggested as lying at the root of women’s lack of progress, in this third of three articles.
ur journey through mindsets and confidence has thus far made for troubling reading. Women allegedly need to realise that they are no longer in an institution that is designed to reward everyone fairly.
As the Lean In canon goes, progress is reserved for those who are bold enough to raise their hand and ask for it. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman give an example of this in their article, The Confidence Gap1. They describe the experience of a mutual friend who had two direct reports – let’s call them Amy and Adam. Adam was a relatively new hire, but he was already walking into his manager’s office to make spontaneous pitches, comment on business strategy, or share unsolicited opinions about articles he had read. His manager often shot him down, but he did not seem deterred by the absence of praise. By contrast, Amy had been working with her manager for several years, but still made formal appointments to discuss anything and always prepared an agenda. She was quiet in meetings (focused on taking careful notes) and she took feedback hard. The manager admired Amy’s ability to prepare thoroughly and to work hard, but she admired Adam’s willingness to be wrong and his ability to absorb criticism even more. She valued and relied on Amy, but she felt it was Adam who would soon be on the ascendancy. It is a neat anecdote, but it may gloss over the untidy reality. By overcoming the fear of taking risks, women are simultaneously taking the real risk of being marked down, rather than up, for their confident displays2. If women need to stop ruminating and start acting, but in a way that is confident without being aggressive, what is it that they should be doing exactly? How do we walk the tightrope? One takeaway from the contrast between Amy and Adam is that doing your current job exactly right might not be exactly the right thing to do. There is a point at which you have to prioritise showcasing your ability to do your next job over showing mastery of your current job. For example, speaking to clients or pitching for work might be key skills in your future role, but completely outside your current job description. We know that women run the risk of being penalised for attempting to operate above their pay grade3. Therefore, women can hedge this risk by starting small and building gradually. I like to think of this as aiming to “do more than nothing”. Saying just one thing in a client meeting or on a call is better than saying nothing. Sharing one unsolicited idea with your manager is better than sharing nothing. Giving a small, internal training session to showcase a skill that might otherwise have gone unnoticed is better than doing nothing. These suggestions are not asking women simply to have confidence or feel good about themselves4 – if all women needed were a few reassuring words, they would occupy a far higher proportion of senior roles by now. For women to do 18 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Helen Broadbridge more than nothing is to assert the right not to obey the strict letter of the job description and to develop gradually into a more senior identity in both their eyes and the eyes of others5. Of course, tips on what women can do on an individual level should not overshadow the real need for policy improvements at an institutional level6. Organisations must take responsibility for women’s systemic lack of progress and implement policies in areas of known unconscious bias, such as job descriptions7, self-promotion8, work allocation (especially for non-promotable work)9 and perceptions of flexible working10. ■
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Trainee Solicitor at Macfarlanes LLP 1. Kay, K & Shipman, C, 2014, ‘The Confidence Gap’, The Atlantic. 2. Guillen, L, 2019, ‘Appearing self-confident and getting credit for it: Why it may be easier for men than women to gain influence at work,’ Human Resource Management. 3. Rudman, L.A, 2001, ‘Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes and Backlash Toward Agentic Women’, Journal of Social Issues. 4. Lindeman, M. I. H., 2018, ‘Women and Self-Promotion: A Test of Three Theories’, Psychological Reports. 5. Ibarra, H, 2013, ‘Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers’, Harvard Business Review. 6. Thomson, S, 2018, ‘A Lack of Confidence Isn’t What’s Holding Back Working Women’, The Atlantic. 7. Hebl, M, 2018, ‘How We Describe Male and Female Job Applicants Differently’, Harvard Business Review; Mohr, T, 2014, ‘Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified’, Harvard Business Review. 8. Guillen, L, 2018, ‘Is the Confidence Gap Between Men and Women a Myth?’ Harvard Business Review; Sarsons, H, 2016, ‘Proof That Women Get Less Credit for Teamwork’, Harvard Business Review. 9. Babcock, L, 2018, ‘Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions’, Harvard Business Review. 10. Burkus, D, 2017, ‘Everyone Likes Flextime, but We Punish Women Who Use It’, Harvard Business Review.
A new reality brings new opportunities for lawyers I
t was a beautiful evening, as I sauntered through the Legal Charities Garden party in Lincoln’s Inn and met a very cheerful crew from Westminster and Holborn Law Society. I signed up there and then little knowing I would soon find myself Chair of Membership Committee, making many new friends and hosting my first ever virtual webinar. Friendly and welcoming is the essence of Westminster and Holborn Law Society. Being a member of WHLS provides many opportunities. If starting off in your legal career as a newly qualified solicitor, you have opportunity to apply for the Rising Star Award. Last year our newly- qualified celebration was held at the House of Commons which was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow professionals. Our other awards include the Gamlen essay prize and the Lifetime achievement award to celebrate and promote our members‘ achievements. In March just before life in “lockdown” arrived, we held our Annual Dinner at the National Liberal club entertaining guests from throughout Europe including the Cluj Napoco Bar Association. Last year, we hosted the Milan Bar choir who performed a superb concert in Temple Church. The opportunity to meet fellow legal professionals with widely differing specialities and backgrounds both in the UK and internationally is unique to our “local” law society, we have a truly international focus including membership of the Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe. We are twinned with Berliner Rechtsanwaltskammer and L’Il.lustre Col.legi de l’Advocacia de Barcelona (ICAB).
WHLS on LinkedIn. This started with simply posting our events to our group page, to then transitioning away from the group page to our new company page. I was then asked by Gillian to lead the new Ambassadors Project, and I accepted this opportunity because it is in line with my vision of the WHLS: to bring in new talent.” If you are interested to learn more about becoming an Ambassador please get in touch through email@example.com. Membership brings the opportunity to join one or two sub committees and develop leadership skills which build strengths for CVs. The Committees cover many specialities and we are always open to new ideas. Our current committees are: Litigation, Law Reform, Conveyancing, Equalities, Diversity &Inclusion; CSR and Pro Bono; International and Membership. With several Law Society Council Members we have a good voice on the National Law Society Council too. WHLS members have a free subscription to the Society's magazine, Central London Lawyer can contribute articles to showcase your legal expertise. We can also celebrate your and your firm’s achievements and through our social media. Now, in the “new normal” we are thinking of new ways to connect with members and to increase our numbers. Aside from convivial networking events we regularly run professional development and education seminars, forum discussions and updates on important legal and practice developments. Our Westminster and Holborn constituency stretches from the south side of Oxford Street across the old Metropolitan Borough of Holborn to the City of London boundary. Whilst we may not for the time being be ambling across Lincoln Inn Fields, you are very welcome to join us, even if you are based in another geographical – which is perhaps rather more likely in this time of remote working! We will return to our office-based routine at some point but in the meantime, it is worthwhile engaging with WHLS without the commute! Do sign up on our website we would love to hear from you. ■
Chair, Membership Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society Sundev Panesar An exciting new initiative is our Ambassadors Project which is open to all and we particularly encourage junior members to take up this role as champions of our Society. Currently this is led by Sundev Panesar, I caught up with him recently to ask him about his involvement with WHLS: “When I first joined the Membership Committee, I was in the middle of my LPC and had just met Coral Hill for the first time at her inauguration as President. I was told that the Westminster and Holborn Law Society needed new talent, so I took on the project of expanding the influence of the CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 19
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DECEMBER 20 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
KEYNOTE THEATRE HIGHLIGHTS LegalEx has built a reputation for having an unrivalled speaker line up and this year is no different. Boasting a keynote schedule of professionals currently spearheading the industry, this is the chance for visitors to gain expert information directly from the best sources of industry knowledge.
