The Business of Law
ISSUE 37 ISSN 2050-5744
Christina Blacklaws President of the Law Society of England and Wales 2018/19 The reason why I put my hat in the ring for an office holderâ€™s position and then ultimately to become President of the Law Society, is because I see it as an amazing opportunity to create positive change for our profession
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Editorial Contributors Adam Bullion
Head of Marketing InfoTrack
Managing Director Enlighten IC
Director of Business Development Kaplan Altior
Product Manager Geodesys
Jt Managing Director Silverman Advisory
Regulatory Policy Principal Legal Services Board (LSB)
Clair Daniel Senior Ombudsman Legal Ombudsman
Chief Executive Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Managing Director Blue Car Technologies Limited
Senior Consultant and Costs Lawyer Burcher Jennings
Marketing Director Eclipse Legal Systems
Vice President DocsCorp (EMEA)
Client Relationship Manager VFS Legal Funding
Writer Legit Claims
Jessica McMahon CERT CII (FS) Business Development Manager Informed Financial Planning
Head of Business and Product Development, Composite Legal Expenses AmTrust
Yvonne Hirons Global CEO Perfect Portal
WELCOME ith so much hype out there around emerging technologies, it is becoming increasingly difficult for firms to navigate the marketplace. The question in this issue is, are they being over-hyped? We’ve got a vast array of interviews, columns and articles covering both sides of the coin. Although technology is an enabler and paving the way for efficiency and new ways of working, are clients starting to seek out more face to face interaction and human understanding? Modern Law spoke to Paul King, April King, about the effect of technology on legal services and their delivery. He believes that even though we cannot nor should not avoid technology, firms need to invest in a good balance between human input and technology. Rachel Roberts, Burges Salmon, makes the point that new entrants into the market are one step ahead due to technology led solutions, so in order to match the demands, firms need to keep the pace. So it seems we need to find a balance – should that balance be decided on by what is required in terms of softer skills and those that involve big data and binary? Let us know what you think.
On the 12th July is was the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards, which returned for its third year at the Rum Warehouse, Liverpool. Conveyancing firms, as well as the rest of the market, have faced a range of pressures already this year but their response to these challenges has seen a rise in a variety of innovations and initiatives. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the firms, teams and individuals that have made a positive change or impact as well as celebrating the sector’s achievements. Check out the winners and highlights of the night on page forty-five. As you know, we are always looking out for new writers who might want to contribute to the conversation, so please get in touch if you would like to join our panel of experts. I hope you enjoy this issue, and if you have any comments or feedback, then please do get in touch via the details below.
Chief Executive TM Group
Issue 37 ISSN 2050-5744 Co Editor Poppy Green
Project Manager Martin Smith
Events Sales Kate McKittrick Modern Law Magazine is published by Charlton Grant Ltd ©2018
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.
Poppy Green Co-Editor, Modern Law Magazine. 01765 600909 | @Modern_Poppy | firstname.lastname@example.org www.modernlawmagazine.com
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07 Eric Sohn talks news
Financial crime compliance, whether in the service of thwarting money laundering, enforcing economic sanctions, or ensuring proper trade compliance, is a veritable panoply of regulations, exemptions, and advisory guidance. While on its face, the scope of these regulatory requirements is clearly circumscribed, depending on the regulator, nothing could be further from the truth. In three areas, regulatory jurisdiction, the types of transactions subject to oversight, and the regulatory expectations for compliance controls to mitigate the risk of these crimes, regulators regularly expand the scope of their purview in order to achieve better mitigation of those risks.
11 Christina Blacklaws
Modern Law spoke to Christina Blacklaws, the new President of the
Law Society of England and Wales 2018/19, about how she is aiming to create positive change throughout the profession by focusing on her core aims.
23 The LSB investigation into the Law Society Angela Letta, Legal Services Board (LSB)
15 Paul King
25 Paul Philip
As technology continues to have an effect on legal services and their delivery, Paul King, April King, spoke to Modern Law about the important of the ‘human touch’ and how law firms shouldn’t forget the importance and benefits associated with face to face interaction.
18 Rachel Roberts
29 Generating leads
Rachel Roberts, Head of Business Solutions, discusses how law firms need to adapt to the evolving needs of their clients and how they are responding to new entrants in the market.
EDITORIAL BOARD contributors
Chief Executive, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
27 Customer service: Is it important? What does it look like?
Clair Daniel, Legal Ombudsman
Steve Hooper, LawSEO
29 A trade-off
Richard Allen, Burcher Jennings
31 Keeping up with client expectations
Jennifer Connell, Legit Claims
31 GDPR and your personal data Adam Bullion, InfoTrack
33 One size does not fit all
Jonathan Davey, Geodesys
33 A risk management strategy is key Hannah Sales, VFS Funding AmTrust Law
An AmTrust International Division
35 Technology is not a shield Alisa Gray, Kaplan Altior
35 Transparent pricing, more than just price of service
4 Modern Law
Yvonne Hirons, Perfect Portal
37 The benefits of gamification
Colin Fowle, Blue Car Technologies Limited
37 Claims are on the rise
Tim Mullin, AmTrust
Jonathan Silverman, Silverman Advisory
43 The most effective ways to win new clients for your law firm
Jessica McMahon Cert CII (FS), Informed Financial Planning
41 Human error – the biggest security threat to your firm? Samantha Jefferies, DocsCorp (EMEA)
Legal marketing expert, John Hogg, takes a look at some of the most recent developments surrounding legal marketing and discusses what law firms can do to win more clients.
45 The Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2018
41 The role of a marketer
air pollution data in all of their environmental risks reports for residential and commercial property transactions. Shane Herridge, Data Manager for FCI, discusses how search reports are continuing to change due to emerging environmental risks and evolving data, creating more comprehensive and insightful reports for their clients.
Our resident Tech commentator Charles Christian writes…
Joe Pepper, TM Group
39 How to handle customer feedback
42 Know your client: Do you really know what makes them tick?
39 Changing perceptions
Returning for its third year, the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards took place on the 12th July at the Rum Warehouse, Liverpool. Poppy Green, Modern Law, hears from the winners and takes a look at the highlights of the night.
51 Respect your team’s time: Invest in tech
In a competitive profession, the pressure is always there to be faster, more collaborative, and responsive right up to deadline. Whether or not your firm has a dedicated Head of Innovation or Chief Technology Officer, you’ve got to know what tech is out there to give you a competitive edge. With more smart software available than ever before, there’s ample opportunity to bring tech-driven agility into your next Corporate Finance and Capital Markets transaction – and simultaneously improve quality and reduce risk.
52 Beyond the Hype: How AI is revolutionising the legal profession
Emily Foges, Luminance, seeks to demystify AI and explain the advantages of working with AI in the legal profession.
55 FCI & EarthSense – striking up a partnership
57 The importance of people in the customer due diligence process
Steve Brett, Founder, E3 Compliance Training Ltd.
57 5 steps to keeping your company compliant in the GDPR era
Andrew Clearwater, Director of Privacy and Linda Thielová, Data Privacy Counsel, OneTrust.
59 Precedent H budgets – you can’t afford to get them wrong
Christine Middleton, FCL, Costs Lawyer, CM Costing.
59 How to get noticed
Darren Jefferson, Director, Alius Services Limited.
60 Case Study - Barrister-Direct
Barrister-Direct’s RESOLVE service provides potential income boost to firms planning to close or abandon winnable files.
61 Case Study – Eclipse
Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management system enables ACSL Solicitors to offer added value to client service.
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Eric Sohn TALKS NEWS
Regulators’ Boardinghouse Reach Financial crime compliance, whether in the service of thwarting money laundering, enforcing economic sanctions, or ensuring proper trade compliance, is a veritable panoply of regulations, exemptions, and advisory guidance. While on its face, the scope of these regulatory requirements is clearly circumscribed, depending on the regulator, nothing could be further from the truth. In three areas, regulatory jurisdiction, the types of transactions subject to oversight, and the regulatory expectations for compliance controls to mitigate the risk of these crimes, regulators regularly expand the scope of their purview in order to achieve better mitigation of those risks. Jurisdictional Reach Most countries take a fairly narrow view as to their legal jurisdiction when it comes to financial crime. When it comes to anti-money laundering regulations, those typically apply to firms in a restricted list of specified industries and professions that operate in or are incorporated in the regulating country. Economic sanctions compliance, however, has relatively less uniformity, most notably because of the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). While most countries either impose requirements on financial services firms and/or firms engaged in import/export, a smaller number make the obligations and consequences incumbent on all of its citizens, as well as domestic operations of foreign firms and foreign operations of domestically-incorporated companies. OFAC, however, has shown a penchant for extending its jurisdiction to any asset that can be tied to the United States. For example, the Iran sanctions regime in the United States prohibits use of U.S.-origin goods from being exported to Iran, even if the goods are exported by a non-U.S. person or company. This was the basis of the complaint lodged against the Chinese cellphone provider ZTE. Perhaps more notably, the United States imposes “secondary sanctions” on countries and actors which act counter to its national interests, which makes the jurisdiction for such regulations global. For instance, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), or anti-money laundering (AML) regulator, can impose restrictions on access to the U.S. financial system, up to and including a prohibition of the maintenance
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Financial crime compliance, whether in the service of thwarting money laundering, enforcing economic sanctions, or ensuring proper trade compliance, is a veritable panoply of regulations, exemptions, and advisory guidance of correspondent accounts, for countries and financial firms that have poor AML controls and some record of being abused for the purposes of money laundering. Similarly, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) can require licenses for exports to companies (or even bar exports) who have evidence of misusing U.S. origin goods, such as was the case with ZTE. And OFAC, under the auspices of a number of U.S. laws, can impose a range of restrictions including, among other things, loss of import or export privileges, loss of access to assistance from the Export Import Bank, barring banks from being primary securities dealers, and loss of correspondent account access with U.S. banks, for a range of prohibited actions, such as conducting business with SDNs under the Hizballah and Iranian sanctions programs. At a base level, therefore, legal jurisdiction is whatever a country claims it to be. It should be noted that legal jurisdiction is not the same as the ability to successfully impose specific penalties.
Transactional Reach Sanctions regulations, in general, pertain to “property and interests in property” (from OFAC regulations) and prohibit the transfer, payment, withdrawal or “dealing in” of these assets, and to providing benefits to sanctioned parties. But, when one reads further, the actual obligations go further than one might think. Facilitation of a prohibited transaction is likewise not allowed. That covers not only the transport of the barred assets, but also the insurance on a shipment or a sanctioned cargo vessel. So, too, is providing technology or supplies that aid in the execution of a sanctioned activity. That might include, as Aban Offshore discovered, delivering supplies to an oil rig located in Iranian territorial waters, or provision of technology that would aid in Russian energy exploration projects prohibited under sectoral sanctions. While there are no clear cases of the equivalent widening of the playing field in other areas such as export control or antimoney laundering, general prudence dictates applying a similar broad standard. Even if such assistance may not result in actual regulatory or legal action, avoiding tarnishing one’s reputation makes using broader guardrails wise.
Standard of Care Reach Most financial crime legislation and regulation, while they may be prescriptive as to the desired end result of regulatory compliance, and may, in quite a few spots, be prescriptive about the nature of compliance activities required to pass muster, are not specific about how compliance activities must, should or even might be carried out. Even when an advisory note specifies possible types of data sources to be used in assessing the risk of business relationships with a new customer (as part of AML customer due diligence efforts), they are rarely prescriptive in that regard. Additionally, there is rarely any stratification of such program elements based on the nature and size of the business conducting them.
8 Modern Law
That being said, there are regulatory expectations, if one knows where to look. One obvious source is that of enforcement actions (which also identify new trends in jurisdictional and transactional reach) taken by regulators. From OFAC actions, for example, we know that: •
One must be able to identify sanctioned parties on the basis of industry standard identifiers, such as SWIFT ids, even if not contained in a sanctions listing (Deutsche Bank enforcement action, 2013)
One must leverage all relevant customer information from internal sources when screening customers against sanctions lists (Wells Fargo, 2013)
The standard for sanctions ownership when one has a direct relationship is significantly more stringent than OFAC’s 50 Percent Rule which, by implication, is intended for arms-length relationships (Halliburton, 2016)
In a similar fashion, it is vital to read every item issued by regulators, including AML typologies, case studies, newsletters, guidance notes, and frequently asked questions. While, admittedly, that is a significant burden for a compliance officer of a multinational concern, one can point to cases, such as ExxonMobil’s OFAC enforcement action, where such research could have prevented regulatory entanglements. Lastly, a rich source of anecdotal evidence of regulatory expectations is that of direct interactions with one’s regulators and compliance peers, and reading compliance industry publications and online sources. For example, it has been a well-known fact that, based on comments received from bank examiners from the New York Federal Reserve district, fuzzy logic or other inexact matching technology is expected in screening systems.
Outreach While companies can’t put this particular genie back in the bottle, regularly tracking trends in regulatory expectations and how affected firms are responding, as well as maintaining an active presence at regulatory compliance industry events and ongoing relationships with regulators, is vital for avoiding being blindsided in the future. One’s outreach to those who may one day investigate a firm’s compliance violations reinforces the notion that the company takes its obligations seriously, and wants to do the right thing. When that investigation into wrongdoing does occur, the goodwill created by the ongoing diligence will serve a company well and help it get some benefit of the doubt. Eric A. Sohn, CAMS, is Director of Business Product at Dow Jones Risk & Compliance, New York, NY, USA, email@example.com
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If lawyers arenâ€™t going to step up to the plate and try to tackle some of the moral and ethical issues that surround the use of algorithms and decision making,
then I donâ€™t know who is!
