BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY
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Officers April 2018 - April 2019 President: James Turner Vice President: Linden Thomas Deputy Vice President: Inez Brown Joint Honorary Secretaries: Chaitali Desai and Sophie Samani Board of Directors 2017 - 2018 Chairman: Eileen Schofield Ex-Officio: Andrew Beedham Vice Chairman & Director: Prof. Bernardette Griffin Finance Director: Ben Henry Director: Caroline Coates Director: Laura Daly Director: Catherine Edwards Director: Dee Kundi Director: Tony McDaid Director: Regan Pegg
Bicentenary Gala Dinner Date: Thursday 4 October 2018 Time: 18:30 arrival & drinks reception Venue: Hall 3, The ICC, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA For information with regards to booking, please go to: www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk or email: email@example.com We have some fantastic sponsorship opportunities available, please call Becky Lynch, Head of Operations on: 0121 227 8704 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ex-Officio: James Turner Contact c/o Birmingham Law Society
President’s Letter Birmingham Law Society’s new President James Turner on his priorties and focus for the year ahead.
Law Society News. What’s happening at West Midlands’ Practices, news and appointments.
Best Practice. Regognising the value of Paralegals, investing in education, proposed sra changes to pii provision and more.
Out of Hours. Romeo & Juliet, happy hospitality, exploring Philadelphia, yogawear and summer skincare.
Out of Hours. Collecting Contemporary Art- how to make a shrewd move at the gallery.
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PRESIDENT’S LETTER could not find detail of the specific number of minority ethnic judges presently sitting. Reflecting on the progress made over the past 100 years gives no cause to rest on our laurels. Whilst 67% of entrants to university courses are female, only 27% account for partners in private practice. 36% of students commencing a career in law were from black and minority ethnic groups. The figures hold in relation to trainee positions (62% female) and solicitors admitted to the role (61%). 49.5% of practising certificate holders were women. Black and minority ethnic lawyers holding practising certificates have doubled in the past decade but still only account for 14.1% of solicitors. Whilst the figures on entrance to the profession are encouraging, they tail off with women and black/minority ethnic candidates being more likely to be associate or assistant solicitors compared to their male/white counterparts. Some 59% of those in private practice with 10-19 years’ experience are male compared to 33% of women. More worrying is that the gap is now 7.5% wider than reported in the equivalent cohort in 2006. 22.9% of black/minority ethnic solicitors working in private practice are partners compared to 33.6% of white/European solicitors. Overall only 9.5% of partners are from minority ethnic communities. Black/ethnic minority and female partners are more commonly associated with small and medium sized practices.
Three events in the first weeks as President of Birmingham Law Society have focused my mind on the issues of equality and diversity in our profession. I attended an event at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School in Bournville. It was inspirational to meet young aspiring lawyers but inevitably led me to consider the challenges they will face from academia onwards. Attending the Presidents and Secretaries Conference hosted by The Law Society at Chancery Lane gave the opportunity to hear an address by Christina Blacklaws, the current Vice President, regarding the agenda for her forthcoming presidential year. The conference provided an opportunity to meet with like and diverse minds from our society, the national society and other local law societies. I was also asked to speak with journalist Ian Halstead about issues of equality, diversity and the recent publication of gender pay gap figures by organisations with over 250 employees.
Birmingham Law Society has cause for introspection. How representative are we of all sectors of our community? Is our equality and diversity policy fit for purpose? Does it suit our aims and ambitions? Which are the sectors of our community who do not feel that they engage with our committees, council and board? Once you put your mind to the subject this society, just like many organisations, probably has more questions to ask of itself than ready answers to provide to its members.
I learned from Ian that leaders in many professions declined his interview and were not prepared to be frank about the challenges ahead or to better engage with all sectors of the communities they represent. Perhaps the fear of foot in mouth disease caused Presidents, CEOs and HR leaders to avoid the discussion. That strikes me as a huge shame and wasted opportunity.
• The first 100 years of the entrance of women into the profession. It is hard to grasp now that such a fundamentally important part of our pool of talented lawyers was, prior to 1919, deemed to be under a disability thereby not defined in law as “persons”; and
To that end, the officers propose the formation of a new committee to focus on equality and diversity. The committee will be open to members of the society and will have a broad remit to define its terms, agenda, frequency with which it will meet and how it reports to Council. Most importantly the committee must establish, then take action, to achieve its aims to provide thought leadership. 2019 will give cause to celebrate:-
• 70 years since the appointment of our first black Judge in 1949. Interestingly whilst the numbers of appointments have improved I
The global survey of gender conducted by The Law Society identified that the main barriers were unconscious bias, unacceptable work/life balance with regards to the demands made by organisations in order to reach senior levels, traditional routes to promotion and networks which were found to be male oriented. 91% of respondents indicated it was important to them to have a flexible and agile work culture. It is telling that the poll of respondents reflected that 74% of men felt significant progress had been made in gender equality in the last five years, compared to only 48% of women. 60% indicated being aware of gender pay gap issues in their organisation but only 16% could indicate what action was being taken to resolve those issues. I don’t profess to have the answers but I do advocate that the committee asks the questions and promotes best practice, working collaboratively with firms to find solutions. Suggestions arising from the report included providing access to flexible working practices for staff at all grades. Mentoring and sponsorship as well as identifying different routes to networking will aim to level the playing field. It will remain key to increase the visibility of women, ethnic groups, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other protected characteristics in key roles in law. It is positive to reflect that we have Christina Blacklaws on behalf of the national society, Linden Thomas and Inez Brown on behalf of Birmingham Law Society. It would aid the process for firms publishing their gender pay gap figures to have included partners rather
UPCOMING EVENTS PRACTICAL CYBER SECURITY FOR LAWYERS 7th June 2018 8:30 AM -12:30 PM Shoosmiths 2 Colmore Square 38 Queensway Birmingham, B4 6BJ United Kingdom LUNCH CLUB WITH... JESS PHILLIPS MP 8th June 2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Hotel du Vin 25 Church Street Birmingham, B3 2NR IT’S A KNOCK OUT 15th June 2018 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM Bassetts Pole Sutton Coldfield Birmingham, CRICKET TOURNAMENT 4th July 2018 9:00 AM- 6:00 PM Moseley Cricket Club Streetsbrook Road Shirley Solihull, B90 3PE COMMERCIAL PROPERTY UPDATE 2018 4th July 2018 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM Clarke Willmott 138 Edmund Street Birmingham, B3 2ES
LUNCH CLUB WITH... CAROL COOMBES OBE 6th July 2018 12:00 PM-1:30 PM Hotel du Vin 25 Church Street Birmingham, B3 2NR United Kingdom
than taking the opportunity to provide data only for “employees”. Christina Blacklaws will be visiting Birmingham on 23 July to conduct one of a national series of meetings with key female stakeholders in our profession. Those will be followed with meetings with key male stakeholders before the two groups are brought together. I share her recognition that you can’t achieve change in a profession which is not representative of women, ethnic groups and others without including men in the conversation. As you would expect Birmingham Law Society will work with the national society to ensure our members take part. The case for equality and diversity is not just one of common sense but of business sense. Organisations hire and promote women, those with disabilities and are inclusive of minority groups not in answer to legislation but because it makes business sense. Why would any organisation fetter its discretion or artificially close down the talent pool for recruitment? Birmingham could not be more diverse and that is reflected in our client base. Our clients expect us to reflect their diversity. A diverse working culture is a fair work place. Can we sustain being keen advocates of justice for our clients whilst unconscious bias affects recruitment in our own organisations? If our justice system is to be effective it must be reflective of diverse entrance to the profession as the feeder pool for our judiciary.
