Issue 33 ISSN 2050-5744
The Business of Law
Mike Polson Ashurst
“Client needs are the greatest driver of change and that is the way it should be” ”
What has two thumbs and charges £12 for Building Regs cover? Our delectable digits don’t detract from our delightful deal We’ll hold up our hands and admit we’re offering low-cost Building Regs cover, for limits of indemnity up to £1m, for one reason only: it’s the legal indemnity equivalent of a come-hither look. You see, we’ve built a smashing online quotation service and we’d like you to give it a go. That’s why we’re offering our most popular policy at prices lower than a champion limbo dancer. But we lied about the thumbs; a website with thumbs would be weird. We’ve got legal indemnities sewn up.
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Editorial Contributors Adam Bullion Head of Marketing InfoTrack
Noel Inge Managing Director CILEx Law School
Chris Nichols Regulatory Policy Manager Legal Services Board (LSB)
Richard Burcher Chairman Burcher Jennings
Colin Fowle Managing Director Blue Car Technologies Limited
Robert Florendine Solutions Manager iManage
Daniel Andoh Commercial Paralegal VFS Legal Funding
Sarah Roberts Marketing Executive Eclipse Legal Systems
Dr. Hugh Koch Clinical Psychologist and Director Hugh Koch Associates
Simon Tunnicliffe Director of Operations Legal Ombudsman
Gavin Russell CEO and Founder Wavex
Susan Fairbrass Marketing Manager Geodesys
WELCOME ransparency is the name of the game in this issue of Modern Law, as it is for many in the legal sector this year. We’ve previously examined how the needs of consumers are changing, and currently the legal regulators and more forward-thinking law firms are holding a magnifying glass up to these changes and taking steps towards improving the understanding of legal services among current and prospective clients.
While the Amazon example may be a cliché one in discussions about ease of service, it is nonetheless a relevant one. If I order a new piece of gym equipment from the retailer giant, as I did the other week as part of a New Year’s effort to keep fit (which has limped past the January milestone!), I know from the outset exactly how much it’s going to cost me, and I can track its whereabouts during every step of its journey to my front door. If the estimated delivery date passes and the package hasn’t arrived, I suddenly find myself in the dark, with no further tracking updates and no idea of when to expect my item. I spend my days silently accusing elderly neighbours of intercepting my equipment for their own fitness needs or re-reading the profile of my delivery driver Mike on the DPD website for clues about his moral disposition.
Jacqueline Harvey Underwriter AmTrust Law Jane Malcolm Executive Director of External Affairs Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
My garage gym is a rather facetious basis for comparison against the complexities of the legal sector, even though the Bar is pretty important in both. But the point is that if consumer expectations are such that the delayed delivery of a weighted piece of metal creates worry and confusion, how must a person engaging with legal services for the first time feel if the costs and the process of this potentially life-changing purchase aren’t made clear to them?
Joe Egan President Law Society of England and Wales Max Folland Chartered Financial Planner Saunderson House
The answer is “not good”, judging by the sector’s current efforts to address gaps in transparency and clarity. This need was identified by the Competition & Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) 2016 report into legal services, and in this issue we’ve spoken to the CMA’s Paul Kellaway about the findings of that report and how legal professionals have responded since. There’s also a brilliant selection of other interviews and articles around this and other themes, in addition to another great series of columns from our Editorial Board experts.
Issue 33 ISSN 2050-5744 Editor Brendan Gurrie
Editorial Assistant Poppy Green
Project Manager Martin Smith
Events Sales Kate McKittrick
Modern Law Magazine is published by Charlton Grant Ltd ©2017.
All material is copyrighted both written and illustrated. Reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. All images and information is collated from extensive research and along with advertisements is published in good faith. Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this publication was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
Conveyancing firms that promote transparency in their service and provide excellent client care have the chance to be recognised at the upcoming Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards, taking place Thursday 12th July at the Rum Warehouse in Liverpool. It’s completely free to nominate, so I hope you make sure to enter for what is certain to be another fantastic evening; almost as much as I hope my Amazon package turns up soon!
Brendan Gurrie, Editor, Modern Law Magazine. 01765 600909 | @ModernBrendan | firstname.lastname@example.org www.modernlawmagazine.com
Modern Law 03
07 Chris Marston talks news
Foster the culture and see the results, says Chris Marston, LawNet.
13 Mike Polson
Mike Polson, Ashurst Advance, delves into the specifics of innovationrelated roles and how innovation will be driven forward by new talent, progressive law firms and, most importantly, the client.
16 Paul Kellaway
As the legal profession responds to the Competition & Market Authority’s recommendations for increased transparency and accessibility to legal services, the CMA’s Paul Kellaway spoke to Modern Law about the research behind the report’s findings and the impact on legal services consumers.
23 Your health, your career
Jane Malcolm, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
25 Legal Services Board’s next three year strategy – help us to get it right
Chris Nichols, Legal Services Board (LSB)
27 Price and service transparency
Joe Egan, Law Society of England and Wales
29 The GDPR opportunity
Sarah Roberts, Eclipse Legal Systems
29 Rewarding culture
Noel Inge, CILEx Law School
31 Long term rewards
Robert Florendine, iManage
31 Adapt or die
EDITORIAL BOARD contributors
Daniel Andoh, VFS Legal Funding
33 ‘Good Clients’: Be careful what you wish for!
Richard Burcher, Burcher Jennings
33 GDPR: making one big step far easier
Gavin Russell, Wavex
35 What appeals so much about apps?
An AmTrust International Division
04 Modern Law
Adam Bullion, InfoTrack
35 The power of compound growth – your future, your children’s future
Max Folland, Saunderson House
Issue 33 ISSN 2051-6495
37 Promoting a positive, engaging culture
Dr. Hugh Koch, Hugh Koch Associates
56 Regional Focus: Manchester
48 Taking the stigma out of mental health issues
61 Flexible Learning
Colin Fowle, Blue Car Technologies Limited
39 Anti-Money Laundering: What’s changed and what this means for UK conveyancers Susan Fairbrass, Geodesys
39 What skill sets will be needed in the law firm of the future?
Darren Jefferson, Alius Services Limited
41 Embrace and engage
Peter Baverstock, LEAP UK
41 There are thousands of law firms with huge databases of existing clients, are they a forgotten gold mine?
Jacqueline Harvey, AmTrust Law
42 A clear complaints process
Simon Tunnicliffe, Legal Ombudsman
Thomas Reynard, COO of defendant insurance industry law firm, Horwich Farrelly, talks about an innovative approach to tackling mental health problems in the workplace.
Crowdfunding platforms have become more and more popular in recent years, and CrowdJustice has brought this funding approach to the legal sector. Joanna Sidhu discusses how crowdfunding can be applied to the law and how it can improve access to justice.
53 Interview with Matthew Pennington
The Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards returned for its fifth year on the 18th January at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London. Poppy Green, Modern Law, takes a look at the winners and highlights of the evening.
50 Legal crowdfunding: bringing the crowd to the courtroom
Brian O’Neill, Client Communications
42 Q. BTE legal expenses cover – an underutilised asset?
44 The Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards 2018
37 The evolution of cloud
Matthew Pennington, Tonic Works and QuoteXpress, analyses the results of the recent Instant Conveyancing Estimate Tools Impact Study and explains how instant fee estimates can be the difference between a potential client choosing your services over a competitor’s.
55 Innovation: The reinvention versus throwing the baby out with the bathwater dilemma
Modern Law’s Regional Focus examines the Manchester legal sector. We spoke to Immediate Past President of the Manchester Law Society, Jon Hainey, who predicts Manchester will become the largest UK legal sector outside of London.
Alisa Gray, Kaplan Altior, discusses the benefits of eLearning and how we can harness technology in order to improve our efficiency and training methods.
63 Artificial intelligence for risk management: opportunities for law firms
Andrew Yates, Artesian Solutions, argues that emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will provide the data necessary to improve risk management for law firms who embrace them.
65 Case Study – Nalytics
Leading Law Firm chooses Nalytics to help deliver Outstanding Client Service
65 Case Study – Eclipse
Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management Software solution eliminates administration at new startup firm, Prism Family Law
10 MINUTES WITH 66 Katie Gollop QC
Serjeants’ Inn Chambers
Our resident Tech commentator Charles Christian writes…
Modern Law 05
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Chris Marston TALKS NEWS Foster the culture and see the results, says Chris Marston, LawNet. irms operating within today’s legal sector must accept the increasing weight of compliance and regulation. Alongside this, there are many growing challenges and threats, for example, how we match up to increasing levels of customer expectation and how we deal with the exponential growth in cybersecurity and fraud. In 2016, some £7 million of client money was lost to cybercrime, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and some £770 million worth of indemnity payments were made for claims relating to conveyancing work between 2004 and 2014.
One thing is certain: we are operating in a challenging environment, one that is volatile and unpredictable. But how we face up to risk can make the difference between a costly burden and a commercial opportunity.
Compliance and culture
Effective risk management is about much more than simply ‘ticking the box’ for compliance, accreditation or quality management purposes; it’s about creating the right blend of culture, process and customer service, all wrapped up in a clear strategy. Making this sort of cultural shift in attitude, to focus on excellent risk management, may prove to be one of the most important drivers of future law firm growth, according to a major research exercise we have undertaken with our independent law firm members. Our member community comprises of over 3000 staff across 71 mid-sized independent law firms, ranging in size, typically from £2m to £25m turnover. We recently asked legal, management and support staff a raft of far-reaching questions around the topic of risk management. This was undertaken as part of an audit of our risk management and compliance support, which firms receive as part of our bespoke ISO9001 standard that is compulsory for membership, with the resulting feedback being used to guide future training and development for members. Many interesting themes came out of the research, but the single most important one was that firms with a strategic approach to risk management are seeing a return on investment and finding it opens the door to greater competitiveness and client choice, as well as doing what is necessary to satisfy regulatory requirements. The consequences of poor risk management reach into every aspect of legal practice. It is not just professional indemnity insurance that is affected, it’s your professional reputation, staff morale and more.
How we face up to risk can make the difference between a costly burden and a commercial opportunity
And while junior fee earners and admin staff in our research were more likely to think regulatory repercussions were the most serious outcome of poor risk management, the mid to senior fee earners and managers were more focused on how it might affect financial management and reputational issues. The top three benefits given for stronger risk management were better client service, reduced PII claims and reputation protection, with 50% saying it was
Modern Law 07
Firms with a strategic approach to risk management are seeing a return on investment and finding it opens the door to greater competitiveness and client choice delivering effective business management benefits, and a further 30% saying it had become a vital business tool. According to the research, the most time-consuming aspect of risk management is file management, closely followed by performance management, of both self and others, with this area seeing the most increase in time required over the past two years. As you might expect, residential conveyancing was perceived by all staff to be the highest risk work type, followed by commercial property, reflecting the SRA statistics, which show that around half of all indemnity claims result from a failure in conveyancing work. It is important that firms tackle the key risks around sources of funds, particularly in property transactions, identity checking and complying with new regulations around the EU’s Fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive. Wide ranging testing of management systems is important, including file reviews, client surveys and audits. The results should drive targeted training that goes beyond generic technical topics to embrace experiential learning that focuses on the specific issues identified within the firm. This should contribute to building an improvement cycle into your management systems, identifying mistakes, embracing failure and developing responsive processes.
The threat of fraud
Fraud and cybercrime were perceived by some 40% of staff in our research as the biggest threat for the future, closely followed by client data protection and securing IT systems. Almost 50% were aware of an attempted fraud attack on their firm in the last 12 months, with most attacks being email phishing. Asking staff at all levels if they were aware of the firm’s policy for dealing with bank accounts and client payments, it was the administrative and secretarial staff who were most likely to be unsure. And while over 60% of firms were using penetration testing on a regular basis for their IT systems, fewer than 20% were regularly using social penetration testing of people and processes. Fraud prevention requires a holistic approach, towards both systems and staff; it is vital to match the right processes with the necessary safeguards on human interaction. Penetration testing by outside agencies can help to test defences and identify areas for improvement in both technical systems and staff. But best practice demands across-the-board awareness, and improvement will come through sharing experiences and knowledge, whether of attempted frauds or by analysing claims.
doing to tackle risk management, and to draw on their knowledge and guidance in shaping our support in this area for firms. We know from their feedback that they want to see firms engaging in a structured form of risk management, whether that is to an external standard such as Lexcel or ISO9001, or through advisory or compliance support services. To insurers, a demonstrable commitment to a culture of risk management forms an important consideration during the underwriting process, alongside feeincome, work-types, size of practice and claims history.
Bringing business benefits
Complaints about over-regulation, and the resulting burden on firms, are part of the day to day in our sector. The latest statistics from the Law Society show that 81% of law firms find compliance is placing additional burdens on fee earners, and 47% of firms find the cost of compliance excessive. But the size of our membership enables us to speak for a sizeable constituency of larger SME firms, and the evidence is that they are increasingly turning regulation into a business driver, rather than viewing it as a constraint. Fraud is top of the radar for most firms, and rightly so, when you consider the figures. But firms need to look at the bigger picture if we are to tackle this across the sector. Embedding the right culture and attitude towards risk management, and making sure every member of staff is well informed and on board is how we’ll achieve this, while bringing real business benefits through better customer service and increased competitiveness. Chris Marston, Chief Executive, LawNet.
A total of 585 participants took part in the research, which was conducted between November 2016 and February 2017, and the research findings are included within a sector learning publication, which includes case studies setting out how firms are achieving the necessary cultural shift. Lessons for law firms: How the right risk culture delivers returns, covering the research and learning is available as a White Paper for download or in print: www.lawnet.co.uk/membership-benefits/ quality-compliance-risk-management/risk-managementwhite-paper/
The key risks in fraud prevention are in client data or client funds being stolen, and to tackle such threats requires an understanding of the latest frauds, whether through phishing, vishing, malware or socially engineered crime. As well as keeping up to date on the tactics, learning should include assessing your supply chain and customer for cyber-risks; you may have the best systems in place, but that can be undermined if others in the process are less rigorous. It is important that there are clear processes for staff, which are regularly updated, and, equally important, that staff feel empowered to question anything that feels out of the ordinary. As a group, we currently place over £1bn worth of professional indemnity cover for members each year, which helps stabilise premiums for firms. We work closely with our brokers Marsh, and our insurers QBE, to make sure they know what our firms are
08 Modern Law
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Mike Polson Mike Polson, Ashurst Advance, delves into the specifics of innovation-related roles and how innovation will be driven forward by new talent, progressive law firms and, most importantly, the client.
Can you outline the work done by Ashurst Advance and the steps that led to its creation?
We created Ashurst Advance directly as a result of extensive and in-depth global research, which we undertook with the General Counsel and leaders of in-house legal teams from a large number of our major clients, across a range of industry sectors and geographies. The key findings were remarkably consistent. Clients had a significant “more for less” challenge arising from increasing regulation, a drive to increase the value the legal teams delivered to the wider business and a need to operate as efficiently as possible. Clients told us the top three ways they were responding to these challenges were to “unbundle matters”, to ensure the right resources were being used for the risk work, to use legal technology and to have a greater focus on process and project management. As a result, a focus on driving efficiency through those three areas – resources, technology and process – are the core elements of our integrated platform, Ashurst Advance. One of the most exciting things was that we were creating something new and truly different within the structure of a major law firm. The work we do is all about ensuring that Ashurst delivers its legal services to its clients as efficiently as possible and responds to these client challenges.
What does your role as Co-Head of Innovation involve, and do you foresee more roles like this being created in the legal sector in the years to come?
The innovation role is a really exciting one because, by definition, it has no boundaries. It is a reasonably new role and I know it will develop year on year. Innovation is not something that is the role of just a few people in an organisation. I see my key responsibility as working with my Co-Head, Jamie Ng, to create an environment right across our business where innovation is not just encouraged, but is expected. And that is really about creating the right mindset and conditions where ideas can flourish and there is a constant strive for improvement. Innovation can of course describe a wide range of activities, and ranges from continuous improvement activities through to truly disruptive change. You need to create the right conditions for all of this activity. I certainly see scope for the creation of new innovation related roles in the future, but not as part of some large central capability. Those roles will be much more devolved across the business where people will have clear responsibilities to drive the innovation agenda and “stoke the fires”. I personally think it is very exciting and encouraging to see these new roles and careers developing within progressive law firms.
Client needs are the greatest driver of change and that is the way it should be
Modern Law 13
New technology will have the greatest business impact and benefit where it is implemented and integrated as part of the wider value proposition
How can law firms adopt talent from outside of the legal sector in order to drive innovation?