Modern Law spoke to Christina Blacklaws, the President of the Law Society of England and Wales 2018/19, about how she is aiming to create positive change throughout the profession by focusing on her core aims of women in leadership, technology, legal services and access to justice.
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We have no problem in attracting women to the profession, in fact since 1990,
Brexit, although not one of the core aims of my Presidential term, is not something we can ignore. The Law Society has been doing a huge amount of work on this, putting enormous resource into liaising with government and all of the other key stakeholders in order to ensure they understand what the implications are for Brexit in terms of legal services and what is needed in a new deal with the EU27.
women have represented between
of newly qualified solicitors - unfortunately that is yet to be represented in upper levels of law firms
What are your core aims for your tenure as President of the Law Society?
The reason why I put my hat in the ring for an office holder’s position and then ultimately to become President of the Law Society, is because I see it as an amazing opportunity to create positive change for our profession. My core aims, ones that I have been developing over the last two years, are around women in leadership in law, innovation, technology, the future of legal services and access to justice.
What do you identify as the biggest challenges currently facing the UK legal profession, and how does the Law Society and the firms it represents need to respond to these?
Technology is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society as well as within the legal services market. I passionately believe that if legal professionals can embrace and own technological solutions and adapt their business models to really leverage them, then that will secure a very bright future for our profession. I fear that if we don’t, we may be in for a very rough ride for the next five to ten years. It is in an issue for right here right now and that is why the Law Society is trying to address it in a number of ways. If lawyers aren’t going to step up to the plate and try to tackle some of the moral and ethical issues that surround the use of algorithms and decision making, then I don’t know who is. It is beholden on us as a profession to show some thought leadership in this area. To that end we have set up the law tech policy commission, which is a year-long exploration of the use of algorithms and big data in the law and justice system. I am chairing it, I have two co-commissioners, both women academics, and we are taking a multi-disciplinary approach. So the commission will provide a platform for the technologists, ethicists, academics, policy makers and lawyers to come together and grapple with the issues. Is our law fit for the issues and challenges that are presented by algorithmic termination, machine learning etc. and if it isn’t, what needs to happen? I was asked by the government to chair their law tech delivery panel. The aim of this panel is to support the growth of law tech as a sector in the UK. What we aspire to do is to get to a position where the UK is the pre-eminent jurisdiction in relation to law tech, so that is about developing new start-ups, and making sure, going back to the policy commission, we have the right laws and jurisdictional decisions to provide the necessary clarity around the issues of using algorithms, big data and technology. The government is betting on the UK in relation to this, and what we will be doing is focusing on the practical and how we are going to do this.
12 Modern Law
As female solicitors outnumber males for the first time in the legal sector, what steps does the sector need to take to continue to drive diversity and inclusion?
The reason I focused on women in leadership in law is because that is where we have a real problem. We have no problem in attracting women to the profession, in fact since 1990, women have represented between 60-67% of newly qualified solicitors unfortunately that is yet to be represented in upper levels of law firms. Private practice only has 28% of women in partnership and that is an issue for our profession and one that I felt deserved closer examination. We kicked off with a global survey, which was supported by LexisNexis and The International Bar Association, and it ended up being the largest ever survey undertaken around gender in the profession, and that gave us a lot of insight. One of the key themes was unconscious bias, which is seen as the biggest inhibitor of women’s’ career progression. We are now in the middle of a global academic literature review, with help from some of the top universities, to understand what the research says across the globe. We have also kicked off our roundtable events – we are doing a hundred roundtables in England and Wales and thirty internationally. The roundtables have two purposes, the first is to gather the qualitative data but also to empower women to become change makers and leaders in their own organisations, and to that end we created the tool kit. The tool kit has five different areas of opportunities for activism, these include: unconscious bias, gender pay, history of women in law, engaging with men in order for them to become ambassadors for gender equality, and our international sisterhood. The tool kit is a practical set of tools to help people make some changes in their own business. We are going to assess the impact of that and then we are having an international symposium next June to work out what we need to do next and also to pass the baton on to the international community.
Can you outline the Law Society’s partnership with Barclays’ Eagle Lab tech incubator, and how can collaboration with start-ups benefits the sector?
The idea here is to expand the Barclays Eagle Labs model to make an industry specific incubator. For me, it is a very exciting proposition. The first one will open in Notting Hill in August and we hope to have 40-45 legal tech start-ups there. The idea is to provide an opportunity for co-innovation and collaboration. It will enable legal tech start-ups to have access to the expertise of the relevant lawyers and for those lawyers to influence the development of the technology, so it should be a great symbiotic relationship. To that end, the Law Society will also be producing a raft of information, guidance and support to enable our law firms and lawyers to make business decisions about what is right for them and their business. For me, I see law tech as an opportunity to be a massive leveller. We want to get out there and travel the country and hold tech cafes so that people can come along to a relaxed environment and see the technology in action, understand and ask the questions that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to, and in that way, demystify the preconceptions of law technology and to raise awareness and, therefore, opportunity for all solicitors.
How has your tenure as Vice President of the Law Society altered your outlook on the profession and influenced your aims as President? I have had fifteen years of being on the Law Society Council and involved in representative work – I have been on the inside track and I know what the Law Society can do, but what has changed for me over the last year, and I am going to circle back to technology, is that we are literally on the cusp of a disruptive change in our industry and that has already changed dramatically from the point that I became President. In the last twelve months we have a lot more adoption but also embedding of the use of machine learning and process automation within law firms. There is another huge opportunity for technology to play a part in meeting unmet legal leads and access to justice pre-court. My eyes have been opened to all of these genuine opportunities, but I am painfully aware that the door does start to close for our profession, so we need to grasp this and this is what is driving a lot of my tenacity and determination to do as much as I possibly can during my Presidential time.
What projects or campaigns will the Law Society undertake in the next twelve months to help create a more modern and accessible legal sector?
ccess to Justice – I started my career as a children’s rights lawyer spending twenty years in community law firms; I had a virtual law firm and then I set up the Co-op Legal Services. I have helped the most vulnerable in our society to access justice and that is something that is really close to my heart. We take a campaigning approach to in the Law Society, which has been really successful. Another area is around criminal law. Again we have a report, which evidences the ageing population of criminal defence lawyers. In some areas of the country, there isn’t a single criminal defence lawyer under the age of fifty, and there are no new ones coming up, which means in five years time we are facing a cliff edge scenario where there will be no one who is able to practise this area of law. If you are accused of a crime and you’re in a police station and you need help for right there and then, the people who do this job day in and day out are no longer going to be there and that will have a huge impact on the justice system in our country.
Christina Blacklaws is the President of the Law Society of England and Wales.
There is […] huge opportunity for technology to play a part in meeting unmet legal leads and access to justice pre-court Modern Law 13
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It is important for firms to develop a clear ‘practice personality’,
which reflects the values of the firm and where they sit in the legal marketplace
As technology continues to have an effect on legal services and their delivery, Paul King, April King, spoke to Modern Law about the ‘human touch’ and how law firms shouldn’t forget the importance and benefits associated with face to face interaction.
Modern Law 15
People have taken their eye off the ball by looking purely at efficiencies, whereas
actually, human nature is not black and white; human nature has a whole spectrum of grey and it’s something that computers and technology cannot accurately comprehend
Where do you believe that technology has had the biggest impact on the delivery of legal services?
I don’t think it has had as big of an impact as people think it has. Technology has made legal knowledge more accessible to the public, but not all of that knowledge is accurate or helpful, so the end result is sometimes one of confusion. In our experience, this has resulted in an increase within the legal market place of people seeking correct guidance and leadership. The biggest impact is moving large amounts of data and the clear-cut areas of law to the back office. Technology is important in freeing up human assets to deal with the softer skills, which require face-to-face interaction and human understanding.
Which emerging technologies do you feel will affect law firms the most in the coming years, and do you feel any of these are overhyped?
AI is overhyped. It is certainly coming, but I believe it to be a lot further away than most. We have looked at avatars and chatbots and if anything, it is having a negative impact, which is probably not what technologists want to hear. Until technology develops to a point where it is indistinguishable from human interactions, then it is going to be a long way off. I don’t envisage AI taking front of house lawyer’s jobs away anytime soon. I think the dark horse in this tech race will be blockchain; particularly with an emphasis on data and information. I know a few firms working behind the scenes on blockchain technology together with cryptocurrency, and I believe that law firms will, in a three to five year period, commonly accept cryptocurrency as payment.
Do you believe the benefits of the ‘human touch’ in law are being overlooked in the technology arms race between firms, and in which areas will the retention of the human element be imperative?
In some respects, technology has been quite a big distraction for law firms, to use April King as an example, we were nearly persuaded around ten years ago to shift all of our marketing budget to things like Facebook, Google Ads etc. and most of our fellow, competitor firms indeed took that advice, whereas we stuck to traditional, offline marketing. There was a herding instinct towards digital marketing, an instinct I am hearing firms are starting to pull back from. I think there may be digital fatigue for both firms and clients and that people are missing that face to face, leadership style lawyer.
16 Modern Law
People have taken their eye off the ball by looking purely at efficiencies, whereas actually, human nature is not black and white; human nature has a whole spectrum of grey and it’s something that computers and technology cannot accurately comprehend. Tech works in binary, but life simply isn’t binary. We have focused on expanding our local high street presence. People like the sense of community and they like to know that there is someone they can call on, particularly in areas of life that can be stressful. However, having said all of that, you cannot nor should not avoid technology. It isn’t going to go away and if firms don’t start getting their heads around blockchain, cryptocurrency and AI, firms are going to suffer. Firms needs to get a good balance between understanding what requires human input and soft skills, as opposed to those skills that involve binary and can be dealt with by big data/tech.
How might consumer experience of other products and services influence expectations of legal services?
I tell my staff that we live in an ‘Amazon’ society and that I filter my online shopping by ‘Prime’. Both I and clients filter by ‘Prime’ because they want speed and efficiency. People understand that time is precious, so anything that gives consumers more time is positive. Legal services need to look at speed of delivery and speed of response. When I started the firm 27 years ago, you could write to someone and would have to wait a week for a response – there was no sense of urgency. Now we’re in a connected world where we get messages 24/7, 365, especially in law. Accidents and issues don’t just happen nine to five, Monday to Friday, so client’s expectations are that you are readily available, that you respond quickly, whilst also looking for a robust and trustworthy legal brand with strong leadership values.
How might law firms need to adapt the promotion of their services to appeal to new generations of client?
Law firms should aim to deliver interesting content that appeals to their clients. Up until now, law firms have used marketing both on and offline, but mostly just to promote brands. What people are looking for more now are the niche providers who are an authority in their field. One of the ways of establishing authority in their field is to give away content, which is both
The status quo and/ or complacency is the enemy of growth and success; you
need a playmaker to change the game
accurate and interesting. There are a couple of benefits to this, one of which is by Google identifying you as an authority in your field because you have honed in on a given specialism. For example, we have seen high growth in contentious probate enquiries and when this form of enquiry is typed into Google we organically come up near the top of the search. Open content distribution is the key going forward.
against them. You find someone who is a competitor of yours, connect with them on LinkedIn, they are human after all, and you talk to them and find ways to add value to one another. The correct response is collaboration, not competition. Law firms have traditionally been quite protective and secretive, but one of our growth strategies is being collaborative.
What is the best practice in social media for law firms looking to increase engagement with their clients?
I am not sure that any firms have mastered social media, us included. I am trying to learn from our mistakes and one of those mistakes is that we have fallen into this trap of using social media in a way that we think it should be used - to just broadcast content. In some ways social media has become anti-social. Social media should be conversational. We’re in a people to people business, and I think that social media should be just that – social. What I say to my team is that you shouldn’t speak to someone on social media any differently than you would speak to them in a coffee shop. Social media should be engaging, asking as many questions as it answers. It needs to let the personality of the firm shine through, whether that be strong or quirky etc. It needs to be a consistent message and looking at other industries is a good way of learning from that.
How important are firm culture and values to clients, and how can firms ensure they maintain these as their business grows?
Do you believe new entrants into the legal services market, including ABSs and businesses provided with SRA waivers, will have a positive influence on the sector?
Clients look to deal with firms and people that they know, like and understand, and that have values and personalities that reflect their own. One of the key things in a professional relationship with a client is trust. As in life, you can only trust someone if you understand what their values in life are. What I have noticed, over the last decade or so, is that firms of two plus partners would simply outsource their online presence, marketing and advertisements and as a result, they become very generic. Our marketing is all based around what I believe in – to the point where people call and ask to speak to Paul as if they know me! It is important for firms to develop a clear ‘practice personality’, which reflects the values of the firm and where they sit in the legal marketplace. Once you have developed a ‘practice personality’, you can then develop client personas, to identify the type of clients that are looking for this specific ‘practice personality’. It is like the legal version of online dating.
They already have. The ABS market has had some great successes – there have been some issues, but you get that in any profession going through change. The changes are evolutionary and create an arena for innovation. The status quo and/or complacency is the enemy of growth and success; you need a playmaker to change the game. Things like the Legal Services Act 2007 are only just starting to have an impact. It is nothing to do with ethics, if someone is a bad apple, they are going to be a bad apple, whether they are in the magic circle or working for a lesser known small ABS. In terms of structure, these changes are great for the legal profession.
How do law firms need to respond to the competition brought by new entrants? The interesting word in that sentence is competition. The answer to the question is that you work with them and not
How else do you predict law firms will evolve in the future, in both the front and back offices, to thrive in the modern legal sector?