There are already initiatives to promote diversity underway in our city on which we can build: • The University of Law mentoring program which has for over a decade matched disadvantaged students with leaders in the profession; • The BLS internship program run with AMCityGrad is working with post graduate students to provide six and twelve month placements with firms; • The Midland Circuit Mini Pupillage Scholarship offers five mini pupillages; • Aspiring Solicitors reaches out to firms and encourages student engagement, providing opportunities for employability coaching, mentoring and work experience. We are keen to ensure the equality and diversity committee is itself representative of our membership. I hope that members will get involved to ensure the committee is a vibrant addition to the society which achieves change. If you would like to join the committee or be involved in this important conversation across our society please contact me by e-mail to president@ birminghamlawsociety.co.uk. Birmingham Law Society are proud to work in partnership with our sponsors:
BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY V WEST MIDLANDS POLICE CRICKET 2018 26th July 2018 6:00 PM West Midlands Police Sports & Club Tally Ho, Pershore Road Edgbaston Birmingham, B5 7RN United Kingdom BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY GOLF DAY Please book early to avoid disappointment. 30th July 2018 1:30 PM - 9:00 PM Ladbrook Park Golf Club Poolhead Lane Tanworth in Arden Solihull, B94 5ED FAMILY CHARITY DAY 12th August 2018 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM The Priory Edgbaston Birmingham, FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT 6th September 2018 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM Goals Birmingham Star City Unit 31, Watson Road Birmingham, B7 5SA MODERN LITIGATION TRENDS CONFERENCE 20th September 2018 12:00 PM-4:40 PM3PB The Colmore Building 20 Colmore Circus, Queensway Birmingham, B4 6AT United Kingdom ADVOCACY TRAINING 20 SEPTEMBER 2018 20th September 2018 12:30 PM-4:00 PM No5 Chambers Fountain Court Steelhouse Lane Birmingham, B4 6DR United Kingdom RETAINERS, CLIENTS AND BILLS. 26th September 2018 9:30 AM-11:00 AM Clarke Willmott 138 Edmund Street Birmingham, B3 2ES United Kingdom
200TH ANNIVERSARY BICENTENARY GALA DINNER 4th October 2018 6:30 PM - 11:30 PM International Convention Centre Broad Street Birmingham, B1 2EA To book onto any of these events visit: www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk or email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk 5
SOCIETY NEWS WEST MIDLANDS MAYOR SPEAKS AT HIGGS DIVERSITY EVENT The Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) was the guest speaker at a diversity and inclusivity event hosted by Higgs & Sons law firm. ‘Diversity in the Black Country – driving change and the benefits of inclusivity’, was one of a host of talks, seminars and events being held during the inaugural Black Country Business Festival which ended yesterday (Friday) but is set to become an annual event. Andy Street, who was elected as the first ever Mayor of the West Midlands in May 2017, was joined by Reece Pope of Stonewall at the event held at Higgs & Sons’ Brierley Hill headquarters. A former CEO of John Lewis, Andy spoke about his 12 first months in office, the diverse range of initiatives and businesses represented across the West Midlands and the integrated role the Black Country has to play in the future of the region. He shared his experience on diversity across the West Midlands, as well as explaining why diversity is important to him.
THE NAME GAME The name David has emerged as the top name amongst British MPs, lawyers and millionaires. Davids are also most likely to enforce the law, with the name appearing most commonly amongst Met Police officers.
For women, Rebecca tops the list of high achieving names, appearing most commonly at both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. In fact, women with names ending in the letter ‘a’ are most likely to end up at the top universities, with Anna and Emma also appearing near the top of the list of students’ names. The insights, which have been compiled using existing data from trade bodies, university databases and court records, have been put together by My Nametags, a manufacturer of durable sticker and iron-on name labels. They demonstrate that there are several patterns to be found amongst the 6 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
Higgs & Sons was one of the first organisations in the Black Country to become an accredited member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, and as such pledges to be an LGBT inclusive workplace with a commitment to its diversity practices. Paul Barker, a Partner at Higgs & Sons, said of the event: “People perform better when they can be themselves and by creating a culture of respect and inclusion, businesses can attract and retain the best talent. A different set of experiences and perspectives can help organisations to flourish.
“As a business we are keen to support, encourage and be a part of driving change around diversity in the region. Our work with Stonewall sends a strong message to staff, clients and the wider business community about our serious commitment to diversity and we look forward to engaging with other public and private sector organisations over the next 12 months to help promote inclusivity. ”
names of Britain’s highest achievers. John is the most common name amongst criminals and it’s not a bed of roses for those named Patricia and Margaret whose names appear most often on criminal trial records.
A NAME FOR SUCCESS KATE
IS THE MOST
COMMON NAME AMONGST FEMALE
BRIT AWARD WINNERS
SARAH TOPS THE LIST FOR
RICH LIST TOP NAMES
DAN, TOM & SAM MOST POPULAR NAMES FOR PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALLERS
THERE ARE OVER
500N A M E D
IN THE UK THAN ANY OTHER NAME
BUT ALSO IT IS THE MOST
IS THE MOST FREQUENT FOR
AUTHORS AND ARTISTS
ARE THE MOST COMMON
NAME FOR BRITISH
O LY M P I A N S TOP GROWING NAMES
AVA, ISLA, NOAH, LEO
THE MOST COMMON NAMES AT OXBRIDGE
JAMES THOMAS REBECCA
However, it’s good WWW.MYNAMETAGS.COM news for Sarahs as the name is the most common female name amongst doctors, lawyers and journalists. For more about your name at www.mynametags.com
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION No matter how established we are in our profession we all understand the need for continued education. With GDPR looming on the horizon you may recall my last article mentioned the potential risks to the legal sector when engaging with private investigators, process servers and tracing agents.
