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R U S S E LL - C O O K E S O LI C ITO R S

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Property & Welcome Business

Review Annual forReview Clients 2010/11 | 00 01

Welcome to our review for clients. It’s designed to give a sense of the breadth and variety of our work, looking at some of the issues that face our clients in this challenging economic climate. With so much to choose from, we’ve inevitably had to leave out far more than we can include. For the full picture we hope you will visit our recently relaunched website, www.russell-cooke.co.uk, which has a new look and more user-friendly features, searchable content and briefings on specialist areas of the law. Do take a look – and if you have any comments, we’d be interested to hear them. John Gould | Senior Partner

Contents

Property and business 07 08 09 10 10

Chasing a dream: start-ups in a recession In person: Angela Dennis Liberty’s secrets: why not to skip the on-site inspection Shopping channel: invigorating Cardiff In person: Lee Ranford

Personal 13 15 16 17 18

For love or money: the future of pre-nups Gambling on justice: three cases Judgement calls: when a solicitor becomes a judge In person: Alison Regan In person: Michael Parkinson

Regulation 21 Eye of the storm: handling high-profile cases 23 In person: Matt Bosworth

Charity 27 High anxiety: the worry of being a trustee 28 In person: Tamsin Priddle 29 No hiding place: managing conflicts of duty

About us 02 04 30 32

Russell-Cooke online Facts and figures Training solicitors Sponsorship: Rebecca Romero


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Online

Fast, functional and user-friendly Seven ways to access expertise online at www.russell-cooke.co.uk

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Subscribe to the e-briefings produced by specialist teams and find out about forthcoming events

Explore alternative ways of resolving disputes using experienced, highly-trained mediators

Check out the specialist team in your area of interest, including mentions in legal directories, recent cases and experience, professional accreditations, client feedback and testimonials


Online

Review for Clients 2010/11 | 03

45 6 7 Track our constantly updated, audited client satisfaction ratings

Find out the basis for fee-charging in a specific area of law

Access our lawyers’ contact details and biographical info

Find out more about the good causes we support in the voluntary sector, arts and sport


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Facts & figures

Who we are There are now 277 of us:

Par t

ner

s4

What we do for individuals

6 employment 6% children law 5% wills, probate, tax & trusts 25% conveyancing 17% crime 8% clinical negligence / pi 17%

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lici

tor

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family 17%

2

French law & property 5%

What we do for companies and organisations

Oth er f e

ee

arn

ers

27 charities 20%

Tra in

ees

regulation 21%

14

Se cre tar ial

commercial property 30%

sta ff 8 3

Su ppo rt s taf f 45

dispute resolution 18% corporate & employment 11%


Property & Business

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property & business our specialist teams provide commercial property expertise, business services, dispute resolution and employment law advice. Russell-Cooke is recommended “without hesitation”, says legal guide Chambers: “it is efficient, friendly, extremely client-focused and staffed with terrifically dedicated lawyers.”


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Enduring dreams What’s happened to start-ups during the recession? Our experience suggests that aspiring entrepreneurs are a surprisingly resilient and enterprising bunch

The worst economic crisis since the thirties may not seem an obvious time to start a business. But optimism is one characteristic of the true entrepreneur, and Guy Wilmot, who advises new businesses as part of his wider commercial and corporate brief, is still seeing plenty of would-be business people with big ideas for the future. He thinks that the growing insecurity of corporate life might be one reason. “People say to themselves, ‘my job isn’t that safe anymore, so I might as well do what I always dreamed of doing.’” Also a factor is the continued migration of business online, which has radically reduced start-up costs. “You can start up with a few thousand pounds – the cost of a pretty decent website design. With a bricks-and-mortar lease you might have a ten-year commitment at least, which can be scary for a new business.” Guy’s start-up clients come from a variety of directions: some are referred by accountants or other professionals; others arrive via the firm’s website or have friends or contacts who are clients of the firm. The best time to consult a lawyer is early on, he says, “when you’ve got your business idea firmly in your head, but before you’ve got your finance, started to enter into any contractual arrangements or, if you’re a partnership, agreed terms with each other.” What does the legal side of setting up a business cost? “If your idea is relatively simple – a straightforward e-commerce website, for example – we can give you a pretty good idea of costs at the outset.” A more elaborate business idea – such

as the hotel holiday letting concept the team worked on recently – will involve a more complex legal structure, so costs will be higher. When cash is tight, the Russell-Cooke team will work out with the client what the top priorities are and what can be put on the back burner. “Often a business would love to have this or that – say, IP protection – but just can’t afford it’,” says Guy. “In those circumstances we try to give them a second choice which offers most of what they need.” Clients these days tend to be aware of the value of their intellectual property and anxious to protect it. Here the growth of the internet has created problems as well as opportunities. Although websites are global, intellectual property is registered, and contracts enforced, at a national level. Operating in international markets, as many UK-based businesses now do, it’s easy to breach someone’s trademark by mistake, or to have your own trademark breached without your knowledge or consent. In practice, every new business is different and presents a unique set of challenges. Russell-Cooke clients cookery writer Laura Santtini and luxury chocolatier William Curley (see next page) are both examples of early-stage businesses with a compelling proposition and profile, requiring careful legal advice to reach their full potential.


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IN PERSON

ANGELA DENNIS Angela Dennis is a partner in the Commercial Property group, advising landlords, tenants, developers and lenders. Her particular expertise is in the retail sector. She’s a member of the British Council of Shopping Centres CASENOTES

GORGEOUS CONFECTIONS William Curley would be odds-on favourite to win a Nobel prize for chocolate, if there were such a thing. The Belgravia and Richmondbased chef won the Academy of Chocolate’s prestigious Best British Chocolatier award three years running. Chef and restaurateur Pierre Koffman (ex-La Tante Claire) said of William: “He is a fantastic pastry chef and chocolatier – perfect.” RussellCooke’s property and commercial teams advised William and his wife Suzue (who, like her husband, is an acclaimed patissier) on various aspects of running the business, including property and licensing. www.williamcurley.co.uk

What’s the most challenging case you’ve undertaken recently? I acted for a number of tenants taking units in the new Westfield London shopping centre development. Westfield has a very specific approach to shopping centres and the terms of leases. We had to work with that approach while protecting the retail tenants’ position – a fine commercial and legal balancing act. What are the main things happening in your area of work at the moment? The economic climate means landlords have to work hard to protect their income streams. They’re facing increased pressure to accept rent monthly in advance, rather than quarterly in advance. Tenants are scrutinising service charge provisions more closely. We’ve also seen an increase in empty units and pre-pack sales of leases due to tenant insolvency. Another development is that we’re finding more “green” leases with environmentally-friendly clauses. What's your most memorable experience as a lawyer? In one of my first jobs as a newlyqualified solicitor I was called unexpectedly to attend a meeting with the client to run through the issues on

properties in a multi-million pound portfolio – before we’d received a full information pack! This was a little hairraising, although dealing with it successfully boosted my confidence. And your worst experience? As a litigation trainee, I acted for a mobile phone company against a customer who was suing them for infringing his human rights by stopping his mobile phone contract. He hadn’t paid his bills for months. Although I was successful in getting the claim struck out, the litigant (who was representing himself) took great offence at losing and started physically threatening first the judge and then me. What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? I really enjoy the transactional nature of commercial property. You’re closely involved with the commercial side of your client’s business, working to achieve something positive and tangible – such as acquiring a new site or selling a property for development.