Back office functions are largely data driven systems. Front of house is more subjective – as I’ve said earlier, life is a spectrum of grey, it isn’t just black and white. The way law will evolve in the future is that good lawyers will need to have good people skills and be creative thinkers; they also need to be leaders, strategic, conversationalists and possess technical knowledge, whilst being high in emotional intelligence. Firms in the future will become less distant and more engaging with their clients on a human level. Paul King is CEO and Head of Legal Practice at April King.
I’m happy to connect with readers on LinkedIn or Twitter @ Paulkingceo to offer further support and guidance.
Modern Law 17
Rachel Roberts Rachel Roberts, Head of Business Solutions, discusses how law firms need to adapt to the evolving needs of their clients and how they are responding to new entrants in the market.
How would you say that client needs and expectations have changed in recent years, and are these likely to continue to change in the coming years?
We work with commercial clients and with high net worth individuals. On the commercial side, we work alongside inhouse lawyers who are under relentless pressure to deliver even more for even less and who are very keen to hear about solutions, how they can get things done and how they can deliver more value to their internal clients. All businesses (including ours) are facing huge change, whether the push for digitalisation and use of new technologies; the changing needs of tech-savvy consumers/ clients/employees or more generally in the economic climate. New entrants to the legal market will continue to try to differentiate with technology led solutions. However, I think that clients will continue to demand consistently exceptional legal advice, which gives them an edge over their competitors. Clients need to be (and need us to be) ‘agile’ (i.e. fast, fluid and flexible) as the pace of change is unlikely to slow down! So the key need is for us to continually match ourselves (or ‘stay in tune’) with the demanding environment that our clients are in and be proactive in working together to adapt to the changes (whatever they are).
What are the most efficient methods law firms can employ to identify the needs of their clients?
We are having more open conversations with our clients about the pressures they face, and how we might work together to deliver pragmatic and realistic solutions. There is simply no substitute for sitting down faceto-face with our existing clients but there is the challenge of time. Of course, as we work with our clients over time, we build up invaluable insights into their business and culture. So the use
18 Modern Law
All businesses (including ours) are facing huge change, whether the push for
digitalisation and use of new technologies; the changing needs of tech-savvy consumers/clients/employees or more generally in the economic climate
of efficient ways to capture lessons learned and investing in knowledge sharing are vital. More recently, we have also run client sessions with my team to identify efficiency ‘quick wins’ or other scoped projects to improve service delivery. A good example would be the introduction of a tailored collaboration platform to improve how instructions are given and information collated from numerous professionals involved in a particular client activity saving circa 25% on time spent previously.
How might traditional law firm structures need to adapt to attract young legal professionals?
By ‘legal’ professionals I assume we are talking not simply about lawyers but also project managers, change specialists, legal technology and innovation professionals and so on. Because any law firm looking to the future will be developing all these professionals now. I do think law firms are already very good at creating environments that are fairly flat in terms of hierarchy and capable of allowing a broad range of independently-minded professionals to work alongside each other. So I am not someone who subscribes to the view that the partnership model is broken, which we hear a lot about at the moment. But I do think it will need to adapt to the fact that incoming professionals will be anticipating longer working lives with more than one career. People are our most important asset and we do need a strong collective sense as a firm of what our culture is. Generally, people need a cause to pin their motivation on; they need a stake in the business and that is an interesting point for law firms to reflect on. It is about how much autonomy and flexibility we can give people, how we can play to their strengths and bring out who they are while at work. Being different is good – it helps us differentiate ourselves to our clients.
How might non-lawyer roles become more prevalent in law firms as the nature of firms and the services they offer evolve?
Ultimately I do see a real value to clients in offering multidisciplinary teams. We have already seen growth in offering project management services. In my team we offer qualified project managers who work on a significant number of larger, more complex transactions and projects. I do not see this as a limited ‘legal’ PM role providing fees and progress reporting, but rather inputting into the whole delivery approach and resourcing model. We are seconding project managers into client project management offices to offer co-ordination on larger scale
projects assisting on multiple workstreams, not simply the legal work stream. The same is true of technology and innovation professionals offering consultancy on legal service delivery. Again, I have three roles in my team covering this and expect this to grow over time.
Would you say that broader law firm cultures are also undergoing change?
That is an interesting question because each law firm that I have worked in has had a very different culture. Burges Salmon has the most collaborative culture by far and I do think that collaboration will be a distinctive of successful firms in the future.
How can law firms identify whether a new solution or piece of technology will be beneficial to the firm or its clients?
In my experience it is a lot harder than it sounds. You listen to your clients, lawyers and project managers and identify the themes and areas that you want to prioritise because we are constantly bombarded by vendors. You then need to identify the key elements to consider - we have developed a Burges Salmon ‘evaluation matrix’. Then you look at reliable industry information and identify a manageable number of suppliers to evaluate and run thorough evaluations against the criteria. In parallel, we identify use cases to ensure that the solution does solve a defined problem. There is a real danger that we feel compelled to buy in the latest software just because another law firm has it and then we will be disappointed if it does not deliver as expected.
What do you predict will be the biggest technological disruptors in the years to come, and how does the legal sector need to capitalise on these?
Machine learning is already offering significant potential and we see that in document analytics and more recently in case prediction applications. The other area on the horizon is blockchain, which is likely to revolutionise how transactional lawyers will work across the board. Blockchain is associated with Fintech at the moment but I am talking about wholesale use within say the property sector. This idea that a transaction is linear and ultimately written down on a piece of paper – that is going to change. The legal industry really needs to take note. Blockchain and smart contracts are the ones to watch for me at the moment.
Modern Law 19
They are acting as a positive catalyst.
New entrants have been willing to come in and have good, proactive conversations with clients and bring
new ways of thinking
How might new entrants into the legal sector influence law firms and/or their clients, and how should firms respond to their impact?
They are acting as a positive catalyst. New entrants have been willing to come in and have good, proactive conversations with clients and bring new ways of thinking. Generally, new entrants have led with technology solutions and process-driven elements of service delivery and I think many law firms are responding positively. But it is important to focus on what we as an existing firm offer that is really valuable to our clients. In essence, clients want to know how to act within a legal framework. We use our combined breadth and depth of legal expertise, our experience of working with multiple clients in our chosen sectors and our ability to identify optimum legal decisions. We have built up this knowhow over many years and invested in knowledge sharing across our business. The challenge for us is to prioritise investment in new approaches to service delivery.
How will law firms diversify their service offerings to stand out from competitors and to meet client expectations?
Similar to my answer on culture, different law firms will adopt different strategies on diversification. Ultimately though, I believe that high value legal advice is most effectively delivered through trusted relationships built with a significant amount of face to face interaction. I think that we will see additional experts forming part of the client relationship and delivery teams including consultancy on improving service delivery. Whatever a firm’s strategy, the real challenge is executing it really well.
20 Modern Law
What steps will Burges Salmon take in the years to come to continue to meet the needs of its clients?
I think that we will continue to invest in attracting and retaining highly talented people. It is people that form relationships with clients. It is people that innovate. It is people who come up with creative solutions. It is people who deliver rich, face-to-face, trusted relationships. We will also continue to invest – thoughtfully – in new technologies. Key themes are collaboration (provide platforms to help people work together), analytics (use information and data better) and automation (be efficient wherever possible). We will see continued investment in our approach to legal service delivery – the Burges Salmon approach - what makes it different and what makes it better.
Rachel Roberts is Head of Business Solutions at independent UK law firm Burges Salmon.
The key need is for us to continually match ourselves (or ‘stay in tune’) with the demanding environment that our clients are in Issue 37
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21 Modern Law
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www.linkedin.com/company/17924907/ Issue 37
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The LSB investigation into the Law Society The complexity, ambiguity and burdensome nature of TLS’s monitoring and oversight arrangements for the SRA were unacceptable. Its actions have impaired the effectiveness of the SRA, thereby undermining the public interest in effective regulation of legal services.
The investigation found that the Law Society had breached the IGR in two ways: Firstly, the Law Society arrangements for oversight and monitoring of the SRA were not proportionate or transparent. This was due to: •
an overlap and ambiguity in the terms of reference for the oversight bodies set up by the Law Society, resulting in duplication and lack of clarity on accountability;
the Law Society General Regulations, in which (amongst other things) sets out its arrangements for monitoring and oversight of SRA being incomplete and out of date; and
a lack of a shared understanding between the Law Society and SRA as to what each body in the oversight arrangements should do, see and discuss and how they linked with each other.
Dr Helen Phillips, LSB Chair hese are strong words from an oversight regulator. You may have seen some coverage of this already in the media and wondered what it is all about. It relates to the outcome of the Legal Services Board’s (LSB’s) recent Investigation into the Law Society’s oversight and monitoring arrangements for the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The LSB’s report on its investigation is the culmination of a year-long look into the relationship between the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
The LSB is responsible for overseeing the approved regulators (ARs) of legal services in England and Wales and we were set up by the Legal Services Act 2007 (‘the Act’). The Law Society is an approved regulator (AR) under the Act and therefore has responsibility to ensure, amongst other things, that the exercise of its regulatory functions, which it has delegated to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), is not prejudiced by any of its representative functions. The requirements that ARs must meet in this regard are set out in the Internal Governance Rules (IGR) . In late 2016, we became increasingly concerned about the implications of disagreements between the Law Society and SRA about how the Law Society was overseeing and monitoring the SRA. We asked both bodies to provide us with their views on how the oversight arrangements were working in practice. Following consideration of the information provided the LSB decided to launch an investigation in early 2017. The investigation looked at the four main Law Society bodies that exercised oversight of the SRA: •
the Business and Oversight Board
the Law Society Council
the Remuneration Committee and,
the Audit Committee.
And secondly, the SRA as the regulatory body was not responsible, as it should have been, for designing and managing the appointments and reappointments process for its own board members. The LSB did not find that the SRA’s independent performance of its regulatory functions was impaired. In response to these findings, the LSB decided to issue a public censure to the Law Society, the first time it has ever had to take such action, to reflect the gravity of the findings. We have also agreed voluntary undertakings with the Law Society, which require it to report to the LSB in November 2018 on how it has complied with the undertakings in remedying all the failures identified in the report. The Law Society has already taken steps to address some of the findings from the investigation report, which can be seen in the revisions to the Law Society’s General Regulations. This investigation looked at compliance with the current IGR, which were last updated in April 2014. Since 2014, the LSB has evidence of ongoing and significant disagreements about independence matters between ARs and regulatory bodies, including this investigation and the LSB’s previous investigation into the Bar Council. As a result, the LSB is currently reviewing its Internal Governance Rules with the aim of enhancing regulatory independence under the current legislative framework. We will shortly be publishing the outcome of our consultation and announcing the next steps in our review of the IGR. Angela Letta, Regulatory Policy Principal, Legal Services Board (LSB). 1 http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/what_we_do/regulation/index.htm#Internal_ Governance_Rules
The LSB is currently reviewing its Internal Governance Rules with the aim of enhancing regulatory independence under the current legislative framework Issue 37
Modern Law 23
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Managing risks, managing change T
he legal services market has for some time been evolving rapidly and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down.
Lawyers and law firms can drive, and are driving, these changes. They are bringing innovation to the sector, helping it grow and allowing more people to access the services they provide. And we too as a regulator are changing. As many of you will know, we are changing how we regulate to focus on high professional standards, removing outdated constraints and helping to tackle the barriers that hinder access to legal services. We are aiming to bring in our new Codes of Conduct, Accounts Rules and other changes, including new practising flexibility, in spring 2019. In my view, these changes will provide a solid foundation for you to manage risk in your firms, while freeing you up to change, to innovate and grow. I know how fundamental the work of solicitors is to every part of our society and our communities, so it is important that firms and professionals take the right steps to meet those challenges. As the regulator, we can help by sharing our view of the risks and what can be done to address them. Our annual Risk Outlook sets out what we think are the risks and the challenges faced by solicitors and law firms. This year we have ten priority risks that all solicitors and firms need to consider. The Risk Outlook suggests what can be done to manage the risks and avoid harm to the public, the Rule of Law and the proper administration of justice. Many of the risks we are highlighting are not new, but none of us can afford to be complacent. We have included two new priority risks this year – managing claims and cyber security. We are increasingly concerned about the practices of some firms that offer personal injury work, including holiday sickness claims. Similarly, some firms bringing payment protection insurance claims may not always be meeting the high standards we expect. Cyber security has always featured in the Risk Outlook as a consideration when protecting people’s information and money. But we recognise that this is of increasing concern to the profession, so we have set it out as a separate risk. We have worked with the National Cyber Security Centre to provide you with top tips on keeping cyber-safe. Our Risk Outlook also updates you on issues such as accessing legal services, dubious investment schemes, money laundering, information security and diversity. We remind you of the importance of not drafting the terms of NDAs in a way that
We are changing how we regulate to focus on high professional standards, removing outdated constraints and helping to tackle the barriers that hinder access to legal services suggests a person may not report misconduct to a regulator or a law enforcement agency or make a protected disclosure. We continue to monitor the market, including the impacts of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. We will provide an update to our “Exiting the EU: an update for lawyers” report, published in 2016, when there is more information about the terms of the withdrawal. Our sixth Risk Outlook was published at the end of July and can be found on our website at www.sra.org.uk/risk. It will help you to respond to our changing world and manage the new risks that brings. I hope you find it both informative and useful.