So now, more than ever, it is integral that the legal sector understands what lawful, qualified professional investigators who are GDPR compliant look like and what they can bring to your clients. You may have attended one of my in-house legal seminars: a free, 45-minute presentation where you can learn what the investigation industry can do for you. This offer is extended to all practices, whether as teams or whole firms. From process serving, asset and trace reports, surveillance, covert vehicle tracking, computer forensics, interviewing and statement taking, the seminar will look at the legal position, the client position, the compliance position and consider real cases, show videos of live operations and the techniques we engage. The seminar will allow you to benchmark against current suppliers and see how and where they can potentially assist you. It can be arranged at a time, date and location across the country to suit you, your colleagues and your national offices.
Using these suppliers provides a multitude of benefits to the legal sector, such as: • • • •
Please contact me directly on 02476 630498 or email davidkearns@ expert-investigations.co.uk for any enquiries and to arrange a time and date for your free, 45-minute presentation to enhance your knowledge and allow you to support your clients in the most compliant, proactive and cost-effective way possible. Book early to avoid disappointment.
A broader range of proactive solutions for your clients, The opportunity to act immediately to gather evidence or secure the resolution required, Greater intelligence to assist in decision making, Ease the burden for you and your client.
See the link at www. expert-investigations.co.uk/seminars/ and www.expert-investigations.co.uk/about-us/clients-testimonials
These services are required across the whole of the legal sector: all areas of litigation including IT, IP, property and general commercial. Employment and fraud, family, insolvency, debt recovery, regulatory and insurance to name just a few sectors. Investigative resources are relevant to all disciplines of commerce including manufacturing, service sector, professional services logistics and warehousing. Every industry can reap the benefits.
Join our team
We are a niche firm of solicitors based in Lichfield and have a long history of providing legal advice to clients across the Midlands. We represent clarity, integrity, professionalism and reliability.
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2.1 or above Law Degree (or equivalent) Successful completion of LPC Property electives essential The role includes mainly Leasehold Reform Act work – full training to be offered Salary will be £18,000.00 - £19,500.00 depending on experience
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Application forms available at www.adcocks.com For more information please email email@example.com
BPP VIP ALUMNUS AWARD FOR APP
ONLINE LEGAL D I R E C TO RY LAUNCHED An innovative new online legal directory has been launched with the aim of making it much easier for for lawyers to build their market profiles, and for clients to access information about lawyer credentials by work type and location. Founded by three former lawyers (two law firm partners and a FTSE 100 general counsel), top3legal. com has been developed following detailed market research involving over thirty top law firms and a range of clients. The platform differs from the long-established Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as all content is driven by lawyers and clients who are able to edit in real time meaning no annual submissions needed by firms and no researcher calls and emails to clients. At the heart of top3legal.com is a database of over 156,000 lawyers in over 420 top law firms worldwide, with more lawyer profiles coming on board each month. All lawyers, partners and associates simply adopt their free profile which they then control and edit, similar to a LinkedIn profile. Lawyer profiles are then overlaid with clients’ recommendations. For example, clients contribute on the basis of who they would recommend for a particular work type. The default setting for these recommendations is that they are contributed anonymously. However, the real power of top3legal.com, and a key differentiator from the current directories, is the ability for clients to collaborate and share these recommendations privately with their colleagues or network. Client teams can register and use free of charge, inputting and pooling recommendations for use in their team in under 15 minutes resulting in an invaluable team resource for day-to-day use. Richard Fleetwood, co-founder, said: “It was very clear from our market research meetings with top law firms and clients that there are real frustrations with the current annual directories process and output – but no alternative. We wanted to create a simple alternative using tech that puts lawyers and clients in real time control of the content, with no need for submissions or research calls or emails”. 8 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
Alexander McLean, who is Director General of the African Prisons Project (APP), has received the prestigious BPP VIP Alumnus award at BPP University’s graduation ceremony which took place at the famous London Guildhall on the 12th April. APP works to put the power of the law into the hands of the poor. It helps to equip those with first-hand experience of conflict with the training and experience which enables them to be involved in making, shaping and implementing the law. Alexander, who studied with BPP University Law School on his Vocation Course between 2008 and 2010, will receive the esteemed award for his efforts and contributions to the law profession. BPP University holds two ceremonies per year, where individuals are honoured for their achievements that have impacted the professions and businesses that BPP serve. The founder of APP seeks to improve the lives of people imprisoned across Africa. As a leading activist and lawyer, Alexander has been working in prisons since the age of 18 and has visited a staggering 130 prisons over the world. This includes spending time on death row working with prisoners to educate them on their rights within the legal system. APP has worked with more than 20,000 prisoners in Uganda, and Kenya with domestic violence being a key issue. Mclean has worked with many women in prison, including one pioneering woman who was able to study law whilst on death row. Susan Kigula led a case which resulted in the mandatory death sentence being abolished in Uganda, where she and hundreds were freed from death row and now plans to study for the Bar next year. Susan Kiguala is just one amongst other graduates who are the pioneers for Alexander to establish the world’s first prison based legal college and law firm. Mclean states “It’s a privilege to receive an honorary doctorate from BPP. As I work with the rest of the African Prisons Project community to establish the world’s first prison based legal college and law firm, I am inspired by BPP’s example as a pioneer and innovator in legal services. The training I received at BPP was put to good use as we work to put the power of the law into the hands of the poor and work towards a world where the poorest have access to the same quality legal services as the wealthiest.” Deputy Vice Chancellor at BPP University said “it is a privilege to give Alexander an honorary doctorate for his outstanding contribution. One of the very impressive things about Alexander is that, at a very early age (about the same age as some of our younger students), he saw something he felt was not right. He has dedicated his life to doing something about it.” Birmingham Law Society has worked with APP over the last year to support these efforts by sending Birmingham-based lawyers to work with the charity in Uganda.