CASENOTES

PROTECTING IP IN A COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT A “writer who cooks” and self-styled genetic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail, with Italian, Persian and Sephardic roots, Laura Santtini is the author of the acclaimed Easy Tasty Italian (as well as the Ask Mrs Santtini column in Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine). When she launched her own scratch cooking

range, Easy Tasty Magic, in 2009, Guy Wilmot and colleagues advised her on the legal practicalities of being an entrepreneur on her own in a complex area, with manufacturing and distribution handled externally on licence. “We registered the name as a trademark in various jurisdictions around the world, then entered into licence agreements with

manufacturers and distributors so she was protected from all angles in relation to her recipes and copyrights and other bits of intellectual property.” Discover more about Laura Santtini on her website www.laurasanttini.com


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CASENOTES

BRIDGES, TUNNELS AND SECRET VAULTS When time is really short in a commercial property deal, it may seem tempting to skip the on-site inspection. Not advisable, says Arnold Isaacson. He and colleagues acted for the buyer in the £41.5 million sale and leaseback of upmarket department store Liberty’s iconic London site. Speed was of the essence, and the parties exchanged within ten days. A day after receiving instructions the team was exploring the quirky Tudorstyle premises – and discovering more than it bargained for. “There are vaults,

underground tunnels and other bits and pieces, including two bridges, which aren’t in the title and which they don’t own, but have exclusive use of under licence.” The reason is historic: although the Highway Authority granted Liberty a licence to build over, and under, the highway in the 1920s, it retains ownership of bridges and certain underground areas to this day. The bridges were used by shoppers until Liberty sold the Regent Street front of the store a few years ago; they can still be seen from Kingly Street.


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IN PERSON

What are the main developments in your area of work? One statutory and one practical. Amended Insolvency Rules (introduced from 6 April 2010) are an attempt to modernise practice and procedure – for example by allowing greater use of electronic documents, communications and IT generally. Increased use of the pre-pack procedure has been subject to a lot of (mostly negative) press comment. A pre-pack refers to an agreement (in anticipation of a pending administration of a company) to sell all or part of that company’s assets, with the Administrator completing that sale immediately on or after his appointment, when the company goes into administration. Critics say that the process allows the company to cease trading and start up again, free of the old company’s debts. What’s your most memorable experience as a lawyer? Some years ago acting for a member of the MCC in disciplinary proceedings against him for alleged misconduct at a Test match at Lord’s. The hearing was in the Long Room at Lord’s in front of the full committee, which included Sir John Major and Mike Brearley. And your worst experience? In my early years as a lawyer I dealt with a number of Crown Court cases. My clients were facing charges of armed robbery, having allegedly attempted to hold up a post office van. Their defence was that disguises and replica guns were in their car because they had recently been to a fancy dress party. The jury did not even need to retire to arrive at its verdict of guilty!

LEE RANFORD Lee Ranford is a member of the Litigation team, with a varied caseload including insolvency, judicial review and insurancerelated disputes. He is a qualified insolvency practitioner

What’s your most recent challenge? Dealing with statutory demands (a precursor to a bankruptcy petition) presented to my client by a leading bank. It claimed payment of £4 million under personal guarantees my client had given for the (undisputed) borrowings of his company. At first glance our client’s position did not look encouraging. However, we found a defence which was ultimately successful after a contested hearing. Not only did the bank lose, it also had to pay my client’s costs. I’ve also recently dealt with a claim for judicial review (another area of my work), acting for residents living near to the Royal Albert Hall. They successfully challenged a decision of Westminster City Council, the licensing authority, to extend the Albert Hall’s licence to include boxing and wrestling.

STATE OF UNCERTAINTY

Dawn Alderson (left), who leads the French law and property team, acted as expert witness in the case of Martin v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The case is an interesting example of the dangers of trying to hold foreign assets in a trust, as this may not be governed by the law of England and Wales. The court decided that the value of a property held by a social security recipient living in France could be included in his capital, thus depriving him of social security benefit, even though the property was purportedly held on trust for a third party. The reason was that in this case the court applied French law.

CASENOTES

Angela Dennis and Jodi Chapman of the Commercial Property team acted for Sportsdirect in the acquisition of a unit in the new St David’s 2 shopping centre. The 967,500 sq ft development, which included a new library and apartment complex, has turned Cardiff into one of the UK’s top five shopping destinations, with a projected annual footfall of 33 million. Many of the retailers taking space in the £675m extension are new to Wales, including John Lewis and Apple. Although a third of floorspace had not been let when doors opened to the public in autumn 2009, the gamble of going ahead during the recession seemed to pay off. Centre director Steven Madeley, quoted on Walesonline, said it had been a brave move to hold out for highquality tenants. John Lewis said that footfall during the first six months had outstripped expectations.

More on our dual-qualified French law team at www.russell-cooke.co.uk. The team’s dedicated French property website is at www.french propertylaw.co.uk


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personal our highly-rated teams offer a full range of services for individuals, from criminal representation, personal injury and property conveyancing to estate planning and family law. “We would expect to pay much more for the quality of service you get,� says Chambers of the family team


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Terms of endearment? Objectors to pre-nups say they undermine the institution of marriage. So it is ironic that the issue of enforceability puts some people off marrying altogether

CASENOTES

MILLER V MILLER Melissa Miller walked away from her threeyear, childless marriage to a City investment fund manager with £5m and assets including a house in Chelsea. A key focus of the House of Lords ruling was the huge increase in Mr Miller’s wealth during the marriage, largely due to the rise in value of his shares in New Star, a fund management company he helped to establish.