THE TEN PRIORITY RISKS: 1. Money laundering
6. Equality and diversity
7. Access to justice
3. Managing claims
8. Standards of service
4. Integrity and ethics
9. Protecting client money
5. Investment schemes
10. Information security
Paul Philip, Chief Executive, Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Modern Law 25
Customer service: Is it important? What does it look like? ur role at the Legal Ombudsman is to look at the service a consumer has received from their legal services provider. However, it is important to remember that our role is not to hold people to a gold standard of service (unless that is what you charge for and advertise yourselves as providing), but to look at whether the service provided was reasonable.
Before thinking about what good, or reasonable, customer service looks like, it’s useful to think about why it is important in the first place. Firstly, it helps to retain existing clients and attract new ones. The Legal Services Consumer Panel publish a regular survey of the sector and consumers consistently rank recommendations from friends and family as one of the main factors influencing their choice of service provider. It’s also useful to consider consumer’s expectations about the provision of services in general. Accessing information about services, online, 24/7, is now a common feature of many parts of our lives. So there is a tendency for all of us to have a greater expectation about the immediacy and availability of information. So what then does good service look like in our opinion? Clear communication. More than 30% of the complaints we receive are about communication. In our experience there are still plenty of service providers who use jargon and technical language to describe the legal process; whether this is buying a house, getting divorced or taking out a personal injury claim. We know, and expect, that there will be a certain level of technicality, but wherever possible, use plain English and tailor communication to suit your customer. Look at the communication from the customer perspective. If you didn’t have a law degree would you understand what you had written? Make sure consumers understand the process. Consumers expect their service provider to guide them through the legal process. But at the same time they want to feel in control and understand
Before thinking about what good, or reasonable, customer service looks like, it’s useful to think about why it is important in the first place where they are in the process. Providing an overview of the main steps in the process often helps reduce consumer concerns in this area. Complaints are often made about a matter being delayed or not progressed in good time (this accounts for over 20% of the complaints that are made to us). But when we look into the complaints the delay can be reasonable: they’re waiting for information from a third party in a house purchase, or a medical report in a personal injury case. The service provider is on top of it but they just don’t always tell, or fully explain it to the consumer. That’s where we find the poor service. Be clear about the level of service you provide. The legal services market needs to be able to cater for a variety of budgets and needs. Be clear about how much you will charge and what work will be done for that price. Information has to be correct and accessible to consumers. But be clear about any implications for things like how you will communicate, and turnaround times for responding to calls and queries. Respond to complaints. Our research has shown that responding to complaints and acknowledging problems can improve how consumers view your service. It doesn’t put people off using your service, or recommending you to others. It shows you care about getting things right. Clair Daniel, Senior Ombudsman, Legal Ombudsman.
More than 30% of the complaints we receive are about communication Issue 37
Modern Law 27
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Generating leads What marketing strategies do firms need to implement in order to stand out from the crowd? hen we start working with a new client, we go through a 73 point checklist. This helps us to identify what areas of the marketing spectrum they are using and what areas we can help them get a solid and measurable return on their investment. There is no silver bullet when it comes to getting new clients. There are numerous combinations that work, and numerous that don’t. Let’s face facts – a podcast about the legal industry isn’t going to get a lot of interest from potential clients. However, a quiz or survey that will help guide them towards a simple solution to a problem would secure interest. Of course, your area of law will dictate on where you market. For example, if you are a divorce solicitor spending hours on LinkedIn trying to find someone needing your services, this would be a total waste of time and effort. However, if you were to setup a downloadable checklist called “The Ultimate Divorce Checklist” and have a landing page where people fill out their details and send them the checklist once they have signed up (don’t forget GDPR and asking permission), then you have the contact details of someone who is actively seeking advice about divorce. The next stage would be to send them staged, automated emails offering information about the steps of divorce and what they should be doing when (put these information snippets on your blog and send links and you increase website visits and authority as well). By doing this you are aiding your future client through the process of what they should be doing, helping them on their client journey.
So how do you get people to the page for them to download the checklist? Facebook ads are your friend here. You can set your audience to be that of people who have liked a particular page or member of a particular group based in the UK. This gives you a target audience to aim at. This method not only allows you to collect targeted leads but also to guide them through your company way of working, which will inevitably lead to a much easier customer journey for both parties involved at a time when it is most needed. Steve Hooper, Founder, LawSEO.
A trade-off Could there be potential for collaboration between leading firms and law start-ups, and what advantages could this bring to the sector? espite the economic climate of the last decade and Brexit looming, this has not dampened entrepreneurial spirit, even within the legal sector, despite many established firms suffering significant cash-flow issues and some even requiring investor injections to stay afloat. Larger law firms have seen the benefit of setting up separate entities to outsource specialist work or form alliances with independent specialist firms.
Niche law firms specialising in specific practice areas can achieve efficiencies difficult within a larger, multi-service practice. This can have the advantage of lean running, but the disadvantage of lacking the wider expertise a full-service practice can offer. For a small practice there is also the issue of disproportionately expensive full back-office support. Trade-offs can solve this equation, by outsourcing from the large practice of the niche practice area work, in exchange for a profit sharing arrangement, adjusted in line with the extent of the dayto-day back-office support provided by the larger practice. Even at the formation of the actual start-up, there can be alignment of interests on pricing, at the start of the symbiotic relationship between the large practice and the start-up. The large practice can provide all the expertise across service lines, in terms of commercial property purchase, company formation/partnership agreements and employment law etc. (such as they are outside the niche area of the start-up), in exchange for a pricing model that aligns with the growth of the business. No start-up, even a law firm, can afford a huge initial outlay on lawyers’ fees. While a fixed fee for all work across practice areas may be attractive in providing price certainty, it may be too much, too soon for a business yet to get off the ground. The answer may be to agree a far lower initial fee, with periodic payments at set benchmarks as the business grows, perhaps aligned to turnover targets, with a built in “bonus” to reflect the risk taken on fees going forward. A growing business will more easily afford the set-up costs of its business as it becomes increasingly established, compared with the very beginning. Such an approach usually achieves a win-win for all concerned. Alignment of interests and sharing risk is a key benefit of any business relationship and especially the relationship between solicitor and client on pricing, even where the client may be another law firm! Richard Allen, Senior Consultant and Costs Lawyer, Burcher Jennings.
Modern Law 29
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Keeping up with client expectations How can digital collaboration tools be used more effectively to engage with clients? ny business who isn’t adapting according to the improvement of technology will certainly fall to their competitors. Everyone knows that technology has drastically changed the way in which we do business. And the number one reason? Cloud-based technology. It has become a norm to share and access information that is stored somewhere in the cloud. Think of just how easy this is on your mobile phone. Need a file urgently while you are on the move? Just get it from the cloud. Need to track the progress of a particular case? Just get the information from your online project workspace.
Are we failing to recognise the importance of client centric engagement? While all this work is going on between yourself, colleagues, law officials, court officials – who is keeping an eye on keeping the client informed? As our experiences of technology improves, so does our expectations of it as well. And none truer from what your client expects from their legal professional. The standard is upon us where client portals and even mobile apps exists to facilitate the lawyer – client interface. In fact, this may be essential if you wish to retain your clients and obtain new ones. Consider this picture: a mobile app with your law firm’s brand available for your clients free of charge so they may access live updates on the progress of their case. Not only will it be possible for clients to see where they are in the legal process, but perhaps it may be possible to interface directly with a representative at your firm to ask questions and be answered immediately with live chat. Let’s take this collaboration a little further and even make it possible for clients to complete data essentially through an online or mobile interface and submit the documentation needed digitally without hassle. Sounds like a dream? Improved communication, improved productivity, improved bottom line. The above picture is so very possible, and in fact already realised by those who recognise the importance of embracing digital tools to maintain a competitive edge. In the end, the business of law is well, a business. What better way to drive your business and reputation for customer care forward with the tools made for the job.
GDPR and your personal data ith GDPR coming into play recently, it seems timely to ask - do you know how much of your personal information has been captured via the internet? If you’re a regular user of Google, Facebook or any other social network, chances are you’d be amazed by how much data they’ve collected on you over the years. From the obvious like your name and email address, to the things you’d be less likely to expect such as your favourite search terms, music and political interests and day to day commutes. They’ve captured it.
Hot on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, I read an article on the Guardian: “All the data Facebook and Google has on you”, demonstrating the degree of information these two companies have collected over time on individuals, and I am still shocked by the amount and type of information they have recorded, some of which I had never even considered would be of interest. Google knows where I have been and when, every email I have sent or received, YouTube history and all bookmarks, emails, contacts and photos. We’ve often been told that once it’s on the internet, it can never be erased, but equally as concerning - we don’t even know what information is out there about us. So do articles such as this suggest the beginning of a shift in awareness around how we share our information? Hopefully. Currently we are quick to set up social and professional profiles with our name, home city, birthdate and upload photos of our family, friends and holidays without a second thought. However, with the stringent rules applied behind GDPR for businesses, perhaps it is time for consumers also to get tough about who and where we are signing our information over to. The more we use online services and digital applications, the more detailed the picture of us that organisations create, making our lives easier with customisation. What we can learn from this is that in the digital age, information is continuously collected, and we trust organisations to keep this safe. However, recent events also serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t be complacent about our activity online and the settings that we approve, and ensure we are protected by GDPR as best we can. Adam Bullion, GM Marketing, InfoTrack.
Jennifer Connell, Writer, Legit Claims.
Modern Law 31
Six new tenants, five new awards and three further silks We are delighted to welcome His Honour Brian Barker CBE QC , Dijen Basu QC, Matthew Holdcroft, Rachel Spearing , Emma Sutton and Amardeep Dhillon, who have joined Chambers as tenants in the first four months of 2018. Congratulations to Jon Holl-Allen QC on his elevation to silk. Many thanks to our clients for all their support.
The LexisNexis Legal Awards 2018 Chambers of the Year
The LexisNexis Legal Awards 2018 Award for Customer Focus
The Modern Law Awards 2018 Chambers of the Year
Legal Week Innovation Awards 2018 Chambers Innovation
The Modern Law Awards 2018 Katie Gollop QC Barrister of the Year
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One size does not fit all How has the legal sector responded to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive following its implementation last year? e regularly hold CPD events for groups of conveyancers including training on the recent Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation. Whilst levels of knowledge can vary, the overall picture appears to be that there are still fairly high levels of uncertainty amongst conveyancers. At our June event in Milton Keynes only 28%* said their colleagues were fully aware of a riskbased approach to AML. Nearly 40% only thought colleagues totally understood this, and over 30% said it’s not sunk in or nobody knows!
I believe the reaction of the legal sector has been quite gradual and reluctant because confirmed details of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive were slow in being announced. This left very little time to prepare systems and processes to comply. Businesses who supply products within this area, from simple ID checks to more complex electronic AML products, struggled to get their solutions ready in a timely manner and in sufficient comprehensive shape. For those legal companies that do have an AML system in place, it has become apparent that one size does not fit all. Provision and exceptions need to be made for individuals who don’t have address ID confirmation (for example, no mortgage or utility bill in their name), and some of the guidance on when to run a check, on whom and with what frequency is quite unrealistic. The electronic solutions on the market make the process as simple as possible but, for solicitors, this means applying yet another series of steps with which they need to be familiar. Inevitably this adds more pressure and time-delays, so it is no surprise that the sector is still feeling slightly apprehensive and uncertain. Our advice to our conveyancer customers would be always to check they are complying with their company’s risk policy. The processes and company-agreed approach are usually in place, although not always well-communicated throughout an organisation. Jonathan Davey, Product Manager, Geodesys. * OMBEA real time feedback from 19 respondents at Milton Keynes CPD event on 12 June, 2018.
A risk management strategy is key What new and emerging risks are facing law firms that they need to be aware of to mitigate against? he legal sector is constantly changing. Emerging risks from new legislation and SRA regulation are a big challenge to the industry and firms must stay diverse to ensure survival in this continually transitioning UK legal landscape.
UK law firm performance evidences an increasingly competitive market with changing client demands and new entrants. Therefore, diversification such as risk management strategy is key, and this requires a law firm to be more proactive regarding finances; and more specifically cash flow. Solicitors must be aware that they are practicing in a difficult economic environment where financial planning is critical and should be at the top of a law firm agenda. The need for change has accelerated rapidly and a successful law firm must appreciate the shifting needs of their clients. Low cost, efficient models attract clients who want to ensure their provider is making full use of available technology such as AI and block chain. Such risk management means the law firm must be conscious of the profitability of the business and to be mindful of case costs. The successful management of clients must be delivered using new skills and knowledge. As such, correct resources and time management is crucial to good business management. In a client service firm, the front-runners of the future will be those who best respond to the fluctuating requirements of clients. As law firms continue to evolve, the need for alternative funding structures has increased. The risk of limited cash flow means firms should have caution in forecasting and being aware that cash flow is a crucial performance metric. The financial health of a law firm depends not only on margins, but their ability to access cash. This issue is accelerated by WIP and can lead to lockup among firms. To mitigate against this risk, cash management is important and to succeed, a firm must not only have good lawyers but have business acumen and hands on practical experience is vital. With all the challenges that emerging risks bring, VFS can release cash flow and allow the firm to concentrate on what’s important: their clients. Hannah Sales, Client Relationship Manager, VFS Funding.
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Technology is not a shield How important is the retention of the human touch in legal services to clients amid ever-increasing use of technology within law firms? echnology is a significant aid to all who deliver professional services, whether lawyer, accountant or medical professional. Yet, despite continuous technological advancements, I would never think of these professions as faceless - quite the opposite. People operating within these roles are focused on building and maintaining strong relationships with clients and colleagues, and accept that professionalism is reliant on the ability to connect with others, the so-called “human touch”. We have a choice in how we implement technology within our working world - it would seem foolish to abandon this approach and detach ourselves from our clients in favour of more tech-led services.