TIME TO PREPARE FOR PROPOSED SRA CHANGES TO PII PROVISION One of the UK’s leading insurance brokers is calling for law firms to prepare for proposed SRA changes to PII provision, urging solicitors to seek specialist advice in advance. Business leaders at PIB Insurance Brokers have highlighted the potential repercussions that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) proposed changes to professional indemnity insurance (PII) could have on the profession if adopted. They have warned that purchasing protection will no longer be a straightforward process. The call for firms to act comes as the SRA revives proposals to introduce changes to the minimum terms and conditions via their consultation process, including cutting the minimum levels of insurance cover by significant amounts both in indemnity limit and scope of cover. Jon Cook, Head of Professions at PIB, said: “Solicitors should take steps now to seek out expert advice ahead of the potential introduction of far-reaching changes outlined in the consultation, ‘Protecting the users of legal services: balancing cost and access to legal services’. “The proposals are more likely to get the go-ahead this time given the time and input that’s gone into this consultation. “Firms need to work on the assumption these changes will happen. They need to be ready for it and fully prepared as these changes could most likely first impact those who have PII renewals in spring 2019 or thereafter. “We’re urging law firms to act now in preparation. Purchasing PII has become easier recently however it’s going to get harder because of the need to build cover
more specifically designed for each individual firm. Solicitors should seek the right level of advice to help them navigate these proposed changes before they are introduced. Here at PIB we can offer extensive expertise, knowledge and guidance to help firms manage and minimise the impact of the proposed changes.”
Ged Wood, PIB Regional Manager, Professional Risks, added: “The market’s already competitive, what drives the market is claims and claims costs; it’s what drives every insurance market. Reduce the claims costs and premiums will reflect this, risk management is the key in this market - not just tinkering with the policy wording.”
Key proposals outlined in the consultation, which lasts until 15th June, include:
While the SRA has indicated the call for change is to improve access to legal services and cutting PII cover will potentially reduce insurance overheads, Mick Eardley, Northern Regional Manager at PIB, doesn’t think that will automatically be the case. He said: “While we agree with some of what the SRA is proposing it’s not as straightforward as it appears. While you cannot argue with the time, effort and input that’s gone into the latest consultation document, what you can argue with, is the likely outcomes given our anecdotal evidence from insurers.
• Revival of a proposal, previously rejected by the Legal Services Board, to reduce the minimum professional indemnity insurance cover from £2 million/£3 million to £500,000. Firms conducting conveyancing work would need £1 million cover for each claim. • Flexibility around who pays defence costs. • Doing away with the requirement for compulsory insurance to include cover for large commercial clients such as lenders in a conveyancing transaction. • Maintaining the need for a six year run-off period of insurance cover but with a £3 million cap for those needing conveyancing services cover and £1.5 million for other firms. The SRA says changes could have a positive impact on premiums, encouraging a more competitive marketplace. It states over half of firms take out more than the minimum cover currently required and 98% of PII claims against law firms are valued at under £500,000. The SRA estimate premium savings between 9-17% if the proposals are implemented.
“Some have indicated it’s unlikely their premiums will change if the limit goes down and most likely not at the lower end of the scale. Some insurers have said if there’s a minimum of £500,000 they may not offer that minimum, instead keeping the cover at the current levels, because reducing the cover creates a risk for them of the business going bust with the insurer becoming exposed to even greater risk. Overall, the view in the insurance market is these proposals will have little or no effect on costs. “Our advice is all firms need to be prepared and seek the right advice on the effects of the proposals. Ultimately we’re all about ensuring lawyers understand risk and can manage it better than they’re doing because actually that’s the main thing that does drive price down.”
LEGAL PROFESSIONALS NEED TRAINING IN EMOTIONAL COMPETENCY not all lawyers go to university, and we need to reach those who enter law through a different route.
Training law students in emotional competency, better collaboration between regulators and educators, upskilling those in practice and a change in culture from the top in law firms and chambers is needed to combat the growing problem of stress in the legal profession as well as ensure its sustainability. The issue of “Emotional Competency in the Legal Profession: an educational perspective” was discussed last night, 10 May, at a special roundtable discussion held by the Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce at the University of Law. The event was hosted by James Pereira QC, co author of regular column in The Lawyer, ‘Loving legal life’. A panel of academic experts and representatives from professional and regulatory bodies discussed emotional competency, why lawyers need it and what can be done to better support them in this area. The panel agreed that understanding your own emotions and your personal values is vital in dealing with stressful and difficult situations in the workplace. Caroline Strevens, Head of School from the University of Portsmouth, said law schools had ‘an ethical imperative to prepare graduates for the real world of work.’ Professor Rachael Field from Bond University, Melbourne, urged law schools to ‘use the curriculum to catch everyone’. Noel Inge, Managing Director, CILEx Law School, urged us to remember that
Whilst the panel agreed that lawyers need better resources to support them at law school and beyond with their emotional competency, law firms and chambers should play their role in helping to change the culture of the legal profession. Kayleigh Leonie, Law Society Council member for the Junior Lawyers Division said junior lawyers found it difficult to speak up in a traditional, hierarchical law firm. The panel agreed that senior leaders can change the culture in these organisations by being more open, and normalising discussions about mental health and wellbeing. Rachel Spearing, Bar Council and Chair of Wellbeing at the Bar said ‘wellbeing is a leadership duty’. The panel agreed that stress causes mistakes to be made. Dr Vanessa Davies, Director General of the Bar Standards Board felt that law firms and chambers need to recognise the effects stress can have on their bottom line and see the business case for better supporting staff with these issues. Emma Jones, Lecturer in Law at The Open University Law School said emotional competency should be more explicit in regulation and felt there would then be a ‘washback’ to the academic institutions who would then be required to teach their students in emotional competency. Julie Brannan from the SRA said that ‘you can’t change culture from writing a rule’ but also agreed that the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) was ‘a foundation on which to build rather than a ceiling’ and that greater collaboration between academic institutions and regulation would be helpful. The panel agreed that working more closely together on the area of emotional competency would be beneficial. Helen Whiteman, CEO of CILEx Regulation felt that resilience could be built into standards and that when regulators developed a new policy or procedure they should consider the emotional impact on the profession. Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare said: “The purpose of the discussion was to look at how we can better equip lawyers with the tools they need in a challenging working environment. It was great to bring experts from across the industry together and we hope it will lead to greater collaboration on this issue, as well as all sectors looking at what they can do to ensure legal professionals are emotionally competent.”