When the time is right to make a relationship permanent, most of us know exactly what to do: order the champagne and start planning the honeymoon. The legal and financial side of things comes bottom of the to-do list – if it figures at all. Which is odd, because thanks to generous media coverage of some highly acrimonious battles over money and property, we surely can’t be unaware of the pitfalls of a broken relationship. High-profile cases such as Miller v Miller and Mills v McCartney (see left and next page) have turned many people’s thoughts to pre-nuptial agreements. Traditionally not recognized by English law, they are becoming increasingly common as the legal system struggles to adapt to the reality of modern relationships. Family lawyer and mediator James Carroll specialises in advising high-networth individuals and is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee. “If someone asks ‘is a pre-nup binding?’ the answer is no, currently”, he says. “They do, however, carry considerable – and sometimes decisive – weight.” In the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino (see next page) the Appeal Court confirmed that judges could take pre-nuptial agreements into account, even though they were not enforceable in English law. The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court (the new version of the House of Lords). Commentators predict that the highest court in the land will support pre-nuptial agreements – and will perhaps, it is thought, also call on Parliament to reform our divorce laws.

One of the more high-minded objections to pre-nups is that by providing for the possible break-up of a relationship, they undermine the institution of marriage. Ironically, some of James’s clients decide not to marry at all, because there is no way to protect their personal wealth. “It can sound miserly; actually it’s not. Suppose there’s inherited wealth – a family home, for example? Suppose your parents have given you money to start you off in life? Is it illegitimate to want to protect that?” As things stand, he says, there’s only one answer for a client contemplating marriage and seeking absolute financial certainty. “The advice is always very black and white. For the financially stronger party: if you want to protect your finances, don’t marry. For the financially weaker party: don’t sign a pre-nup.” This black and white advice, however, often gets blurred when it comes into contact with people’s strong desire both to marry and, as far as possible, protect their personal wealth. The uncertainty around the legal status of pre-nups reflects a wider issue in family law: the very different legal treatment of marriage or civil partnership on the one hand, and cohabitation-type relationships on the other. The treatment of marriage and civil partnership is forward-looking. The courts look to the future: what’s appropriate, what the parties need to meet their needs, whether there should be an element of sharing and so on. So what was previously agreed between the parties (even in a written pre-nuptial agreement) cannot be decisive. “You


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can’t marry and say conclusively ‘I’m worth ten million and if we split up you’re not having any of it’.” The Law Commission is currently examining whether pre-nups should be legally enforceable in England and Wales, although legislation would need political support and may not be given a high priority by the new government. “In the meantime you can enter into a pre-nuptial agreement as a statement of intention, sometimes a very weighty statement of intention. And sometimes the outcome will be exactly what you want it to be, if the circumstances are right. But if the circumstances are wrong the courts will depart from it.” The treatment of cohabiting relationships is quite different. Technically, the law doesn’t recognise “living together”; you’re either married or in a civil partnership, or you’re single. “The law has to deal with other relationships, because people are in them all the time, but we don’t do that via family law but through property law. And there the issue is not what is fair, but trying to work out what the agreement was; it’s all backward-looking.” The bad news is that the law in relation to cohabitees who haven’t legally formalised their money or property matters is, as James puts it, “in dire need of reform”. Some of the worst family law horror stories relate to cohabiting people. “One of my clients had been in a twentytwo year relationship, three children, had never put anything in financially. What was she legally entitled to? Nothing.” Such unfortunates are forced to rely either on the co-operation of the other party or the skills of their lawyers. (In this case, after months of wrangling, James’s client managed to retain 50 per cent of the property at issue, without much legal basis for doing so). The good news if you are cohabiting (or in any other kind of non-marital relationship) is that the law allows you to draw up a binding contract: a declaration of trust, as lawyers call it. You don’t have to be two people in a romantic relationship; you could be friends buying a flat together, parents buying for a son or daughter, or an adult giving your mother the money to buy her council property. “Sometimes the parents say to a child, ‘we’ll give you the money for a

deposit and you and your girlfriend can move in together, but we don’t want you splitting up in six months’ time and her walking away with half of it’.” One point applies to all live-in relationships: it is much better to take legal advice at the beginning than when everything’s gone pear-shaped. Which is all very well, but when exactly should you think of seeing a lawyer? When you start mixing money or living together, James tells people in his regular seminars to City institutions. “And if you are gay or lesbian, don’t think it doesn’t apply to you. The issues are exactly the same.” “Probably half of the matters I deal with could be resolved entirely, and the rest greatly assisted, had people considered the tough but important issues at the outset. This can save a friendship, months of legal wrangling and tens of thousands in legal fees.” James emphatically rejects the suggestion that taking legal advice might be a huge turn-off. “People think about the wedding, the dress and so on. They don’t think in terms of what it means financially and legally. What’s wrong with saying, ‘I inherited this house from my parents; if we split I’d like to keep the house, because it’s been in the family for generations’?” And at the end of a relationship, there’s nothing less romantic than the ruination of a friendship – or being unable to parent successfully because of months spent in avoidable litigation.

CASENOTES

RADMACHER V GRANATINO The couple signed a prenup under German law agreeing that neither would make a claim against the other if their marriage broke up. When they divorced in the UK, the ex-husband, now a student, claimed maintenance from his ex-wife, a wealthy heiress with an estimated fortune of £100 million. The case is awaiting a final determination in the Supreme Court. CASENOTES

MILLS V MCCARTNEY Judgment in the celebrity divorce case saw Sir Paul McCartney pay his wife of four years, Heather Mills, £24.3 million in cash, property and assets, as well as making provision for the education and maintenance of the couple’s young daughter.

CASENOTES

THE RELUCTANT BENEFICIARY Alison Regan (see page 17) acted in the celebrated case of Re P, which centred on an “entail” – a method by which the gentry kept land in the family, with each successive grantee taking a life interest in the estate. Today it is possible for the grantee to “bar the entail” and take possession of the estate, at the expense of successive generations. In this case the beneficiary refused to do so and the estate fell into disrepair. Referring to the historic entail, Mr Justice Lawson quoted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “Jane and Elizabeth tried to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had often attempted to do it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs Bennet was beyond the reach of reason.” The decision was the first judgement in relation to the execution of a statutory will under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.


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An ally against injustice Three cases of life-changing injury: in each, the odds were heavily and unfairly stacked against the claimant. Cases like this are a gamble. Only specialist solicitors with years of experience, ample resources and the support of their colleagues could contemplate taking them on. Yet without their help, claimants with catastrophic injuries would be denied the compensation they deserve. 1GvB Mr G suffered serious spinal injuries when a friend, Mr B, jumped on his back as a joke. He’d had a successful career in audio design and production, but is now unable to work, has multiple impairments and requires daily care. Although the defendant Mr B’s solicitors admitted liability on his behalf, Mr B would not have had the money to pay compensation. Fortunately Terry Lee, of the Russell-Cooke team, had the experience to enquire whether he had personal insurance, and it turned out that he had. Russell-Cooke acted for Mr G under a “no win, no fee” agreement and carried the costs of legal expenses. The team issued proceedings, but a settlement was reached before trial: £1.8 million damages, including compensation for Mr G’s pain and suffering and the cost of his lifelong care.