First of all, that is exactly what law firms should be doing – bringing in talent from a diverse range of sectors, many of whom will already have been through the sort of change that the legal services market is seeing today. That external talent will bring a wealth of experience and directly transferable skills, together with a comfort around change, seeing change as an opportunity. What law firms have to do is identify talent that have an appetite to learn about the legal sector, and how lawyers work, and then translate their skills and experience into that environment. That requires an investment on both sides, but the return on that investment is potentially very significant. We have to be honest and recognise that the legal sector lags a number of other sectors in its evolution, and therefore we should learn from the lessons of others, rather than reinvent the wheel using the “law is different” excuse.
How are changing client needs encouraging innovation within law firms?
Client needs are the greatest driver of change, and that is the way it should be! Law firms should be driven by the needs of their markets and their clients. In my Innovation role, and my Ashurst Advance role, I love it when a client shares the business challenges it is facing and we are asked to deliver our legal services in a way that directly addresses those challenges. The direction of travel from clients is very clear: demonstrate how you are going to drive both value and efficiency in the delivery of legal services to us, with cost challenges being a key consideration. Those cost challenges simply reflect the pressures in clients’ own businesses, so we both have to recognise that and respond to it. But at the same time we need to ensure that our own business remains strong and competitive, and therefore doing things in the way they have always been done is simply not a sustainable operational strategy.
Do you feel the legal sector is more open to new ideas than it has been in previous years, and to what do you attribute any changes in attitude?
Absolutely yes. And that is down to one key thing – the changing needs of our clients. I also think that, after years of doom and gloom about what the future may bring, ‘the end of lawyers’, there is now a much more open and, dare I say, positive mindset around the opportunities that the changing legal market will open up. We have thankfully moved beyond analysing that the legal world is changing to the “so what are we actually doing about it”!
14 Modern Law
How might the structures and delivery of legal services products need to evolve in the years to come to keep up with client expectations?
I think the question hits the nail on the head by mentioning legal services products. Learning the lessons from other industries, we will see previously paid for advice, content as it were, being easily accessible, mostly through online platforms. Clients will expect to receive that sort of advice for free as ‘table stakes’ but will equally expect these products to be of high quality and tailored to their business needs. This will happen right across the legal market, and parts of the market currently served by Big Law will not be immune to these changes. As a result, law firms will need to be very clear as to their value proposition for clients. This will undoubtedly change the shape and structure of law firms, with many more so called non-lawyers being directly involved in the delivery of legal services to clients. I am very positive about this change and the new roles and opportunities that will open up. Anything that helps to remove the archaic ‘lawyer’ and ‘nonlawyer’ distinction is, in my view, a good thing.
How does the pace of innovation differ in international legal markets? Are there lessons the UK sector can learn from them?
This is a very interesting question and you will not be surprised to hear that it varies greatly. And this variation is not as simple as a geographic split. Take the US market for example, where we have seen much of the pioneering legal technology, while at the same time there is still a very strong attachment to the billable hour in many of its market segments. In many ways, looking at the picture in the round, the UK is leading a lot of the innovation activity within the legal sector, and to be honest I think the greatest lessons are those which can be learnt from other industries, which are ahead of law on the change curve.
Do you predict automation having as large an impact in the legal sector as it is expected to have in other industries, and where will its effects be felt in the legal sector?
I believe automation will continue to have an increasing impact on the way legal services are delivered. There are differing views about the pace of this activity. I certainly do not see there being one ‘big bang’ moment, but the direction of travel is absolutely clear. It is wrong to believe that automation will only have an impact on commoditised work or in high volume recurring activity. But clearly the impact there has already been significant, and that is
It is wrong to believe that automation will only have an impact on commoditised work or in high volume recurring activity why we are seeing some fundamentally different business models emerging in parts of the legal services market. Even within the highest value activity, project or case, it is possible to identify elements of the required activity that are susceptible to automation, and therefore we will see much greater automation of those elements delivered in an integrated way as part of the wider client delivery.
How will legal education, training and skills development need to transform as automation and other forms of innovation start to be embedded into the legal sector?
I have a concern that legal education is lagging behind the changing legal market and that the focus seems to remain on teaching for the ‘traditional’ legal market. The core legal fundamentals must of course be there, but they increasingly need to be supplemented by broader business and technology skills. We need to look ahead to the lawyer of the future and then reverse engineer our legal education, training and skills development to ensure that our people are equipped with the skills and tools to succeed in the legal market of the future.
In what ways are Ashurst planning to innovate further in 2018 and beyond?
I think it is very important to recognise that the process of change we have been talking about is an ongoing one and that we are within a very dynamic market. Therefore, one key focus is to continue the journey of how we deliver legal services as efficiently and innovatively as possible, and ensure that a number of elements of new ways of working move to become the new BAU. That applies across all geographies and all work types. There is no doubt that legal technology will play a bigger part in service delivery, but I don’t think it is right to see new technology as a solution in itself. New technology will have the greatest business impact and benefit where it is implemented and integrated as part of the wider value proposition. For me personally, a major focus will remain on ensuring that we create the right business environment to encourage innovation from all our employees, and that we align those innovation efforts and activities to our wider business objectives and strategic priorities.
Mike Polson Mike is Co-Head of Innovation at Ashurst and a Director of Ashurst Advance, the firm’s integrated team focused on the three fundamental areas of innovation in legal service: resources, process and technology. In addition, Mike is Managing Partner of Ashurst’s legal sourcing and business services office in Glasgow. Mike was previously a senior corporate partner with a leading Scottish firm and joined Ashurst in 2013 in the lead-up to the opening of the new Glasgow office in August of the same year. Mike is a regular commentator and contributor in the areas of the changing legal market and on innovation and efficiency in the delivery of legal services covering areas of resources, process and technology.
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Paul Kellaway As the legal profession responds to the Competition & Market Authority’s recommendations for increased transparency and accessibility to legal services, the CMA’s Paul Kellaway spoke to Modern Law about the research behind the report’s findings and the impact on legal services consumers.
How does the public currently perceive solicitors and the legal profession? Where is this perception positive, and where is it less so?
There is a difference between the general public perception and the way people who have actually engaged with a lawyer perceive them. The Legal Services Consumer Panel conducted a survey on trust that suggested only half of people trust lawyers in general, but when we did our market study, our research showed that 83% of people were satisfied with the service they had received; people who have had experience of a lawyer have actually had quite a positive one. In conveyancing, roughly half of people who go through conveyancing are using the same lawyer as they used last time, which would suggest that they are broadly happy with the service they are receiving.
Are legal services consumers different to consumers of other products or services? Where are there similarities, and what are the more unique traits and circumstances?
Fundamentally, the people who are a firm’s clients are the same people who buy anything. The difference is the circumstances they are buying legal services in. Whether it is death, divorce or a dispute, people don’t necessarily go out to buy legal services and often don’t know the service they need, or whether or not they have a legal problem in the first place. They are entering the market blind in some ways, and even when they’ve gone through a legal service, they can say what the service was like but they aren’t in a position to judge the quality of the advice that they got. You can have a will written, but until you pass away you can’t judge on what the quality of the will was, and that is a very different thing to buying a cooker or going on holiday; you know when your cooker is broken or you get ill while on holiday.
What is the state of public education around legal services, and how can regulators and practitioners work to achieve a greater level of public knowledge about the sector, including through the Legal Choices website?
We didn’t directly look at what the nature of legal education was, but people aren’t buying legal services on a regular basis. Businesses might be, but the average person isn’t. Then there is a big challenge about when legal education should come into play. You can have it in the national curriculum in schools, but I know that if I sat down with a diagram of a flower from GCSE biology, I couldn’t remember which one is the stamen and which one is the stigma. There are two aspects; just in time and just in case education. You need a lengthy awareness of legal issues, but that point where you have a legal problem is the point when you actually need help and the advice. That is why the report recommends developing the Legal Choices website, funded by the regulators, to actually answer those who, what, how and why questions. What are the processes? Who can help me? What do these different job roles do? Most people will have no idea that
16 Modern Law
Transparency can be improved across the board, and it is not just about price, it is about service and quality and regulation
There are historical quirks that go back to the reign of Henry VIII about who exactly can provide what legal service and what the risk related to those services is there are eight different legal service regulators and that there are nine different types of regulated lawyer in England and Wales. Personally, I knew relatively little about legal services until I took up further study; I grew up in a household where the knowledge of legal services was based on Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street. But public legal education isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy.
Where are there currently areas of the legal sector in which transparency can be improved, and how can this be achieved?
The simple answer is that transparency can be improved across the board, and it is not just about price, it is about service and quality and regulation. It is about making sure that people have the information that they need to help them make choices. Legal services are complicated, and it is about getting the right balance. It isn’t just about providing as much information as possible, it is about providing relevant information. We as the CMA aren’t the expert legal service regulators, which is why we recommended the individual regulators take this forward, and that is exactly what they are doing by speaking to people, consumers, businesses and firms and understanding what they need and how they can engage with that information. It is crucial that there is precautionary and relevant information.
What role does comparison play in the selection and quality of legal services, and how can it become more simplified for consumers?
Comparison is particularly tricky. Comparison isn’t just price comparison, it is all aspects of comparison. Our survey found that only 22%, just under 1 in 4 people, actually contact more than one lawyer when trying to solve a problem. Comparison is not something that is occurring. There is a really important role for personal recommendation – if you don’t have a recommendation, how do you actually choose a lawyer? What some of the research shows is that although quality is generally very high, we do see high levels of price dispersion. Firms will focus on certain price points, but then other firms will quote a significantly higher price, and a consumer won’t be able to understand whether they are getting anything more for that price. If they are one of the 3 out of 4 people who don’t compare, then it is unlikely that they are going to understand the quality of service they are going to get. Quality is intrinsically difficult to measure, and so that is why we thought about the role of review sites and the engagement with ratings. But running a legal firm isn’t the same as running a hotel, and there are constraints, professionally and legally, on what you can actually do to engage with those reviews. Everyone has heard of the big comparisons site. Money Supermarket offer the conveyancing comparison service, but unless you are aware of it you wouldn’t necessarily go looking for it. There are lots of legal review sites out there, but unless you actually engage with those and encourage people to provide feedback on them and then promote it, people aren’t going to be aware of them.
Do you see a need for increased data sharing in the legal sector, and could this improve competition and quality of service?
What we have said is that there is a need for the regulators to share data and to have access to comparison sites’ data. Those sites can provide accurate and up to date data without firms having to provide it again. What is also important is having data on the state of the market. One of the issues we had was not knowing the size of the unregulated sector, and there is a lot of tension over the regulators proposing increased levels of transparency when the unregulated aren’t happy being subjected to those. What we have actually found is that unregulated providers tend to be better at providing estimation. They don’t have the ability to fall back on the fact that they’re a solicitor or a barrister of a regulatory status, so the response to that is that they are explaining their services and charges and generally being more open and transparent. If you make things easy for people, they are more likely to do it. If you go on a site and it gives you a price up front, it is something to anchor onto. Being open and transparent would be useful, but that is where regulation comes in, because it’s putting in a bottom line standard that everyone is steering to. Whilst people might worry about what happens if they put out their price and someone undercuts them, that’s competition.
How effective are the after-sale platforms currently accessible to consumers in relation to feedback and complaints procedures?
There is a whole range of platforms out there if you search for them, and the number of firms listed on them is massive. There are others that list 5,000 firms, but very few of those firms have any reviews on. Because there is little culture in encouraging people to provide feedback to those sites, at the moment they are essentially listing directories, rather than providing any quality information. That is where helping firms understand where the boundaries are and how they can engage with those after-sales service systems is really important. There is a business advantage to understanding what your clients think of you; recommendations are really important, so you need to know how likely someone is to recommend you on. It is useful to know how you can improve your service, and showing and responding to reviews online makes them look far more genuine and far more powerful. The odd poor review that shows you’ve responded and dealt with the problem is actually incredibly powerful to a consumer. Anyone who sees all 100%, 5 star reviews would be quite suspicious. Everyone has quirks and everyone has an off day, so having a contextual spread of reviews means that you don’t just get the people who are really annoyed leaving reviews, you are encouraging all of your clients to do it. It is early days, and the culture of capturing those sorts of signals is developing.
Modern Law 17
How can regulation act as a barrier to advancements in the legal sector, and where are there areas it may need to become more flexible in order to accommodate this?
Generally the framework isn’t restricting competition, and there have been lots of changes, like the introduction ABSs and the SRA’s proposed rule on solicitors operating through nonregulated businesses. We think in the long run there is scope for that regulation framework to be reviewed, and we have made recommendations to the government to do that. There are historical quirks that go back to the reign of Henry VIII about who exactly can provide what legal service and what the risk related to those services is; so will writing isn’t a regulated service, but if it goes wrong it can have very serious implications. The restrictions on probate are about essentially completing the PA1 form, not the risky bit, which is the administration of the estate. Some of those protections don’t necessarily match the risks but are acting as proxies for them. So there is scope for some simplification, there is scope for taking costs out, and the fact that there are eight regulators plus an oversight regulator is a quite confusing setup and there’s duplication in there. You would never set up the regulatory framework as it is now if you were to set it up today.
How can access to legal services be maintained for vulnerable consumers as competition is promoted in the legal sector?
Vulnerability isn’t a binary concept. For example, when you are bereaved and are looking for someone to help you with the state of administration, you are vulnerable in that particular circumstance. When you are stressed about your home buying you’re not necessarily in the same league, but you may not act as rationally as you may otherwise do. We are hosting an event in December to engage with consumer groups to understand what those needs of vulnerable consumers are, looking at legal advice centres, how firms can engage with vulnerable consumers and what formats of information people can engage with. If people struggle to understand reels of information, then it is better to put out less information as long as it is better quality information.
What are some of the other steps the CMA suggests need to be taken in order to drive competition in the legal services market and ensure its sustainability in the future?
When we did our market study, our research showed that 83% of people were satisfied with the service they had received; people who have had experience of a lawyer have actually had quite a positive one
The main thing is that regulation is proportionate and that it matches risk, and that it doesn’t put pressure on firms that’s passed onto consumers. I think there is a big issue about unmet need and demand, and there is a whole debate about legal aid. Helping people understand what options are there will mean that people are better able to understand who can help them and have greater certainty about price, service, regulation and protection. It might mean some people may actually go and buy legal services that they wouldn’t otherwise have bought, because they just assumed that they are just so much more expensive than they actually are. It’s not just about making people put fixed prices on websites, it is about helping people understand what the actual value is; the trade-off between the price and the quality you are getting. To understand the value of anything, you need to know the price and the quality and those two need to go together. Being a regulated professional should mean that you are good enough to be doing that job, but understanding what the consumer is getting for the money they are paying requires them to understand all of those aspects.
18 Modern Law
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Legal Cyber Security Expo is focused on ensuring that anyone working in the legal sector is properly equipped to protect sensitive data from the increasing threat of cyber-attacks from external sources, and just as damaging, accidental internal data breaches. While cyber security is a key issue across all industries, it’s particularly important in the legal sector due to the nature and amount of data held - from personal and financial details to business transactions and more. Legal Cyber Security Expo is dedicated to making sure these threats are as minimal as possible and that businesses are prepared for any potential breach or attack. Cyber leaders such as Brett Johnson from AnglerPhish Security (and a former US most-wanted cyber criminal) will be in the keynote theatre, along with Vince Warrington from Protective Intelligence, who will discuss the need for cyber security with his seminar ‘How many warnings do you need?’ And if you’re looking for more cyber security advice, stop by the Lloyds Bank Cyber Security Theatre for many more cyber and IT experts. Between the two shows, more than 200 cutting edge suppliers will exhibit their latest legal solution; including the likes of: Lloyds Bank, Epson, LEAP, Clio, Digital Pathways, Met Police Service and FALCON, The General Council of the Bar, and The Solicitors Regulation Authority. Other show highlights include; GDPR, client retention, conveyancing, regulations and new skills. All of this together makes Legalex the most comprehensive legal event for business growth and professional development in the UK. The events also offer free CPD accreditation and Continuing Competence, as well as unparalleled networking opportunities. Make sure you get these dates cemented in your diary now by registering for your free tickets to attend. Your free pass for one of these events will give you access to both and you can see full details and register for your free ticket via www.legalex.co.uk or www.legalcybersecurityexpo.co.uk.
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Your health, your career A
ccording to the charity Mind, one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year.
Mental health issues can affect any of us – and any profession. And of course pressure can make things worse, triggering or exacerbating a problem. As the pressure builds, it can feel like things are getting on top of you. Short periods of stress can be manageable, but long-term stress can undermine health and wellbeing and take a toll on your work and career. It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that solicitors have challenging roles, with high levels of responsibility, working in often-pressured environments. If that gets too much and translates into health problems, it is only too easy to lose control of cases. When things start to go wrong, the impact on that solicitor, the firm and the client can be very serious.
What can we do to help?