LEGAL PROFESSIONALS REMINDED OF HUMAN SIDE OF LAW AT SEMINAR
Justice4the21 campaigner Julie Hambleton gave an impassioned insight into the human cost of coronial law to legal professionals, at the Annual Inquest Seminar held by No5 Barristers’ Chambers. The younger sister of Birmingham pub bombings
victim Maxine Hambleton was joined by Christopher Stanley, a Litigation Consultant of KRW Law in Belfast, who is part of the team representing 10 of the families of victims of the 1974 pub bombings in the search for truth and in securing a fresh inquest. They gave a hard-hitting presentation on
the reality of their campaign for truth being turned down for legal aid for a sixth time. The presentation highlighted that the core issues were who planned the bombing, who knew about the plan and allowed the plan to succeed, who made the bombs, who carried the bombs, how many bombs were there and who directed the Birmingham bombings? A right to truth is what the families seek and the inquest as an investigatory mechanism to allay rumour and suspicion – to establish a public record or truth – therefore a public duty. Following the seminar, the group tweeted that the families wanted to thank Nageena Khalique QC & all her colleagues @No5Chambers for inviting them to speak at the No5 seminar and for such a warm welcome.
Nageena Khalique QC, Head of the Public Law and Inquests groups at No5, with extensive experience in inquest and coronial law said: “It is not often that we, as legal professionals, get to see the very human side of coronial law in practice, and I think it serves us all well to be reminded of the cost to families and friends.” Other topics covered at the annual seminar include Deaths in Custody, Developments with the European Court of Human Rights, Case Law Updates, Jury Inquests and Mock Inquest with active audience participation, with presenters from No5 including Philip Rule, winner of the Legal Aid Practitioner Group’s award for Legal Aid Barrister of the Year 2017.
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CHARLOTTE MEASURES & AMRIT DHALIWAL Specialist clinical negligence lawyers Medical Accident Group have moved into their new home in the city centre, and welcomed new team members Charlotte Measures and Amrit Dhaliwal. The team of eight experts is led by partner Inez Brown, Deputy Vice-President of the Birmingham Law Society, now based at 63 Church St, Birmingham. Senior Associate Charlotte Measures joined from Anthony Collins Solicitors and associate Amrit Dhaliwal joined from Irwin Mitchell, bringing another 30 years’ experience of handling challenging and sensitive cases to the team. Amrit’s recent work with the NHS Litigation Authority built on her experience of negligence claims and has given her an all-round view of claims requiring sensitive handling at all levels, while ensuring that the patient remains at the heart of the process. Medical Accident Group is dedicated to working for those who have suffered medical negligence or a serious personal injury. Its leading lawyers are amongst the most experienced in the country. They contribute to seminars and education courses on the experiences and after-effects of catastrophic injury and medical accidents, and also regularly host presentations and conferences to inform the medical profession and other solicitors of the effects of negligence and injury.
JONATHAN GIST & KATE DIXON Two new solicitors join Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team in Birmingham. Partner Jonathan Gist is an experienced solicitor, having joined from BPE Solicitors in Cheltenham where he was also a partner. He has previously worked for Clarke Willmott as well as Charles Russell Speechlys. His experience spans a wide range of trust and probate disputes, including high-value estate litigation. His client base comprises of multi-generational families from the South West and across the UK. Jonathan is also a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), which recognises solicitors that possess particular expertise in the field. Solicitor Kate Dixon joins Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth from Bradley Haynes Solicitors in Worcester. Having qualified in 2017, Kate is experienced in handling Inheritance Act claims and contentious probate matters, as well as having a background in advising on commercial and property litigation cases. Across the wider Private Wealth division, the leading national law firm also announced the promotion of Birmingham-based family law expert Sarah Balfour to partner.
SIMON GILMOUR Commercial law firm Harper James Solicitors has bolstered its growing Employment law team with the appointment of experienced Partner Simon Gilmour. The announcement, which comes as part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to delivering a flexible, partner-led service to businesses across the country, sees Gilmour join from Harrison Clark Rickerbys where he was a Partner and Head of Employment in their Worcester office. With a career spanning more than two decades including 14 years as a partner in Midlands-based firms, including Shakespeares and SGH Martineau working on contentious and non-contentious employment matters as well as supporting internal HR departments on matters including project managing and delivering restructure exercises and change management programmes.
AMENDMENT In May’s edition of Bulletin we incorrectly credited a review of The Secret Barrister. This was actually written by Alexander Pritchard-Jones of St Ives Chambersapologies for the error. There was also a chance to win a copy of the book. Russell Hobbs of No5 Chambers answered John Mortimer to the question Who Wrote Rumpole of the Bailey and was selected as winner. Congratulations. 12 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
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PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTSA KILL OR CURE PROCESS inheritance or existing business interests comes into play, then a prenuptial agreement will give assurance upon any future division of assets. “For someone in Prince Harry’s position, a prenuptial agreement will protect his assets in a worst case scenario situation. It is generally considered that assets which are owned by someone when they marry may be protected from a claim by the other party in the event of a divorce, subject to needs. If there is an increase in value during the marriage then this will have to be considered. In short, if someones premarital estate is substantial, common sense dictates that a spouse will not share in it if they divorce. If there are children from a former relationship, then a prenuptial agreement is helpful to protect their financial interests.”
Helen Jane Arnold, Legal Director at Benussi & Co considers whether prenuptial agreements are a kill or cure process when it comes to marriage plans and the possibility of divorce. The world has been captivated with the romantic wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, leaving many Royal watchers with a magnificent rosy glow and everyone wishing them a long and happy marriage. The idea that either party may have considered preparing a legal prenuptial agreement is considered by many as distasteful. Here in the UK however, there is a tendency to look at prenuptial agreements with disdain, as most people take a far more romantic view on marriage than our continental friends in Europe and the US. Whilst protocol may leave Meghan Markle somewhat bemused, according to Helen Jane Arnold, a specialist in this field, this is an essential aspect to consider particularly for those with significant assets when they look to tie the matrimonial knot. “No-one wants to believe, when they are planning to get married that things could go wrong, but considering this before the wedding is crucial, particularly if one party has substantially more at stake than another. Meghan Markle has been brought up in a country where the culture of prenuptial agreements is very
familiar, so whether this has been considered or whether royal protocol dictates that it is a ‘dirty’ word, it is likely that a pre-nup will have flickered through her mind. Of course, Meghan has accumulated her own wealth. However, by its very nature, her marriage to Prince Harry will change her life irrevocably. Children, security and of course her life as a princess will now all play their part in her future destiny. There are many who will say that prenuptial agreements can protect the assets of both parties and help to prevent unpleasant battles in court should a relationship come to an end. CONSIDER THIS Many people do not want to consider technicalities and financial discussions that are normally associated with prenuptial agreements before their wedding day, because they believe it is unseemly and that this type of agreement has the potential to bring about the collapse of a marriage before it has even begun; yet balancing the interests of both parties really should be considered and well before the wedding day.” For Helen Jane Arnold, pre-nups are an essential element of the
whole process before couples go on to arrange the cake, the designer dress, the Bollinger and the honeymoon destination. “For those who have preexisting assets at stake, a lawyer should be on the top of the list. Sadly, we can verify there are many marriages which end in divorce, which are financially and emotionally costly. Circumstances change in a marriage over time and, should the worst happen, assets will need to be distributed. Discussing arrangements before the event, may seem unromantic during the engagement period, yet agreement prior to marriage is practical and can save a huge amount of time, heartache and money in the future.” For those on an equal footing financially, a prenuptial agreement is not as essential. Young couples getting married for the first time with little or no assets who intend to grow their lives together as equal partners, will not generally need to consider a formal agreement. Large inheritances or family trusts will need to be considered if one party has the potential to inherit a fortune. In other circumstances where a family trust or a business
THERE IS GREAT PEACE IN SIMPLY KNOWING Despite the emotions involved in negotiating, the anxiety created by a torrid divorce is far more destructive, especially when children are involved. “It makes far more sense to iron out financial issues to establish an agreed financial framework at the outset. This understanding gives both parties protection, which Judges will consider should the worst happen.” WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? Anyone wishing to discuss prenuptial agreements should always take legal advice well in advance of the marriage. Every case is different and each document will need to be carefully considered, and tailored to suit the individual circumstances of each couple. In general, a pre-nup should be entered into and signed welling advance of marriage to avoid any possible divorce claims that the arrangement was rushed. Hopefully the need to refer to the terms of a prenuptial document will never be required. However, do call one of the Benussi & Co team on 0121 352 0972 for confidential advice should this article have raised any concerns regarding a forthcoming marriage or indeed, a divorce issue.