The topics covered range from the technology available for professionals to utilise at work to discussions on how best to make your firm stand out from the rest of the pack. This show will be an unrivalled opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the legal industry.
From AI to IoT emerging technologies are disrupting entire industries. The legal sector is no different. So how can you respond? Learn how to develop a clear and flexible strategy for realising the benefits of innovation.
Use the following schedule to plan your perfect agenda and ensure that LegalEx 2020 is a truly beneficial year for yourself and your firm.
Craig Taylor g LEAP The Innovation Game: How SME law firms can gain a competitive advantage. In today’s competitive market, it is legal technology that is empowering small to mid-sized law firms and enabling them to excel. With access to the same technology typically afforded to larger law firms, but without the bureaucracy, SME firms are at a great advantage. They can be far more agile and can react quickly to change. This informative session looks at the emerging technologies that are enabling SME law firms to remain ahead of the curve, driving productivity, improving processes and providing flexibility to their businesses.
WEDS . 11:00 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
g PwC Adapting to a new world
WEDS . 14:00 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
Richard Tromans g Artificial Lawyer & Tromans Consulting Why Legal Tech? This seminar will cover: - what are we trying to achieve with legal tech and why it has become central to legal services delivery now. - the economic foundations/business case for the use of legal tech - as without it, what are we trying to achieve? It cannot just be for our convenience alone. - to give the audience a chance to step back and look at how things currently are and think about how legal processes can be made better. - about working with clients to deliver an improved means of delivery and more efficient production of ‘legal products’.
WEDS . 11:45 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
g Director of Anti-Money Laundering, SRA
g Lackfords Debt Recovery (Integra)
AML – what you need to know
High court enforcement and possession orders
This session will cover all the key things you need to know about to making sure you are doing the right things to prevent money laundering: from the Government’s latest money laundering regulations to ongoing requirements.
Details of the route to obtaining judgement and enforcement through the high court system. Information on possession orders and review of section 8 and 21 possession orders.
WEDS . 11.45 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 1
THURS . 11:00 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 21
Lauren Riley g The Link App What Billion Dollar Companies Know That You Don’t - The Effect Of Customer Experience Innovation Amazon may not be a law firm, but their success is unquestionable. The shift in client expectations has lifted the level of customer service demanded by clients; harming those law firms who failed to adapt. Billion dollar companies, like Amazon, identified this shift and acted quickly to grow their revenue and establish themselves as a sustainable and leading organisation. Qualified solicitor and founder of The Link App, Lauren Riley, will guide you through a case study of what the average experience for a legal client is and how embracing smart technology can help you transform your client experience to thrive.
WEDS . 14:45 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
Mariette Hughes g Head Ombudsman, Legal Ombudsman, SRA What does “reasonable service” mean?
Professor Richard Collier g Newcastle Law School, Newcastle Is wellbeing the legal profession’s ‘wicked problem’? Recent years have witnessed a growing concern internationally in wellbeing and mental health across the legal community, reflected in a host of initiatives, networks, reports and research studies. This presentation introduces and reviews key developments in legal professional practice and growing concern around law students in legal education and training, and considers whether, with regard to addressing the issue, wellbeing might usefully be characterized as a ‘wicked problem’ in the legal profession.
The Legal Ombudsman will share a range of case studies which illustrate the difference between reasonable and unreasonable service, and what excellent service looks like as well. It will give an insight into how the ombudsman makes these decisions, the types of issues that it takes into account, and how is decides what remedies are appropriate for a particular case.
WEDS . 15:30 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 1
WEDS . 15:30 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
Rachel Clements g Regulatory Manager, Thematic Team, SRA
Paul O’Hara g Regulatory Manager, Thematic Risk, SRA Cybercrime - protecting your firm This session will cover some of the key cybercrime risks the SRA sees in its work. As well as highlighting best practice, it will also include findings from a recent review of how law firms are managing risk in this area.
THURS . 14:00 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 1
22 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Kiwi Camara g CS Disco Transformation Comes from People, Process, and Technology; but not Equally The velocity of technological innovation is rapidly impacting the practice of law. While having defensible processes and well trained people remains relevant, embracing advanced technology is the most important factor in driving true transformation in a post AI legal world.
THUR . 11:45 . KEYNOTE THEATRE 2
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Diversity: There’s more to do, but we’ve come a long way T
here are certain moments in legal history that loom larger than others, something as lawyers we are all aware of. Whether sudden and sharp, such as the judgment of the Supreme Court in R (Miller) v The Prime Minister, or more of a long burn, such as the decade long interval between the Wolfenden Report and the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, these moments are more than just footnotes in history. From my own perspective, a moment I consider especially important is the 2003 repeal of s.28 of the Local Government Act 1988, when I was just 14. As a result of the provision, there was no mention of the possibility of successful homosexual relationships and I grew up not knowing that my sexuality was valid, healthy and fun. It took another 10 years for me to come out, doing so long after I left university. And yet, I now find myself an openly gay man, writing an article on LGBT+ inclusion in the law, and taking my first steps in new career at an international firm. This is progress. LGBT+ visibility across society has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2019, Pride in London drew 1.5m people to the streets, by contrast, the first Pride in 1972 drew only 2000. The flourish of Pride flags adorning corporate premises and social media grows year on year, and the so-called ‘pink pound’ now contributes over £6bn to the economy in the UK. With corporate clients now firmly, and necessarily, onboard, legal procurement is becoming increasingly dependent on firms sharing these values.