Law affects peoples’ lives in myriad ways, from buying a house or business, to more traumatic events such as divorce, or even violent crime. Although technology increases the ease and frequency of client communications, we shouldn’t confuse quantity with quality or use technology to shield ourselves from connecting with our clients. Transactions and cases are not abstract conundrums which need resolving but are ultimately people issues which require facilitation, dialogue and sensitivity. Between our data-crunching algorithms and email response times, we need to ensure our focus remains on dealing with clients as human beings, fostering a human-centred approach. By that, I mean embracing basic values. Take the medical profession, for example. As a patient you would neither want nor expect to be given the news that you had cancer by artificial intelligence (AI). Alongside the hard facts, you want a good serving of empathy and understanding. In the legal profession, our patients are clients and our “bedside manner” equally important when delivering advice. As humans, we crave personal experiences, which is why the human touch will never become irrelevant, in any profession. However, technology will certainly have an impact on professional operations. BDO’s Law Firm Leadership Survey 2017 revealed that 80% of respondents pointed to technology as the factor most likely to have an impact on their firm over the next five years, with many suggesting that AI will have the greatest impact, believing it would replace the work of lawyers, or strip out a significant layer of work and revenue from law firms. The value of technology isn’t in its replacement of humans or the human touch but its ability to free us from lower level and timeconsuming tasks so that we can redirect our precious time and energy resources into building relationships and personalising client experiences.
Transparent pricing, more than just price of service ransparent pricing is a “hot topic” in the legal industry further to announcements made by the SRA and CLC earlier this year. There is undoubtedly some opposition from law firms despite 75% of solicitors agreeing they need to change traditional ways to meet growing client demands. So why is transparent pricing so important?
Evolvement in technology is the simple answer. Clients are now accustomed to immediately obtaining most of the information online before making their decision. They are familiar with price comparison tools and receiving service outside of normal 9-5 business hours. If your firm can’t provide the answers at the time they are visiting your website, which is usually after hours or on the weekends, then you will lose new business to the firm who can. 80% of solicitors highlighted that attracting and retaining business is one of the significant challenges faced by their firm. With over 700 new firms starting every year, it is important for the firms to take advantage of every opportunity. Over 80% of consumers conduct online research before making any buying decisions. If your firm’s website doesn’t act as a sales and conversion tool, then you are potentially missing out on a lot of new business. A website is no longer just a business card for your firm, it is a sales conversion tool. The firms who are thriving in today’s market are the ones who are taking advantage of the new client demands and making changes accordingly. These firms are giving clients the ability to obtain an immediate price via the website whilst providing complete transparency of service to their clients, from start to finish. Transparency provides value and builds trust, which increases repeat business as well as client referrals. Perfect Portal clients on average convert over 70% of their new business as clients have all the information provided when they want it. They no longer need to wait two days to receive a quote or a follow up call to receive the information they want. Now is the time to embrace price transparency and to consider what you need to do to take advantage by winning more new business. Law firms must start considering how they can give clients the tools throughout a transaction. After all, the same report says 97% of solicitors believe that client-first culture is important and that means improving service transparency and communication. Yvonne Hirons, Global CEO, Perfect Portal.
Alisa Gray, Director of Business Development, Kaplan Altior.
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The benefits of gamification How can gamification be introduced into law firms in an effort to improve legal service delivery? raining is an integral part of the legal sector, whether it be training new solicitors and barristers or creating an on boarding process for new hires. The process of cramming information as quickly as possible can lead to extreme boredom and the trainee not taking the information on board. This is a waste of both the company’s and the employee’s time. Gamification, a possible solution to this problem, is the process of making learning and seemingly low value tasks more fun by giving rewards to the user. Academic research has found that gamification raises participation in processes but that more must be done to keep interest in the long term. It must be simple, fun but crucially be built for your workforce and its culture. A crucial gamification feature is the implementation of leader boards to promote healthy competition amongst peers.
Many business processes in the legal sector are ripe for gamification. One example is time recording, which can be a source of great frustration and perceived as a low value task to a large majority of city lawyers (despite its obvious necessity). Firms have tried to use tactics to combat late or non-existent time recording by naming and shaming, frequent reminders or other more drastic measures. However, these methods tend to rely more on fear than encouragement and should be discouraged because they have consistently been shown not to work. Gamification can have other positive effects through the implementation of gaming ideas like “guilds” (used to great effect in the hugely popular World of Warcraft series), whereby workers collaborate together to win prizes and rewards. The overall benefits to the legal sector promise to be immense. Auditing giant Deloitte recently implemented gamification principles in their online Leadership Academy and subsequently raised participation by 37%. Colin Fowle, Managing Director, Blue Car Technologies Limited.
Claims are on the rise Are employment law departments providing their clients with sufficient information about protecting themselves against the growing threat of employment tribunal claims? t is now a year since the Supreme Court’s ruling in July 2017 that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced employment tribunal fees in 2013.
According to government statistics, 79% fewer cases were brought to employment tribunals over a three-year period after fees were introduced in 2013, which lead to many including the likes of Unison to argue that it was acting as a barrier to accessing justice. According to the most recent quarterly figures published by the Ministry of Justice on the 14th June this year, single claims have more than doubled in the six-month period October 2017 to March 2018 after the Supreme Court’s ruling compared to the same period twelve months earlier. There were 17,209 single claims lodged in Q3 and Q4 2017/18 compared to just 8,559 in Q3 and Q4 2016/17. Whether we will reach the level of claims last seen in 2009/10 where 236,000 claims were registered is unknown but it is becoming clear that in a post fees world, claims are on the rise and that trend is likely to continue. With the kikes of the gender pay gap constantly in the news and the ongoing debate surrounding the rules and regulations post Brexit, the SME community is now more than ever aware of the need to have professional HR and employment law support to counter these growing threats. It is therefore an ideal time for firms to refresh their employment law services to make sure they are relevant to the needs of today’s SMEs. A key component of an employment law service can be a Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) solution, which is intended to complement a retained employment law service rather than replace elements of it. Firms can take out a policy to cover all their retained clients under one group policy therefore embedding the insurance into the firm’s service. Alternatively, firms can offer a facility allowing their client’s to obtain bespoke quotations for individual policies held by each client allowing the client to choose whether or not they want the added protection. Another benefit of offering your own facility, either as group or client decide policy is the fact the policy is tied to the employment law services offered by the firm so that firm is automatically appointed to represent their client in the event of a claim. Tim Mullin, Head of Business and Product Development, Composite Legal Expenses, AmTrust.
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Changing perceptions How can outsourcing provide business benefits to law firms without sacrificing client care levels? utsourcing’ is a word typically associated with overseas call centres, poor customer service and frustration. Yet this perception is changing quickly with the emergence of technology-enabled specialist Managed Services that help legal and property professionals rise to the challenge of a turbulent market.
In the last twelve months alone, the property market has been at the mercy of significant changes, from the abolishment of Stamp Duty for first time buyers to the Government’s commitment to building 300,000 new homes a year. These changes have brought fresh waves of opportunity and increased volumes of work for property departments across the country, but only for those willing and able to adapt. Is outsourcing really the answer? This depends very much on the type of activity in scope and the processes offered by the thirdparty provider. Simply moving processes and people offshore often creates more frustration than it solves. However, UK-based specialist firms are now using technology, which helps both improve the process and the time taken to accurately complete tasks, improving overall productivity and customer service, and adding to the growing trend of bringing jobs back onshore. If you find the right specialist provider then outsourcing becomes increasingly powerful. With many in-house teams already working to capacity, outsourcing can empower staff to focus their efforts on business-critical activities, such as on-boarding clients, or going the extra mile to deliver great customer service. All of which can help to improve a firm’s reputation and win new business. The benefits don’t stop there. Specialist external teams typically have more training and experience in their niche area, allowing them to complete their tasks with maximum efficiency, and support firms with better meeting their deadlines. For example, the 28 day timeframe in place for processing new build properties. Having a technology-enabled external team to hand can also help with scalability, empowering firms to tap into the resource on demand and better manage seasonal peaks in work, without the associated overheads. With careful choice about the tailored service and support each team needs, specialist Managed Services can give law firms the means to adapt quickly and thrive. Joe Pepper, Chief Executive, TM Group.
How to handle customer feedback How should negative reviews and feedback from clients be dealt with and utilised effectively? ustomer service is a distinguishing factor in today’s competitive legal landscape and is key to attracting and retaining clients. But what happens when a client isn’t satisfied and the feedback you receive is not as anticipated? How do you shift this negative into a positive, avoid losing your client and damaging your firm’s hard fought for reputation?
Organisational Culture Striving for excellence must be a standard behaviour but mistakes happen. Ensuring your firm’s culture recognises this and encourages responsibility and openness rather than blames individuals for poor feedback is key. Where people are supported when reacting to a negative episode, research shows they are likely to report it, seek help from superiors and work with the client to resolve an issue and move a relationship forward. Emotional Intelligence Understand that a client may want to vent their frustration – let them. Listen to what the client has to say and use this information to address the complaint. Empathy matters, so don’t be frightened to apologise. Saying sorry doesn’t automatically mean a negligence claim but it will show you recognise and care about the client’s experience with your practice. Digital comments Increasingly, customers are airing their concerns not just to you directly but to the world on social media. Whether a comment on Twitter or a rant on a review site, speed is of the essence. Respond quickly online indicating you will address the matter, contact the client offline and move the conversation away from the public arena. Review and act Your review must retain the client at its heart. Get to the bottom of what has happened; where there might not be a predetermined resolution process in place think laterally and assess solutions. Once you’ve determined a way forward, speak to the customer about it. This will reassure them that action is under way and that they’ve been heard – here’s where you can convert a negative to a loyal customer. Once you have solved the issue share the learning to positively to train your team. This knowledge will minimise a repeat incident occurring. Close positively Once the matter is concluded let the customer know and check they are satisfied. Communicate your appreciation for them working with you to remedy the issue and thank them for their business – customers always appreciate the recognition. Jonathan Silverman, Jt Managing Director, Silverman Advisory.
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The role of a marketer What marketing strategies do firms need to implement in order to stand out from the crowd? have been responsible for implementing, executing and analysing Informed Financial Planning’s marketing strategy for the last three years, and selecting the most appropriate tactics, platforms and channels certainly takes a lot of research.
With ever-changing legislation, such as GDPR, having a huge impact on marketers, my first step is to analyse both the macro and micro environment. This ensures the strategies we implement are compliant and we are prepared for any changes, which are not under our control (such as economy or political changes). I then identify SMART goals and objectives to ensure our strategy is tailored to achieve what we want to achieve. Are we looking to increase business? Increase brand awareness? Focus on customer retention? Your goals should be at the core of every tactic you undertake. My research often continues and I analyse our previous activity and determine which tactics have generated the greatest return on investment. In order to implement an effective marketing strategy, I feel an appropriate budget must be allocated. Without this, firms are at risk of flippant spending in areas which do not generate results. However, always remember to keep your goals in mind. Even if previous tactics have been successful, will continuing this achieve your desired result? Often goals change and therefore so should your marketing methods. It is always beneficial to monitor competitor activity too. Look at other firms in the same industry and identify the tactics they are using. Do they have a strong brand identity? Are they being noticed? Is ‘word of mouth’ spreading? See if you can identify the tactics they are selecting and analyse whether it’s worthwhile to do the same. Keep up with your competition, you don’t want to be left behind! I feel a successful marketing strategy, which stands out from the crowd begins with thorough research. There is never a ‘one strategy fits all’ approach as each organisation should have a range of differences (for example budget, objectives and other resources). It is a marketer’s responsibility to spend time researching and preparing research to ensure the appropriate marketing mix is chosen. Jessica McMahon Cert CII (FS), Business Development Manager, Informed Financial Planning.
Human error – the biggest security threat to your firm? Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person? Or accidentally included an attachment that still contains sensitive data?
hen it comes to data privacy, assuming your biggest threat is an email server hack or an office burgled in the dead of night, would be a mistake.
The data breaches reported by the legal industry to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), point to a more significant data privacy risk: human error. Human error is not new, but the statistics suggest it will be the main reason why your firm is likely to suffer a data breach. In the latest ICO report for Q4 of 2018, reported data breaches were all linked to human error. Data was posted to the wrong person, lost, improperly redacted, or emailed to the wrong recipient. 15% of all breaches were a result of an email being sent to the wrong person, making it the single largest cause – for the third quarter in a row. A knee-jerk reaction to stop sending emails to the wrong person is disabling autofill. But, what will this mean for user productivity? Firms can put measures in place to protect against innocent mistakes in email spiraling into full-blown leaks. By taking a few moments to confirm that the email is going to the right recipient with email recipient checking technology, data can stay secure, and the firm remains compliant with data privacy regulations. This simple check can prevent severe reputational damages or costly mandatory breach notifications. The ICO also urges firms to stress the importance of proper redaction to staff. Does everyone in the firm know how to redact? Do they have the resources they need for failsafe redaction? Is anyone in the firm still covering text with a black box? Information covered by a black box or text turned white is easily recovered. Personal data should be permanently removed from documents using proper redaction software. The ICO recommends following this three-step checklist to stay secure; remember to check and redact document metadata if necessary; ensure redaction is permanent and failsafe and have someone doublecheck the work. It’s time firms reviewed their security priorities and focused on putting measures in place to prevent the more common risk: human error. Samantha Jefferies, Vice President, DocsCorp (EMEA).