As the regulator, we want to make sure solicitors are properly supported to do the best job they can. That means making it as easy as possible for people to let us know if things are getting difficult, and to find the right support at the right time. So last year we launched a package of support to help solicitors who may be suffering in silence. “Your health, your career” raises awareness of the support available to solicitors with concerns or in our processes. This initiative highlights the importance of managing the risks of ill health early to stop problems spiralling out of control. Solicitors can talk to us if they are worried about their health and how it is impacting upon their role or business. We will signpost them to sources of help. For instance, organisations like LawCare. They offer a free service, specialising in providing advice and support for lawyers, their staff and immediate families who face health problems. They help thousands of people a year in stressful situations. Our offer includes: • A webpage providing help and signposting to support • A commitment to understanding each individual’s needs if they are struggling to cope. This could include a dedicated person to work with them and tailor processes to suit their requirements • Practical, helpful advice from our Ethics Guidance team
If you think you might be suffering, or suspect a colleague has issues they are struggling to deal with, then however difficult it might be, seeking help is the best way forward under investigation by us. The number of solicitors we investigate is, of course, very small, but we know just how stressful it can be, and all the more so if someone is unwell. We can provide a dedicated person to work with, talk regularly, look at extending deadlines when we can, signpost to help, and communicate in a way that suits them best. Importantly, our decision-making policy, which is published on our website, sets out specifically how we take such factors into account when dealing with a misconduct issue where the solicitor has told us that they have a mental health problem. This includes making reasonable adjustments to the way that we work in order to make it easier for the solicitor involved. And twice in the last year we have taken steps to prosecute solicitors for misconduct only for them to produce evidence of mental health issues suffered at the time of the incidents. We immediately applied to withdraw our cases. We only wish we had known about the mental health issues sooner. We would rather be helping and supporting the profession provide better legal services for clients than prosecuting at the SDT for misconduct. If you think you might be suffering, or suspect a colleague has issues they are struggling to deal with, then however difficult it might be, seeking help is the best way forward. A solicitor may feel pretty lonely in a situation where they are struggling, but you will certainly not be alone. There is help there. You can find out more on our “Your Health, Your Career” campaign on our website at www.sra.org.uk/support. Jane Malcolm, SRA Executive Director, External Affairs.
When mental health affects conduct
Our package of support is directed towards solicitors who know when things are not going well, and recognise they have problems. But of course some people do not realise they are unwell until something goes badly wrong. And others, understandably, do not want to admit that there is an issue. So sometimes people are confronting their difficulties while we are already looking into concerns about their practice. If this is the case, we make sure that we are understanding and sensitive to anyone with a wellbeing issue who finds themselves
Modern Law 23
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Legal Services Board’s next three year strategy help us to get it right e are currently consulting on our next three year corporate strategy, which sets out our priorities for 2018-21 as we pursue our vision of legal services that everyone can access and trust.
We have engaged with partners across the legal sector to develop this draft strategy with a view to ensuring that it reflects the key trends and drivers for change in the sector. We hope that stakeholders, whether they are organisations or individual lawyers providing legal services to the public, will take the opportunity to engage with this consultation, let us know what they think and help us to get it right. So what are we proposing? Our draft strategy is based on three strategic objectives: 1. Promoting the public interest through ensuring independent, effective and proportionate regulation 2. Making it easier for all consumers to access the services they need and get redress 3. Increasing innovation, growth and the diversity of services and providers We will pursue these objectives by: 1. Overseeing the performance of the regulators. Most of this work will be channelled through our new regulatory performance framework, which will come into force next year. It will also include exercising our statutory functions to consider rule change applications, practising fees and our work overseeing the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and Office for Legal Complaints. 2. Acting as an agent for change. Beyond our core statutory powers and functions, we will also seek to promote the regulatory objectives through advocating for change and improvement in the market. This involves gathering and publicising evidence on areas of concern, working in partnership with others to understand, publicise and respond to identified issues and leading debate on how to respond to the challenges facing the sector.
So why this strategic focus?
We have opted for evolution of our existing strategic objectives, as opposed to revolution. We have maintained a specific focus on regulation, consumers and service providers. In each area we want to build on some of the progress that has been made over the last three years and convert this into improved outcomes for consumers and the public more widely. For example, there are still improvements that a number of regulators are working on to ensure they demonstrate a satisfactory level of performance. When we last assessed the regulators in 2016, we found that their performance was “satisfactory” or “good” in only 20 out of the 40 standards assessed. As we implement our new approach to regulatory performance, we want all regulators to meet an acceptable standard. This will promote the public interest and help to build trust in regulation and regulated providers.
In each area we want to build on some of the progress that has been made over the last three years and convert this into improved outcomes for consumers and the public more widely As for consumers, although levels of satisfaction amongst those who have used a lawyer is high, the level of unmet legal need also remains stubbornly high. Our 2016 individual legal needs survey found that 13% of consumers who experienced a legal issue “did nothing”, whilst 46% handled the matter alone or with the help of friends. Our small business legal needs surveys in 2013 and 2015 also found that more than half of small business consumers tried to resolve legal problems by themselves, rather than seek advice. This demonstrates how our research has helped to establish the concept and extent of unmet legal need and contributory factors. Our research was used by the Competition and Markets Authority for its 2016 market study of legal services, which concluded: “we have found that the legal services sector is not working well for individual consumers and small businesses… consumers find it hard to make informed choices because there is very little transparency about price, service and quality.” Over the next three years we will oversee the regulators’ response to the CMA’s recommendations on improving transparency and continue to advance understanding of unmet legal need and how it can be tackled. In relation to providers of legal services, we have overseen the removal of significant regulatory barriers to competition. However, our research has found that levels of innovation and investment in legal services are disappointing and our prices research has demonstrated significant spread in prices for comparable services, which indicates consumers are not benefiting from competition as much as they could be. We will tackle this during this strategic period, primarily through acting as an agent for change, including stimulating debate, sharing good practice and undertaking targeted project work to identify measures to stimulate competition. We will also seek to maintain the international standing of the legal system in England and Wales by supporting the rule of law and acting as an ambassador for the sector through the EU exit. The consultation will close on 19th February. It can be found on our website at: http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/what_we_do/ consultations/. We hope everyone who has an interest will take this opportunity to share their views and help us to get this right. Chris Nichols, Regulatory Policy Manager, Legal Services Board (LSB).
Modern Law 25
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Price and service transparency hat do you need to make an informed decision – more information or better information? Currently the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is conducting a consultation on providing more information on pricing in the legal sector, and at its heart is the issue of how people approach transactions. As the organisation that represents solicitors in England and Wales, the Law Society wants consumers to be able to make informed choices. So, giving them the right information at the right time is crucial. People instruct solicitors at some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Navigating a client through the labyrinth of the courts system to deal with a personal injury claim or a divorce can be a complex task. They need the best possible professional support in this stressful situation. Making a will for a client provides peace of mind about their affairs and is not something an untrained person can do competently, more so now than ever given the complexity of people’s lives. Clients need clear advice about their situation so they can make informed choices. Equally, solicitors need to understand their client, their requirements and their circumstances in order to ensure they can provide the most appropriate information and advice. And let’s face it – every case and every client is different. As the professional body for solicitors, we encourage our members to provide the best quality service they can to their clients, and this includes giving the right information at the right time. However, there is a debate about how such information is most effectively delivered. The SRA’s work in this area is in part driven by the Competition and Markets Authority report from 2016. Consumers know their problem, shop around and compare providers and select the best solution that fits their needs. In theory, more information for consumers to base their decisions on means they will make more informed choices. On this basis, the SRA proposes that firms be required to publish information on their websites about their prices and services in certain areas of law. This all seems simple and straightforward, but it ignores the complex reality. It assumes that consumers know their problem. In reality, clients often come to a solicitor with a set of issues they want assistance on and they may not have a clear idea of what their options are or, indeed, what the remedy might entail. The role of the solicitor is therefore in many cases to diagnose, then set out options for how the client’s problem can be addressed. The advice is dependent on the individual client and their circumstances. This also means that a consumer may not know what their problem is, or what their solution is, before they talk to a solicitor, so shopping around in reality is either extremely difficult or pointless. It also ignores the fact that many people identify a solicitor on the basis of a recommendation. The initial interaction is often complex, and a solicitor will sum up
If consumers do truly value more information on websites in more areas of law, then the firms that do this best will gain a competitive advantage the content of that conversation in the client care letter, which is tailored to their specific circumstances. The SRA’s view is that price and service information should be published online for around six or seven areas of law. But how would this work in practice? Take the example of employment tribunal cases. A firm would need to publish on their website the total cost of instructing a solicitor to act. If this wasn’t known then they’d need to share costs such as fixed fees, hourly or average rates. Other information would be required too, for example, itemisation of the fixed costs, breaking out what’s included in each of those fixed elements, and in what circumstances the prices could go up. Additionally, a description of the key stages of employment tribunal services would be required, plus information about the staff delivering the services, including the expertise and qualifications of those carrying out or supervising the work. While all of this might be useful for some, for the vast majority of consumers this would be a meaningless morass of caveats and conditions. And even if they could understand it all, how useful is this generic information? You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an impossible situation where complexity defeats transparency. But actually, we agree that informed choice should be the destination; it’s just that we disagree that regulation will transport us there. The legal services market is able to meet consumers’ demands for information. Solicitors already provide price and service information on websites where it’s useful - not misleading. If consumers do truly value more information on websites in more areas of law, then the firms that do this best will gain a competitive advantage. Market driven solutions are more flexible, easily tailored and responsive to changes in consumer demand than, in this case, the blunt tool of regulation. This flexibility also means innovation and change is not stifled. It’s not just about more information on websites; it’s about trusting solicitors to provide their clients with the right information at the right time, rather than imposing a regulatory burden, particularly on smaller firms, which will only increase costs without any foreseeable benefit to clients. Joe Egan, President, Law Society of England and Wales.
Modern Law 27
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The GDPR opportunity
How can law firms make GDPR work as an advantage, rather than a hindrance?
How does the culture within law firms need to adapt to changing employee and client needs?
DPR presents an array of challenges for businesses, but for forward-thinking law firms it opens up a realm of opportunities to proactively address client needs, operate with complete transparency and take initiative in client service.
t is currently awards season in the legal sector, with the Law Firm of the Year category being a prize that is no doubt being hotly contested. The criteria for the Law Firm of the Year Award makes interesting reading.
Since the announcement of the GDPR, companies in all industries across the world have reacted with a combination of dread and procrastination; analysts predict more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will still not be fully compliant by the end of 2018. The legal sector however, and more specifically, law firms, can take this as an opportunity to truly differentiate themselves by proactively addressing client needs and offering superior client service.
The Modern Law Awards Law Firm of the Year category requires entrants to ‘demonstrate extensive development and progress as a business within the last year, including, but not limited to; strategy, growth, financial performance, employee development, diversity and training. Nominees must have evidence of active engagement with community and or corporate initiatives and pro-bono work.’
With under six months to go, the sharper law firms will utilise this time wisely to identify areas of risk, not only for themselves, but also for their clients, and subsequently advise them towards full compliance. By quickly adapting to client requirements, the impending regulations and what these mean, firms can not only deliver an enhanced service, but ensure that their clients don’t suffer the consequences of non-compliance at a later date. Taking this a step further, the GDPR will offer enhanced transparency, should law firms correctly cleanse the data they hold. The key to this is to implement a comprehensive data analytics strategy to ensure that the correct mechanisms are in place, and that these mechanisms are employing maximum efficiency. As a result of this, law firms can benefit from up-todate and accurate information, which in turn, can have an impact further beyond the data protection regulations, including improved client interaction, the ability to truly target marketing campaigns, increased security and reduced expenditure on storage costs. In addition, the GDPR will provide a great opportunity for law firms to take initiative in client service and build long-lasting business relationships. By leveraging technology geared towards compliance, firms can not only help clients, but also ease the burden for themselves. Any good practice management system will contain workflows built to deal with risk, but the more advanced will offer an Information Asset Register, designed specifically to assist with the onerous task of data management and mitigate the risks of a heavy fine. Essentially, the law firms that take the time to understand the GDPR and its repercussions, and implement the proper practises, will be the ones to come out on top, both in terms of competitive advantage and the bottom line.
Meantime finalists for the Legal Week British Legal Awards Law Firm of the Year were selected based on a wide range of criteria including legal expertise and innovation, strategic vision, business winning, client care (including measures relating to efficiency and cost effectiveness of service delivery), employee development, sustainable improvements in financial performance and a commitment to CSR. It is notable that the criteria for both awards include the cultural aspects of employee development, diversity and CSR: being crowned as law firm of the year isn’t all about billable hours. For any firm wishing to tackle cultural change, legal apprenticeships provide a great opportunity. School leavers recruited the summer after they finish their A-levels get the opportunity through the new Paralegal, Chartered Legal Executive and Solicitor Apprenticeships to join law firms as prospective fee earners, without the need to first obtain a law degree. This is not only a great opportunity for young people, but it has the potential to change the balance by replacing frustrated LPC-graduates, who have failed to win a training contract, with young local people, who are delighted to have been given an opportunity. Apprenticeships are the ideal vehicle for any firm seriously wishing to transform its culture through employee development and increased staff diversity. CILEx Law School is currently delivering training to over 300 apprentices based in client organisations, with some firms taking on third and fourth annual cohorts. We have been shortlisted for both the Modern Law Awards and Legal Week British Legal Awards for our apprenticeship work. Noel Inge, Managing Director, CILEx Law School.
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Modern Law 29
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Long term rewards How can law firms make GDPR work as an advantage, rather than a hindrance? he primary purpose behind the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to make organisations adopt good data governance. In the run up to May 2018, some law firms may have a fairly painless transition towards attaining a compliant standard, while others may experience more difficulties. The effort put in now will have long term rewards, and here is why:
Business awareness and education
Such a big change creates an opportunity to internally educate staff on the key changes, especially those working in departments that handle lots of sensitive personal data. Whatâ€™s more, given the GDPRâ€™s emphasis on compliance and the higher penalties, data protection is now firmly entrenched at board-level, which can only be a good thing.
Data auditing and risk discovery
There is great value in mapping out how data flows through your business, how that information is being processed and identifying risks as well as areas for improvement. For example, identifying the use of unsecure extranets and enforcing better policies or discovering unused, redundant personal data and purging it before it becomes a liability.
Taking this concept to the next level, some have speculated that the GDPR, and Article 25 in particular, will encourage law firms to embrace Information Architecture in a big way. This is a holistic systematic approach to organising and integrating information to better serve the needs of the client and business.
Customers value data protection
Recent high-profile data breaches have been PR disasters for the organisations in question. Law firm clients especially value data protection and confidentiality, and abiding by the GDPR obligations on data security will contribute to greater client satisfaction.
Applications beyond GDPR uses
Certain obligations within the GDPR may lead an organisation to adopt new technologies to help meet those requirements, a good example being Enterprise Search for finding a personâ€™s data as part of a Subject Access Request.
Technologies to help with compliance
There are various technologies that should be considered to bring effective automation to the compliance process and help flag risks sooner. Discovery platforms can find and label relevant information lurking in very large volumes of documents. Businesses can take advantage of document review software to automatically analyse legal documents and locate the relevant data privacy provisions. Or, a machine-learning classification tool to automate information classification for easier search and governance.
Adapt or die How will the position of the high street law firm change as larger firms continue to expand and consumer buying habits continue to change?
he rapidly changing legal landscape can appear to give high street law firms a bleak outlook. Nevertheless, these firms have no choice other than to adapt or die!
Last year, Coffin Mew completed its merger with Charles Lucas and Marshall; this highlights a growing trend of larger firms continuing to grow as they seek a bigger piece of the pie. Larger firms would be able to offer legal services capable of a large degree of commoditisation, such as conveyancing and will writing. Quite often this can be for a fraction of the cost of a high street law firm. This is a detriment to traditional high street firms as their work is likely to be of high volume with lower margins. Consumers are increasingly becoming more active and demand lower fees; they can now shop around for the best deals, i.e. on the Internet. Whilst consumers may not be motivated solely by price, they can certainly demand value for money. Thus, it is imperative that high street firms should push towards a more efficient and sustainable model. Consumer habits have changed significantly, and firms must adapt to remain competitive. High street firms will have to move beyond the traditional model of solicitors to meet consumer expectations. Local high street firms should embrace change, and practitioners must take measures into their own hands to bolster their public image as valuable members of the community. High street practices will need to become much more businessminded in the way they approach consumers and run their practice. Innovation should be welcomed, such as the efficiencies that technology offers. For example, millennials will expect to deal with solicitors online in the same way that they do with other service providers, reducing the already diminishing importance of face-to-face advice. Moreover, financial management is now imperative for firms who wish to adapt, grow and remain competitive. A clear direction in business development needs to be complemented by a similarly focused approach to financial management. Cash flow must be a priority, and be coupled with a strong approach to profit and loss. We understand the challenges a high street firm faces and can provide the additional funding required; aligning facilities to match expected cash flow. Daniel Andoh, Commercial Paralegal, VFS Legal Funding.