Firms are increasingly conscious of their place in society and are actively supportive of both their own LGBT+ colleagues and of LGBT+ individuals aspiring to join the profession. From firm specific initiatives, such as equaliTW at my own firm, to the Law Society’s LGBT+ division, the voices of the LGBT+ community are being heard more frequently and more loudly than ever before. Groups such as Aspiring Solicitors and events such as DiversCity are vital in ensuring that the profession can move to a place where the first reaction for aspiring professionals is not one of fear but one of hope. Today’s trainees will be the leaders of tomorrow and it is therefore vital that a culture of inclusion is built from the ground up. In spite of this progress, the threat of a retreat is very real. The recent election of Duda in Poland shows that even subject to the weight of EU sentiment, LGBT+ rights can be threatened and rolled back. In the UK, the government's failure to announce plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act by their own deadline has caused anxiety amongst the trans community. There is more to do to ensure that LGBT+ diversity and inclusion is a permanent fixture and a lived reality and not just a footnote in the corporate marketing playbook. I am thankful for the position I find myself in today. My own openness is only possible because of the ground work done by generations before me. Whilst being LGBT+ in 2020 is not easy, it is certainly easier than it ever has been. We owe a duty to those that have fought before us to continue. ■
The positive impact of a diverse workforce has been shown time and time again. A 2020 McKinsey report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, highlights the relationship between financial performance and the diversity of executive teams. The business case for diversity is strong and this translates to actions taken by firms across the profession. Longevity and success for law firms will no doubt depend on their ability to attract the best talent, regardless of background. This fact holding more true than ever as recent studies suggest only 48% of Gen Z individuals consider themselves strictly heterosexual. With the talent pool increasingly being made up of those identifying as LGBT+, firms that act early and convincingly will benefit in the long term.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-Committee
Trainee Solicitor Taylor Wessing LLP
e’ve held two virtual meetings to keep our initiatives moving. We intend to maintain a constant presence on WHLS social media and in the magazine and I’m delighted that two of our members have written for this edition. If anyone is interested in joining us or has suggestions, do please contact me direct firstname.lastname@example.org We would ask all members organising events to consider the make-up of panels. Please ensure there is diversity; it only takes a call or two to discover the right speakers. As the profession is now a majority of women, all male panels should be an image from the past. ■
24 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Torture of British HK Consulate Employee Simon Cheng: A Legal Response
t has recently been announced that former British Hong Kong Consulate staff member Simon Cheng, who reported being tortured on his return from a trip to mainland China in August 2019, has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom. Mr Cheng has revealed that he was subject to physical and psychological torture by Chinese officers, aimed at procuring a false admission that the UK was behind the democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Mr Cheng bravely detailed the actions of those who tortured him, despite the obvious risks to himself. Mr. Cheng was employed at the British consulate as a trade and investment officer. On 8 August 2019, on his return from a business trip to the Chinese mainland, Mr. Cheng was intercepted by security officers at West Kowloon rail station and taken into police custody where he was detained for 15 days. During his detention, Mr. Cheng was repeatedly interrogated while restrained in a ‘tiger chair’ designed to prevent movement, by as many as 15 men, and for up to 48 hours at a time. He was also denied sleep, shackled in a spread eagle position causing acute joint pain, made to squat for prolonged periods of time and beaten if he moved, shackled, blindfolded, and hooded and intimidated psychologically, including by being played a song featuring lyrics describing permanent separation from family members. During this ordeal, the questioning of Mr Cheng focused on his role in the democracy protests and he reports seeing other Hong Kong protesters during his time in custody. He was eventually forced to plead guilty to soliciting prostitution – a charge which experts note is commonly employed by Chinese authorities to try to humiliate detainees and prevent public support.
Mr Cheng explained that he decided to speak out about his torture in order to highlight the grave extent of the impact of Chinese rule on Hong Kong citizens’ freedoms – the impetus behind the protests. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed support for Mr. Cheng as well as outrage at the “disgraceful” treatment he underwent. Additionally, Mr. Raab has summoned the Chinese ambassador, and outlined his desire for those responsible to be held to account. Whilst the detention and torture of Mr Cheng was clearly a political outrage it was also a breach of international law. The prohibition against torture is well established under customary international law as a jus cogens prohibition, allowing for no exceptions. This prohibition has been set out in a number of international treaties including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ratified by China in 1988. Despite this, China has repeatedly failed to stop torturing Government critics or ‘shown any willingness to adopt the independent experts’ recommendations to eradicate torture and ill-treatment in detention.’1 As well as being contrary to the highest principles of international law, the conduct that Mr Cheng reported is also unlawful in English law. Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 provides that ‘A public official or person acting in an official capacity, whatever his nationality, commits the offence of torture if in the United Kingdom or elsewhere he intentionally inflicts severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his official duties.’ As can be seen, s134 provides for universal jurisdiction for this offence meaning that no matter where torture takes place, the English Courts have jurisdiction. This offence is likely to cover all those who took part in the treatment of Mr Cheng in detention, including those who initially detained and transferred him and those with responsibility over the detention centre where he was held. Continued on next page
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Continued from previous page To bring a prosecution under s134 the Attorney General must provide consent for a prosecution to be initiated. Permission is also needed from the Director of Public Prosecutions for an arrest warrant to be issued. Mr Cheng’s account of his treatment appears to satisfy the evidential threshold needed to obtain such permissions. Given that Mr Cheng was working for the UK government when the torture took place the public interest test likewise appears to be satisfied in this instance. Now that Mr Cheng has been granted political asylum in the UK and is relatively safe from Beijing’s reach, the British police ought to take a full account from him as to what took place. Once this was done proceedings for the offence under s134 should commence. Admittedly China would be very unlikely to extradite those who took part in or facilitated the mistreatment of Mr Cheng upon an extradition request from the United Kingdom. However, proceedings for the treatment of Mr Cheng, and international arrest warrants against those who took part in that treatment or facilitated it, would at least show that such conduct will have practical consequences in limiting the ability of those responsible to travel abroad. Most importantly however, it would send a strong message about the UK’s opposition to China’s deplorable use of torture against those in custody. ■
Barrister, Church Court Chambers and Director, Justice Abroad
Rumer Ramsey Masters Student Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Michael Polak is a barrister practising in criminal, international, and human rights law at Church Court Chambers. Michael is also a Director at Justice Abroad which helps people who need assistance dealing with legal proceedings overseas and co-ordinator of Fuel Our Frontline an initiative to get essential groceries to frontline NHS staff during the Coronavirus crisis. Michael is committed to helping the junior Bar reach their potential as well as promoting the rule of law around the world. Rumer Ramsey is an International Technology Law Masters student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where her studies include the impact of emerging technologies on human rights. She is the Associate Chief Editor of the Amsterdam Law Forum, which is a student-run law journal specialising in international law. Rumer also holds a Bachelor in English Literature from the University of Bristol, and a Graduate Diploma in Law from BPP University. 1. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/09/china-un-reviewslams-lack-progress-torture
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E-Estonia Showroom by Annika Haas (EU2017EE. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
LegalTech in the most advanced digital society in the world I
grew up in the old Soviet Union and for me, as for many other Soviet citizens, the three Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were a strange island of relative liberalism in the USSR. They had medieval towns, signs in Latin alphabet letters, cosy cafes serving real coffee, glossy magazines and far greater numbers of young people wearing jeans. Locally manufactured magnetic taperecorders and cassette-players, though highly desirable, were often unattainable for most Soviet households as they were regarded as items of “non first-necessity”. However, even in regions considered advanced by Soviet standards, the handicap of operating within the command and control economy meant that they struggled to compete with companies based in free market economies. Yet in less than 30 years since re-gaining their independence, these three countries have made huge progress in developing their industries to become highly competitive on the world stage. In particular, Estonia is famous for building its digital economy and is recognised as the most advanced digital society in the world with locally bred $1billion unicorns like Skype, Taxify, TransferWise and Playtech.