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ARE YOU GIVING PARALEGALS FORMAL RECOGNITION? level students, right through to those who already have a law degree and are looking for a post graduate qualification. For Paralegals working within your firm, there are bespoke nationally recognised qualifications to help them hone their skills and knowledge – building their confidence and increasing the services you offer to clients.
“Paralegals are no longer just ‘would be’ solicitors or graduates who cannot find training contracts.” Plus, if your Paralegals are suitably trained and qualified, there is the opportunity to delegate more work to them. This can free you up to take on more clients – or perhaps have an afternoon off now and then!
Amanda Hamilton, Chief Executive of non-profit Membership Body NALP, on why giving paralegals in your law firm recognition is good for business. Everyone likes to be recognised and rewarded for the work they do – and giving your Paralegals formal recognition and status is one way to achieve that. On the flip-side, ignoring the status and contribution of your ‘non-qualified solicitor staff’ may lead to a talent exodus as staff look for fulfilment elsewhere – perhaps by setting up their own independent practice. It is therefore in solicitors’ best interests to properly recognise the value and status of their paralegal staff. Encouraging them to join a professional body such as NALP (National Association of Licensed Paralegals) and giving them the opportunity to gain paralegal qualifications (for example, through NALP Training), will also add credibility to your organisation and give the right impression to potential customers. Paralegals are defined as ‘persons who are trained and educated to perform certain legal tasks, but who are not qualified solicitors, barristers or chartered legal executives’. 16 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
Some work for solicitors, others for barristers and in-house legal departments, but more and more, Paralegals are working for themselves. For example, in specialist areas like tenant evictions or small claims for money owed. For a legal firm, having access to registered, specialist Paralegals can allow you to offer a wide range of services. These Paralegals may be employed within your firm or contracted on a freelance basis. Paralegals are no longer just ‘would be’ solicitors or graduates who cannot find training contracts. For many the Paralegal profession is a genuine career path option with many advantages and plenty of opportunities. Attracting and retaining top talent is always a challenge – but by offering formal recognition for your Paralegal staff, and perhaps allowing them days off for training, or helping to find their training and supporting them during the process, you can attract better applicants and retain your best people. Training courses are available for entry
Paralegals can do virtually everything that a solicitor can do, including, but not limited to, assistance in a matrimonial matter; helping with a claim if a client is being taken to court over a debt or needs to take a third party to court to recover a debt; taking action against an employer through a Tribunal; writing a Will or obtaining a Lasting Power of Attorney in respect of a relative; housing and welfare matters. You could also apply for ‘Police Station Accreditation’ for your Paralegal staff so that they can assist clients who have been arrested for a minor criminal offence and need representation. However, it is important to remember that there are certain activities that are designated ‘reserved activities’ and these must be performed by a qualified solicitor. For example: automatically having the right to represent someone in court, the conveyancing process (i.e. buying and selling property) and some probate activities (i.e. sorting out a person’s estate (assets) after they die). Apart from this, there is plenty of scope for a Paralegal within your firm not only to advise and assist a consumer, but also to gain a Licence to Practise in order to do so. To find out more contact NALP (National Association of Licenced Paralegals) http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk
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OUT OF HOURS
REVOLUCION DE CUBA Birmingham Law Society (BLS) held a networking event at the cityâ€™s newest bar and restaurant, Revolucion de Cuba. The premises, on Temple Street, was formerly the BLS HQ and included the magnificent former law library on the first floor. The space is now reinvented as a bar, with a dancefloor area. More than 100 members of the organisation attended the event for Latin-inspired music, food and cocktails. The event was sponsored by St Ives Chambers, St Philipsâ€™ employment team and Revolucion de Cuba. A charity raffle raised funds for Headway, the brain injury association, and the Jeff Astle Foundation. Look out for more upcoming networking events as well as seminars and training events on Page 5.
OUT OF HOURS
ROMEO AND JULIET Prokofiev’s glorious score sets hearts alight in Kenneth MacMillan’s enduringly popular Romeo and Juliet. Love at first dance, forbidden passions, dangerous secrets and star-crossed fate combine in this exhilarating classic ballet. In the most famous love story ever told, a dangerous cocktail of arrogant youth, simmering tension and deadly feuds erupts, leaving two young lovers at the mercy of powerful families and their own hearts. From the balcony scene’s ecstatic pas de deux, exploring love in all its soaring wonder, to the lovers’ heart-breaking ends, Romeo and Juliet is dance at its most poignant and beautiful. Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 June, (FREE audience open day: Saturday 30 June 12pm) Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB; 0844 338 5000. birminghamhippodrome.com
BREMNER SET TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION AT BLS GALA DINNER Rory Bremner, one of Britain’s best satirical impressionists, has been confirmed as the special guest speaker at Birmingham Law Society’s Bicentenary Gala Dinner, to be held later this year. The award-winning comedian, writer and actor is best-known for his political satire and lifelike impersonations of Prime Ministers, Presidents and other world leaders. During his 30-year TV career, Bremner has won numerous awards, including three BAFTAs for his Channel 4 series ‘Bremner, Bird and Fortune’. James Turner, President of Birmingham Law Society, said: “The 200th anniversary dinner will be fantastic way to celebrate not only the Society’s history and legacy but also its future as it continues to shape and lead what is a changing and dynamic legal sector, both in Birmingham and the West Midlands.” The Bicentenary Gala Dinner will be held on the 4th October at the International Convention Centre. Tickets are available from Birmingham Law Society.