In conclusion, whilst the GDPR compliance journey may feel challenging in the short-term, the long-term benefits to law firms are potentially huge and should be explored. Robert Florendine, Solutions Manager, iManage.
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‘Good Clients’: Be careful what you wish for! We all like a ‘good client’, but what is a good client? • • • •
“They have been with the firm for 20 years”, or “They spend £/$XX with us each year”, or “It looks good to say that we act for them”, or “They represent a substantial chunk of my annual fees”
Not to suggest that these issues don’t have some significance, but they rather miss the point. Perhaps an empirical and subjective analysis of the client might prove more enlightening. For example: • •
• • •
How long have they been clients of the firm and has that relationship been fruitful for both of us? Irrespective of how many years they have been clients of the firm, are we instructed on matters regularly or only when something significant happens every five years? What exactly are the fees that they have contributed each year over the last five years and what is the trend? Is it static, increasing or decreasing? If they use more than one law firm, what is our share of their legal spend and what is the trend? Is it static, increasing or decreasing? Leaving aside the question of gross fees generated by the client, what is the profitability of this client by practice area? Indeed, are we even capable of answering this question? Is this client a good ambassador for the firm, referring others to us? Do they pay their invoices in keeping with our normal terms of trade or do they perpetually reside in the 90/120 day columns? If they are late in paying, what is the cost of the firm’s resources (partner, staff and otherwise) spent chasing them? Do they argue over and contest every estimate, quote and bill? Are they reasonable in their expectations? If this is a ‘trophy’ client, are we getting a demonstrable return from our investment in the relationship through the resulting acquisition of more profitable clients from the same sector?
The pricing aspect of the relationship is frequently the ‘elephant in the room’. If the client doesn’t tick most of the right boxes, the relationship needs to be brought back on track. You are the best judge of how best to tackle this on a client-by-client basis, but it must extend well beyond an evasive, circumspect and onedimensional conversation about a modest increase in hourly rates. Richard Burcher, Chairman, Burcher Jennings.
GDPR: making one big step far easier he cyber threat landscape has evolved drastically over the last few years, which has meant IT’s primary focus has been on keeping data safe so it can be easily and quickly restored in the event of a cyber attack. Of course applying regular patches and employing anti-virus protection is also vital, but often the best strategy has been to ensure you have good backups and a robust disaster recovery solution.
While the idea of this is to ensure your business can recover critical data if affected by a cyber attack, be it a ransomware or DDoS attack, the result is that the majority of businesses have multiple copies of files. Now, if you consider how backups are often performed using a grandfather, father, son methodology, it is likely a single file exists in ten or more locations with potentially even more versions. In addition, businesses themselves often structure their data around their clients and internal departments, and after a few system upgrades, large copies of data are kept “just in case”. The end result of this is we all have a lot of data; many thousands, if not millions, of files created over the years. But if I asked you how many of those files contained personally identifiable information, such as a client’s phone number or email address, what would you say? Don’t know, or not sure, will soon not be an option any longer. By May 2018, you are going to need to be able to answer this question, along with many others. Many people are now familiar with GDPR and the consequences upon their business. One of the aspects is that companies need to remain vigilant with regard to the personal information they are embedding into their documents (digital or not). The end-user has rights to request this data or to request that their personal information be removed in certain circumstances - so understanding exactly where it’s located, be it in the digital domain or physical, is critical to meet the associated time frames. A key part of solving the issue is getting a good handle of the scale of it. Using a GDPR audit tool should help you identify your data repositories and the volume of personally identifiable data stored. With this insight, you can decide on the ongoing need for this data; you can also identify commonly large historical archives that can be deleted. If you are in the cloud, this translates to a potentially large reduction in your storage costs. Gavin Russell, CEO, Wavex.
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What appeals so much about apps? ast year we saw Apple celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, a device that has become synonymous with the notion of accessibility on the go. Without consumers asking, Apple developed a product that empowers us to manage our lives from the palm of our hand. In 2008, it was predicted that mobile internet use would surpass desktop use by 2014. While this prediction may have been bold then, it comes as little shock that we are now spending more than 65 hours every month on our smartphones. We have now reached the tipping point of mobile technology, with usage surpassing that of any other internet connected device.
So, what is the driving force behind the popularity of mobile tech? Now more than ever we are using our smartphones to complete tasks, from achieving our fitness goals to ordering dinner from our favourite restaurant. We find ourselves living in the ‘Golden Age of Apps’, with 82% of mobile minutes spent using apps instead of browsers. Why is that? Mobile technology is set apart from its desktop counterpart due to the specificity of apps, each designed to enable us to complete tasks of a singular nature. With technology dedicated to better serve our needs, our Barclays app helps us manage our banking, Easyjet’s app enables us to book and manage travel, and all through easy-to-use, enjoyable mobile applications built with the intent to make processes simpler. No longer are we looking for generic solutions; apps fulfil this requirement. We are looking for precise means of completing tasks, and just as businesses create apps for particular uses, InfoTrack focuses on simplifying the conveyancing process for conveyancers and property lawyers with technology that meets their specific needs. With much of the current process fragmented, we design products to enable you to complete all of your essential conveyancing tasks in a single platform for increased efficiency. Often in the legal sector, firms choose their software providers before truly understanding their employee needs. However, selecting great technology will save you time on administrative tasks, giving you more time to focus on your firm as a business, and your clients. Whether looking for a product that integrates with pre-existing technology in your firm, or upgrading the tech you use to better serve your requirements, targeted technology will provide increased productivity and financial gain in the long run. Adam Bullion, Head of Marketing, InfoTrack.
The power of compound growth – your future, your children’s future e all tend to have subtle variations on three main life goals; (i) do something we enjoy and earn enough money doing it to live the life we want, (ii) save enough so we can retire and maintain that lifestyle and (iii) support family and others close to us both now and in the future. We are all busy. Life is expensive and challenging. It can be quite easy to get embroiled in life goal 1 and forget about planning for goals 2 and 3. School fees, university fees, the property ladder, retirement - all targets. All items which need to be saved for. With the burgeoning size of student debt and the burden that places on graduates today, it has never been more important to try and ease the strain for future generations. With the right approach, the solution can actually be quite simple, bring these targets within reach and allow you to focus on life goal 1. Early regularity of saving and investment prudence need to combine and you should reap the rewards of compound growth over time. If we assume that you have two children and £500 a month to save, you could allocate £200 to a pension, £140 to an ISA and £160 to Junior ISAs (£80 per child). If you maintain this discipline from when your children are born to when they turn 18, and assume investment growth of 5%* per annum, you could have a pot of c£27,500 in a Junior ISA for each child to help fund university fees. Over a 30 year career, assuming you have allocated that £340 a month to your ISA and pension (with the pension contributions grossing up to £250 a month), and also assuming 5%* per annum investment growth, you would have a pot of c£318,000 for retirement.
Despite the recent Bank of England base rate increase, interest rates remain very low in comparison to historic levels and it is likely that an element of investment risk will need to be taken to achieve a 5%* per annum return. A highly speculative approach is not always necessary however, and you should not put excessive risk on what you are saving as this could jeopardise the benefits of compound growth. An appropriate asset allocation and fund selection, which evolves as you get closer to the end objective, should get you there. Evidently, compound growth is powerful. Make sure you take advantage of it and ask a financial adviser to put you on the right track. Max Folland, Chartered Financial Planner, Saunderson House. *Net of charges. It is important to note that the value of many investments and the income therefrom can fall as well as rise. Past performance should not be taken as a reliable indicator of potential future performance and you may not get back the full amount you originally invested.
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We donâ€™t believe in law as usual, for us law is inspiring
If you and your team have to attend business events but feel like this... we can help. We run a nationwide programme of public seminars and in-house workshops. Call Ann Davies or Will Kintish on 0161 773 3727 for more information and visit www.kintish.co.uk for lots of free and valuable advice.
Promoting a positive, engaging culture odern Law believes in articles that help law firms to understand and develop a positive and engaging culture – but what does this actually mean. Being accessible? Frequent contact? Meeting and exceeding client expectations? Each of these boxes need ticking. However, a positive culture, which includes all these laudable goals, must be encouraged from the top senior management by adopting effective communication skills, which reflects an understanding of how various ‘customersupplier’ chains within a law firm work. This covers face-to-face social skills, within the context of a total quality management view of providing continuously improving and excellent service. Complex professional relationships between, for example, lawyers, claimants, insurers, counsel and experts will all, at times, be adversely affected by negative tension, conflict and ineffective and argumentative adversarial behaviour. An understanding and skill in challenging this conflict is essential and includes:
• Seeing and managing mixed messages • Explaining and resolving conflict • Managing stress whilst mediating • Being non-judgemental whilst labelling incongruity • Not adding to angry and obstructive interventions • Looking for win-win solutions At any/all the stages of the legal trail, it is possible to use mutual acceptance and good will to generate fair solutions. In addition, good practices of ‘closing the loop’, providing further information, and handling differences of opinion constructively are all part of a positive, engaging culture. Consolidating law firms in 2017/18 will see the legal profession improving their processes and customer relationships in order to remain successful. The skill set needed for the law firm of the future will include advanced communication skills to promote positive engagement; both the contemporary client and law firm employee will expect nothing less. Vulnerable clients will want easy and frequent access to their lawyers and claim process, plus a lawyer who can manage the stresses and strains of claim management. Ongoing argumentative and negative communication is hopefully a common cultural hurdle that is being overcome as law firms modernise. It is achieved by consistently promoting a style of interacting, which recognises our clients’ and our colleagues’ needs for positivity and conflict resolution. Dr Hugh Koch, Chartered Psychologist (Cheltenham), Director of Hugh Koch Associates and Visiting Professor to Faculty of Law, Stockholm University.
The evolution of cloud How will the role of cloud software in the legal sector continue to evolve in the future? loud computing continues to evolve; from on demand streaming of content and social media to mobile banking, our lives are connected to the cloud in so many ways. There is also a continual advancement in the technologies and underlying architectures that support the entire cloud computing paradigm, and with that comes a shift in the way cloud software can be used and the effect it has on its users.
In the legal sector we have seen the shift from traditional on-premises applications such as email, document and case management, where the data content is stored locally within the firm, to an architecture where the data and content is stored in a data centre outside of the firm, geolocated to provide redundancy and failover. With that shift, we have also seen the user interface implementations evolve from something desktop PC based, to something which can be used across all device form factors, and allow for more connected and mobile working. The evolution of cloud computing technologies means that the tools and technologies available to software developers allow us to build ever more connected and distributed solutions, but, more importantly, need no understanding of the physical hardware that the software runs on, or be constrained by it. I think we will start to see this in a new generation of legal software applications, where computing resources are more elastic based on the requirements of the law firm. If a big M&A deal requires another 20 team members and therefore access to additional computing resources, they can be allocated and deallocated on demand with a few clicks of a mouse rather than having the headache of deploying servers, desktops and other facilities. This will ultimately translate into reduced costs and improved efficiencies. Advancements in virtualisation technologies, and the use of “containers” becoming more mainstream, will also allow for better management of hardware resources and their associated cost. All of these technological advancements will impact law firms in different ways, from the user experience of accessing and availability of software, to how they manage service contracts with suppliers, computer hardware budgets and IT Team training. This, with a new generation of CIOs who have been raised in a cloud ready world, will mean a continual evolution of cloud software in the legal sector. Colin Fowle, Managing Director, Blue Car Technologies Limited.
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We are delighted to announce that Rachel Spearing has joined us as a new member of Chambers Called in 1999, Rachel has an impressive depth of expertise, ranging from Proceeds of Crime Act cases, contempt, confiscation, bribery & corruption, money laundering, director disqualification and fraud. She enhances our Business & Specialist Crime and Professional Discipline teams in particular. Rachel is a qualified civil & commercial mediator and, having gained a Masters in Global Risk Management and Criminology from Cambridge University, she also works at board level with companies to assist in risk management and reporting. Since 2015, 16 tenants have joined Serjeants’ Inn, an increase of over 30%. We continue to seek to recruit outstanding practitioners in our principal practice areas as part of a strategy of careful expansion. Expressions of interest should be directed to Martin Dyke at email@example.com and will be treated in complete confidence.
“Unrivalled expertise at all levels” C h ambers & Part n ers
020 7427 5000 | www.serjeantsinn.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | DX: 421 London Chancery Lane
Anti-Money Laundering: What’s changed and what this means for UK conveyancers he European Union’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was implemented into UK law on June 26th. As a result, there are changes to how law firms must conduct customer due diligence and an increased focus on the need to incorporate ongoing and documented risk assessment.
What’s the risk?
There are regulatory and legal/criminal penalties in place for non-compliance. This includes fines of up to £1 million and prison sentences from two to seven years.
1. Customer due diligence and risk assessment Under the new legislation, the choice regarding level of due diligence is more limited. There is no longer any automatic exemption from enhanced due diligence. A decision to apply simplified due diligence needs to be evidenced by a documented risk assessment. In simple terms, this means that all conveyancing clients must be risk-assessed, regardless of country of origin, services purchased or delivery channels. Moreover, the risk assessment now needs to include Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and Financial Sanctions screening. Ongoing record-keeping and transparency 2. Risk assessments must be kept and made available to regulators. This is worth noting as it is the first time that firms are explicitly being told to document and file risks in this way.
How an electronic AML search can help
An AML search facilitates risk assessment by combining all processes and records in one automated system. It enables firms to search for adverse information on a client more thoroughly than they would be able to do manually, and it ensures that compliance procedures are adopted firm-wide. A typical AML search offers: Automated risk assessment
This includes automated screening of Sanctions, PEPs and alert lists and multiple confirmation of identity, address and birth.
Choice of due diligence level
Users can opt for either simplified or enhanced due diligence. Simplified due diligence is typically for “low risk” transactions whereas enhanced due diligence is for “medium or high risk work”.
The system continues to monitor risk-assessed clients, alerting you if documentation or data may affect the result of the original assessment.
Automated record keeping
An AML search also automates recordkeeping and audit. Users have the option to add, certify and manage customer documents within the due diligence record.
What skill sets will be needed in the law firm of the future? he law firm, or for that matter any professional practice of the future, will look different to what it has done previously. As we continue to work with a variety of legal service businesses we are seeing more emphasis on the following skills:
• Flexibility and adaptability: There is a move away from the traditional structure of fixed departments/teams and skill sets to a more flexible approach where there is a focus on ‘skills’ rather than ‘roles’. As the amount of project based work increases, the ability to react quickly and set up teams with a combination of ‘core’ and ‘contractor’ resource continues to rise. The focus is on developing core and transferable skills with HR and training teams, working to ensure staff have deep expertise in a couple of technical areas together with broader delivery and soft skills. Some have described it as creating ‘skill pods’ that can be tapped into on a project by project basis. • Project Management: Forgive me but the majority of lawyers are not natural Project Managers! This is a necessary skill and more organisations are using a combination of employees and contractors who are able to work across various projects to ensure timely delivery. • Technology: Detailed knowledge of social media platforms is a must for any professional services firm and ensuring all platforms drive traffic back to the website. Have a clearly defined social media and content strategy to promote your services that also recognises you as thought leaders. Let’s not forget Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has an increasing role in helping law firms identify trends and buying patterns. A number of firms are already using this technology. • Commercial: Wider sales and marketing expertise where skills from other service areas can be shared with the legal profession. We are continuing to work with a variety of businesses on a project basis to provide these skills in a cost effective manner. The world is changing and those who review their operating model are flexible and make use of technology and commercial expertise, and are likely to see significant growth. Darren Jefferson, Director, Alius Services Limited.
Susan Fairbrass, Marketing Manager, Geodesys. For more information, please see our frequently-asked questions on AML for conveyancers at www.geodesys.com/aml-directive-faq
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2nd May 2018 The Royal College Of Physicians, London
What is a 21st Century Conveyancer? Chaired by Rob Hailstone, Founder and CEO of the Bold Legal Group Topics covered include; Improving the process for the client VAT on disbursements Governments Call for Evidence Update Dreamvar Appeal Update
for all Practising Conveyancing Solicitors and Conveyancers.
Embrace and engage Do today’s clients expect more frequent and engaging interactions with their legal services providers, and how could this expectation be met? eople are now demanding more frequent and engaging transactions as technology continues to evolve and push the legal profession to become more efficient and digitised. A whole new generation are now accustomed to the seamless user experience they get when they log on to social media and when banking online, so it goes without saying that they now expect the same from their lawyers.