e-Estonia Branding itself as e-Estonia, the country has embraced the digital way of life with: ■ 99% of state services now online. ■ 99% of local residents using electronic ID-cards. ■ Almost half of the population voting via the internet in state and EU elections. Estonia is expanding its digital agenda beyond its borders and now offers e-Residency to foreign entrepreneurs wishing to benefit from the government e-services platform and has also established the first data embassy in Luxembourg. The government continues to make investments in developing an efficient, secure and transparent digital ecosystem, connecting citizens and businesses with state-provided services via X-Road, an integrated data-exchange platform. This ambitious project includes e-Law, e-Justice and e-Police systems built on locally designed KSI blockchain technology. Bringing AI into the administration of justice, with robot-judges deciding simple contract disputes, is next on the agenda. Continued on next page CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 27
Continued from previous page This is a truly impressive track record for a country of 1.3 million citizens, with GDP of EUR11 billion and half its territory covered by forest. So how has this approach changed the way local businesses deal with their legal issues and what impact has it had on the way in-house legal functions operate in Estonia? I discussed this with Mariana Hagström, the Founder and CEO of Avokaado, a leading local LegalTech provider. Avokaado provides contract automation and management solutions to law firms and enterprises in the Baltics and beyond on its DIY platform. The challenges faced by Estonian in-house lawyers are the same as those encountered by the in-house legal community worldwide, namely: ■ Limited resources. ■ Budget constraints. ■ Constant and growing demand for speed and operational efficiency. ■ An ever-increasing compliance burden. However, with digital becoming part of Estonian society’s DNA, finding solutions to these challenges through smart adoption and the use of modern technologies seems to come more naturally in this part of the world. Automating a contract precedent library I doubt there is a single in-house lawyer who has escaped being drawn into a project to create new contract templates or update existing precedents. This is typically a painstaking and time-consuming exercise, which is prone to human error. It often forms part of legal departments’ and GC’s annual performance objectives, which brings extra pressure to complete the project by a certain date, while continuing with the day job. In-house lawyers rarely enjoy the experience, particularly as the whole process often needs repeating every few years or sooner if there are changes in the law or to corporate policies. When the two-person strong in-house legal team of the Estonian subsidiary of Tele2, a major telecoms operator in Scandinavia and Baltics, faced this problem they thought there must be a better way of doing things. Their approach was to upload all the templates and precedent clauses to an externally managed, specialised contract IT platform and automate them so that internal clients could populate the documents by filling in an online questionnaire. The platform was configured so that all the templates are kept up to date, avoiding the need for any future manual updates. Although this sounds a relatively simple step, how many of us would have taken it before launching into updating contract templates? The IT solution that helped Tele2 lawyers is not unique and similar contract management tools are available in the UK, but their approach does provide a lesson for UK-based in-house lawyers. If we want to continue to meet our clients’ expectations, and remain fast and efficient, we need to change our mindset and think “digital” more often. If undertaking an existing task is a hassle, before doing it again, have a look at what technology exists that may be able to help you. There are often cost-effective technologies on the market and typically they won’t be some earth-shattering AI-driven, blockchaindeveloped, machine-learning based system but something much more straightforward. Allocating requests for legal support Consider how in-house functions receive and allocate requests for legal support. If there was a survey among in-house lawyers 28 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
of the most detested ways of receiving a request for legal support, I think the following methods would be near the top: ■ An email sent to you and one or more of your colleagues with a copy to your boss, reading something like: “Hi Guys, could you please review and mark-up the attached for me. Thanks.” A real team-spirit killer! ■ A phone call with the voice at the other end saying: “I have just sent you an email”, followed by a dramatic pause. ■ A matryoschka email, with multiple attachments, each containing further attachments, which in turn have more attachments. Now consider the last time that you needed to contact your IT department, for example to gain access to a shared drive. Did you send an email or call IT? Most likely you had to access your corporate IT-support website and file your request there. Other corporate services, from HR and Procurement to Facilities Management and Finance, are starting to use similar portals. IT tools exist that automate the process of submission, allocation and tracking of legal requests efficiently, so when it comes to legal services why do emails and phone calls remain the most used forms of request? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the main problem is our mindset. Despite feeling overwhelmed by overflowing email boxes, constantly ringing phones and the irritating sounds of incoming instant messages, in-house lawyers often think that adopting such tools might somehow “commoditise” their services and make them less valuable. He who seeks shall find Estonians have an old saying,“kes otsib, see leiab”, which means “he who seeks shall find”, and they tend not to accept an inconvenience as an inevitable state of affairs that should be endured. I read an interview with a former CEO of a leading Estonian software company who was asked to give an example of the Estonian “digital mindset”. He recounted queuing 45 minutes in JFK to pass through immigration control with his children. Their response to the delay was: “why do they not have some kind of app for this?” Perhaps it’s that mindset which allows this small and proud nation to punch way above its weight when it comes to the digital economy and gives us all an example to follow. ■
Chair, Technology & Law Committee The Law Society of England & Wales
This article first appeared on the Practical Law In-house blog: http://in-houseblog.practicallaw.com/
Pandemic pressure tempts companies to non-compliance Employees need to be heard on ethical dangers Neta Meidav is co-founder and CEO of Vault Platform, a tech company disrupting workplace misconduct reporting and resolution. Neta worked as a senior adviser to the UK Government for over ten years and is a knowledgeable resource on solutions to the problem of harassment and bullying in the workplace.
the pandemic as Black and minority ethnic employees are disproportionately exposed, but has also gathered significant momentum in its own right.
These risks of non-compliance and ethical failings bring with them the opportunity for significant reputational and financial damage through negative media coverage and settlement costs. Furthermore, one thing that’s become increasingly clear is that employees are becoming more organised and more confident when it comes to speaking up.
As he launched the UK Labour Market Enforcement Annual Report, Taylor said a high-pressure economic environment would lead to the increased temptation of non-compliance, while simultaneously lowering the resistance of individuals at risk of being exploited as they struggle with employment.
The Future of Work survey carried out by Herbert Smith Freehills revealed that 80% of surveyed enterprises globally expect to see a rise in activism among both employees and casual workers in the future. The expectation is higher among large companies (those with annual revenue of $1bn or more), where 86% say they are more likely to see a rise in activism, with social media continuing to play a key role as a tool for both coordinating and amplifying workforce activism. Some 95% of respondents to the law firm’s survey said they expect to see an increase in their workforce making its voice heard through social media channels in the future.
ompanies should be bracing for a wave of lawsuits as a by-product of the already significant disruption caused by COVID-19. A grave warning came from Matthew Taylor, interim director of Labour Market Enforcement and chief of The RSA, who said in late July that the pandemic was putting pressure on companies to cut corners regarding employee safety and wellbeing in a bid to stay in business.