FLAG IT UP
If your fridge is groaning under the weight of all the souvenir magnets perhaps it’s time to find a new way or recording all the counties you’ve visited. We really like the idea of FlagMate; a travel influenced keyring which encourages adventurers to add a flag of each new country they visit, with the added option to include an engraved message on the back – the perfect memento to showcase their chapters of exploration. Hand-crafted in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery quarter, FlagMate is the idea of Birmingham based Bhavesh Patel, who will be donating 10% of its profits to educational projects in underprivileged countries. Prices start from £8.99 for a FlagMate and £2.99 for individual flags. Visit www.storytellertravel.co.uk
CORPORATE HOSPITALITY – BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT The corporate hospitality sector serves a much-underrated purpose, as many a critic can see it as purely an expense or a ‘jolly’ courtesy of company expense budgets. However, Birmingham based premium hospitality provider Amplify knows well of the benefits it can bring, which often pave the path to business success. Amplify has been delivering corporate hospitality for over 20 years, and in this time, has seen demand for premium seating and ‘exclusive’ facilities become big business. Operating exclusively at the NEC Group Arenas – Arena Birmingham (city centre) and Genting Arena (NEC campus), Amplify’s packages provide exclusive hospitality and exquisite dining, with premium tickets for concerts, entertainment and sports events. Corporate and individual customers are also able to take up an annual membership which gives exclusive access to premium tickets and hospitality or book on a show by show basis. “Corporate hospitality has long been viewed as an effective tool for retaining business. It provides a more informal environment for entertaining and treating clients and colleagues, showing that you value their custom, their time and their efforts,” says Sally Walder, General Manager of Amplify. “Amplify demonstrates that hospitality doesn’t have to be at a football match or a golf day; our members like having the ability to choose an event to suit their client’s tastes, whether it be music, comedy, or sport and tailoring the package level to suit their budget. The 2 December 2014 re-launch of Arena Birmingham (then known as Barclaycard Arena), gave the brand the opportunity to take event hospitality at the Arena to the next level, creating two brand new restaurants for customers to rival those already available at the Genting Arena; The Foundry and the Quartz, both designed to reflect Birmingham’s industrial heritage. Further to this, in October 2015 Amplify spent £500,000 transforming the Lakeside Lounge at the Genting Arena – one of four hospitality restaurants at the venue – to boast contemporary furnishings to offer a sense of modern glamour.
level of hospitality again,” adds Walder. “Each Show Cube includes a private bar and offers balcony seating, not to mention uninterrupted panoramic views of the Arena. These benefits plus private entrance and in-cube dining as an optional extra, has made them our most sought after facilities for corporate guests”. Amplify is run by a dedicated team of representatives, who each look after their own members when booking. Event hostesses are also employed, in addition to catering staff, who ensure members receive a first class service right through to event finish. It is this personalisation, teamed with luxury facilities, that has proved to be a winning formula.
LAWCARE HELPLINE ON HAND TO HELP
Arena Birmingham also has two exclusive seating areas- Show Deck and Show Lounge, plus ten exclusive and luxurious Show Cubes- the perfect way to entertain up to 14 clients, colleagues or friends. “We strive to achieve a quality experience aside from the artist driven VIP and meet and greet packages, to ensure customers want to return and experience that
“Ultimately, the events are what entice people, with Paul Weller, Kevin Hart, and Jeff Lynn’s ELO just three of the hospitality highlights for 2018. However, a great customer experience - and the differentiating factors of your hospitality facilities over and above others – is what makes people return again and again. Organising corporate entertainment can often be a headache, but with the full service from Amplify, even the organiser will be able to enjoy their evening!” If you are interested in corporate hospitality options and would like more information on the Amplify Show Cubes, please call the team on 0844 338 0333 or visit www.amplify.co.uk.
OUT OF HOURS
OHME! Seeing all the offerings of yoga wear available to women, Louis d’Origny and Jonty Hikmet wondered why guys didn’t have the same range of choice So they set about creating OHMME; a socially friendly, environmentally friendly and conscious company that is disrupting the male sportswear industry.
Having regularly practiced yoga but been unable to find clothing they wanted to wear, OHMME was born under the brief of style, movement and comfort. ‘Our fabrics are made with your body, and the planet, in mind. I took a lot of time really investigating sustainable fabrics, which are, for the majority, made from recycled polyester. This is much better for the environment, in terms of the reduced waste and the recycling of materials that already exist. Our fabrics feel cool, are sweat wicking and breathable, so they have all the benefits of great sportswear, with the bonuses of them being recycled and having a reduced environmental impact,’ explained Louis. We have to say the quality and cut is exceptional. The range includes hero products such as the dharma pants (£55), which are great for yoga, as they are perfectly fitted, totally flexible and breathable meaning no sweat patches. Team with the 8 limb Yoga Hoodie (£62)- we love the thumb holes designed to keep your wrists and pulse points warm and help regulate your body temperature. Find out more at www.ohmme.com.
SUMMER SKIN Forget giving the house a good going over and instead pay some attention to you. HELEN GOUGH, Beauty Manager at Harvey Nichols Birmingham, reveals her favourite luxury must-haves to deep clean and detox from top to toe.
As the days finally get longer and the temperatures rise, it’s time to shed those winter layers and bare some flesh. But while you may be full of the joys of spring and looking ahead to summer, your skin could still be showing signs of the winter blues.
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Get your skin ready for summer with some top to toe TLC. Hard-working exfloliators and scrubs are designed to wash away dead skin cells while cleansers clear out your pores to leave you with radiant, glowing skin. All products featured are available from Beauty Hall at Harvey Nichols, The Mailbox and online at harveynichols.com. 22 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
1: Bodyboom strawberry coffee scrub, £16. 2: Estée Lauder NightWear Plus 3-minute detox mask, £34. 3: Elemis lime and ginger salt glow, £39.4:Maskeraide Detox Diva facial mask, £5. 5: Pixi peel and polish resurfacing concentrate, £26.6: La Mer The Cleansing Fluid, £70.7: Malin+Goetz detox face mask, £32.8: Skin Laundry nourishing cleansing oil, £26.