By adopting pioneering cloud-based practice management software, lawyers can look to meet the rising expectations of their clients and also the demand for more visible, frequent and engaging interactions. To meet modern mobile lifestyle demands, lawyers can utilise mobile software and apps to communicate with clients via smartphones and tablets. This enables fee-earners to record time and billing and access matter information and documents at any time and from any place. Legal software is also helping to improve interaction with clients by speeding up the process by which legal documents are created. With access to automated legal forms and precedent templates, sharing, finding and retrieving matter information becomes quicker and more streamlined, providing an all-round better experience. Integrated third-party software also enhances the experience between client and lawyer. For example, document sharing platforms improve communication, facilitate the transfer of documents between parties and offer much better security than email. These platforms also enable improved collaboration across shared documents, make the process quicker, more interactive and eliminate the need to go back and forth between emails. Being able to organise key documents and maintain complete version control in this way helps keep your client in the loop and provide reassurance. This ultimately goes to build their confidence in their lawyer. There is no doubt that advances in technology and cloud-based practice management solutions are not only changing the way that lawyers work but also helping them to forge better working relationships with their clients. By embracing change and implementing the right legal software solutions for their practice, lawyers can meet demand for the higher frequency of interactions and also make them more engaging for clients.
There are thousands of law firms with huge databases of existing clients, are they a forgotten gold mine? How can we make sure they don’t get lost in the past? f it was a competition for the article with the longest title, this one would win by a country mile. There are thousands of law firms with huge databases of existing clients – which law firms completely ignore. Lawyers need to grow a rock-solid business with profitable revenue and a wide client base. The problem seems to be just that – the wide client base. Once a piece of work is completed for a client, it’s on to the next one and the one after that. No thought is given to building loyalty and winning more business from existing clients.
Many, many thousands of pounds are spent each year on inbound marketing – you know, your website and SEO services – and they’re not cheap. What about leaflet drops or the odd advert in a local newspaper? All designed to attract new business from new clients and all the while you have clients for whom you’ve already acted sitting in your database being roundly ignored. Let’s be frank. There are lots of other non-lawyer companies out there trying to win over your clients. You’ve already done the hard part. You’ve acted for the clients so you already have a relationship with them. If you’ve done only one thing for them, that means there are other things your firm can do for them – but you must tell them about those! So, how can you make sure your clients don’t get lost in the past? Simple really. You already have their details. You could drop them a line or, better still, send them an email – it’s fast and it’s cheap and it’s very effective. Targeting your existing clients is the most basic and affordable way to grow your business. Let your existing clients know about the range of services you provide. If there are changes in the law that impact on your clients, and they almost inevitably do, let your clients know. Call me silly, but telling clients about a change in the law that results in you getting a bit more business is a no brainer. Yes, it is perhaps the longest title of any article in this publication, but it’s the most basic business concept – don’t ignore your existing clients. Just think, while you’re spending fortunes trying to attract new clients other law firms are spending thousands trying to attract your clients. By ignoring your clients, you stand to lose them! Brian O’Neill, Director, Client Communications.
Peter Baverstock, CEO, LEAP UK.
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Q. BTE legal expenses cover – an underutilised asset? A. If you’ve got it use it! hen a client comes to you, one of your first questions is likely to be about how they will meet the legal costs; their own, and potentially those of an opponent. You will no doubt enquire whether any insurance is available1. A knee jerk response could be ‘No’, but further exploration may prove worthwhile.
Clients are likely to have one or more insurance policy. Those may well include an element of legal expenses cover as an ‘add on’ (either as an integral part of the policy or selected as an optional ‘extra’). As it may not have been the motivating factor for the purchase of cover, its existence may not immediately spring to mind. This type of legal expenses cover is known as ‘before the event’ (BTE), and is obtained before circumstances that might lead to a dispute have occurred. It can cover various dispute types and the level or ‘limit’ of cover may typically be between £50,000 and £100,000. That limit generally applies to all areas of legal cost. In contrast, ‘after the event’ legal expenses insurance (ATE) is purchased after circumstances leading to a dispute have arisen, primarily purchased to obtain protection against opponent’s costs, and is much more expensive. If there is relevant BTE, the insurance provider should be contacted as soon as possible to ensure compliance with terms and conditions. Consideration should also be given as to the available limit and how the client might want to put that to use. A start point might be to look at the estimates for the total costs exposure, i.e. own costs plus opponent’s costs, to the point the dispute is determined. Depending on the nature of the dispute, that total may or may not be within the limit. If the limit is not sufficient, the client may want to weigh up options. 1. Own costs exposure - Would the preference be for a private retainer (with or without utilising the limit) or might some form of CFA or DBA (not using the limit) work well? 2. Opponent’s cost risk – Might the limit suffice if reserved for this risk? Will it be necessary to purchase ATE (or to accept some uninsured risk)? If ATE will be sought would the preference be to limit purchase of any additional cover to a sum excess of the BTE limit? For any one dispute there will be numerous variables and preferences, but if BTE is available it should be put to good use. 1. SRA Code of Conduct 2011 – Handbook version 19 published 01.10.17 (O(1.6) O(1.12) IB (1.13) and IB(1.16).
Jacqueline Harvey, Underwriter, AmTrust Law. Check out AmTrust Law via their LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2747378/
A clear complaints process ne of our key values is “open” as we realise the importance of transparency with consumers as well as our stakeholders and the legal professionals and claims management companies that we investigate.
Our service principles reflect this ethos too, with a key one being ‘We will always be clear with you’. That includes promises like us communicating in plain English, explaining clearly how our process works and discussing from the start what everyone can expect from the service we provide. These were important in order to ensure that everyone can make appropriate and informed choices. And that’s what transparency comes down to for all organisations - being clear and understood so that people know what to expect and what is happening. Transparency is important to clients because it creates confidence in the service provider. Clarity of information also goes a long way in helping to prevent complaints from escalating to the point that they are referred to us. We have launched our new Language of Complaints research, which throws the spotlight on barriers that language can create in the complaints process. These in turn can be barriers to how transparent clients may feel your complaints procedures are. Some of the tips that came out of this research may seem obvious, but can go a long way in addressing complaints at the first stage. Things like keeping language simple by avoiding jargon, acronyms, pretentious language or using legal and technical terms. These can be confusing and intimidating to people who are not familiar with the legal profession. Importantly, don’t be afraid to apologise. Start with a proper apology if appropriate and avoid burying it at the end of lengthy letters. The researchers highlighted phrases such as “I’m sorry you have felt the need to complain,” or “I’m sorry you feel this way” being used, which came across as disingenuous and patronising. If you’ve made a mistake in the delivery of your service, simply say ‘sorry’ without caveats and conditions. We would not consider this to be an admission of negligence. It’s also important to show that you are taking complaints seriously. Overly informal language or poor grammar can suggest that no formal investigation is underway. I have seen examples of providers saying that they ‘will have a word’, which can leave people unsure of whether the complaint is being dealt with through a proper process. You can find the full research report at our website www.legalombudsman.org.uk but what it shows is that clear communication and transparency in the complaints process can only be a good thing – for you and the consumer. Simon Tunnicliffe, Director of Operations at the Legal Ombudsman.
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The Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards 2018 The Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards returned for its fifth year on the 18th January at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London. Poppy Green, Modern Law, takes a look at the winners and highlights of the evening. s the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, opened its doors to the fifth annual Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards, professionals from across the sector gathered together to celebrate and recognise the talent and successes of both practitioners and businesses within the market. Guests were welcomed by the Toast Master and a sparkling champagne reception, kindly sponsored by Stewart Title; the room soon became busy with excitement and anticipation of the night ahead. Once guests were ready to be seated, the walls were raised to reveal the spectacular Royal Lancaster Hotel ballroom; let the night commence!
A lavish three-course dinner was served, the mind-reader and magician, Harrison the Perceptionist, wowed the crowd as he delighted guests with his mind reading abilities. Guests were also tempted by the Silent Auction, which was raising money for the respective charities, the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity that aims to create a society where those affected by dementia are supported and accepted, and Ohana, a professionally led group offering support to families coping with the unique challenge that is involved in raising a child with special educational needs or a disability. Tom Allen, Comedian, Actor and Writer, was the host for this year’s event and provided a great atmosphere full of laughs throughout the entire evening. This year’s winners were decided by our esteemed Judging Panel; Chaired by Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law, and comprised of cross-industry professionals, including: Vice-Chair, Michael Napier, CBE QC (Hon); Andrew Chadwick, BPP Law School; Anna Favre, Pemberton Greenish LLP; Catherine Naylor, Gowling WLG; Charles Christian, Legal IT Insider; Christina Blacklaws, President of The Law Society of England and Wales 2018; Danielle Carr, SCA Ontier LLP; Davud Hasan, NetApp; Elkan Abrahamson, Jackson Lees Group; Guy Buckland, Osborne Clarke; Jane Keir, Kingsley Napley LLP; John Hyde, Law Society Gazette; Kathryn Stone OBE, immediate past Chief Legal Ombudsman; Katrina Volletine, Wollen Michelmore Solicitors; Matthew Williams, AMTrust Law; Melanie Farquharson, 3Kites Consulting; Naomi Ellenbogen, The Bar Standards Board; Nina Cummins, Osborne Clarke; Russell Hewitson, Northumbria University; Sascha Grimm, Women in Law London and Trevor James, Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP.
The first winner of the 2018 Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards was Excello Law, who picked up ABS of the Year. Osbornes Law took home Law Firm of the Year, while Katie Gollop QC, Serjeant’s Inn Chambers, was awarded Barrister of the Year. Serjeants’ Inn Chambers also picked up Chambers of the Year – a brilliant night for them. One of the most highly anticipated awards of the night was Lawyer of the Year, with such a high calibre of nominees, it was a fantastic category to be a part of. The winner was Angela Jackman, Simpson Millar LLP, who thoroughly deserved the
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Tom Allen - Our host for the night
I am absolutely delighted to win this award. It is wonderful to have the work of social welfare and legal aid lawyers recognised Angela Jackman, Simpson Millar LLP accolade for her contribution to the success of her practice in the last year. Angela said of her win: “I am absolutely delighted to win this award. It is wonderful to have the work of social welfare and legal aid lawyers recognised. I am very, very happy as I work very hard and I have helped to promote some really important issues in terms of reproductive rights and in terms of mental capacity, so it is absolutely wonderful for the judges to have rewarded that.” Simpson Millar LLP had another fantastic win as they also picked up Private Client Team of the Year.
The next award sought to recognise and celebrate talented individuals within the sector. Rising Star of the Year was awarded to Amy Clowrey of Switalskis Solicitors Ltd and Outstanding Commitment to Training was won by FBC Manby Bowdler LLP for their innovative approach to the organisation of training and development programmes. The Client Care Initiative of the Year was awarded to Roberts Jackson, who said their team had worked incredibly hard in a challenging sector to provide access to justice. iManage was the Best Use of Technology winner, and following the technology theme, rradar Ltd won Innovation of the Year for providing sustained success through their products and services within the sector. The Best Marketing Campaign was awarded to Keystone Law for their originality and innovating thinking within a recruitment
All of the night’s winners
campaign, and the Business Growth Award was presented to JDX Consulting, who said of the win, “it is a lot of hard work paying off, and it’s great to be recognised for such an achievement”. We included a new category this year, Combatting Fraud, which was won by BLM for their significant contribution to the detection and/or prevention of fraud. The winner of Crime Team of the Year was the David Sellu Appeal Team, which included Birnberg Peirce Ltd Solicitors, QEB Hollis Whiteman and Garden Court Chambers. The next few awards sought to recognise effective team work and stand-out achievements from a team. Corporate/Commercial Team of the Year was presented to ARC Pensions Law and Property Team of the Year was won by Wedlake Bell LLP, who said that it was fantastic to win and that the awards are a great thing as they celebrate the talent and success within the sector. Switalskis Solicitors Ltd also picked up Personal Injury Team of the Year, while O’Connors LLP won Supporting the Industry 1-25 Employees. CILEx Law School won Supporting the Industry 26+ Employees and were thrilled; they said, “CILEx Law School have been working hard to support the legal sector for many years, and it is fantastic to get this recognition”.
Rewarding the exceptional
The winners of the two most prestigious awards of the evening were selected exclusively by the judging panel. The award for Outstanding Achievement of the Year went to Dinah Rose QC, Blackstone Chambers and Shantha David, UNISON Legal Services. Shantha told Modern Law that she was “very pleased to receive it on behalf of UNISON. It was a great day for Access to Justice when we got rid of employment tribunal fees, so thank you for this honour”. The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Tony Fisher, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, which came as a complete
I am not accepting it for me, it is for all the brave lawyers out there in other countries who are doing so many incredible things in such difficult circumstances Tony Fisher, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP Issue 33
shock to Tony, who said, “I am very grateful, I didn’t know it was going to happen but I am not accepting it for me, it is for all the brave lawyers out there in other countries who are doing so many incredible things in such difficult circumstances”. Kate McKittrick, MD, Charlton Grant said, “A big thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors, because without them, this event wouldn’t be the triumph that it is. A special thank you to Eclipse Legal Systems who were our Headline Sponsors at this year’s event. The calibre of nominees for every category was fantastic this year, and the fact that we had so many women nominated and win is such a positive reflection on the sector. We hope everyone enjoyed the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards and we look forward to seeing you all again next year”. We also caught up with Craig Hogg, Eclipse Legal Systems, who said, “we were delighted to be Headline Sponsors. It is a great chance to celebrate the talent within the industry and it has been brilliant to see this event grow over the last five years alongside the evolving legal sector.” Every award winner got the chance to partake in a reaction video featured on the Modern Law Magazine twitter (@ModernLawMag), make sure you check out everyone’s reactions! After the awards presentation, the guests went straight to the dance floor as the band, The Salvation, took to the stage. Overall it was a fantastic event with some very worthy winners. Poppy Green is the Editorial Assistant at Charlton Grant. Modern Law would like to congratulate all the winners, and thank the sponsors of the event. For information about how to get involved with next year’s awards, please visit www.modernlawawards.co.uk
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ABS of the Year
Business Growth Award
Sponsor: Eclipse Proclaim Highly Commended: Invicta Law Ltd Winner: Excello Law
Sponsor: Laird Assessors Highly Commended: Ignition Law LLP Winner: JDX Consulting
Law Firm of the Year
Combatting Fraud Award
Sponsor: AmTrust Law Highly Commended: gunnercooke Winner: Osbornes Law
Chambers of the Year
Sponsor: PR Hanna Solicitors Highly Commended: Outer Temple Chambers Winner: Serjeants’ Inn Chambers
Lawyer of the Year
Sponsor: VFS Legal Highly Commended: Melinda Giles, Giles Wilson LLP Winner: Angela Jackman, Simpson Millar LLP
Barrister of the Year
Sponsor: Charlton Grant Ltd Highly Commended: Nigel Jones QC, Hardwicke Winner: Katie Gollop QC, Serjeants’ Inn Chambers
Rising Star of the Year
Sponsor: SearchFlow Highly Commended: Ciaran Dearden, Irwin Mitchell LLP & Simarjot Singh Judge, Judge Law Solicitors Winner: Amy Clowrey, Switalskis Solicitors Ltd
Innovation of the Year
Sponsor: Solve Legal Highly Commended: Digilog UK Winner: BLM
Crime Team of the Year
Sponsor: Thorneycroft’s Highly Commended: Stuart Miller Solicitors Winner: The David Sellu Appeal Team - Birnberg Peirce Ltd Solicitors / QEB Hollis Whiteman / Garden Court Chambers
Corporate / Commercial Team of the Year Sponsor: Connect2Law Highly Commended: Capital Law Winner: ARC Pensions Law
Property Team of the Year
Sponsor: PSG Connect Ltd Highly Commended: Attwells Solicitors LLP Winner: Wedlake Bell LLP
Personal Injury Team of the Year Sponsor: TLA Medico Legal Highly Commended: Osbornes Law Winner: Switalskis Solicitors Ltd
Private Client Team of the Year
Sponsor: Tonic Works Highly Commended: Capital Law Winner: rradar ltd
Sponsor: Ochresoft Highly Commended: Giles Wilson LLP Winner: Simpson Millar LLP
Best Marketing Campaign of the Year
Supporting the Industry 1-25 Employees
Sponsor: Conscious Solutions Highly Commended: BLM Winner: Keystone Law
Sponsor: UKS Medical Diagnostics Highly Commended: DMR Collation Ltd Winner: O’Connors LLP
Client Care Initiative of the Year
Supporting the Industry 26+ Employees
Sponsor: Checkaprofessional Highly Commended: Serjeants’ Inn Chambers Winner: Roberts Jackson
Sponsor: Stewart Title Limited Highly Commended: High Court Enforcement Group Limited Winner: CILEx Law School
Outstanding Commitment to Training
Outstanding Achievement Award
Sponsor: GDPR Academy Highly Commended: CBT Clinics Winner: FBC Manby Bowdler LLP
Sponsor: CostsMaster Winner: Dinah Rose QC, Blackstone Chambers & Shantha David, UNISON Legal Services
Best Use of Technology
Lifetime Achievement Award
Sponsor: Landmark Information Group Highly Commended: ContractPodAi & Pennon Group Winner: iManage
Sponsor: Expert In Mind Winner: Tony Fisher, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP
Dinah Rose QC, Blackstone Chambers and Shantha David, UNISON Legal Services, winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award with Michael Napier CBE QC
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Business Growth Award winner, JDX Consulting
The Awards Presentation
Tony Fisher, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award
Angela Jackman won Lawyer of the Year
Guests at the Champagne reception
eLearning for professionals
Modern Law 47
Are You Fully Compliant Yet?