In the city of Leicester, which faced increased lockdown restrictions following a spike in Coronavirus infections, a Sunday Times investigation found that workers in the garment factories for which the city is well known were offered well below the UK’s minimum wage and worked in conditions that defied social distancing rules. The UK care home sector is also under fire, from both the families of residents and employees themselves, over conditions in an industry that is one of the hardest hit by the virus. Meanwhile, the latest bulletin from the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority raised similar concerns over the findings of its own investigations during the first quarter of the year which focused on a surge of reports from the car washing, agriculture, hotels and restaurants, food processing, and construction sectors. Yet it’s not just industries that require workers to be on-site facing backlash from disgruntled workers. Office-based jobs that have moved to a work-from-home model are facing legal action from employees that feel unsupported with difficult working conditions, the pressure of childcare, and even the risk of domestic violence. Furthermore, interpersonal misconduct such as racism, bullying, discrimination, and harassment hasn’t gone away with reduced physical interaction, it’s simply changed vector to become an online problem. Farore Law issued this advice: “An employer’s liability for the conduct of their employees is not waived simply because a victim is working from home. If such conduct is related to a protected characteristic and done ‘in the course of employment’ then the employer will be liable for the discriminatory detriment that the worker suffers.” Indeed, 2020 has been eventful in that there are multiple new crises faced by businesses – not just Coronavirus directly – that share commonalities in that they have surfaced new risks and vulnerabilities, deepened public understanding and concern, and started to shine a light on a set of new policy and operational challenges. One such challenge is that of discrimination and racism within the workplace, which is in part driven by
Hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons is obviously not good and in many respects is entirely preventable. One of the common problems is that companies weren’t listening to their employees, or if they were, they couldn’t hear them. There are commonalities in the required solution. If we take Adidas as a case in point, one of the public demands from employees alleging systemic discrimination was for the “creation of an anonymous platform where employees can report instances of racism and discrimination, and for protection against retaliation”. Employees are actively seeking ways to voice their concerns and if employers fail to provide adequate tools internally, they will likely take their voice to a public platform with potentially disastrous consequences. Ethics and compliance are no longer process-driven strategies or a list of boxes to be checked off, they’re a part of the modern company culture and legacy listening devices, like ethics hotlines, are part of the old world and little used today. Legacy means passive and passive means inaction. Companies should want to hear from their people what’s really happening on the ground. They should want to get a head’s up on problems before they grow out of control. As the saying goes: “the truth will out,” so companies blinkered to non-compliance now will be saving pain for the future. New technologies have evolved, which offer active listening, essential psychological safety, and empower people to speak up and report and resolve misconduct internally within their companies. Racism, exploitation, and discrimination can be discovered and stopped if companies invest in systemic internal change and open up to innovation in this space. ■
CEO & Co-founder Vault Platform CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 29
The Law Society – whose side is it on anyway?
magine you’re defending a finance firm facing a multimillion-pound contract case. On the prosecution side are three barristers and a QC. On the defence side, you were on your own. You’d soon be gone and on no one’s side. But didn’t something like this happen to a young, newly qualified junior solicitor? Claire Matthews was a paid-up member of the Law Society who left a suitcase with sensitive documents on public transport. She needed a defence team when she was eventually prosecuted by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). Yet, she was left to represent herself while the senior and highpowered team of lawyers at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) threw the book at her. After a four-day hearing, a promising career was left in tatters. She was struck off and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs. She has now found work in a call centre earning £9 per hour. The incident led to her suffering mental issues and ‘drinking bleach in an attempt to end her life’. Abdicates its primary function You have to ask yourself, if the young lawyer was to receive justice, where was her equality of arms? What was the Law Society doing? The Law Society as a matter of policy does not represent its members before the SDT. It chooses to abdicates its primary function of representing members at the most crucial time of their career. Not surprisingly, the SRA received an avalanche of criticism over its decision to prosecute but not from the Law Society. The Junior Lawyers Division rose to the occasion when it called out the SRA and declared it had lost confidence in them. Meanwhile, Claire Matthews, with pro-bono support from Leigh Day, has now gone to Crowdfund and has raised £13,000 of the £40,000 to fund a hearing at the High Court. The Law Society has maintained its deafening silence. Equality of arms Whilst we all believe that the roughs in our profession should be sanctioned. We all also believe, that when a solicitor’s livelihood is at stake, justice demands equality of arms. No solicitor should be struck off without their case being put adequately. No solicitor should find their career ended through lack of personal funds to fight their corner. After all, surely, that is what the Law Society is for – to fight for every solicitor’s interests. What interest could be more important to a solicitor than their very survival. Yet the Law Society is content with being a lobbying group – not a particularly effective one at that – but not an advocate for its individual, membership fee payers who pay the Society’s salaries. It’s time for the Law Society to wake up to whose side they’re on and accept its raison d’etre – it’s the members stupid. ■
Senior Vice President, Westminster & Holborn Law Society Founder & Managing Partner of Sharma Solicitors 30 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
How does a Bill become a law? I
The Bill – which will invariably have been amended from the first draft – is then reprinted before the next stage.
Bills are draft laws, and they start either in the House of Commons or in the House of Lords. As you will see, it can be a lengthy process for a draft law to be debated, the wording amended, and for the Bill to become the new law.
4. Report Stage It then returns to the floor of the House of Commons for its Report Stage where the amended Bill could be debated and further amendments proposed.
For a Bill which starts in the House of Commons there are several stages, which are mirrored at a later stage in the House of Lords. Unless it is a piece of emergency legislation, then it is often introduced simultaneously in both the House of Lords and in the House of Commons.
There is no set time period between the end of Committee Stage and the start of the Report Stage
1. First Reading There is the First Reading – where the Bill is published as a House of Commons paper for the first time.
5. Third Reading The Report Stage is usually followed immediately by a debate on the Bill’s Third Reading. This is usually short. Amendments cannot be made to a Bill at the Third Reading in the House of Commons.
am often asked “how does a Bill become a law?”, so I have prepared this short note to explain the process.
2. Second Reading Then there is a Second Reading at which the Government minister, spokesperson or MP responsible for the Bill opens the Second Reading debate. The official Opposition spokesperson will have the opportunity to respond. There is then a continued debate at which Opposition parties and the backbench MP’s – those who sit in the back benches of the House of Commons, and who do not hold a government office – provide their opinions. At the end of the debate, there is a vote in the House of Commons when it is decided whether the Bill should be given its Second Reading so that it can proceed to the next stage. 3. Committee Stage If the Bill proceeds to the Committee Stage – this is where it gets really interesting and each part of the draft legislation (each clause) is considered – proposals are put forward to amend (to change) the Bill. The proposed amendments are published each day.