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Know your client: Do you really know what makes them tick? Our resident Tech commentator Charles Christian writes… et’s start with an important caveat lector, namely this article needs to be read in conjunction with my column in Modern Law Magazine #36 about cross-selling and mining your firm’s client-matter database to maximise the client’s potential fee-generating capacity. For example, a high net-worth individual who has just made a new will and set up a trust fund for their children. Where did their wealth come from? A local or regional business they own? In which case they may potentially have commercial property issues, planning issues, IP issues, employment law issues, product liability issues, contractual disputes, to mention just a few areas.
But, there is another important side to this story and that is getting to know your clients (and not just in the narrow regulatory compliance, AML etc. sense), so you really know what makes them tick. The issue here is a client’s job title/job description, such as “company director”, can cover a multitude of sins from a local one-man-and-adog operation to the head honcho of a global corporation. The use of holding companies, trading names, and subsidiaries means that even the name of this director’s business may not actually disclose its true nature. Similarly, the Articles of Association for most companies are sufficiently broad and vague that they could be doing pretty much anything. HM Government doesn’t help matters, defining “SMEs” (Small and Medium Enterprises) as any business with fewer than 250 people, but there is a huge gulf between the “micro-businesses”, with fewer than ten staff, and medium businesses with between 50 and 249 staff, which is in itself a huge range that could include AIM-listed companies at the upper end. The risk is you can capture all this essentially superficial information in your initial KYC fact-finding questionnaire, then go on to take instructions from the client and satisfactorily complete a matter for them, yet still not understand what they really do for a living, never mind gaining an insight into the things that worry them and keep them awake at night.
You need to build a relationship, which is incidentally why marketing software applications have been rebadged as “Client Relationship Management” (or CRM) systems for the past fifteen years. Now this is fine if your practice has the “churn” approach to new business development: win a client, work for the client in the short term, lose contact with the client and go out to win a replacement client (and, sadly, all of the small firms I’ve ever instructed have been like this). But, if you are hoping to hang on to the clients you win, at least for the mid-term, then you have to be more proactive. You need to understand more about the client: build up some form of client profile, it need only take a few minutes and comprise a few notes on the client or marketing database, so you are better placed to offer services the client might appreciate and want to take advantage of by way of placing further instructions. In other words, you need to build a relationship, which is incidentally why marketing software applications have been rebadged as “Client Relationship Management” (or CRM) systems for the past fifteen years. But, don’t be thrown by the word “relationship”. It doesn’t mean endless lengthy lunches with clients, it just means you being better able to target your marketing activities so you are not bombarding the client with endless newsletters and invitations to events they are never going to be interested in, and which only serve to highlight your ignorance and underline the fact you don’t understand their business. Charles Christian is the Editor-at-Large of the Legal IT Insider newsletter and also talks about Tech & Geek Stuff on Twitter at @ChristianUncut
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The most effective ways to win new clients for your law firm Legal marketing expert, John Hogg, takes a look at some of the most recent developments surrounding legal marketing and discusses what law firms can do to win more clients. arlier this year I read an interesting report from the US-based Legal Marketing Association (in conjunction with Bloomberg Law), which cited the top three most effective activities for law firms to develop new business as:
client meetings; and
These are all great areas to focus on, however, a lot of firms I speak to want something more from their marketing. If only marketing could deliver more leads for their lawyers to follow up on. In this regard, this article will look at some of the recent developments in legal marketing to see how this might be achieved.
Strategy before tactics We are big believers in strategy before tactics. Answer some tough questions such as who your firm actually is, what you want to achieve and the sort of clients you want to do business with before getting stuck into the nitty-gritty. No matter whether you are involved in traditional or new marketing initiatives, get your strategy locked down first!
A brave new world With our legal clients we find the steps below the most effective for generating leads and ultimately win new clients for their firm. 1. Optimise your website so that it appeals to your target audience rather than present a static online brochure telling the world how wonderful your firm is. 2. Add relevant content that your audience wants to read including regular blogs on relevant topics they are interested in. Develop premium content such as eBooks or whitepapers with more detail on the particular area of law they are interested in.
No matter whether you are involved in traditional or new marketing initiatives, get your strategy locked down first! Issue 37
3. Create a conversion path by adding several “Calls to Action” throughout your website, taking visitors to specific landing pages where they can supply their details to download your premium content (or perhaps book an appointment!). This is the point when that stranger on your website has just become a lead for future follow up! 4. Introduce a CRM (or better still, a marketing automation platform with an in-built CRM) to record valuable intel such as the pages your lead has visited and the actions they have performed. This will also be a great place to record your various interactions with this person on their journey towards becoming your client. 5. Stimulate new traffic to your website so that more prospects will see your content and therefore have the opportunity to become leads and ultimately new clients for your firm. The main ways to do this include using SEO, social media, email, paid social, Google AdWords and even the traditional, real-world initiatives, listed at the beginning of this article, to increase traffic to your website. The good news is that in our experience this process works and could be the missing link your marketing needs to bring in more clients for your firm. Stop thinking about one off activities such as “let’s do more social media” or “let’s write an article”. Real success lies in the fact that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Map out your firm’s strategy and develop a comprehensive programme of activity along the lines mentioned above. We fully appreciate that this all takes a lot of time. It also takes several skills and expertise not always found inside a law firm. The good news is that a lot of these marketing activities can be outsourced to external agencies who will be much better resourced and skilled at delivering the results you are looking for. Why not conduct a GAP analysis to see where your marketing strategy might need support? If you would like to find our more about our approach to generating new business for law firms, check out our “Definitive Guide To Legal Marketing” at www.enlighten-ic.com/legalmarketing for useful hints and tips regarding law firm growth. Alternatively drop me a line at email@example.com. John Hogg is Managing Director at Enlighten IC.
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Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2018 Returning for its third year, the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards took place on the 12th July at the Rum Warehouse, Liverpool. Poppy Green, Modern Law, hears from the winners and takes a look at the highlights of the night.
What a fa As a judge it w ntastic evening. Another bri llia as even better da a real pleasure to see such h nt awards ceremony. ncing! â€“ James Sherwood-Rog igh quality entries and ers, CoPSO Lim ited
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It has been a super night seeing so many of our conveyancing heroes and champions across England and Wales. What I take from tonight is that conveyancing is still an excellent sector of legal services, it is a refreshing place; new talent, new blood, new suppliers and new technology. - Ochresoft
Conveyancing firms have faced a mountain of pressure this year relating to adjusting fees, streamlining processes and improving communication with clients, but the sector has responded to these challenges with a drive and determination, and the past year has seen a variety of impressive initiatives and innovations enabling firms to thrive in a difficult market. Modern Law has had the pleasure of working alongside some fantastic businesses within the sector, and it was an honour to welcome many of them to the third Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards on the 12th July at the Rum Warehouse, Liverpool. On arrival, guests were greeted with a sparkling champagne reception, kindly sponsored by Thorneycroft Solicitors, and rather surprised by our living statue who posed as a footballer in support of the World Cup 2018, sadly England’s fate had already been sealed by that point. Guests then entered the presentation room and took to their seats to enjoy a three course meal accompanied by wine sponsored by Stewart Title and mind-reader and magician, Harrison the Perceptionist! The host for this year’s event was Patrick Monahan, whose high energy comedy style completely won over the room while making a few jokes at the expense of Modern Law’s Project Manager, Martin Smith!
Awarding excellence Onto the awards; the winners for this year were selected from a cross-industry panel of experts, which was Chaired by David Gilroy, Director of Stuff & Things at Conscious Solutions Limited, and included: James Sherwood-Rogers, Chairman, CoPSO Limited; Kate Faulkner, Property Expert; Paula Higgin, Chief Executive, HomeOwners Alliance; Rachel Stow, Managing Director, Thorneycroft Solicitors Limited; Rob Hailstone, Founder, Bold Legal Group; Shelia Kumar, Chief Executive, Council for Licensed Conveyancers and Simon Law, Chairman of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) and Head of Legal Practice at DC Law.
The first four awards of the evening were aimed at recognising conveyancing firms across the UK who show commitment to customer service, staff loyalty and retention, their overall ambitions and much more. Conveyancing Firm of the Year – North of England was won for the second year in a row by Birchall Blackburn Law, with MJP Conveyancing Ltd winning Midlands Firm of the Year. The award for Conveyancing Firm of the Year – South of England went to The Partnership, who said of the win that it was ‘fantastic, the guys put a lot of work in – [they are] really hard working, innovative and passionate about what they do and I think it has really been vindicated’. Newbold Solicitors wrapped up this section of the awards by winning the Conveyancing Firm of the Year for Wales.
InfoTrack picked up Search Provider of the Year, while inCase won Innovation and Service Provider of the Year. The Best Use of Technology went to MyHomeMove, who were then back again to claim Outstanding Commitment to Training; they said of the win that it was: ‘Absolutely fantastic! We have spent so much time investing in training and we are absolutely delighted to win as well as Best Use of Technology!’ MJP Conveyancing saw another win heading their way - the Client Care Award for their commitment, professionalism and dedication to their clients. The Property Team of the Year was awarded to Stephensons Solicitors LLP for demonstrating some great successes as a result of working effectively as a team.
Cultivating talent The next two awards sought to recognise and celebrate exceptional talent within the sector. Rosie Simms, Moore & Tibbits Solicitors, was presented with the Rising Star of the Year and her mentor went on to say: ‘She works really hard, has a really positive attitude, and takes everything in her stride. […] A great team player, […] thoroughly deserves it and she’s going to go far.’ Jonathan Achampong, Wedlake Bell LLP, was our Rising Star of 2017, and this year he went on to win the Conveyancer of the Year – he had this to say of his win: ‘It feels great to have won Rising Star last year and now Conveyancer of the Year this year, […] but the support from your firm and your team members is what is important. It is not possible to do the job without them.’ One of our sponsors of the evening, OneDome, commented that their highlight
of the night was that they “shared a table with some lovely people from Moore and Tibbits Solicitors and Wedlake Bell LLP, who picked up two awards between them.” The National Conveyancing Firm of the Year was won by The Law Practice UK Ltd for being able to demonstrate that they are the ‘whole package’ and have a commitment to providing excellent service.
Recognising the exceptional The winners of the most prestigious awards of the evening were selected exclusively by the judging panel. The award for Outstanding Achievement of the Year went to Beth Rudolf and the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Eddie Goldsmith. Beth Rudolf said of her win: ‘Just incredible. I had no idea that I was going to win! It is so kind of everyone to put me forward [tonight], but it is a team effort. Everyone has pulled together, the whole industry has pulled together to try and improve it, I am just part of the catalyst. It is all about improving the experience for the consumer and that makes me very happy.’ Eddie commented and said that he was astonished: ‘it is wonderful because this has been my life for the last thirty-five years. […] I have been humbled by the amount praise and good well I’ve had from people – loved it!’ After the presentation, guests were treated to a glitter make-over, a pop-up waffle tent and lots of dancing, music provided by the band, the New York Royals, who played all the classics well into the night! Poppy Green is Co-Editor 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.mlconveyancingawards.co.uk
The highlight of the night has been meeting so many old friends. It has been a great evening to catch up with people who we know in the industry. We’re happy and proud to be a sponsor of the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Conveyancing Awards. - Landmark
Modern Law 47
It has been an amazing night as always. […] it is great to get everyone here in one place and celebrate some of the talent in the industry at the moment. […] Rising Star excited me the most because they are the youngsters coming through – the new blood in the industry. – Tom Backhouse, Terrafirma
and the winners are... Conveyancing Firm of the Year – North of England Sponsored by Perfect Portal HIGHLY COMMENDED - Stephensons Solicitors LLP WINNER - Birchall Blackburn Law Conveyancing Firm of the Year – Midlands Sponsored by SearchFlow HIGHLY COMMENDED - Moore & Tibbits Solicitors WINNER - MJP Conveyancing Ltd Conveyancing Firm of the Year –South of England Sponsored by Landmark HIGHLY COMMENDED - Thomas Legal Group WINNER - The Partnership Conveyancing Firm of the Year – Wales Sponsored by Ochresoft HIGHLY COMMENDED - Howells Legal Ltd t/a Howells Solicitors WINNER - Newbold Solicitors Search Provider of the Year Sponsored by COPSO HIGHLY COMMENDED - Searches UK WINNER - InfoTrack Innovation of the Year Sponsored by Future Climate HIGHLY COMMENDED - DevAssist Ltd WINNER - inCase
48 Modern Law
Meeting some extremely passionate people and building what I’m sure will be long and fruitful relationships. Always best to have a drink first! – GetMeMoving Rising Star of the Year Sponsored by Geodesys HIGHLY COMMENDED - Tim Hare - Countrywide Conveyancing Services & Richard Newton - Lester Campbell Solicitors WINNER - Rosie Simms - Moore & Tibbits Solicitors Service Provider of the Year Sponsored by Modern Law Magazine HIGHLY COMMENDED - Perfect Portal WINNER - inCase Client Care Award Sponsored by OneDome HIGHLY COMMENDED - The Partnership WINNER - MJP Conveyancing Ltd Best Use of Technology Sponsored by Future Climate HIGHLY COMMENDED - The Partnership WINNER - My Home Move Outstanding Commitment to Training Sponsored by Future Climate HIGHLY COMMENDED - PM Property Lawyers WINNER – My Home Move
My best bit tonight was winning Highly Commended. It has been awesome, as ever. The location, the events management, and obviously Modern Law have been fantastic. It’s been superb and we’ve loved it. - DevAssist.