Taking the stigma out of mental health issues Thomas Reynard, COO of defendant insurance industry law firm, Horwich Farrelly, talks about an innovative approach to tackling mental health problems in the workplace. If you had an accident at work you’d instinctively know to approach one of your firm’s trained first aiders for assistance. However, what if you were feeling depressed or anxious, or had another issue that had no obvious physical symptoms? Would you know who you could turn to for confidential advice and support? Indeed, would it even cross your mind that your employer had a responsibility to support you?
We believe that employers have a responsibility to promote wellbeing in the workplace and to encourage openness around mental health. That’s why Horwich Farrelly is proud to be one of the first UK law firms to announce a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) programme. But what prompted us to take this move?
A silent problem
The cost of mental health issues, both in terms of an individual’s health and the impact on business, is astonishing. A recent Government report, Thriving at Work, estimated that mental illness costs the UK economy as much as £99 billion each year in terms of healthcare, unemployment benefits and homelessness support. According to the Office of National Statistics, mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, resulted in almost 16 million working days being lost last year. Whilst it’s commonplace for firms to focus on the physical wellbeing of their staff, these figures underline just how important mental wellbeing is for employers too. With the Thriving at Work report also highlighting that up to 300,000 people lose their jobs each year due to mental health issues, it’s no wonder the authors called for employers to do much more to support their employees’ wellbeing. Unfortunately, negative assumptions and stigma towards people with mental health issues mean that workers often suffer in silence. This lack of understanding can make it feel like there is no one you can turn to for support, which can exacerbate matters.
You are not alone
We believe employers have a responsibility to create a positive working environment and promote a culture of openness and support around mental health issues At Horwich Farrelly, around three quarters of our 750 employees are millennials i.e. under 35 years old. From our conversations with Rethink Mental Illness, we’re assured that there is a much better, and earlier, diagnosis of mental illnesses in young people. However, as they make the move from education to employment, businesses need to acknowledge the role they must play in providing continued support. That’s just one of the reasons why we launched the Mental Health First Aider programme.
Don’t overlook company culture
We believe employers have a responsibility to create a positive working environment and promote a culture of openness and support around mental health issues. We pride ourselves on being a fairly unconventional law firm, and we have found that something as simple as a relaxed dress code and flexible start times can really help people living with mental health issues. For example, there may be days where someone just needs to arrive after 9am because they’re feeling anxious, or that dressing more casually will make them more relaxed and better able to cope that day. Having that flexibility is a small change that can make a big difference to your employees. Horwich Farrelly has taken it a step further with the introduction of the Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) programme to offer practical support across our national network of offices.
You might think you don’t know anyone who is experiencing a mental health issue, but you’d almost certainly be wrong. When we ran our annual Diversity, Employee and Social Mobility survey earlier this year, we added some additional questions, including asking if people had a mental health condition, such as depression or schizophrenia. Just 2.1% said they did.
The term might be unfamiliar to some but, essentially, Mental Health First Aiders are individuals accredited to offer initial support to others through non-judgemental listening and guidance. They are also trained to spot the early signs and symptoms of mental ill health and encourage individuals to access appropriate professional support or self-help.
However, according to the latest figures available from the NHS, 33% of women and 19% of men in England surveyed had previously been diagnosed with a mental illness, with the most common mental health issues reported being depression (19%), followed by panic attacks (8%).
We worked with Rethink Mental Illness, a charity providing support to around 60,000 people affected by mental illness across England, to deliver the specialist two-day training programme. As well as helping to better educate businesses like ourselves, the organisation provides expert, accredited advice and information on everything from treatment and care to benefits and employment rights.
These statistics would indicate that the likelihood of someone at your firm living with some of these conditions is very high, and considerably higher than our survey suggested. But employees need to feel like they can be honest about mental health conditions and that they will be supported and understood if they do decide to disclose.
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Offering support and understanding
Horwich Farrelly’s team of MHFAs have been recruited from across the business and range from Legal Apprentices to Equity Partners. The role of the MHFA is to understand the stigma that exists
It’s not about resolving mental health issues, but rather directing people to the support that they feel most comfortable with around mental illness and to promote open and honest discussions within the firm. MHFAs are trained to listen and give colleagues the time they need, before guiding them towards appropriate professional support or self-help, as required. It’s important to note that most episodes of mental ill health are short lived. However, with the right support, people experiencing serious or long-term difficulties can manage their illness and live meaningful lives. Before they can provide Mental Health First Aid, first aiders need some basic knowledge about mental health issues. Just like traditional first aiders, MFHAs go on a course to help them recognise symptoms of mental illness and how to deal with them. The course includes an action plan on how to help a person in a mental health crisis or someone who may be developing mental health issues. MFHAs provide help on a first contact basis. If a person is at a crisis point, they offer vital support to help prevent someone from causing harm to themselves or others. The approach takes five basic steps that include non-judgemental listening, providing support and information and encouraging the individual to seek appropriate professional help. These steps do not need to be followed in a fixed order, as every individual case is different. The MHFA has to use good judgement about how to apply them, offering flexible and responsive support to the person they are helping. Essentially, it’s not about resolving mental health issues, but rather directing people to the support that they feel most comfortable with. This could be the HR team, the individual’s GP, an external organisation like Rethink Mental Illness or the Samaritans. It’s all about finding something that works for them. Whoever they turn to, it’s crucial that people experiencing a difficult time with their mental health feel that they can talk in confidence. That’s why the MHFA training discusses confidentiality at length, where the only times a first aider can break this code is if there is a risk that someone could harm themselves or others, in which case, appropriate help should be sought.
A long-term commitment Alongside the first aider programme, Horwich Farrelly ran a range of daily activities as part of a firmwide ‘Mental Health Week’, which took place in October, to coincide with World Mental Health Day. These included asking all employees to pledge to take a small step to boost their wellbeing, like going for a brisk walk at lunchtime or swapping social media for reading a book. Plus our charity partner came to Horwich Farrelly’s Manchester and London offices to talk about their work, and how our fundraising, which has raised more than £13,000 to date this year, helps. Whilst we were only in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness until the end of 2017, the appointment of our nineteen mental health first aiders is a long-term commitment to cultivating a positive working environment that nurtures our people and supports them throughout their career with all aspects of their wellbeing. The next stage takes place in the New Year when we plan to check in with our employees to see how they’re doing in sticking to their pledges. By doing so we hope to demonstrate that something as simple as encouraging your staff to take time out of their busy schedule, and making a small change can have a real impact to their mental health.
Comment from Rethink Mental Illness
“It is so encouraging to see companies like Horwich Farrelly investing in initiatives to promote good mental health in the workplace. Thanks to the work being done in schools, young people have much better rates of diagnosis, so we’d like to see more employers focusing on what they can do to support young people when they enter the workforce. We spend so much time at work that it’s important for employers to recognise their role in supporting staff and offering them different ways to ask for help, when they need it. Horwich Farrelly’s MHFA programme means even apprentices can be trained to help people, as anyone at any age can experience mental health issues, so it’s important that support comes from all areas of a business.” James Fletcher, Head of Corporate Partnerships, Rethink Mental Illness. Thomas Reynard is COO at Horwich Farrelly.
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Legal crowdfunding: bringing the crowd to the courtroom Crowdfunding platforms have become more and more popular in recent years, and CrowdJustice has brought this funding approach to the legal sector. Joanna Sidhu discusses how crowdfunding can be applied to the law and how it can improve access to justice. Why do people give money to legal cases?
When CrowdJustice launched in 2015 we were regularly asked whether people would really donate money to a stranger’s legal case. The answer is, quite simply, yes. The law has such a powerful impact on people’s lives – changing individual circumstances or achieving large scale social and political progress. Crowdfunding legal cases presents an opportunity for people to come together around a cause they care about and effect real change through the law. Over 100,000 people have given over £4,000,000 to cases on CrowdJustice. From families protecting local parkland to Liberty challenging the government on the “Snoopers’ Charter”; from a group of women defending themselves against defamation after they spoke out about a man’s behaviour, to a cleaner taking their employer to tribunal for not acting to stop homophobic abuse in the workplace, people are increasingly able to take legal action by crowdfunding their legal costs.
Enter, the crowd
Crowdfunding began as a way for start-up companies and charities to ask for resources from the public and is a rapidly growing sector. Between 2012 and 2015 the UK crowdfunding finance market as a whole grew from £267 million to £3.2 billion. In 2016, the Pew Research Centre found that nearly a quarter of adults (22%) had contributed to a crowdsourced online fundraising project. Until recently, crowdfunding hadn’t been applied to the law, but a model that pools the resources of many people in order to achieve a specific outcome is nowhere better suited than for legal cases. Crowdfunding legal action provides people with a unique opportunity to tell their story and provide a route to action for people who support their cause. Particularly with the growth of social media, people now have the ability to share the story behind their campaign further and quicker. They can also find an audience of people who are concerned about the same issues and target them more accurately than ever before. This ability to quickly build a community around a campaign is key to the success of crowdfunding more broadly and is particularly applicable to crowdfunding for legal cases.
Third party funding turned on its head
Traditional third party litigation funding is based on the premise that investors in the litigation get a return. In this context, funders can pay some or all of the legal costs associated with a dispute, but crucially, they contribute to get a share of the damages if it is successful. They are investing on the basis they will make money on their investment and in some instances have control over decisions made in relation to the legal case.
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Crowdfunding legal cases presents an opportunity for people to come together around a cause they care about and effect real change through the law By contrast, CrowdJustice backers are donating; they are, in legal terms, “pure funders”. The micro-donations to a case are intended to support friends or family taking the case or the cause, rather than to get a financial return on investment. We have all seen individuals who haven’t been able to get the legal help or redress they need due to lack of funding. Crowdfunding lets people get to the next stage - that may just mean getting initial advice or covering disbursements or adverse costs exposure, or it may mean raising the entirety of their legal costs. And it’s not just the high profile judicial reviews that are successful, like the challenge to the junior doctors’ new contracts or the Article 50 challenge to the Supreme Court on Brexit. From local communities protecting green spaces to employment cases, an enormous range of individuals and groups raise money every day on CrowdJustice to take their case forward. All that is required is a client willing to spend some time engaging with people and directing their passion for their case into educating others about it. In many instances, that individual also benefits from bringing a community together in support of them, and raising awareness around the issues.
How does it work?
CrowdJustice was founded in 2015 by a former Linklaters and UN lawyer, and is the only platform dedicated to crowdfunding legal cases. The way clients use CrowdJustice to raise funds is simple: a client signs up to the platform, creates a case page (the short, human story of their case) and then starts raising funds. A client must have instructed a lawyer to use the platform, and funds raised go directly to the lawyer’s client account. CrowdJustice undertakes robust anti-money laundering checks in line with lawyers’ client money rules and creates a trusted system for responsibly giving to genuine legal cases.
Accessing justice isn’t just about accessing the courts; it’s about knowing the rights even exist in the first place and raising awareness around the legal issues
Increasing access to justice
But CrowdJustice is about more than just raising money - it’s about increasing access to the law. Accessing justice isn’t just about accessing the courts; it’s about knowing the rights even exist in the first place and raising awareness around the legal issues. In many instances, when someone chooses to support a CrowdJustice case, they get a front row seat to the legal process as it happens. They get regular updates from the person raising the funds as to how the case is progressing and are often given access to court documents or made aware of developments in the case as they happen. They are now engaged with both the law and the legal process in a way they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to do. In this way, legal crowdfunding has the potential to democratise access to the justice system by empowering people and communities to champion and build support for legal issues that matter to them.
Likewise, the then-Executive Director of the Centre for Criminal Appeals said, after the charity’s hugely successful crowdfunding effort: “The legal community isn’t known for innovation, but CrowdJustice is a tool that doesn’t simply [help] raise money for cases – it empowers local communities and raises awareness of important legal challenges.”
Making the law work for everybody
The hundreds of thousands of people that have come flooding in to support cases are also often interacting with the law for the first time. From high profile public interest cases to a local planning challenge, lawyers and their clients are realising they can bring cases that otherwise might have been out of financial reach. We think that’s a legal innovation worth shouting about. Joanna Sidhu is Head of UK at CrowdJustice.
Gloria Morrison, head of the campaign group JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association), said that “crowdfunding legal fees and costs associated with their intervention to the Supreme Court late last year enabled them not only to raise funds, but also to raise awareness and to gain new supporters”. In their case, the Supreme Court, in what the BBC called “a moment of genuine legal history”, reversed 30 years of case law by ruling that a key test imposed by judges in assessing guilt in joint enterprise cases had been incorrectly applied. This was in part as a result of JENGbA’s intervention, and donors large and small were able to celebrate a truly “people powered” change in the law.
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Interview with Matthew Pennington Matthew Pennington, Tonic Works and QuoteXpress, analyses the results of the recent Instant Conveyancing Estimate Tools Impact Study and explains how instant fee estimates can be the difference between a potential client choosing your services over a competitor’s.
How have the ways consumers choose legal services changed in order to necessitate online price publishing?
The reality is that they haven’t really changed. The research conducted by the CMA indicated that only 1 in 10 consumers went online to choose a legal services provider. The CMA’s survey found that the most used approach was recommendations from family and friends (30%), followed by personal experience of having used a provider before (29%), followed by a recommendation from a professional third party (17%). The CMA isn’t saying that these methods themselves are wrong, simply that the consumer has not had the opportunity to assess the quality of advice and service and whether the price they are paying is fair. Whilst it’s now quite commonplace for consumers to go online to compare services, from doctors to decorators, the idea of doing so for legal services simply doesn’t occur to the majority of consumers.
Why are law firms resistant towards publishing their prices online, and how can those fears be allayed?
By far the largest objection we hear is that publishing prices will lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in fees, whereby conveyancers have to keep undercutting one another’s fee estimates in order to win business, and furthermore that there isn’t really a good way to prove how good a firm is, so the consumer is left choosing on price alone. There are numerous firms who have built successful business models by providing fee estimates online, and they aren’t offering bargain basement pricing. I’ve been in the online conveyancing sector for almost ten years now, and if anything, conveyancing fees have gone up slightly. According to research conducted on behalf of the Legal Services board last year, only 4% of law firms reported decreasing their prices in the last twelve months. If a race to the bottom in online conveyancing fees was going to happen it would be well underway by now. I think providing metrics around quality of service and quality of advice in the legal sector is really tough. Whilst some review sites delve into more qualitative feedback now, they will never tell you whether or not a good job was done in terms of the legal aspects of the matter.
If a firm isn’t offering instant fee estimates today they are already missing out on work according to the CMA research, consumers have little awareness of such schemes.
You’ve talked about some of the fears surrounding price transparency, so what are the positives?
The recent Instant Conveyancing Estimate Tools Impact Study we conducted with the support of the CLC clearly demonstrated consumer preference for websites that offer instant fee estimates. If a firm isn’t offering instant fee estimates today they are already missing out on work. With conveyancing referral fees in the spotlight as a result of the DCLG call for evidence on the homebuying process, conveyancers should seize the opportunity that the new fee transparency regulations will create in order to win more business directly through their own website. Furthermore, with paid search advertising tools (such as Google Adwords) savvy firms can gain much more granular control of their caseloads.
How else do you foresee transparency of legal services improving in 2018 and beyond as a result of both regulatory requirements and consumer buying habits?
The development of standard frameworks between regulators will make it easier for consumers to compare fee estimates from multiple providers with ease. Once the regulations are in place and fee estimates are truly clear, accurate and transparent across the sector we will see an explosion in the number of legal comparison websites out there. At the time the CMA report was compiled, only one big name comparison website listed any legal services. This will change now, and the big name providers advertising legal service comparison will in itself act as a catalyst in educating consumers that they can actually compare legal service providers with ease online.