All MPs are allowed to speak and vote, and debate often takes place over several days for more complicated Bills.
Following the debate, the House of Commons then votes on whether to approve the Third Reading of the Bill. 6. House of Lords If approved, then the Bill is then sent to the House of Lords, who carry out the same steps: First Reading, Second Reading, Committee Stage, Report Stage and the Third Reading. 7. Consideration of amendments It is then sent back to the House of Commons to consider amendments from the House of Lords. If there have been no amendments in the Lords, then the Bill is sent to the Queen for Royal Assent. 8. Royal Assent After a Bill has completed all of the Parliamentary stages in both houses it must then have Royal Assent before it becomes an Act of Parliament, by which I mean a law. The new legislation can commence on a specific date in the future – usually set by a government minister. If there is no listed commencement order then the Act will come into force from midnight at the start of the day of the Royal Assent. ■ CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 31
The Workforce Information Bill O
n 3rd February 2020, Lord Shinkwin introduced a private member’s bill – The Workforce Information Bill – to make provision for certain employers to be required to publish information about differences in pay relative to protected characteristics. The Bill proposes an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 for the Secretary of State to provide regulations for employers to publish annually information relating to – ■ the pay of employees for the purpose of showing whether there are differences in pay between persons who differ in respect of particular protected characteristics; ■ the total number and percentage of employees who disclose one or more protected characteristics; and ■ for employer’s with 250 employees to provide disaggregated data for each of the protected characteristics.
The Bill also proposes that failure to comply with the regulations is to be punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000); or to be enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Lord Shinkwin has expressed the need to have equality of opportunity for race and disability and other protected characteristics. The next stage in the progress of the Bill is for a Second Reading. The date of the Second Reading is to be confirmed. ■
The Employment (Dismissal and Re-Employment) Bill 2019-21 Y
ou may not have heard of the Employment (Dismissal and Re-Employment) Bill 2019-21. It is a private members bill introduced by Gavin Newlands MP, who is the Scottish National Party MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, who holds the role of shadow SNP spokesperson for transport. The Bill received its first reading in the House of Commons on 9 June 2020 and it is scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 10 July 2020. The details of the Bill have not been published and indeed the text of the bill itself has not been published either. However, Mr Newlands has explained that the idea for the Bill came about in response to the threat to the aviation sector in his constituency. His comments were specifically pointed at British Airways, where he referred to their firing and rehiring plans of tens of thousands of workers, which he described as horrendous. His petition states that many workers in the airline industry are currently under threat of being dismissed from their posts and then being rehired on lesser terms and conditions and salary. The petition notes that most other European countries have legislation in place to prevent such mistreatment and to protect workers from management abuse and threats, benefitting both employees and the wider economy. Note is made not only of the volume of correspondence being received by Members’ offices regarding reports of this practice at British Airways, but also that the Bill aims to protect workers from management abuse.
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The aim of the Bill is to prohibit employers from dismissing employees and subsequently re-employing them for the purpose of diminishing the terms and conditions of employment. When the Bill was mentioned in the House of Commons the Prime Minister said: “I will of course study the Bill … I will cause it to be studied… we will continue to ensure that no one is penalised for doing the right thing to beat this virus”.1 It will be interesting to see whether and how this private members bill progresses because as employers in both the private and public sector continue to seek to make reductions in pay and benefits, the aggressive approach of dismissing staff and offering to re-engage them on inferior terms and conditions may become illegal. ■ 1. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-06-23/ debates/7E464B41-46ED-4FA9-BAFD-28EC7B3DA230/ Covid-19Update?highlight=employment%20dismissal%2 re-employment%20bill#contribution-BCD45BDC-08FB4CFE-9D5C-57FFCC27AC20
The Equal Pay Bill 2019-21 T
he Equal Pay Bill was introduced by Baroness Prosser in the House of Lords on 28 January 2020.
The Equal Pay Bill, if made law, has the potential to fundamentally change the workplace for women. One of the key issues that it seeks to address is the lack of pay transparency in the workplace, and it seeks to provide women with early access to the information that they need. It seeks to give women who suspect they are not getting equal pay a ‘Right to Know’ what a male comparator is paid. The intention is to give women the opportunity to resolve equal pay issues without having to go to court. The Equal Pay Bill seeks to amend the Equality Act 2010, the Equality Act 2006, and the Employment Rights Act 1996 to: 1. Provide employees with the Right to Know relevant information about a possible comparator for equal pay purposes. Where an employee suspects that an individual or group may constitute a comparator, they would have a right to know certain information about the comparator’s pay or benefits, and related information. They could obtain this information by making a formal request to their employer. The Bill provides for safeguards to ensure proper use of the information, and for enforcement through the courts and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission; 2. Ensure that women are able to bring equal pay cases without being ruled out by strict time limits; that the remedies they receive include sums for injury to feelings, personal injury and lost pension rights; and that following Brexit, employers will not be able to deny women their rights to equal pay through complex ownership structures; 3. Provide for the inclusion of information on equal pay within the written statement of employment particulars; and 4. Mandate the following changes to gender pay gap reporting: the lowering of the threshold for reporting to 100 or more employees; the inclusion of data on pay of employees of different ethnic origins; the publication by each employer of an action plan; and the publication of additional pay data. So, what would be contained in the Right to Know Information? This is where it gets interesting. The Equal Pay Bill Seeks to amend the Equality Act 2010 to include a new Right to Know specific Information: ■ The comparator’s gross annual basic pay and hours worked in respect of such pay; ■ Where the comparator is a group of workers performing the work in question, a list – in rank order – for each worker in that group of their gross annual basic pay and hours worked in respect of such pay; ■ Information about other terms in relation to pay or benefits, including terms relating to –
– shift working; – standby; – bank holidays or time off in lieu: – attendance; – performance related pay; and – any other terms relevant to equal pay; – job descriptions and, if the work has changed, any previous job descriptions.
What happens if an employer fails to provide the Right to Know Information? If an employer fails to provide the right to know information then the applicant will be able to make an application to the court or tribunal for disclosure of the information that was the subject of the request and an order for disclosure from that court or tribunal. As part of that process the court or tribunal must consider whether it is appropriate to make an order that the employer pay the full costs and expenses incurred by the applicant or their reticence tips or a proportion of those costs. It is proposed that if there is a failure to comply, then the employer will be served with a Right to Know Notice and a financial penalty if they do not comply within a 20-day period. It is proposed that the Secretary of State would set out regulations prescribing the amount of penalties under this regime, and it is proposed that it would be calculated by reference to the number of people employed by the employer or their turnover. There will also be an appeals process for employers. Statement of particulars A key requirement for employers is to tell employees about their right to equal pay from the beginning of their contract, and it is proposed that the statement of employment particulars also contain a description of the employees’ rights having equality of terms, meaning equal pay for equal work including work of equal value. The research relating to the Bill is contained in the Fawcett Society’s report ‘Why Women Need a Right to Know: Shining a light on pay discrimination’.1 The next stage in the process is for the Bill to have its Second Reading, which will take place at a date to be confirmed. ■
Chair, Law Reform Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society 1. Andrew Bazeley and Gemma Rosenblatt (2019), Why Women Need a Right to Know: Shining a light on pay discrimination, Fawcett Society: London.