2 Mr B v Arriva London Mr B, a designer, had moved to London from Italy with his wife and two-year-old son. He was with friends in the West End when he was injured boarding a bus. The events leading to the accident were a matter of dispute, but the result was that Mr B was trapped between the bus doors as they closed and lost his balance, falling backwards onto the road and hitting his head. He sustained catastrophic brain injuries and was in a coma for five months. His family was in a desperate position, with no income and no knowledge of the UK’s legal or social security system. Eventually Mrs B pursued a legal case on behalf of her husband, but there were major problems. When he regained consciousness Mr B was unable to remember anything about the accident, and by then his friends had returned to Italy. The driver of the bus said that Mr B had deliberately jumped from the bus and an independent witness agreed with him. CCTV footage could have shed light on what had happened, but it had been destroyed by the bus company. As the family had no income the case was run on a “no win no fee” basis, with Russell-Cooke funding all expenses. Mr B won his case: the judge decided that Arriva was 100 per cent to blame for his injuries. Arriva was refused leave to appeal. The bus company eventually agreed to pay a lump sum settlement of £1.3 million and an annual payment of £31,500 for life, reflecting the fact that Mr B will never work again and will need life-long care.

More about the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team and their cases at www.russell-cooke.co.uk

3 Mrs G v Newham University Hospital NHS Trust Left unattended for most of her labour, Mrs G sustained horrific injuries during the rapid and uncontrolled birth of her second child. A fourthdegree tear left her permanently incontinent, depressed and virtually housebound. The hospital argued that Mrs G’s injuries had been sustained as part of the natural process of birth and that they were not the result of its own negligence. An additional complication was that it had lost all the records relating to Mrs G’s birth, making it very difficult for her to prove a case of negligence. The Russell-Cooke team decided to take on the case on the basis of Mr and Mrs G’s account of events and their subsequent correspondence with the hospital. It obtained expert reports from obstetricians, a midwife, a colo-rectal surgeon and a consultant psychiatrist. Despite the NHS Trust’s initial denial of responsibility for Mrs G’s injuries, its lawyers made an offer to settle the case. After further negotiation Mrs G accepted compensation of £200,000.


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Judgement calls What happens when a solicitor becomes a judge? Every so often Francesca Kaye and Fiona Read put their everyday work on hold and sit as deputy district judges – part-time members of the judiciary who play an important part in keeping the courts running. A typical day’s workload ranges widely over civil and family law, including money claims, family disputes, divorce settlements and personal injury cases. In some ways being a judge is like any other demanding job, with formal training and regular assessments. But it is a challenging and sometimes lonely existence, making decisions on matters that can be far outside the specialist lawyer’s everyday practice.

Why did you think of applying to be a judge? FK: I knew people who were Recorders (another type of part-time judge) and felt it was something I might like to do. Also, I had reached the stage in my career when I was looking for a new perspective to add to keep me energised and challenged. FR: As the most senior person in the department I was often asked by colleagues to assess their cases and I realised this was something I enjoyed. Intellectually I too was looking to do something a little different. What’s it like to adjudicate in areas outside your own professional practice? FK: Being a Russell-Cooke litigator I had a very broadbased practice, and of course the basic civil procedure applies in all areas of civil law. Having said that, family cases are more challenging for me than they would be for Fiona; I had never practised family law and had last studied it at university, and although you can learn an area of the law, there’s a difference between applying a rule and having a more general feel for the way something works. FR: I definitely think it was a lot harder for me. I had almost to relearn civil litigation, because it had changed so much since I had studied it. And then I was covering areas that I had never dealt with in my working life, like landlord and tenant. The process of communicating and dealing with people, of course, comes very naturally because I do a lot of family work, mediation in particular. What’s the biggest challenge? FK: We give extempore judgement in almost every case; at the end of the hearing you have to give your

decision then and there, which can be quite scary. It means you spend the hearing effectively preparing – making notes, spotting inconsistencies and so on. When I was trained I was told that the most important thing when giving a judgement is to explain to the losing party why they have lost, and I try to do that. FR: I would add that it can be a very lonely existence. You are in court and people are very serious, obviously. You can’t relax at all, you have to be really focused. At the end of the day I am frequently exhausted. In terms of mindset, is there a difference between being a solicitor and a judge? FK: Very much so. As a solicitor you’re always looking for angles, using the facts of the case in a way that helps the client. One of the first things you learn to do in judicial training is to step back and to look at the facts in a completely different way. That can be very valuable to your work as a solicitor: when I get back to the office, people often ask me to put my judge’s hat on and ask me what I would do with a particular application. FR: As a solicitor you build up a relationship with your client, and you have the time to really think about the case and present it to the court. But when you’re a judge you have such a short time to assess the case. You have to be far more focused on the salient points. What difference has being a judge made to your work as a solicitor? FK: I find it’s made me a much better lawyer. I can see things from the judge’s point of view and that is very useful when taking a case through the courts. The intellectual interest of a much broader jurisdiction is very


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IN PERSON

ALISON REGAN Alison is a partner in the Litigation team, specialising in probate and trust disputes

satisfying and can be a real advantage as a litigator. FR: I’ve learnt to be far more succinct when preparing for a hearing before a judge. You realise how important it is for judges to get through their list on time! Also, it’s made me encourage people to think hard about whether they want to go to court. I know from experience that a judge isn’t going to have the time to go into the minutiae of a case. Going to court involves a big commitment of money and time, and the outcome may not be what a litigant expects. Have you ever regretted a decision you’ve made? FK: There’s a range of decisions you can make in any case. Afterwards, particularly if the case is one where the evidence or the law has been fairly evenly balanced, you may think about a decision. I have not regretted a decision I have made in the sense of thinking I have got it positively wrong. However, we do sometimes make difficult decisions that significantly affect people’s lives and those are often hard decisions to make. FR: Not really. I had one case go to appeal where there were some untested legal issues. Making judgements can sometimes be hard, but generally I have confidence in my own assessment. Francesca Kaye is a partner in the Litigation team, dealing with a broad range of matters including complex construction disputes and international litigation. Fiona Read is a partner in the Family law team, her areas of expertise including high-value settlements, civil partnerships and cohabitation disputes. Full biographies at www.russell-cooke.co.uk