Property Team of the Year Sponsored by InfoTrack HIGHLY COMMENDED - Newbold Solicitors & Pinney Talfourd LLP WINNER - Stephensons Solicitors LLP Conveyancer of the Year Sponsored by DevAssist HIGHLY COMMENDED - Rachel Simmonds - Moore & Tibbits Solicitors WINNER - Jonathan Achampong Wedlake Bell LLP National Conveyancing Firm of the Year Sponsored by GetMeMoving HIGHLY COMMENDED - Howells Legal Ltd t/a Howells Solicitors WINNER - The Law Practice UK Ltd Outstanding Achievement of the Year Sponsored by Terrafirma WINNER - Beth Rudolf Lifetime Achievement Sponsored by Eclipse Legal Systems WINNER - Eddie Goldsmith
Modern Law 49
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Respect your team’s time: Invest in tech In a competitive profession, the pressure is always there to be faster, more collaborative, and responsive right up to deadline. Whether or not your firm has a dedicated Head of Innovation or Chief Technology Officer, you’ve got to know what tech is out there to give you a competitive edge. With more smart software available than ever before, there’s ample opportunity to bring tech-driven agility into your next Corporate Finance and Capital Markets transaction – and simultaneously improve quality and reduce risk. Which technology is right for you? Listen to your team, who live the day-to-day operational detail and are engaging with clients. You’ll become aware where your process is ripe for change – where your team is wasting precious time doing repetitive manual tasks during the document draft-to-print lifecycle; tasks that could easily be automated.
The right technology enables you to work more efficiently and profitably Work more efficiently and profitably
When you’re working with companies, accountants, investment bankers and of course your legal colleagues across multiple jurisdictions, who are all involved in your transaction in some way, they’ll benefit greatly from an instant and ongoing insight into the progress of the deal.
For firms working on capital market transactions, timing is critical and delays costly. Missing a deadline may mean financial information expires and has to be re-audited. Using Scribestar, Travers Smith could gain a day in their timetable; one that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.
And there’s also the ever-prevailing requirement to make changes in your submission documents right up to a regulator deadline. To allow for that you need an agile system, one that can manage the constantly changing UKLA rules, for example, without jeopardising the deal completion.
The right technology enables you to work more efficiently and profitably. Your clients can enjoy the greater collaboration and transparency they get, being able to work simultaneously on live documents in a bespoke, secure system. And you can rest easy that you’re taking control of your process, and offering clients increased value.
Lead, don’t follow
Niels Montanana is COO at Scribestar.
As long ago as 2016 the Law Society was highlighting the speed of change in the sector – and yet, while almost three quarters of firms they surveyed agreed innovation is critical to exploit opportunities, more than half said they were likely to wait for others to pioneer new technologies. (http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/ research-trends/capturing-technological-innovation-report/).
Introducing Sma rter Capital Markets D ocuments
Don’t be the last in line. If you’re still working with multiple versions of Word documents, losing time working on the wrong version, or waiting for a new version to reach you by email, you’re wasting your team’s time. There is also the danger that with all the various document versions in circulation, you could miss a crucial amendment impacting the accuracy of your financial data. Smarter working, happier teams There’s no reason, half an hour before a filing deadline, you shouldn’t be able to make twenty changes to your documents and still deliver on time, because your finished prospectus is a button-click away. All the re-pagination and checklists are reflowed by your software, not by your people. That doesn’t just boost morale, which in itself is worth the investment, but it also eliminates the risk that could be associated with overstretching people before a submission deadline or deal completion.
Scribestar is an int egrated drafting an d workflow platfo used by law firms, rm investment banks, accountancy practi and companies to ces help them complet e legal document for capital markets s transactions more effectively. Collaborative Drafting Verification
We helped top law firm Travers Smith bring Scribestar into their listed funds practice and they haven’t had to work through the night on a deal since, because now they don’t need to manually verify content and reflow checklists, or call in changes to printers in the early hours. Smart software doesn’t just take the sweat out of your audit and risk management – it transforms your way of working.
Regulatory Checklisting Print Ready Documents A5 print advert FINA
Issue 34 37 Issue
Enjoy the benefits of one document, always available, always up-to-da te. Request a demo
T: +44 (0) 207 070 2140 W: www.scribest ar.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org m
1 06/07/2018 14:59 :05
Modern Law Law 51 51 Modern
Beyond the Hype
How AI is revolutionising the legal profession
Emily Foges, Luminance, seeks to demystify AI and explain the advantages of working with AI in the legal profession. rtificial Intelligence’, an emotive phrase that has often caused confusion and even fear, now occupies buzzword status. There is hype bordering on mania around the effect it could have on different industries, including the legal profession. The tendency for industry observers to make sensational claims, with scaremongering observations about AI replacing junior lawyers, only adds to the confusion.
It’s taken some time but people are now starting to recognise that AI, especially in the legal profession, doesn’t replace humans – it helps them. But even as comfort levels with the technology grow, some historical suspicions remain and so it’s important for practitioners to really understand the tangible advantages of working with AI. Law firms and in-house teams of all sizes can benefit, whether targeting a specific issue or accelerating existing processes. The legal profession shouldn’t worry about AI any more than we should worry about our iPhones. The analogy I always like to use is Excel, which was only invented in the last thirty years, yet every accountant uses it, and you wouldn’t expect them not to. It’s just the responsible thing to do. However, you wouldn’t make Excel your accountant. The same is quickly becoming true of artificial intelligence for the legal profession. AI tools exist to solve a problem. The technological revolution means there is now too much
52 Modern Law
It’s taken some time but people are now starting to recognise that AI, especially in the legal profession, doesn’t replace humans – it helps them.
information available about any one organisation for human lawyers to read alone. Information is supposed to be useful, but it is becoming a burden and without new-era technological tools it is impossible to keep pace. AI isn’t here to replace lawyers but to take the robotic elements out of their work and make information useful. Trainees, associates and paralegals often spend countless hours scanning near-identical documents and manually filling out forms to track progress, which just creates a greater burden. New-era technologies can give legal teams an instant insight into the whole data room, reading and understanding volumes of documents that are far beyond human capacity, and prioritising the information in the most intuitive way possible. Graduates fresh out of the top universities function and develop best through stimulating work. Using AI frees lawyers to do the rewarding intellectual work that develops the talented partners of tomorrow.
AI makes the job of the lawyer more interesting and cuts the risk of human error. True, AI even learns from the interaction between the lawyer and the contract, automatically adapting to each law firm’s specialisms with no lengthy implementation or training required. It’s often hard to grasp just how transformative this technology can be. To give you a better idea, our clients have found that using AI to streamline the due diligence process can achieve time savings of up to 85% from day one. Statistical pattern analysis is used to identify the ‘norm’ within the data, so that it can then show you what is outside that norm. Areas of potential risk and commonly understood legal concepts are instantly flagged. The task would take humans alone weeks to accomplish, rather than hours or days. Lawyers can then spend more time on valuable advisory work rather than wasting their skill on time-consuming document review.
Some of you might be thinking that this is all very interesting, but can this really be useful in my firm? The answer is unquestionably yes. There’s a common misconception that AI can only benefit large firms, but we actually find that AI tools are equally effective in small firms for different reasons. Whilst large organisations often look to AI to solve specific problems, using AI can level the playing field for a small firm. The time savings it produces during the document review process mean that they are able to retain work that would otherwise be undercut by a Legal Process Outsourcer (LPO). For example, Luminance is already being used in a broad range of organisations. Our clients include some of The Global 100 law firms, firms with only two partners, and multinational retail banks. The beauty of new-era technologies is that they have the power to give massive time savings in any industry where computer meets contract. The technology has numerous potential uses and, as the legal profession evolves, firms and corporations need more advanced platforms to cope with changing demands. Looking ahead, we will see providers offering a whole suite of tools which will give lawyers a one-stop-shop for all of their contract needs. With clients leaning more and more towards fixed fees rather than the billable hour, the adoption of technology is becoming a necessity rather than just a way to tick the innovation box. Rates of adoption will increase as the profession recognises that, just like other industries, new technologies will help determine the winners and losers of tomorrow. In short, AI is not the enemy. It’s real, it’s here now, and it’s useful to every lawyer who wants to truly understand a corporation through its documentation. EMILY FOGES is CEO at Luminance.
Information is supposed to be useful, but it is becoming a burden and without new-era technological tools it is impossible to keep pace
Modern Law 53
Premium Residential <0.25Ha Environmental | Flood | Ground Stability | Energy & Infrastructure
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Professional Opinion 1.ENVIRONMENTAL
No further recommendations
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4.ENERGY & INFRASTRUCTURE
Consideration(s): 4.20 Power Stations
Air Quality Index: Some Polluted Areas (See 1.25) This page should always be read in conjunction with the full report. The Professional Opinion indicates the potential risks and any other potential issues associated with the property. The results should be disclosed to client and/or lender and/or insurer as appropriate. A ‘Pass’ is given if no potential property specific risk has been identified. A ‘Pass with Considerations’ is given where there are potential hazards in the locality to bear in mind, or if there are features nearby which some clients might consider could affect them. A ‘Further Action’ is given if there is a potential property specific risk and a further action is advised. In the event of a request to review the Professional Opinion based on additional information, or if there are any technical queries, the professional advisor who ordered the report should contact us at email@example.com, or call us on 01732 755 180.
Regulated by RICS If you require assistance, please contact your Search Provider or alternatively contact FCI directly with your Report ID. Tel: 01732 755 180 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web: www.futureclimateinfo.com
FCI & EarthSense – striking up a partnership FCI has partnered with EarthSense, enabling them to include detailed air pollution data in all of their environmental risks reports for residential and commercial property transactions. Shane Herridge, Data Manager for FCI, discusses how search reports are continuing to change due to emerging environmental risks and evolving data, creating more comprehensive and insightful reports for their clients.
Can you outline the details of your partnership with EarthSense and the new report that has emerged as a result of this?
We are delighted to have teamed up with Earthsense. This is a unique partnership that offers homebuyers and investors the best, high resolution air quality data available within all FCI commercial and residential environmental risk reports. We believe all buyers have the right to access as much information as possible about their home or investment. Air quality is one of the UK’s most pressing environmental issues, affecting where we live and work. So understanding how this could impact your quality of life is a key factor in deciding where to buy. Each report provides an Air Quality Index rating by Earthsense on the specific property and its surrounding areA This is based on the average NO2 and PM2.5 levels at a 100m resolution from vehicle emissions and other sources. The report gives a clear rating from 0 (a generally clean environment with very low chance of average NO2 levels exceeding annual legal limits) to 6 (polluted environments with major implications for human health).
How are search reports being adapted to the changing needs of conveyancers?
A recent survey by Economic Insight found that 37% of homebuyers chose their solicitor based on a recommendation. If your firm is offering valuable insight about the property and its potential environmental risk, then this will drive greater client satisfaction and loyalty. Property is an ever greater financial commitment and getting it right matters, especially as people live in their homes for longer periods of time. Search reports must provide a comprehensive assessment of both present and emerging environmental risks to meet the changing client needs.
How is the legal service market helping to address the challenges currently facing conveyancers?
As buyers become more aware of environmental issues, conveyancers must ensure they provide clients with complete checks of all relevant risks, together with guidance on next steps with any potential issues. The starting point is clarity and ease of understanding. FCI reports are designed with this in mind, ensuring that all relevant environmental risks are assessed
We are at a crossroads in how we consume data within a short, concise and easy to understand report with clear step guidance should a potential issue be identified. This saves the conveyancer time and hassle, whilst ensuring that any issues are clearly and succinctly explained to the client.
How is increased availability of data allowing search providers to identify new risks and modernise the search process?
As data evolves to become more flexible and useable, environmental risks can be modelled more effectively and on a larger scale than ever before. More sophisticated risk analysis and more detailed high quality data enables more property specific risk assessments on existing and emerging environmental risks. As the climate changes, these risks will adapt and extend to affect more homeowners. It is essential to innovate with data and understand how man-made and natural processes will affect our built environment for years to come.
How else might environmental reports evolve in the years to come to incorporate new risks and information as these emerge?
We are at a crossroads in how we consume datA Many law firms are comfortable still with the idea of individual documents to support the conveyancing process but homebuyers are increasingly driven by geospatial data from apps and interactive mapping. We are always looking to innovate with new datasets such as our air quality partnership with Earthsense. Homebuyers want to see data presented with clarity about things that matter to them now and also long into the future. They are investing in the long term, whether it is a “forever home” or an investment that needs to give strong returns and not be affected by risks. Our ethos is that we believe property buyers and investors deserve to get the smartest, most innovative data that enables them to make informed decisions. We will continue to drive this ethos in the market, so that conveyancers can maximise their own client relationships. SHANE HERRIDGE is Data Manager of FCI (Future Climate Info).
Search reports must provide a comprehensive assessment of both present and emerging environmental risks to meet the changing client needs Issue 37
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Struggling to keep your clients updated on case progress? Maybe itâ€™s time to try Perfect Portal
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The importance of people in the customer due diligence process ustomer due diligence is a key component for firms to meet their obligations for the 4th (and soon 5th) Money Laundering Directive. Automated tools are improving all the time through the application of artificial intelligence tools with larger data sets.