– bonus; – overtime; CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 33
JUNIOR LAWYERS DIVISION
How to be productive when working from home W
ith local lockdowns looming and COVID-19 not disappearing any time soon, working from home will become the new normal for many firms. So what is the best way to be productive when working from home? COVID-19 may be with us for quite some time and given that many firms have put the infrastructure in place for working from home it looks likely that this may become the new working practice for many. Here are some top tips which have assisted me during the lockdown period, and even once COVID-19 is hopefully a distant memory, will assist with flexible working policies at many law firms. Routine Routine is key when working from home. Whatever your routine is you should try and stick to it. It doesn’t mean you have to get yourself up at the crack of dawn as if you are going to the office but means having the same working pattern each day working from home. I have found by getting up and watching the news with a cup of tea instead of the usual morning commute means that I am still updated on current affairs and prepared for the working day ahead. Although a pyjama day might be tempting, by putting on your work attire you avoid the embarrassment of an unscheduled video call, and it also ensures your working day is as normal as it would be in the office. Exercise Finding time to exercise is crucial. During lockdown, like many others, I started Couch to 5K as a challenge and to keep my body and mind active. Going for a run at lunchtimes makes my afternoons very productive and ensures that I had left my desk and had a break from screen time! Even if some days you only go for a walk around the block during the lunch hour or before work, this ensures you are keeping active in place of rushing around the office or stretching your legs to get a drink, which would be your typical exercise during the working day. Keeping active is very important for your well-being when working in the legal profession. Organisation Since working from home – for many trainees, junior lawyers, and paralegals – it has been a challenging time where adapting to being away from the office has been a top priority, especially when supervisors and colleagues are not on the desk next door to answer a quick question! I have found that this has meant organisation is crucial in order to assess your supervisor’s capacity and knowing when to book time in the diary for a catch up call on cases that you are assisting on. Of course, being organised is always a key part of any aspiring lawyers’ job, but whilst working from home you cannot pop your head up from your desk to see if a colleague looks busy. 34 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Keeping in Touch Video calls have surged in recent months with many of us now feeling the ‘Zoom fatigue’. However, organising a team call once a week keeps you engaged with both your work and the team. Even if the call is not strictly work related, it is important to keep in contact with colleagues and friends, which is especially good for well-being and your mental health. Clear Desk Policy At the end of the working day, if you are able to, clear all your work equipment into a box and put this away. This will help you switch off from work and be able relax for the evening and weekends. With many law firms trickling their staff back into the office, working from home will inevitably become more popular and will assist many employees in the future. It is important to remember that however you work from home, by trying to stick to a routine and keeping active, you will succeed in being productive. ■
Junior Lawyers Division Committee Paralegal, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
JUNIOR LAWYERS DIVISION
Junior Lawyers – we’ve got your back D
o you work closely with Junior Lawyers? If so, we need your help in reaching those at the start of their careers. Please share this with colleagues. By now, you may be aware of our COVID-19 Support Hub and £1 million Personal Hardship Fund for those affected by Coronavirus. Since launching these a few months back, we’ve received a number of applications from a broad range of solicitors. One group in particular is Junior Lawyers. Recently we joined a webinar hosted by LawCare to highlight the help available for this group. Joined by representatives from LawCare, Solicitors Assistance Scheme and the Junior Lawyers Division, we discussed key challenges and signed posted where to receive assistance. www.sba.org.uk/junior-lawyers-weve-got-your-back ■
Making an impact and creating credibility on video calls and in virtual courtrooms webinar with Sylvia Cohen
xcellent communication skills are always high up on the job description for lawyers. The ability to clearly communicate is now especially essential in the new normal where video calls have replaced the corporate meeting room. In the new digital forums we need to gain emotional equity quickly if we are to put anxious clients at ease, present persuasive arguments to a virtual courtroom and gain credibility with peers.
to prepare for video calls. Firstly by setting the scene, how to place the camera in the correct position, together with hints on lighting and sound. Sylvia then ran through posture styles and demonstrated the importance of breath and voice tone to ensure audience engagement. Using simple techniques– which intriguingly included repetition of a simple nursery rhyme – by the end of the session we had all learnt a few steps we could use to present more confidently and effectively.
We were therefore delighted voice coach and communications specialist Sylvia Cohen of Sylvia Cohen communications: was able to take time out of her busy schedule and share a few tips for improving our video presence. Sylvia has many years’ experience of helping lawyers achieve their full potential by transforming the way they use their voice to communicate.
For members who missed the live session a link to the webinar recording is available, or better still contact Sylvia by emailing email@example.com to learn more. ■
During our webinar Making an Impact and Creating Credibility on Video Calls and in Virtual Courtrooms we learned how
Chair, Membership Committee Westminster & Holborn Law Society CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 35
Upgrading software … should I? I
f you are in a position where you are asking yourself this question, then the answer is highly likely to be “yes”!
inaccurate picture of the case and accounts position, breaching SRA rules.
I have seen many situations where the progress of a law firm’s efficiency is being held back significantly because it is using completely outdated and sometimes unsupported software! This can have a dramatic impact on some of the key areas of the firm including the accounts department.
After taking into account all the data security issues associated with old and/or non-supported software, there is also the question of efficiency. Working on old systems is usually more difficult than new ones. This is usually due to the software being on an old computer which itself will run very slowly. Using old hardware as well as software is incredibly inefficient considering how cheap computers are to buy in 2020. Time wasted waiting for a computer to respond costs the firm dearly in the long run as this will result in more people being employed to cover the workload or less work being done so the firm misses out on more revenue. This by far outweighs the cost of a new computer and new software.