What’s your most memorable experience as a lawyer? Dealing with a case involving allegations of voodoo (I still have the black magic potions in my office) and a possible application to exhume a body for DNA testing. (Luckily, this didn’t progress. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to do it at midnight). We also had a case where the client wanted us to take instructions from the deceased through a medium (we didn’t, I hasten to add). What are the main developments in your area of work? An ageing population, increasingly complicated families and higher-value estates – all leading to more disputes. We’re waiting for the Law Commission to report on possible new intestacy laws and family provision claims (expected 2011). Challenges to wills on the basis of capacity are moving the law on all the time. The most challenging case you’ve dealt with recently? A contested statutory will application to the Court of Protection, involving a

£4m entailed estate in Cornwall. In two months, we went from receiving instructions to a fullycontested hearing with QC and junior counsel. The case has resulted in a change in the law and a new test when considering what statutory will (a will made by the Court of Protection for someone without capacity) is appropriate. Best legal experience? Mediating a claim under the Inheritance Act. The deceased had been living together with someone for twenty-five years, but he died intestate and his £1m estate was left to his estranged brother. The brother did not recognise his dead sibling’s relationship at all. We had to work hard to get what was eventually a very good settlement. What’s the most common avoidable problem in your area? Not making a will. Make one. And write a letter to set out why you made it the way you did.


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IN PERSON

MICHAEL PARKINSON

Michael Parkinson is a partner in the Private Client team. He advises on a wide range of issues including trust law, wills and probate, contentious probate (including crossborder and contentious succession issues), landed estates and heritage property What’s the most challenging case you’ve undertaken recently? I was recently involved in a very complicated variation of a will trust which needed the approval of the court because a very large group of potential beneficiaries were affected, including children and unborns. The case took many months to prepare and involved several sets of lawyers acting for the various parties. A whole day had been set aside for the hearing. When the day came, the many solicitors, barristers and their clients assembled anxiously in the court room and waited for the judge. The leading barrister began his opening address. The judge immediately cut him short, agreed

CASENOTES

BANKERS BEHAVING BADLY Senior bankers were raising concerns about banking practices well before the financial meltdown of 2008/9. Diana Woodward, who has been represented by Employment team lawyer Alex Bearman, was head of financial institutions for Abbey National Treasury Services. She was made redundant after expressing concern about the way funds for institutional investors were handled and says she was warned that she would never work in the City again. Her compensation claim raised an important point of law: are employees protected against victimisation that takes place after they have left their employment? It was decided that they are. As Lord Justice Ward said in a Court of Appeal ruling in 2006: "It simply makes no sense at all to protect the current employee but not the former employee, especially since the frequent response of the embittered, exposed employer may well be dismissal and a determination to make life impossible for the nasty little sneak for as long thereafter as he can. "He who blows the whistle should be protected when he becomes victimised for doing so, whenever the retribution is exacted.” More sex discrimination and whistle-blowing cases on www.russell-cooke.co.uk – go to the employment law section under “individuals” and click on “notable cases”.

to the variation and the whole matter was dealt with in less than five minutes! What are the main developments in your area of work? Private client work is often thought of as a rather staid area of law. Nothing could be further from the truth – it’s a real challenge to keep ahead of developments in the area, particularly on the tax front. The vast increase in tax legislation under the previous government has been well publicised. This year’s set of tax statutes now runs to more than 18,000 pages – more than double the amount from when I began my legal career a decade ago. What's your most memorable experience as a lawyer? During my training I was seconded to the Court of Appeal for a legal term as a research assistant to two judges in the Civil Division. The Court of Appeal has been described as the “engine room of the judicial system in England and Wales” and it was a real privilege to witness at first hand how the Court operates from behind the scenes and to have an input into some of the judgments that were handed down. My experiences there did, however, discourage me from pursuing a career as a litigator! What's the most common avoidable problem you’re presented with? The biggest problems tend to be with wills, or rather the lack of them. Many more people would make wills if they properly understood the effect of the intestacy rules. For example, it’s often assumed that if a married couple don’t have wills, the survivor of them will automatically inherit everything in the event of the other’s death. That is not the case and the results can be very traumatic for all involved. The solution is very simple – make a decent will! What's the aspect of your work you enjoy the most? For me, the best thing about private client work is the depth of the relationship with people that develops from dealing with their personal affairs over a long period of time.


Regulation

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regulation our regulation team advises on cases relating to the codes of conduct that regulate the professions or are laid down by statutory bodies. Says legal guide Chambers: “market commentators hold this outfit in high esteem because of its ‘pragmatic, nononsense lawyers, who get to the crux of a case straight away’”


Regulation

Review for Clients 2010/11 | 21

Trial by media Being accused of a criminal offence is bad enough, but an unlucky few fall victim to a double-whammy: investigation or prosecution accompanied by trial by media. Door-stepping journalists and flashing cameras impose enormous additional strains on those already in public life – and can push some defendants to the brink of collapse. High-profile cases present client and lawyer with a tricky dilemma. Keep a dignified silence and hope the press loses interest? Or try to make the best of a difficult situation by actively trying to shape the press agenda? Jae Carwardine and Nicola O’Connor talk about recent cases and the issues they raise. CASENOTES

JUSTICE IS ENOUGH Jae Carwardine, who leads RussellCooke’s criminal litigation team, has represented a number of clients who were already in the public eye or whose cases aroused intense media interest. Her clients have included Sir Stephen Richards, Lord Justice of Appeal, who was accused of exposing himself on a train; Peter Hain MP, who was investigated in relation to the late reporting of donations received during his campaign for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party; and the high-profile case of Paul Dalton, who was charged with murder. ‘’I think every professional person will recognise the stressful aspects of cases such as these, representing someone with so much to lose. “The press can be terribly intrusive. In one case we arrived at court for the initial hearing in the magistrates’ court to find ourselves effectively besieged by the press; there were no barriers outside the court. It was an ordeal for all involved. Journalists turned up at my client’s

house, as his home address was a matter of public record. Privacy does not come into it. “Often my approach is a low-key one. In the case of Sir Stephen Richards, the element of notoriety was simply a result of our client’s public role; there were no points of legal interest, and the only aspect of wider application was the issue of identification. Basically, we took the decision not to make any comment or engage with the press at all.” Sir Stephen was acquitted after magistrates ruled there was insufficient identification evidence. “Afterwards there were a lot of press enquiries, but I decided it was not appropriate for me to be interviewed. Sir Stephen made a short statement outside court and that was sufficient.” Jae feels that it is rarely in the client’s best interests for a lawyer actively to engage with the press. For one thing, publicity is difficult to control: “You can be asked a question when the direct answer is clearly something confidential to the client. At the end of the day, journalists aren’t interested in whether you’re breaching client confidentiality or


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Regulation

not – and yet this is absolutely at the heart of the relationship between you and your client.” Sadly, the press can’t be relied on to get their facts right. “Someone I represented in an allegation of murder was shot and very seriously injured shortly after he was acquitted. The Evening Standard completely misreported what the case was about and also printed his home address and details of the hospital he was being treated in. That caused his family great distress; it was highly irresponsible.” Some lawyers cultivate a high profile as a matter of policy, courting the press and seeking out publicity for client and case. “There’s sometimes an element of self-promotion there. And I suppose if you’ve done a good job on a case, some may think why not? But this has to be balanced against whether press coverage is in the client’s interest, which, in my view, it rarely is. When someone’s been acquitted and justice has been done, that is all they need or want.”