If you choose a plumber to fit a new sink, you know the plumber did a good job if there are no leaks and your sink doesn’t fall off the wall a week later. You may not find out that your conveyancer did a bad job until you come to move. With it being seven years on average between house moves, consumers cannot necessarily rely on current complaints data to be indicative of quality.
I don’t think we are going to see consumers choosing firms completely online yet - the need for the personal touch remains, and this is where firms who are able to build a strong rapport with prospective new clients will win. Providing a fee estimate upfront and then speaking to the client about their situation is still the best way to win their work, even if that conversation shifts to the consumer’s favourite instant messaging platform rather than over the phone.
There are of course quality badges (such as CQS), however,
Matthew Pennington, Managing Director, Tonic Works and QuoteXpress.
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Innovation: The reinvention versus throwing the baby out with the bathwater dilemma Our resident Tech commentator Charles Christian writes… ast year, the Law Society published another of its worthy and well-meaning initiatives aimed at jolting High Street law firms out of their complacency and reminding them they need to embrace the modern world if they are to survive. I say “another”, because Chancery Lane has been banging this drum, quite rightly too, for decades, I even wrote a few of them for the Law Society back in the 1980s. Anyone recall the LOMAT Law Office Management and Technology initiatives?
Anyway, the latest one, the Capturing Technological Innovation in Legal Services report, makes the valid (albeit much repeated over the past few years) point that “increasingly firms will need to foster an innovation biased culture and develop firm-appropriate innovation processes, techniques and supporting technologies if they are to remain competitive and relevant to clients.” Now, admittedly in some places Capturing Technological Innovation is guilty of falling for the latest tech industry KoolAid flavor-of-themonth hype about bitcoin and AI/artificial intelligence, but the part that has always intrigued me is how do you foster or introduce an “innovation biased culture” in any organisation, let alone one as inherently conservative as a law firm? For starters you have the existing “day job” to cope with. The pressure to meet billing targets and cope with existing client demands means partners and fee-earners in modern law firms seldom have the luxury of free time to indulge in blue-sky thinking. You will notice the essence of “start-ups” is the only reason they can focus on new ideas is because they are not bogged down with the exigencies of dealing with day-to-day administration and customer service. For law firms this is a major issue, with few being able to afford the equivalent of an R&D (research and development) team who can devote their time to new product and service innovation. The lawyers are too busy with fee earning. The IT departments are too busy dealing with existing system maintenance and upgrades plus end-user training and support. And even law business development teams actually spend most of their time dealing with marketing and publicity relating to existing services rather than thinking up new stuff. My own experience of dealing with firms is that their most fertile period is during the early autumn, when lawyers return from their summer holidays brimming with new ideas they’ve dreamt up while sitting on a beach, but that is hardly a viable business model for innovation.
We’ve all heard the saying that if you were starting a law firm today, you wouldn’t build it the way law firms were created in the past start-ups, but no consolation for existing firms with investments in bricks and mortar, expensive technology, even more expensive staff and lawyers, and clients. The danger you face if you try to base your innovation upon “revolution” (rather than “evolution”) is you may actually destroy your firm’s existing business model but without creating a viable alternative to replace it. We all know of firms that have done this in recent years. And it is not just law firms who are guilty of this. For example, the trend among high street banks to close local branches in favour of online and offshore telephone banking services has forced customers to flee en masse to their competitors. It may not be so “sexy” (as in you won’t get invited to speak at trendy hipster tech conferences in London’s Shoreditch), but for an already established business, innovation is best built upon on an evolutionary approach. Identify your firm’s existing strengths, particularly your most profitable (as distinct from highest total billing – turnover and profit are different) areas of practice and focus on how you can improve them. Also, focus on your failures; why do some clients abandon you even though you thought you had delivered a satisfactory outcome for them? What did you do – or not do – that they didn’t like? Learn from your mistakes and bake the remedies into your legal processes so you don’t repeat them. Oh yes, and also don’t pay any attention to the advice of industry “gurus”, who don’t have a day-job other than being gurus, as they also have no realistic concept of the practical constraints of trying to innovate while still keeping the wheels of an existing business model turning. Charles Christian is the Roving Editor of the Legal IT Insider newsletter and also blogs about Tech & Geek Stuff at www.urbanfantasist.com and on Twitter at @ChristianUncut
However, there is also the fundamental problem associated with all innovation, namely maintaining the balance between reinvention and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We’ve all heard the saying that if you were starting a law firm today, you wouldn’t build it the way law firms were created in the past. Which is fine for
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REGIONAL FOCUS: Manchester Interview with Jon Hainey Modern Law’s Regional Focus examines the Manchester legal sector. We spoke to Immediate Past President of the Manchester Law Society, Jon Hainey, who predicts Manchester will become the largest UK legal sector outside of London.
What are the main challenges the Manchester Law Society faces at the moment, and how is it meeting these?
Like many societies these days, the key challenges are: continuing to be relevant to our members, attracting younger members of the profession onto our council and meeting the needs of a broad array of firms and practitioners. We have practitioners who are dealing with personal injury and criminal matters at one end of the spectrum, and we have large multinational firms dealing with multijurisdictional transactions at the other, and everyone in between. So trying to meet the needs of all of those members is of course difficult. Another challenge is succession planning at the senior level. More now than ever it’s a big ask for someone to commit to being an officer, then Vice President, then President of the society, when some firms are less willing or able to provide a senior resource to the society and lose the time that they would otherwise spend on fee earning work. In order to meet these challenges, we’ve been implementing a modernisation programme over the last ten years, which we feel has made the society more relevant; indeed I would say we’re flourishing. One example is the introduction of corporate membership: effectively that means when any firm joins, every member of legal staff becomes a member of the society. Before the introduction of corporate membership, we would tend to have a small number of generally older partners who would become members of the society; so in an office of 300 to 400 legal staff, you might only have three or four who were a member of the society and received details of what was going on at the society through our monthly edition of The Messenger. Through the introduction of corporate membership, all legal staff at a firm now receives The Messenger. We now also send out a weekly email newsletter that keeps people updated. It’s allowed us to reach all the legal staff in the firm and that’s enabled us to attract more young people onto our council. The membership of our council is broad, and it does encompass the range I mentioned earlier. It includes older and younger practitioners. I’ve been a council member for over ten years, and I can’t remember the council being as diverse as it is now, which is great to see. We have very healthy discussions and debates about what our various committees need to do. Those committees become very relevant because they cut across a number of practice areas, and that’s another way we can get junior members involved. What committees do best is debate and discuss issues that are affecting their particular areas, but just as importantly this feeds into our education programme. Our education programme is very important because it’s a way of making sure we’re relevant and we’re providing what members need, and we can tailor the programme accordingly.
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It seems to me that there is a momentum towards Manchester in a number of ways. The number of new firms opening here in the last few years has been staggering We are very lucky to have a Chief Executive, Fran Eccles-Bech, who has been at the Society for around thirty years. Fran knows everybody, she has the finger on the pulse in terms of what the managing partners think is relevant, and she sees them on a regular basis. Fran is invaluable in that link with the firms and our understanding of what’s important to them.
What were your core aims during your tenure as President of the Manchester Law Society?
Primarily, it’s to support the ongoing programme that we have in place. As I mentioned earlier, we have been implementing a modernisation programme and a large part of my role is to ensure that the programme stays on track and is constantly updated. It’s about making sure we’re keeping the plates spinning during the tenure. Aside from that, I had two main aims for my year. The first was to reengage with the other professionals in the region, so I’ve made a big effort to meet with accountants, surveyors, architects and the presidents and chairs of their professional bodies. We get together on a reasonably regular basis to discuss what the issues are that are affecting all the professionals in the city and to see what we can do collectively to make sure our voice is heard in what are exciting times of the northern powerhouse and devolved powers. We are also holding joint events and working on joint education programmes, particularly around softer skills that cut across all the professions and important current topics such as cyber security. That’s not going to be something that’s just for one year; going forward we want to be even more joined up. The second aim was around access to justice, which came to the fore following the Manchester Arena bombing. Our response to the tragedy was to create a pro-bono panel that allowed victims and families to access justice as easily as possible. The response was fantastic; we had over 300 firms, not just from Manchester, who offered to get involved. That’s worked incredibly well and has allowed families and victims to access justice. The model we created has been adapted for use in similar situations, for example following attacks in London and the Grenfell tragedy. The other large societies we work with and talk to regularly recognise that
The experience gained through the Arena tragedy brought into stark focus the issue of access to justice and the importance of pro-bono advice unfortunately it’s likely that a similar thing could happen again, and they have been provided with details of the Manchester model. The experience gained through the Arena tragedy brought into stark focus the issue of access to justice and the importance of pro-bono advice. In response to that, we’ve now created our probono committee, which aims to better co-ordinate the excellent work that is already going on in the city and helping to ensure that those who require advice are properly signposted to a relevant provider and those who wish to volunteer are introduced to those organisations which most need support.
How have the needs of members changed over the last three years?
Going back a couple years, the issues were around legal aid and the franchising system, and there’s always a lot happening with personal injury and what seems to be a constant attack on PI lawyers. One thing that has changed is the educational needs of members. Whereas in the past, people would regularly turn up for one-hour CPD talks on particular topics, today these events aren’t attracting people as they can be accessed in different ways, like webinars, more easily. We’ve attempted to move away from more traditional methods and now have a full day conference featuring high profile keynote speakers covering a large range of topics. We’re now also looking at the skills members need to progress their careers and assisting with developing those.
How do you and the team at the Manchester Law Society ensure the society maintains its relevance to the profession?
I mentioned our corporate memberships and our broad council, but I would also mention that we now have an awards dinner. We used to have an annual dinner with a speaker, but it got to the stage where this was no longer popular. We then introduced our awards dinner, which gives us the opportunity to recognise and share the success of young lawyers and those doing pro-bono work as well as partners and firms. It’s been a great success, with our last awards attracting over 600 people, and it’s becoming more popular every year. It gives you the sense that we’re really getting together as a collective and sharing the success of legal professionals in the city.
How important is the role of the society in representing, supporting and promoting the needs of practitioners on a national level?
During my tenure, I’ve noticed that we’ve had better access to the national law society, with involvement in framing their plans and their approach to the profession. The SRA made the decision to have a board meeting in Manchester last summer, when normally they’re held in London or Birmingham. They invited Fran and I to a dinner after the meeting, so we were able to give them feedback as to the views of our members and what is important to them because they recognise the importance of Manchester and want to hear what we have to say; I’m glad to say I’ve not been struck off after expressing my views on certain issues!
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I’ve been a council member for over ten years, and I can’t remember the council being as diverse as it is now, which is great to see I’ll also mention our regular meetings with other large law societies, which we call the Joint Five: this includes Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Liverpool. Through the Joint Five we get good engagement with the SRA, LSB, Law Society and other bodies, and it allows us to feed into consultations; we’ll respond to these individually, but through the Joint Five we can respond directly to the SRA or Law Society. We feel that over the last few years, the Joint Five partnership has become more important, and it’s become a particularly good forum for us to get our voices heard. Other law societies have been trying to do similar things recently, which is good to see.
How do you think solicitors are perceived by the public? Do law societies have a part to play in building relationships on this level?
Public perception will vary based on personal experience, but I’ve spoken to many people who have been helped with their legal matter, whatever it may be, and their solicitors have changed their lives radically. They will sing the praises of their solicitors, and they understand the value they bring. However, I also understand there will be people who are dealing with matters where their experiences may be different. But like everything in the world these days, it seems that professionals generally aren’t held in as high a regard as they used to be. This means that there’s more for us to do as a society and as businesses to make sure the public understand the benefits of working with solicitors, particularly in the light of the SRA’s proposals to deregulate so that there are solicitors working in non-regulated businesses. It is a concern that whatever the public perception is at the moment, it may be damaged or watered down by deregulation. The reality is that the public isn’t necessarily going to be able to distinguish between a regulated and an unregulated body, and I hope that the SRA carefully monitors the impact of deregulation because there’s a real danger that it could adversely affect consumers and damage the solicitor brand. There’s plenty we can do at a local level to engage with businesses, but it’s more difficult to engage the man on the street about working with a solicitor: quite honestly we don’t have the budget to mount an advertisement campaign to do that. I think it’s something that we’d ultimately need the national law society to engage with, and I believe that there is an awful lot more it can do to get the message across about the added value you get when dealing with a solicitor as opposed to an unregulated provider.
What role does the Manchester Law Society play in promoting and developing education and recruitment in the regional legal sector?
By having various committees contributing to our education programme, we can offer existing members what they need.
For prospective lawyers, we work closely with the universities and
The better way to manage leads and onboard new clients
Jon Hainey Jon is an experienced commercial and public law litigator. He is based in DWF’s Manchester office, but deals with disputes across the country. His specialism is in procurement and public law challenges and dispute resolution on commercial contracts including litigation, arbitration, adjudication and mediation. Jon regularly represents businesses, authorities and individuals in relation to a variety of disputes, including contractual claims, shareholder and partnership disputes, warranty claims, judicial review proceedings and increasingly in respect of challenges for alleged breaches of the Procurement Regulations and claims involving state aid issues. Jon took on the role of President of the Manchester Law Society in December 2016, having been a Council member for ten years and an Officer for five years. Jon is married with two children. His hobbies include coaching his son’s football team and playing 5 a-side football. colleges, and younger members are represented on the council. Young members regularly attend mock interview evenings and talks on what working in the sector is like. We’ve also got a legal education fund, and there’s money available to sponsor a student through their university career in law, and that’s available to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to university because of financial barriers. The fund has been in existence for many years, and we’re aiming to highlight it even more going forward to help more young people into the legal sector.
What does the future look like for the legal profession in the region?
In your day job you look down at the work on your desk and not at what’s going on around you. In my role as President of the society I had to look up and consider the broader picture across the whole profession, and it seems to me that there is a momentum towards Manchester in a number of ways. The number of new firms opening here in the last few years has been staggering, and it’s not just regional firms, but nationals and multinationals too. The firms here are exporting what we’re doing to Europe and America, so you can see outward growth from Manchester. You can go to London and see the difficulties of getting good staff because of the costs of living and long commutes, and a lot of professionals have moved to Manchester from London because of this. So I would say the profession in the region is in a good place. I’ve been at the society dinners for Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham etc. and they all claim to be the largest legal sectors outside of London. They may or may not be right, but there is real rapid growth in Manchester, and I believe in five to ten years time there won’t be any doubt about which region has the largest legal sector outside of London.
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Flexible learning: the single greatest revolution in contemporary education Alisa Gray, Kaplan Altior, explains the benefits of eLearning in a more fast-paced and fluid world, and looks at how professionals can harness technology in order to improve efficiency, training and development. ’m all for making life as easy as possible, although I invariably end up making it far too complicated. Even my leisure time can suffer. I’m guilty of over-scheduling; trying to pack too much in, rushing to everything, losing the fun and turning even the best events into a chore.
A frequent casualty of an overly busy diary is training – investment in our future selves, which should be a priority but is regularly shelved to make space for more immediate demands on our attention. Lamenting how technology has made us constantly contactable, that as a profession we are at the mercy of our clients’ demands, or even admitting that we could improve our time management, is salve in the moment but doesn’t solve the problem. Clearly we could be more disciplined with our diaries and carveout whole days each month for learning but, along with other wellintentioned resolutions, the idea often doesn’t survive January. Another more readily accessible solution, which acknowledges that we’re all “a bit busy”, is online learning, delivered in shorter modules in the convenience and comfort of our own homes or offices. eLearning is nothing new, but it is the single greatest revolution in contemporary education and, for the most part, underutilised by training providers. Not only does it cut the commute and consequent emissions, it fits better with the restrictions of a busy life, increases personal control over our work schedule and perhaps, counter-intuitively, offers fantastic opportunity for networking.
An engaging eLearning environment
Flexible learning, like flexible working, has pros and cons; the challenge is to maximise its benefits and diminish its drawbacks. Too often eLearning can be seen as either easier or less engaging (who hasn’t scrolled through WhatsApp whilst watching a prerecorded online lecture?). When eLearning is properly tailored to the recipient, however, it creates a healthy learning environment, maintains the effectiveness of classroom education and preserves participant and expert interaction through timely interjection and constructive feedback. Kaplan Altior’s Live Online, accredited by the SRA for delivery of the PSC, is an example of such effective and tailored eLearning. It delivers real-time online lectures, enabling virtual classroom attendance, whatever the location. Rather than attending a day-long course, training is divided into manageable chunks and conveniently delivered to the desktop. In addition, all live sessions are recorded, uploaded and accessible at a delegate’s discretion, eliminating the need for frantic note taking. Innovative use of online tools, such as quizzes, polls and video, enables Live Online to actively engage students in ways often more effective than sitting at the back of a lecture theatre. Nonverbal communication may be reduced but audience participation
eLearning is nothing new but it is the single greatest revolution in contemporary education and, for the most part, underutilised by training providers is actively encouraged, with questions submitted in real-time to skilled instructors who integrate their answers without disrupting the session’s flow. For many, raising a hand in a full classroom can be intimidating, whereas participation through a computer keyboard can be really rather liberating. Networking might not seem an obvious advantage of eLearning, but with appropriate prompts and encouragement, Live Online creates an environment for information sharing between teachers and learners alike. Circulating contact information ahead of time, continuing discussions afterwards through bespoke networking groups and making use of connections made during the course, is all possible and supported.