Out of date software can quite often cause serious issues with compliance. This is not necessarily because of the entries and records entered onto it, but simply because it cannot keep up to date with the latest changes from operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS. Even the smallest changes in operating system functionality can cause data file corruption in unsupported software. Many old systems operate using a single or very few data files. These data files are used to populate the fields seen within the system such as accounts ledgers and reports. If they become corrupted it is very likely that the ledgers we wish to view and the reports we wish to render will be completely incorrect and will in effect, breach the SRA Accounts Rules. Further issues can occur on out of date software if it does not work on the latest operating systems (OS). The current OS being widely used are Windows 10 and Mac OS 10.15. These systems are kept fully up to date and are being regularly upgraded with the latest security and patches. Many old systems simply will not work on these new OS and can only function on Windows 7, Vista and in some cases XP whose support ended in April 2014! The main issue with using such out of date versions to keep old software running is the security aspect. The latest version of Windows is constantly providing security updates to avoid hackers and scammers. Without that security the whole system may be open to viruses, malware and even ransomware, where hackers lock out all data and demand money for its release. Backing up old databases is hugely important when running one of these systems. There is no other way to save data without doing manual backups when using unsupported software. This means the onus is on the firm to backup onto either a physical drive, a CD or potentially a server depending on the rest of the IT infrastructure. Most newer packages do not require the firm to provide physical/manual backups as the data is held in a datacentre provided by the software company. Further risk to data may come when a system restore is taken from the physical backup. All entries made subsequent-to the backup will be lost and will need to be re-entered. There is always a risk that the backup becomes corrupt and upon restoring will present an
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Another aspect to consider is that new packages have all sorts of helpful additions which can make life a lot easier and help a firm become more profitable in the longer term. For example, newer software is generally designed for firms to have digital client files where all documents can be saved online without the need for a hefty paper file. This saves significant time and resources printing documents and filing them in the correct order to satisfy file audits. This feature alone could cut a firm’s staffing overhead significantly or could free up time with the current staff base and allow for more work to come in to increase turnover. Other features include online form integration, automated legalaid submissions, and automated searches for property matters. All these new bonus features chip away at the time spent, increasing the firm’s efficiency piece by piece. Generally, these updated features are added with new software at little or no extra cost. The subscription fee keeps you fully up to date with the latest developments. In closing, considering the cost in time, security and compliance, it is certainly better to upgrade your software from an out of date/non supported system to one that works on a subscription basis which keeps you fully up to date with the latest security and features. ■
New Business Manager The Law Factory LLP www.thelawfactory.net
Instant Legal Indemnity Insurance – Properties & Developments A
re you a property conveyancer involved with ‘residential’ and ‘commercial’ properties and/or developments? Do you on occasion need to find legal indemnity insurance for your clients? Do you want to spend as little time as possible securing the right level of insurance cover for them? Whether you are dealing with a sale or purchase, dealing with a single property or a portfolio of properties, conducting local authority searches or not, Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) offers multiple flexible policy issuing methods suited to you – the conveyancer, whilst at the same time ensuring your client is comprehensively covered. As a market leader, GCS specialises in providing the broadest range of policy types which can be accessed INSTANTLY in the following ways:
■ GCS insurance ‘Pack’ – Just as easy as GCS Online, except instead of electronic documentation, our policies are presented logically in paper format in a smart easy-to-use folder. ■ ‘Bespoke/Direct’ – Tell us the risk you need covering over the phone or by email, and our friendly and experienced underwriters will issue policies directly from our office. At GCS, we don’t believe in limitations and therefore, conveyancers are free to use any or ALL of the above options in combination – the choice is theirs. To register for GCS ‘Online’, to request a GCS insurance ‘Pack’ or to view an example list of our policies, please visit www.gcs-title.co.uk. To obtain a ‘Bespoke/Direct’ quote or for any further enquiries, please contact us directly using the details below. ■
■ GCS ‘Online’ – Our online system provides quotes in seconds and electronic policy documentation in minutes. Conveyancers have 24/7 access to their account and can choose from an ‘Individual’ or ‘Group’ account, which permits the user to add other people within their firm.
You DON’T need to bend over backwards to get legal indemnity insurance! GCS oﬀers straigh�orward op�ons for ALL types of proper�es and developments. GCS Online - choose an ‘Individual’ or ‘Group’ account GCS Instant Issue insurance ‘Pack’ Direct from our oﬃce - phone or email us Issued how you want, when you want, the way you want. www.gcs-�tle.co.uk/CL gcs-�tle.co.uk
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CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER | 37
Time to use the Transparency rules to your advantage
have been writing and talking a lot about the SRA Transparency Rules of late and have quickly found myself a believer. At SIFA Professional, we see our role as to encourage the interaction between legal service and financial planning for mutual client benefit and at initial glance you might be forgiven for not seeing how that objective ties in with the regulator’s desire to see a clear transparency in how solicitors promote their services to potential clients. However, if, as the SRA has done when introducing the rules in 2018, you consider the reasoning and logic from a consumer perspective, the SIFA Professional interest becomes obvious. Indeed, the sort of advice I would offer to a solicitor practice around embracing transparency and going beyond it would be similar to my advice to a firm of financial planners – IT IS ALL ABOUT DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF AND STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD TO A RESEARCHING POTENTIAL CLIENT! We live in a ‘Google’ society and if a potential client finds themselves in need of a legal service or advice or financial advice, and they do not already have a relationship with either professional, their first step is to research. That may include asking a trusted friend or family member, but it is very likely to include or even start with an internet search for solicitors or financial advisers in their local area. If we, as professionals, accept this to be the case, as the SRA’s own and the consumer research of The Competition and Markets Authority confirms, then the clarity and quality of the information on your website becomes critical. On the solicitor side, as the SRA conducts further website sweeps, confirms a thematic review and hints strongly that firms should aim for transparency beyond the compulsory core services, as we come out of lockdown there has never been a more pressing time to revisit your website and how you portray your business and services. We are in difficult economic circumstances so standing out from the crowd for professionalism, value for money and for the clarity of the services we offer, has quite frankly never been more vital. This is certainly not the time to be simply complying with basic requirements but to truly embrace the thinking behind the need for Transparency and going the extra mile. It is time to not merely enhance the look and feel of your website, as your shop window, but to consider how to bring the potential client to your shop window. For your website the key pointers would be the following: ■ Apply the Transparency Rules to all services, not just the compulsory ones. ■ Ensure the fullest description of the services and all stages involved to best demonstrate the value in the likely price. Fixed price is not of course necessary but be mindful that research suggests it is popular. ■ Please use only plain descriptive language and NO legal jargon. ■ Biographies of all those likely to be involved in the service are critical as they help personalise the process at the research stage. ■ Display all firm credentials and awards, as well as those of the key staff. Include specialist accreditations such as SFE or Resolution and why these are valued. 38 | CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
■ Have a testimonial section for each department and make sure this is kept up to date. New testimonials are reassuring, old ones are off-putting and suspicious. ■ Consider blogs/articles from your practitioners to demonstrate expertise and approachability. ■ Also investigate using short explanatory videos to explain the services. These can help bring the service to life and make it easier to understand for a researching customer. ■ A key differentiator is to explain that you recognise clients have holistic needs and your legal services are often not required in isolation. To this end make them aware you work with other carefully researched and selected third parties such as financial planners or accountants when complimentary professional advice is required. ■ Be certain your website links to a more proactive social media presence. It is not just younger clients who are active on Twitter, LinkedIn etc so use these medium for your blogs, articles and videos to draw people to new, different and fresh website content. I do hope this article has given you cause to stop, pause and think a fresh about the thinking behind Transparency. It is not a compliance chore but a real opportunity to take stock and reflect on the qualities of your firm, your values, your people and how you truly want to present that to future clients. ■
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