CASENOTES

CASENOTES

THE RECORD SET STRAIGHT Nicola O’Connor, who is a member of the criminal litigation team, represented Peter Bacon, a 26-year old student and trainee chef, against rape charges. The jury took just 40 minutes to acquit him. “The huge interest was totally unexpected; I’ve dealt with many similar cases with no press interest at all. It turned a straightforward case into a very difficult one. The client phoned me at eight o’clock saying he’d just seen his picture on the BBC’s Breakfast News. After that, the press were relentless: they were either on the phone to me, if I wasn’t at court, or they were at court. “The biggest problem for the client was that they

ALLEGED CARBON CREDIT FRAUD Jae Carwardine is acting in the case of an alleged multi-million pound carbon credit fraud investigation. The case, which is being closely watched by the financial press, is a highly complex one with a number of defendants. In autumn 2009 the Treasury removed VAT from carbon credits as a temporary measure pending the outcome of discussions about this and other cases.

all descended on the day when he was supposed to be concentrating on giving his evidence. It was very difficult to try to calm him down so that he could properly prepare himself in the witness box. At one stage he was so upset that he could barely even speak, let alone explain what happened to a jury.” The press coverage was partly based on a misunderstanding of the legal position: the papers claimed that the law relating to what constitutes consent had changed. This was not the case, as the judge repeatedly pointed out to the jury. “Ordinarily the last thing we want to do as defence solicitors is contact the press, because it puts your client’s trial in jeopardy. However, in this

case the press had already been given information from elsewhere. After he was acquitted, the client felt that he wanted to put his side across and explain what happened, and it seemed like the right time to do so. In fact the press were sympathetic to him, which helped. “I made a statement on behalf of the client outside the court following his acquittal, and this was covered in the national newspapers the following day. “I am still asked for comment by the media – for example, on DNA evidence and whether it should retained following acquittal. I have appeared as an expert on BBC1’s The Big Question twice and have also been interviewed many times on national and local

radio. Researchers at the BBC call me for advice on a wide range of criminal law issues.” Although Peter Bacon was acquitted after a jury deliberation of just 40 minutes, he felt he had to leave the country and change his name. He wanted to be a teacher, but would now find it hard to get a job in the UK; despite his acquittal, his fingerprints, photograph and DNA remain on the police database. “Before the election the Conservatives promised to look at the issue of keeping such records when people have been acquitted. Now we have a different government, I wait to see whether there is a change in the law which will assist Peter and others who are wrongly accused of such serious offences.”


IN PERSON

MATT BOSWORTH Matt Bosworth is a partner in the Regulation team, specialising in professional regulation and the enforcement of intellectual property rights

What’s the most recent challenging case you’ve handled recently? A case called Karen Murphy v Media Protection Services Limited (2008). I was instructed to prosecute on behalf of the Premier League for the illegal screening of their football matches. It started out as a straightforward magistrates’ court case, was appealed to the Crown Court and then “case stated” to the Administrative Court of the High Court. We’ve won all the hearings so far – but the case has now been joined to another, civil jurisdiction, matter that has been sent to the European Court of Justice. What's your most memorable experience as a lawyer? As a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur, walking through the gates of White Hart Lane after we’d been instructed in relation to a transfer issue! Also going to the House of Lords to

represent a Member over expenses issues, following coverage in the Daily Telegraph. A very interesting time, and a particularly British setting. What’s your best/worst legal experience? Best: winning the Murphy case (above) in the Adminstrative Court. It was Lord Justice Pumphrey’s last-ever judgment and he agreed with all our arguments. An extremely satisfying moment. Worst: being threatened with arrest if I didn’t leave the police station where my client was being interviewed. It all worked out in the end – but a worrying thirty minutes.


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Regulation

CASENOTES

The firm acted on behalf of the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority in a number of cases involving the high profile solicitor Shahrokh Mireskandari, who was featured extensively by the Daily Mail in relation to his alleged connections to the former Metropolitan Police commander Ali Dizaei.

CASENOTES

A POLITICAL CAREER AT STAKE In the glare of national press coverage, a Russell-Cooke team led by John Gould and Jae Carwardine represented Peter Hain MP following accusations that he had failed to report over £100,000 of donations to his campaign for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. Peter Hain resigned from his posts as Secretary of State for Wales and Secretary for Work and Pensions during investigation by the Electoral Commission. The case was later referred to the Crown Prosecution

Service, which decided not to press charges because Peter Hain did not control the body that had received the donations and funded his campaign. A Russell-Cooke press statement after the case was critical of the Electoral Commission’s decision to invite a police investigation, suggesting that the Commission had buckled under the weight of intense media pressure. John Gould pointed out that numerous other late returns relating to political donations had not been treated in the same way. RussellCooke had identified the key point on which the CPS decision was based.

Led by Peter Cadman (above) – praised by Chambers 2010 for his “exceptionally sound judgement” – a team represented the Solicitors Regulation Authority in a serious case of professional misconduct against two solicitors working for Beresfords Solicitors. It was alleged that the two failed to act in their clients’ interests after taking a cut of payments made to sick miners under the government’s British Coal compensation schemes. The charges were upheld and the solicitors were struck off.

Matt Bosworth and colleagues acted as independent prosecutors on behalf of the Federation Against Copyright Theft in what was at that time the largest internet-based piracy case tried in the UK courts. Matt is appreciated by clients for his “ability to convey complex matters in layman’s terms”, says Chambers.

Peter Cadman and colleagues acted for the Institute of Legal Executives in a case of exam cheating brought against six student members. The allegations included copying from textbooks and copying and collusion between students (evidenced by identical but wrong answers). They were expelled from membership. Full details on these and other cases at www.russell-cooke.co.uk/about-news.cfm


Charity

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charity our charity team, a leader in its field, advises the voluntary sector on governance, commercial contracts, intellectual property, employment and property issues. Led by James Sinclair Taylor, “one of the best brains in charity law”, it “benefits hugely from the firm's depth of resources,” says Chambers


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High anxiety Are you a charity trustee? (You might well be, as there are nearly a million of them.) Do you worry about being held personally liable if things go wrong? Senior Charity Team lawyer Andrew Studd assesses the risks

In the full version of this briefing, available online, Andrew Studd sets out the legal position in relation to trustees’ liabilities, looking at governance and operational liabilities in detail, including staff risks and insurance. A checklist for managing risk is included. Go to the charities section of www.russell-cooke.co.uk and click on articles/briefings/e-updates. You can also subscribe to receive future briefings. Russell-Cooke runs regular seminars on risk management for trustees.