While these tools help to drive operational efficiency, there is still a need for engaged staff to ensure that firms are not unwittingly involved in attempts to launder the proceeds of crime. Criminal groups often have excellent knowledge of best practice and have the motivation to identify loopholes to exploit. We now see gangs stealing cars by breaking into the owners’ house to steal the keys as the automotive industry has steadily increased the anti-theft measures built into their products. A fishing rod through the letter box may be low technology but unfortunately it works all too often. A core part of a firm’s compliance regime is the alert member of staff who spots the inconsistency of an attempted exploit. The rush to complete a transaction, unusual cash movements or overly complex structures all point to a need for a review. We are very good at spotting patterns and better when something is not in line with the expected pattern but this requires engaged staff who are have a good understanding of the regulations.
How do you ensure that staff do the right thing in the moment? So as well as looking at new technology and improving policies and procedures, we need to consider the softer side of our compliance regime. How do we ensure that staff training engages and is not seen just as a “box ticking” exercise? How do we ensure that staff do the right thing in the moment? Training is key - it needs to provide staff not just with the information they need but also support the required behaviours. Boring training just sends the wrong message. How do we measure this? One measure we use is the percentage of people who voluntarily complete their training. Figures of sub 20% are not unheard of with traditional training. Really?? You can achieve over 80% with well designed training. Without effective measures how do you know what you are achieving? Steve Brett, Founder, E3 Compliance Training Ltd.
5 steps to keeping your company compliant in the GDPR era ith the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) effective and inevitably becoming a part of the European legal landscape, a new stage comes for everyone, prompting a question: what now? While the urge to celebrate is only natural, there are operational tasks required to maintain the organisation’s level of compliance up-to-date and many GDPR requirements have also not yet been definitively interpreted.
Here are a few tips to help you keep up-to-date with the development of data privacy requirements. 1. Look out for domestic legislation and EDPB guidelines The GDPR is still a very young legislation, so many EU national laws containing additional specific privacy requirements still await their effective date. We can also expect the newly established European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) to gradually fill in the blanks and clarify certain issues regarding the interpretation and enforcement of the GDPR. 2. Keep your GDPR compliance framework up-to-date GDPR compliance should be an ongoing exercise, not a means to an end. Schedule regular privacy check-ups and audits to ensure your organisation’s compliance framework remains operational. 3. Privacy by Design and by Default – a constant effort Privacy by Design gained major traction through GDPR as a concept aiming for more in-depth approach beyond merely addressing
For more tips about privacy regulations and how to tackle the GDPR, visit onetrust.com.
Modern Law 57
Precedent H budgets – you can’t afford to get them wrong ll those practitioners involved in multi-track litigation will be well aware of the introduction of budgeting by the reforms of 2013. The introduction of the new Precedent H budget caused many to either shudder in fear, or randomly fill in boxes just like picking their lotto numbers. However, the rules made it abundantly clear that the preparation of a Precedent H budget could not be avoided if you wanted to recover costs from an opponent if the case was won.
Sadly, many practitioners seem to adopt the finger in the air approach to budget preparation. Those who do, do so at their peril. The incurred costs at the time the budget is prepared must be an accurate reflection of what has been incurred in each phase at that point. If not, when the final bill is prepared there will be disparity that will be hard to justify, and likely be detrimental to the recovery. So? You should remember, as fee earners, you have an obligation to keep your clients fully informed of the costs they are incurring or likely to incur in respect of the litigation. The Precedent H budget is
an ideal tool for doing just that. However, if you invoice your clients £150,000 plus vat for the work you do, yet your budget only allows for £100,000 plus vat, the maximum you are likely to recover from the opponent is £100,000, probably less on assessment. Result? Extremely disgruntled client. Questions such as why have you charged me £150,000 plus vat, yet only ever expected to recover a maximum of £100,000 plus vat? Have you over-charged me? Have you made a huge blunder on the budget? If either, your Client will not be happy. If the former, you could be going along to an assessment of your own costs which will be time-consuming and expensive. If the latter, you could be facing a negligence claim. Solution? Only rely on quality, experienced costs lawyers to prepare your Precedent H budgets. People who understand exactly what is required in these forms - the importance of getting them right. So next time you have a budget to prepare are you going to “have a go” or bring in the experts? The choice is always yours. Christine Middleton, FCL, Costs Lawyer, CM Costing.
How to get noticed he world continues to move on at such a rapid pace. Not so long ago clients had preferred legal firms for most matters and these often dated back many years and sometimes several generations.
Whilst this may still continue in some firms it is far from the norm. We are seeing more prospects put matters out to tender. In doing so they are typically looking at three areas: Knowledge They often test this via the website or social media content. Have they written any articles or case studies on the issues they need help with? Was it simple and easy to understand? If so, it’s fair to say you’ll understand their advice if you engage them. An interesting stat - prospects searching for professional services spend on average twenty minutes in every hour reviewing content on various platforms. Those who aren’t visible fall away and will not receive the tender.
Cost It’s not necessarily the most important factor but it’s always up there. Most prospects expect lawyers to now offer a fixed fee for a clearly defined set of services. They also expect budgets for one off project work. Availability Are you there when they need you and will you give them the necessary love and attention? In today’s technological world they don’t expect you to be literally round the corner but they expect you to be on the end of a phone/email or video call if required. In summary: • Get your website and social media platforms updated with content and case studies (content really is king) • Fix your pricing where possible • Be there for your clients Darren Jefferson, Director, Alius Services Limited.
Modern Law 59
Barrister-Direct’s RESOLVE service provides potential income boost to firms planning to close or abandon winnable files Barrister-led law firm, Barrister-Direct, has launched a new service to provide law firms, credit hire agencies, medical agencies and ATE agencies with a complimentary second look service on files they are planning to close or abandon. arrister-Direct’s RESOLVE service evaluates the claim’s prospects and, where possible, takes the matter on and progresses it until resolution. If the claim is successful, firms recover their costs and any disbursements received and owing to them.
What areas does RESOLVE help with?
Barrister-Direct co-founder, Andrew McKie, says personal injury firms are routinely abandoning winnable cases as they exit the market. In a recent audit of a personal injury firm’s caseload, Barrister-Direct discovered that 52% of the cases the firm was planning to close were potentially winnable. Reasons for closure ranged from prospects to resources to procedural or factual complexity.
Explained Andrew: “It is common knowledge that many law firms have found themselves unable to cope with the changes to the personal injury marketplace and are overly reliant and exposed to the RTA model, which will become defunct in April 2019.
All Fast and Multi-Track Claims, including: •
Regulations, Athens and Montreal Convention, Skiing Accidents and sporting injuries.
Housing and Construction - Housing Disrepair and Cavity Wall Claims.
Clinical Negligence Claims.
Employer’s Liability Claims.
All types of Occupier’s and Public Liability Claims.
Road Traffic Accident Claims.
How does it work? “To make matters worse, the CMC business model is no longer fit for purpose. It is over reliant on simply supplying a lead to a law firm and then slipping into the background. Unfortunately, this means that some claims which are complex and difficult often end up with PI firms that lack experience in that area or do not have the litigation funding or ATE cover to fund these claims to Trial. Our model allows those clients access to an experienced PI Trial lawyer, even if that is not where the claim was directed in the first instance.” Added Andrew: “RESOLVE is designed to acknowledge that, in the current legal landscape, firms cannot afford to write off bad debt and cannot afford not to recover costs and disbursements. “It provides a safety net and chance of recovery, as well as a lifeline for claims facing abandonment.”
RESOLVE has a simple 5 stage process to resolution: 1. You email email@example.com advising a file is ready. A courier will collect your file that day and a member of the team will acknowledge your file the same day. 2. Within 48 hours, you will receive a view on prospects in the matter. This will confirm whether your file has been accepted in to RESOLVE and the terms of such. 3. If accepted, the Claimant will be signed up to Barrister-Direct within 72 hours. 4. You will receive monthly updates on the progress of the file. 5. Upon conclusion, RESOLVE will forward any costs and disbursements received and owing to you and/or your firm within 21 days of receipt. To discuss RESOLVE, please contact Andrew McKie or Monica
Dedicated response team and free same day file collection service or electronic transfer.
Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org 07739 964012
Guaranteed view on prospects within 48 hours of receipt.
Nationwide sign up agents with clients signed up within 72 hours.
Monthly updates on transferred cases.
Lien on costs preserved with reasonable splits agreed on fixed costs fast track cases and assistance in recovering disbursements.
Litigation Funding in place and access to a panel of ATE insurers for all variety of claims.
60 Modern Law
Monica: email@example.com 0161 706 6706 or 07983 866132 Alternatively, please visit the website at www.barristerdirectclaims.com/resolve
Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management system enables ACSL Solicitors to offer added value to client service Established Liverpool firm, ACSL Solicitors, has selected the Proclaim Practice Management Software solution from Eclipse Legal Systems, the Law Society Endorsed legal software provider.
Founded in 2009, ACSL Solicitors specialises in a range of legal areas, including Conveyancing and Dispute Resolution, and the firm’s expansive client base is comprised of both corporate and private clients. ACSL Solicitors prides itself on its ability to provide clients with professional legal advice and a personal service tailored to specific requirements.
staff to efficiently process volume caseloads without leaving the Proclaim application, and simultaneously eliminating duplicate data entry. ACSL Solicitors has also purchased Eclipse’s client self-service portal, TouchPoint+, which will enable the team to brand it in line with the firm’s visual identity, as well as offer clients a range of Eclipse’s online communication toolsets, including FileView, an online matter tracking solution and SecureDocs, an online document delivery and acceptance tool. Joseph Mulrooney, Director of ACSL Solicitors, comments: “Eclipse was our preferred supplier from the outset for a number of reasons, including its position as the market-leader of legal software, and its range of additional efficiency-enhancing products.
After experiencing substantial growth in terms of both staff and clients, ACSL Solicitors required a robust, yet scalable practice management system. Following an in-depth demonstration with Eclipse, the practice has decided to roll out the Proclaim Practice Management Software solution across its Dispute Resolution and Conveyancing departments.
“Utilising Proclaim will enable us to provide a seamless client journey, removing the time-sapping tasks of our teams’ daily workload, and allowing them to focus on adding value, providing an efficient service, and eliminating the stress and hassle for our clients.”
Proclaim will provide the teams with a high level of automation, enabling them to concentrate on value-added activities rather than administration. In particular, the dispute resolution department will benefit from Proclaim’s integration with the MoJ portal, enabling
For further information, please contact Darren Gower, Marketing Director at Eclipse Legal Systems, part of Capita plc, via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01274 704100. Alternatively, visit www.eclipselegal.co.uk
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10 MINUTES WITH
Andrew Davies The agility provided by a small but perfectly formed startup company allowed me to quickly evaluate client needs and respond with support services and products to anticipate their needs and quickly provide effective solutions
Did you expect the legal services sector to change so drastically when you started working in it?
My career providing support for the legal services sector began with a large American corporate. Whilst there I saw that the way law firms would have to respond to and support their clients was going to have to change. There was a much greater need for efficiency and responsiveness, which large corporate companies would find difficult to respond to in a timely manner. Corporates have many advantages but making swift decisions and moving quickly to meet new requirements were definitely not part of their DNA For some time I had wanted to work more independently and I decided that this was the right time to take the leap and establish my own company, so in 2001 SpeechWrite was formed. The agility provided by a small but perfectly formed startup company allowed me to quickly evaluate client needs and respond with support services and products to anticipate their needs and quickly provide effective solutions, through focusing on developing, supplying and supporting organisations. Our expertise in our sector now takes us to one of the biggest Digital Dictation and Voice Recognition companies in the UK boosting over 600 companies as clients.
What has been the key positive or negative impact of the liberalisation of legal services?
The liberalisation of legal services has had a huge impact on the sector. More competition in the legal market provided the impetus for law firms to be more efficient and more client focused and one of the key ways they can achieve these key objectives is by the effective and efficient use of IT. This facilitates better working practices and more effective and timely client communication. Not just any old IT but the right IT systems for their individual needs and circumstances. Effective communication is not only key to accurate and efficient working but also to client perception and therefore client confidence and retention. My company has spent a huge amount of time and effort in understanding the pressures on modern law firms and has developed systems to best support how a lawyer actually wants and needs to work in the 21st century. As the pace of change continues, it is important to keep in touch with clients to ensure that we can anticipate and fully meet their future requirements.
Who inspires you and why?
If you look around the world today there are many people who are inspiring for all sorts of different reasons. I am particularly drawn to people who have overcome adversity and still succeed in spite of it. Some people have a terrible start in life and whatever their personal background still strive to achieve
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and remain positive. Their stories always inspire me and make me feel incredibly grateful. I am inspired by anyone with drive and ambition and a desire to succeed in their chosen profession - it takes a lot of hard work and should be admired.
Have you had a mentor? If so, what was the most valuable piece of advice they gave you?
Might sound like a clichĂŠ but my father was really the best mentor I had. His commitment and willingness to help and support anyone he came in to contact with always amazed me. He had the ability to listen, understand and offer suitable advice, if they wanted it. His approach to life was to be happy, healthy and nice to know, I try to follow his approach, not always with 100% success. I have added successful to that list which I am sure he would have met with questions to understand my motivation. He probably would have ended up agreeing with me, to appease me, even though he probably would have disagreed.
If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
Well, probably something very different, through various choices and decisions I made in my youth I came away from school with few qualifications. This limited my options, but as I was always keen on eating nice food, I headed down a path in the catering industry. I trained to become a chef, and after training worked successfully in various establishments in the North West of England. I enjoyed the work but having risen through the ranks I decided it was time to focus on something new. It wasnâ€™t long until the bright lights of the IT industry started tempting me away, so much to the disappointment of my parents I gave it all up to join a circus, well the IT industry anyway. ANDREW DAVIES is Managing Director at SpeechWrite.
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