Traps of the past
Technological advances are often met with scepticism. When writing first appeared 5000 years ago, many denounced it as demonic and prophesised it would rot the brain. In the 1600s when books became widespread, intellectuals warned that people would stop talking to each other and instead immerse themselves in fantasy. Even the telephone met with resistance when it replaced operator assisted calls – how would we cope with all those long telephone numbers? We look back and smile at the fears of previous generations without realising how much they reflect our own. Today’s claims that technology is creating an easily distracted generation of screen addicts sound all too similar to anxious criticisms of the past. I’ll confess to never being the first to embrace technology, but if it helps create time and space for my own learning and development, then I welcome it. Online learning will never replace the dynamic of face-to-face learning (just as books never replaced the need for conversation), but then I’m not advocating that it should. Rather than balking at technology, let’s be clever about its use, harness it to improve our efficiency and find time to nurture our future selves by investing in learning at our desks with a cup of tea and no additional commute. Alisa Gray, Business Development Director, Kaplan Altior. For more information about Live Online, see altior.co.uk/psc-live-online
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Artificial intelligence for risk management: opportunities for law firms Andrew Yates, Artesian Solutions, argues that emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will provide the data necessary to improve risk management for law firms who embrace them. The British legal sector has undergone huge transformation over the last decade, and the market has become heavily saturated. The introduction of ABSs brought consolidation, the influx of innovative new players introduced new types of legal service delivery, and the rise of social media meant clients suddenly had access to an almost unlimited supply of legal online know-how as well as virtual ‘selfhelp’ legal solutions. All of this served to place huge competitive pressures on law firms.
Add to this the continual balancing act of delivering value for money, meeting demanding client expectations and managing ever-more onerous compliance and regulatory requirements, and the pressure is compounded for lawyers to react to changing conditions, capitalise on new opportunities, and overcome emerging obstacles to stay ahead and deliver better client outcomes. It’s no wonder that law firms are increasingly turning to technology. There are many ways technology is disrupting legal service delivery - to improve relationship management, attract new clients and retain existing ones, and realise efficiencies through automation - but I would like to talk about one in particular: the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the management of risk. Effective risk management is a cornerstone of good legal practice, and law firms must take a strategic approach to due diligence and compliance. They must systematically identify and assess the risks their business, and their clients, are most vulnerable to, and crucially then put in place robust plans to manage them.
There for the taking
The explosion of data offers a massive opportunity for law firms to identify potential risks and their drivers earlier, but many have struggled to get a handle on the enormous quantity of structured and unstructured data held in a vast myriad of places. Risk stories, potential liabilities, ethical issues, claims exposures, new precedents, emerging legislative and regulatory issues - it’s all out there for the taking, but the sheer volume and diversity of information can be overwhelming. Just keeping up is a challenge, let alone accurately assessing, validating and acting on the risk insights generated. Therefore, it’s not surprising that risk management is one of the fields that has received a massive boost in providing accurate and superior results with the intervention of AI. AI technologies utilising machine learning, natural language processing and data analytics are allowing law firms to identify potential risks within their commercial clients earlier, by giving them greater command over the wealth of structured and unstructured data at their disposal. Combing through the ever-growing pools of data from websites, financial reports, credit reference agencies such as Experian, analysts, news and social media, and then applying advanced analytical techniques to track, filter and validate relevant risk information faster and more accurately will allow firms’ risk management strategies to become more robust and efficient, their
It’s not surprising that risk management is one of the fields that has received a massive boost in providing accurate and superior results with the intervention of AI understanding of clients’ individual risks deepens, and their ability to spot potential risks earlier is vastly enhanced. This enables lawyers to proactively advise clients about potential exposures, before they become an issue.
Shaping the future
As time goes by and the volume of data improves, the accuracy of machine learning and risk assessment will get better still. It will become possible to construct predictive models by uncovering emerging patterns from data results to understand issues and exposures that will have a big impact on risk management, and accurately assess potential outcomes. In time, these technologies may also offer strategies to protect against those risks, and the actions that can be taken to limit risk, improve outcomes and protect both the client’s and the firm’s own reputations, whilst at the same time boosting efficiency and realising significant cost savings. The good news is that these developments are already happening. Legal firms and networks such as FBC Manby Bowdler and LawNet have been using data intelligence services to build an incredibly rich understanding of what the future of legal service delivery looks like, and where the biggest gains can be made. By using artificial intelligence to scan millions of sources of structured and unstructured data, information can be extracted on key developments within your client base, their separate business units, competitors, regulators and their key customers. The law firms embracing new digital strategies are shaping the future practice of law and legal service delivery, and are stealing a march on the competition by: • Identifying and attracting new business opportunities • Deepening relationships and retaining clients • Managing Risk • Improving collaboration • More efficiently using research time • Building eminence Andrew Yates is Co-founder & CEO of Artesian Solutions. To find out more about how digital applications are embracing artificial intelligence and disrupting the legal sector visit artesian.co/law..
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Leading Law Firm chooses Nalytics to help deliver Outstanding Client Service ne of Scotland’s leading law firms, Burness Paull has chosen the Nalytics Search and Discovery platform to support them on their journey to becoming the number one technology firm in the country.
With 480 staff and offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, in the last year the company has worked on over £10billion of deals in more than 60 jurisdictions. Samuel Moore, Legal Technologist & Solicitor at Burness Paull said: “As a dynamic law firm with a keen interest in technology and how it can improve our business, we are always looking out for solutions which can deliver value for us from day one.” “We had a number of data challenges and client requirements which we knew could be improved with the right technology. Once we saw Nalytics outstanding capabilities, we knew we wanted this agile and responsive solution to help us address these.” Nalytics enables Burness Paull to quickly and easily search and access multiple data repositories simultaneously. Using the Search and Discovery functionality within Nalytics, Burness Paull can source content based on keywords or phrases. This allows them not only to find the right information at the right time, but also to discover the hidden value in their data. Nalytics also helps Burness Paull provide better support for client challenges such as Contract Review, Lease Review, Subject Access Requests (SARs), Analysis of Employment Contracts for M&A and legislative changes/compliance. Sam added: “Nalytics allows us to discover additional insights into our data, which may have been challenging to find previously. This is crucial for supporting us in making strategic business decisions, based on a targeted view of information and the business intelligence it brings.” To deliver true ROI and business value for us, any technology solution needs to be easy to use, with an intuitive interface that requires minimum training - Nalytics delivers that and much more. Nalytics not only allows us to quickly and easily find information to support lawyers’ decision making, but it also gives our lawyers a valuable productivity tool to deliver even greater efficiency to clients.”
To deliver true ROI and business value for us, any technology solution needs to be easy to use, with an intuitive interface that requires minimum training - Nalytics delivers that and much more. Sam Moore, Legal Technologist & Solicitor - Burness Paull
Callum Sinclair, Partner and Head of Technology at Burness Paull said: “As a digitally native firm, we are always looking at how technology can add value to the service we provide. The use of Nalytics is consistent with our drive towards identifying and implementing legal technology solutions to deliver benefit for clients.” For more information about Nalytics, or to arrange a free demo, stop by our stand (#202) at Legalex 2018 or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org | ww.nalytics.com | +44 141 891 4769
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Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management Software solution eliminates administration at new start-up firm, Prism Family Law clipse Legal Systems is further increasing its new start-up client portfolio, by implementing its Law Society Endorsed Proclaim Practice Management Software solution at Prism Family Law, a Newcastle-based firm.
Founded by Andrew Wraith, the sole trader practice will specialise in all aspects Darren Gower of Family Law, offering clients a friendly and personalised service through what can often be traumatic circumstances. The ambitious new start-up plans to expand in the future, and aims to establish an impeccable reputation throughout northeast England. In order to begin practicing from its inception, Prism Family Law will implement Eclipse’s ready-to-go Proclaim Family Practice Management system. Thanks to Proclaim’s high level of automation, case opening procedures will be significantly reduced as all relevant documentation will be generated at the click of a button, saving Andrew time to be productive elsewhere.
Additionally, Proclaim will transfer details into the electronic Consolidated Matter Report (CMR), catering for multiple cost rates, and producing the summary CMR at the end of the relevant accounting period. To further drive efficiencies, the integrated practice accounting and financial management toolset will streamline client billing and provide a detailed analysis of the start-up’s operations. Andrew Wraith, Director of Prism Family Law, comments: “As a new start-up - and in particular a boutique firm – I know the importance of implementing the correct legal software in order to reduce expenditure and streamline processes. Having thoroughly researched the market, it’s clear that Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management system will eliminate a number of time-consuming aspects, enabling me to provide the highest quality of personal service, and concentrate on establishing Prism Family Law’s reputation.” For further information, please contact Darren Gower, Marketing Director at Eclipse Legal Systems, part of Capita plc, via darren.gower@eclipselegal. co.uk or call 01274 704100. Alternatively, visit www.eclipselegal.co.uk
MSc in Construction Law & Dispute Resolution King’s College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law Centre of Construction Law
Applications are invited for this highly regarded post-graduate programme:
• two-year part-time, post-experience, multi-disciplinary programme for lawyers and construction professionals, now in its thirty-ﬁrst year, covering the law and its application to construction projects, practices, people and problems • four taught modules and a dissertation, including foundation modules on law for construction professionals or construction technology for lawyers • international, multi-disciplinary student cohort with strong alumni association • nine full days’ tuition each term in central London (three weekends of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) plus regular on-line tutorials • academic staﬀ led by Professor David Mosey, Professor Renato Nazzini and Professor Phillip Capper, supported by leading academics and practitioners • access to leading UK and international research and high-proﬁle Government and industry collaboration • specialist library resources and online facilities available to students • qualiﬁes for professional CPD and, with the additional award-writing examination, exemption from the CIArb Fellowship examination • next intake September 2018 – early applications are encouraged (ﬁrst application deadline 30 March). If places still available ﬁnal deadline: 27 July (non-EU/overseas); 31 August (UK/EU). Applicants must have a degree and/or acceptable professional qualifications plus, (for construction professionals and non-practising lawyers), at least two years’ relevant work experience; or (for practising lawyers), at least completed pupillage or one year of training contract. For further information on the Centre, or to download a copy of the prospectus, visit the Centre of Construction Law website: www.kcl.ac.uk/law/research/centres/construction/about.aspx, or contact Sue Hart on 020 7848 2643, email email@example.com. Details on how to apply can be found via the main KCL prospectus pages at: www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught-courses/construction-law-and-dispute-resolution-msc.aspx
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10 MINUTES WITH
Katie Gollop QC Q A
Did you expect the legal services sector to change so drastically when you started working in it?
In 1993, when I was called to the bar, you had to crawl under a desk to plug in a phone line and listen to AOL squawks to connect to the internet. I remember my pupil master, an early tech adopter, saying how useful it was to be able to come back to chambers at lunch time, draft and print an order and be able to walk it over to the judge. Now that we have court Wi-Fi, the way documents used to be physically transported between parties and courts seems impossible. But it’s interesting that whilst we can deliver documents electronically at any time of the day or night, litigation doesn’t seem to get resolved more quickly. And the difficulty of identifying and disclosing electronic data is one that we’re only now beginning to grapple with; we have not yet worked out, as a society, what we can reasonably expect of global social media giants such as Facebook. Within the next few years we should see the inception of online courts, and that will challenge the delivery of publicly accessible, transparent justice.
What has been the key positive or negative impact of the liberalisation of legal services?
It’s been great for social mobility. We have a long way to go but less expensive routes to qualification (paralegal and legal executive work) have opened things up, and those who come into legal services that way have the benefit of a huge amount of practical experience. It’s great too that the public can instruct a barrister directly. A friend who got divorced said it cut down the cost for her considerably. Perhaps, in negative terms, liberalisation has made it possible for costs to be cut in a way that is detrimental to public services. The CPS in particular would benefit from greater investment.
Who inspires you and why?
Last year I bought a second-hand scrap book compiled in the 1950s by a female lawyer who had pasted lots of cuttings about women barristers. One of them was Nemone Lethbridge, then making a name for herself at the Bar not least as counsel of choice to the Krays. Through the magic of Twitter, I was able to contact and interview her for the First Hundred Years project, with which Serjeants’ Inn is very actively involved. Hers is an
It’s interesting that whilst we can deliver documents electronically at any time of the day or night, litigation doesn’t seem to get resolved more quickly inspirational story of resilience, courage and extraordinary public service. In 1995 she was so angry when the Government removed legal aid from personal injury work that she set up a Law Centre in Stoke Newington. It’s still a much-needed resource, and at the age of 85, Nemone works there every Saturday.
Have you had a mentor? If so, what was the most valuable piece of advice they gave you?
No, though I do have a mentee. Recently, I heard Millicent Grant (President of CILEx) speaking at the Spark 21 Women in Law conference. She talked about fear of failure and impostor syndrome and passed on the advice her mentor had given her: “Do it frightened!”
If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for someone to ask me this question! Two options: personal shopper or TV critic. I’m a seriously good present buyer – if you’ve got to get a gift and you don’t know what to get, call Giftbusters! (I’m working on it). As to the telly – colleagues in chambers look to me for reliable viewing recommendations. If there was anything better on TV last year than Quacks, I want to know what it was! Katie Gollop QC, Barrister, Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.
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66 Modern Law
Dominic Cullis, GDPR Academy, explains how firms can ensure they protect the data they hold and how they can use GDPR positively to enable business growth.
Can you outline the key changes GDPR will bring to data regulation and how these will affect law firms?
Two main differences between GDPR and the Data Protection Act 1998 are transparency and accountability. GDPR empowers the individual, giving control over the personal data held within a law firm. Individuals have the right to know what personal data is held about them and that records are accurate and complete. They also have the right for the data to be erased, often referred to as the “right to be forgotten”. Many commentaries about GDPR focus on the significant penalties, which rise from a maximum of £500,000 under current regulations to €20m or 4% of the firm’s global annual turnover. As a firm works towards GDPR compliance, it will review and update supplier contracts, gain full understanding of the personal data it holds, which will be more accurate, and ensure the correct consents are obtained from the individuals whose data it is.
What steps can law firms take to prevent data breaches, and how should they respond and recover in the event of data loss?
Firms should ensure that all staff are trained so they are aware of methods cyber criminals use to dupe people into divulging confidential information or trick them into clicking on a link in an e-mail that activates a computer virus. Practices should implement robust up-to-date cyber security throughout their IT infrastructure. Minimise the personal data stored and protect it with methods including encryption, anonymisation and pseudonymisation.
How do you foresee cyber-crime evolving in response to more robust data protection regulation?
Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to trick people into divulging confidential information. It’s essential that everybody undergoes ongoing training to keep abreast of the evolving risks. We all use social media and criminals can capitalise from this. Under GDPR everybody must think even more carefully about what information they are sharing and to consider how a criminal may be able to compile an ever more complete picture about an organisation, that they could then use to exploit a weakness to assist them in a campaign to obtain personal data.
What role will training play in ensuring law firms remain GDPR compliant?
Training is a key element of GDPR compliance because it ensures that everybody employed in the practice is fully aware of the need to keep personal data secure, plus making sure records are accurate and complete. Employees who have undergone training on cyber security are less likely to expose personal information by clicking on a link in a phishing email or divulging it over the telephone.
How can law firms approach GDPR in a way that brings positive benefits to their business?
Personal information is one of the most valuable assets in a law firm, and having the right systems in place to protect it is a very positive thing
Being compliant early will enable a firm to win business where an incumbent supplier fails to embrace the new regulation and therefore forces an organisation to find a new firm to act for it. Personal information is one of the most valuable assets in a law firm, and having the right systems in place to protect it is a very positive thing. Implementing data security systems will significantly reduce the risk of a firm becoming the victim of a cyber-attack, avoiding a possible data breach and the resultant loss of income and damage to the firm’s reputation. Firms that embrace GDPR will have more accurate databases of clients and prospects who have consented to the use of their data. This will result in a better outcome for marketing campaigns as well as enabling you to better manage your client base via your customer relationship management programme. Dominic Cullis is CEO of the GDPR Academy.
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Modern Law 67
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