It is a fact of life that those who try to achieve something worthwhile will occasionally find their efforts rewarded with difficulty and worry. When the Charities Act 2006 was making its way through Parliament, a key issue that arose again and again was the liability of trustees. There are more than 200,000 charities and similar voluntary organisations in the UK. Cases against charity trustees are not exactly filling up the courts’ workload; in fact, most people within the sector would be hard put to name a single situation in which a trustee had actually suffered personal loss or liability – although they would find it less difficult to identify situations where they knew trustees had been anxious about the outcome of various activities. The Charity Commission too looks to punish trustees only in the most serious cases of fault or neglect. However, it is important that those individuals who voluntarily give of their time to run charities and similar voluntary organisations should be aware of – and feel comfortable with – the limited risks involved. A trustee’s undue anxiety about personal liability can often interfere with the proper running of the organisation, which is why managing that anxiety is a key skill for the company secretary and other senior staff. Trustees can become very concerned about personal exposure in circumstances where, for example, the organisation faces financial difficulties or is moving into unfamiliar territory. Other typical sources of anxiety include the threat of litigation, accusations of

discrimination from a member of staff, or work on a major new contract. If the company secretary does not or cannot address these concerns, he or she may find that the board freezes up and key decisions go untaken. Board members need to have enough concern about their legal duties to ensure they do the job properly, but avoid becoming unnecessarily anxious. The Charities Act offers some relief in that if trustees act on formal Commission advice, they will not be liable and they can obtain relief from personal liability for a breach of trust where the trustee has acted honestly and reasonably. Previously, only the courts could relieve them of this sort of liability. The Charity Commission takes the view that ‘if trustees act prudently, lawfully and in accordance with their governing document then generally liabilities they incur as trustees can be met out of the charity’s resources’. Therefore, normally only where a trustee has acted dishonestly or recklessly is it actually likely to enforce personal liability.


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IN PERSON

TAMSIN PRIDDLE Tamsin is a member of the Charity Team. She joined RussellCooke in 2006 from Travers Smith

CASENOTES

MODEL COALITION Andrew Studd and the Charity Team played a key role in creating a groundbreaking partnership that commentators say could provide a model for future development in the voluntary sector. The specialist team advised Action for Blind People on its

Charity

What challenging cases have you dealt with recently? Advising on the merger of five women's aid charities in Manchester to form Manchester Women's Aid, and on the merger of three women's aid charities in London to form Solace Women's Aid. Also, challenging the Charity Commission on its interpretation of the Sexual Orientation Regulations. What are the main developments in your area of work? Many charities are facing funding difficulties. This is leading to an increase in mergers, and creating challenges relating to the employment of staff. The employment experts in the Charity Team have been regularly advising charities on alternatives to redundancy, such as the reduction of working hours and pension liabilities. The Companies Act 2006 and the Charities Act 2006 have had a significant impact on many charities. Many have had to amend their constitutions, change their policies and administrative procedures and re-train their trustees/directors in their legal duties. A new charity structure, the charitable incorporated organisation, is being developed which we have been following closely and covered in our seminars. However, there is likely to be quite a long wait before this new model is finally introduced and we do have some reservations about it at this stage. What's your most memorable experience as a lawyer? Giving my first charity law seminar and being able to answer the questions!

collaboration with the much bigger Royal National Institute for the Blind. The new arrangement helps each organisation to achieve maximum impact by focusing on the things it does best, with the RNIB concentrating on fundraising and Action for Blind People, which is now an “associate charity” of the RNIB, delivering some regional

And your best/worst legal experience? My best experience was moving into charity law from my previous life at a City law firm. There hasn't been a worst experience yet! What's the most common avoidable problem your clients present with? Where the client has decided to instruct a lawyer too late in the day and could have saved themselves a lot of money and difficulty if they had contacted us earlier. What are your main likes/dislikes about the area of law you work in? The most positive aspect of my work is that all my clients are in the not-for-profit sector. I enjoy the fact that I get to work with clients on an ongoing basis, rather than carrying out one-off pieces of work and never seeing them again. Longterm clients I work with include the Prostate Cancer Charity, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and a number of women's aid charities. On a less positive note, dealing with regulatory bodies can sometimes be frustrating. Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? I particularly enjoy helping clients to establish new charities, to incorporate, and to merge with other charities. I work with a lot of organisations with large memberships and like dealing with the politics that this involves. I enjoy advising charities on intellectual property matters. And I like the training element of my work – giving seminars, workshops and tailored training sessions for charity trustees and staff.

services. The collaboration involves the transfer of staff, business units and contracts with local authorities. Stephen Remington, the chief executive of Action for Blind People, told Third Sector that although the two organisations had worked together successfully in the past, Action for Blind People

had never contemplated a full-blown merger with RNIB. "We've been going for 150 years,” he said, “and you don't surrender your heritage and identity lightly." Under the new arrangement Action for Blind People retains its own identity, board of trustees and strategic management team.


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A problem that won’t go away Charities that fail to update their governance in line with legal changes are taking big risks. James Sinclair Taylor answers questions on an issue many would rather not think about

What’s changed in the way charities govern themselves? Of the 25,000 or so biggest charities in the UK, most are companies covered by the Companies Act 2006. This piece of legislation changed the legal definition of directors’ duties, in particular the way the law treats conflicts of interest and (more relevantly for the charity sector) conflicts of duty. Charities now have a legal obligation to manage conflicts of duty. Conflicts of duty do not entail any personal gain for the individual. As an example of a conflict of duty, you might both sit as a trustee of charity A and be employed by charity B. Those charities may work in the same field, and the information you gained while sitting on the board of charity A might be relevant to your daytime employment as charity B. The voluntary sector has been quite slow in coming to terms with the change in the law. Why is that? The sector is really quite reluctant to recognise

conflicts of duty, because it sees people as basically motivated by good intentions. It is an area that charities are somewhat embarrassed about; they don’t like to go there. You ask “What have you done about conflicts of duty?” and they say, “Oh! We always declare things”. To give an example, I sit on the board of a national charity, and another board member nominated by one of the charity’s commercial partners did things that quite clearly brought them into competition with the charity, but didn’t feel the need to mention it. What’s the worst that can happen if a charity fails to comply? Members of a charity have the right to take action against trustees who haven’t followed their statutory duties. This can cause very considerable difficulties. There is also a reputational issue. A charity’s biggest asset is its good name. A public statement that the charity has not behaved according to best practice is likely to be highly

damaging to its ability to raise funds, obtain contracts or enter into collaborative relationships. There is also a reputational risk for board members, who give their own time freely and often occupy positions of importance elsewhere. It is intensely unpleasant and embarrassing for them to face allegations that they have failed to uphold their statutory duties. Will a charity know if it has a problem? Not necessarily. Organisations often feel they have good enough procedures, only to find out later that they don’t. Constitutional documents are of great importance, but charities in general tend to pay them little regard. One good thing about the legislation is that it has served as a wake-up call. Many charities have suddenly realised that it’s fifteen years or so since they last looked at their constitutions and that since then their activities have changed hugely. A charity suspects it is not complying with the law. What should it do?

It needs both to update its constitutional documents and develop and implement good practice. Frequently some guidance is required to help people understand the two kinds of conflicts – conflicts of interest and conflicts of duty – as it’s not really a commonsense distinction. And how can you help? Well, we can alert people to the issues through our training, publications and the legal audits we carry out for charities and funding organisations. We can develop solutions that fit the specific culture and structure of an organisation – then put the necessary paperwork in place, and support it with advice and training. What about smaller charities that don’t have the resources for a comprehensive governance review? We often work for umbrella bodies that can relay good practice down chain. But otherwise we can do a “just fix it”, not looking at the wider governance issues but giving basic statutory compliance.


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Training

The generation game How does Russell-Cooke choose its young solicitors?

There are around twice as many aspiring solicitors as there are training contracts for them. On the face of it this is good news for legal firms, able to take their pick from a seemingly bottomless pool of well-qualified applicants. But it doesn’t necessarily make the selection process any easier – especially if, like Russell-Cooke, you recruit for the long term and see your graduate recruits as the partners of the future. Jonathan Thornton is the RussellCooke partner responsible for graduate recruitment (his “day job” is leading the Company Commercial team). Like many of the current partners, he trained with Russell-Cooke. He has a clear sense of what the firm is looking for: quick-witted, resourceful and academically impressive people who will blossom when given early responsibility. The firm has one big advantage in the recruitment round: its breadth of work. It can provide a more rounded legal


Find out more about the graduate recruitment process at www.russellcooke.co.uk

Training

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training than most law firms can offer, including the opportunity to gain experience in handling commercial, voluntary sector and publicly-funded casework. And it has a good reputation as an employer; the anonymous trainees quoted in the legal training survey Lex 100 talk about Russell-Cooke’s “civilised culture and ethos”, highquality legal training and intelligent, straightforward approach. With many hundreds of applicants and between six and eight training places each year, the selection process starts off as a numbers reduction exercise. The firm doesn’t insist on a law degree – “we’re more concerned with the individual rather than the subject they’ve studied” – but applicants do have to be academically well-qualified: top grades at A levels and a good degree. These days, an increasing number have firsts, or are impressively accomplished in other areas, like music or sport.

“They do tend to have a very broad range of skills,” says Jonathan. “Which is just as well, because we’re quite demanding of them in many ways. They have to be able to relate well to clients and manage relationships as well as be effective lawyers.” After the initial screen, around ten per cent of applicants are invited for a first interview. At this stage the clear differences between similarly-qualified candidates become apparent. People who look brilliant on paper often turn out to be less than impressive face-to-face, wilting even under gentle questioning. “It’s striking how often candidates don’t seem to be able to say anything coherent about large areas of their CVs. They all tend to include similar phrases about working as part of a team and so on. But you ask them to give an example and they can’t. Or they’re stumped when you ask them to explain a piece of coursework they’ve undertaken.” Candidates who emerge from the first round go on to an assessment day, including a timed written exercise and a session in which they have to respond to a case study. “We also send them off to lunch with trainees, to get some frank views on what life here is like; and then in the afternoon we give them another short individual interview. After that we sit down and chew our pencils.” Applicants generally like the idea of responsibility and challenge, but as Jonathan observes, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily find it easy to cope with in practice. “Judging how well they’ll respond is the really key part of the recruitment process.” Taken as a whole, is the process doing what it is designed to? “I think we’re doing well, in that we’re recruiting very good people.” This year every graduate trainee in the 2008 intake was offered, and accepted, a job with the firm at the end of their training – a measure of the firm’s confidence about the future. (Average retention rates for the legal sector as a whole are 75 per cent.) For a firm that plans for the long-term, this is as it should be. “We put a great deal of work into ensuring we recruit the most talented candidates, and then make a significant investment in their training. It’s only natural that we want to retain them if we can.”


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Sponsorship

The power and the glory

Setbacks that she has triumphantly overcome include the persistent back problem that ended her rowing career only a year after winning a Silver medal at the 2004 Olympics; and the shock axing this year of the individual pursuit track cycling event, in which she won a Gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Determined to compete in London 2012, she isn’t in the least fazed by the prospect of changing event yet again, probably to team pursuit. It helps that her desire to win is stronger motivation than her commitment to an individual sport. “The aim of being an elite athlete,” she has said, “at least for me, is to find the point at which you can do no more – your breaking point. Because then you will have done everything.” www.rebeccaromero.co.uk

1997 Takes up rowing 1999 Commonwealth Games Silver medal 2000 Under 23 World Champion, rowing national champion 2003 4th place in World Championship 2004 Olympic Silver medalist, quadruple sculls 2005 World Champion, quadruple sculls 2006 Switches to cycling 2006 British cycling time trial Champion 2007 British Champion, 3km individual pursuit 2007 World Silver medalist, 3km individual pursuit 2008 Olympic Gold medalist, 3km individual pursuit

TIM REDGROVE

Sponsored by Russell-Cooke since she was a junior, Olympic Gold medal-winner Rebecca Romero is the only British woman athlete to compete in successive Olympics. Her achievements bear witness not only to her huge natural talent, but also her resilience in the face of unexpected adversity.


Design Ian Findlay Print Perivan Illustrations Dutch Uncle featuring Dermot Flyn, Lyndon Hayes, Andrio Abero, Leandro Castealo, Noma Bar and Stuart Daly Portraits Ben Rice See published quotes under resources for clients, www.russell-cooke.co.uk Printed on revive 50:50 Offset, a recyled paper containing 50% recovered waste and 50% virgin fibre and manufactured at a mill accredited with ISO14001 environmental management standard. The pulp used in this product is bleached using a Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) process.


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Russell-Cooke Solicitors Client Review 2010/11  

Our Client Review is designed to give a sense of the breadth and variety of our work, looking at some of the issues that face our clients in...

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