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OUT OF HOURS Kevin Urquhart discovers there’s more to Philadephia than Rocky, Steak and Bells...
CITY OF BROTHERL As a seasoned travel journalist, the first thing you do before any trip is google; get a lay of the land and suss out the sweet spots. I wanted the Top 10 things to do in Philly. Whilst every Top 10 guide cited the Liberty Bell and Philly Steak among their ‘must do’ highlights, I stopped worrying when I discovered that Philadelphia is the birthplace of American Democracy and, it transpires, the home of the hit musical Hamilton writes Kevin Urquhart. We flew from Dublin Airport with Aer Lingus – a new route for the airline that launched on the very day of our flight. The check-in and customs clearance via Dublin really does take the sting (and lengthy interrogations Stateside) out of the equation and allows you to simply walk out of the airport as if it was a bus station. No checks, passports or retina scans required. Operating from a Boeing 757, Aer Lingus offer a daily flight and a business class option on their flights from Birmingham to Philadelphia, via Dublin with each serviced by typical Gaelic charm. Sure, the business class isn’t quite Qatar or Emirates, but the flat bed is an absolute boon and worth every cent of the upgrade. 24 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
As a city, Philadelphia, which was once the Capital of the USA, is benefiting from the ripple effects of NYC’s saturation the Coventry to Birmingham, if you will. Cited as the ‘sixth borough of New York’, it’s only 75 minutes to NYC on the train and something you could easily consider - although, as I found out, there’s more than enough to occupy your time in Philadelphia. Whilst in the shadow of NYC, it’s confidently promoting itself as a city in its own right, rather than the underdog. A city with an incredible heritage in Medical Research (Penn University); they are a hot-bed for tech-innovation and are currently awaiting the decision as to whether Amazon sets up here and brings with it around 5billion dollars of follow-on income. We arrive in Philadelphia via Freeway 95 and beyond the shipyards and petrochemical plants, you see a skyline that has echoes of down-town Manhattan, radiating out from its ancient river port. We stayed at the Loews Hotel on 12th and Market Street. Like NYC,
Philadelphia operates the same block
numbering system that originates from the first settlements at the port. So, you start at 1st Street and its intersections and as you move further inland, the numbers get higher. It makes navigating the city super easy, something best done by foot. Philadelphis is truly a walker’s paradise (voted 5th Most Walkable City in USA, fact fans), not least because of the incredible investment in public art the city has made as part of its
you’ll see the museum as the backdrop to the iconic Sylvester Stallone image of him, atop the 72 steps, ready to take on the world. As a side note, it’s worth checking out the museum websites in advance as the city does have a programme of making arts more accessible and regularly open the museums free of charge, usually on the first Friday of the month, from 5.30pm. When it comes to food there’s much more on offer than Philly Steak (although if you’re going to try it you must get it from Campo’s Deli on 214 Market Street in the Old Town but be prepared to queue) as Philadelphia’s food culture is second to none. A must-visit is the Reading Terminal Market. Open 8-6pm, every day, you’ll find soul food, Peking duck and everything in between. The eggs benedict with bacon, served at the Amish stand was to die for and a great place to pull up a stool and people watch. If you love your dinner to be about the experience, as much as the food, head to the Observation Deck for 360-degree views of the city, before you hit ‘happy hour’ from 5pm. Here, even on a school-night, the restaurants are heaving with the city’s fashionable, fabulous and foodies. Booking is highly recommended at Sampan Restaurant, which is an Asian tapas-style restaurant; Mission Taqueria, which is Mexican in heritage and a haven for beardy boys and tattooed girls, Urban Farmer and The Parc Restaurant, which is French in influence and very chic if you want to get dressed-up. The fact that the city is ‘majority minority’ and to the left of the political spectrum means that Philly is a real melting pot of world cuisine, representative of its inhabitants.
It’d be remiss of me not to mention Insomnia in my list: this is a cookie store that will courier your warm cookies to you until 3am, perfect for when the munchies kick-in after a night on the tiles. The bar scene is, in my opinion, better than in NYC. Speakeasy bars are particularly fashionable right now and you should check out One Tipperling Place for some incredible cocktails. So who needs Top Tens? Philadelphia is easily one of the safest-feeling, friendliest and culturally-rich cities we’ve ever visited and one that we’ll be making a date to return to very soon.
GETTING THERE Mural Arts programme. This programme was originally created to halt graffiti blight across the city, but it’s become much more than that. The ‘walls have become windows’ and afford a space to voice an opinion - political, thanks, diversity, remembrance, even to inspire public health. The 4000 murals, some at least 70ft high, are even used as part of the rehabilitation and ‘forgiveness policy’ of former addicts and prisoners. It’s a $6 million annual scheme that not only celebrates public art in a way that dwarves the attempts at similar schemes in the UK, but it’s been proven to reduce re-offending rates. If you’re not a walker with a half-day free, or don’t want to miss the murals, there is also a Segway Tour, or make use of the super-easy, East/West and North/South Subway lines.
You can’t not visit the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. Don’t be fooled: this is one of the most insane but fabulous recycled art installations ever witnessed, created by Isaiah Zagar. If you prefer your art indoors, the city boasts a ‘Museum Mile’: a Parisienne-style boulevard boasting the Free Library; Franklin Institute; and the incredible Barnes Museum, which has the largest hanging collection of Renoir and Cezanne in the world. Not to be missed is the gigantic Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is the third largest art museum in the country – go, if only to see the Asian Floor, which is breathtaking - and something of a movie-star. Google ‘Rocky’ and
Overnight accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Loews Philadelphia Hotel costs from approx. £126 / €145 ($179). For further details, visit www.loewshotels. com/philadelphia-hotel. For further details on Philadelphia, visit www.discoverPHL.com. @phlvisitorctr @barnesfoundation @phillyMagicGardens @OneLibertyPHL @MissionTaqueria @Sampanphilly @readingterminalmarket @phillytourhub @AmRevMusuem @Camposdeli @IndependenceNHP @MuralArtsPhiladelphia @PhilaMuseum
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COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE has a catalogue raisoneé check to see if the work is included in it. Make sure the paperwork is in place, such as a Certificate of Authenticity from the seller. Finally, ask for full provenance details, which details the ownership record of the artwork in question: uncovering its history should trace the artwork all the way back to the artist. 7. Buy the best Value is found not only in the artist, but in the quality of a given work. Ask yourself if the artwork you like is consistent with the artist’s style and whether it is a first-rate example of their practice. Even the most talented artists have bad days in the studio! I remember a tutor at university pointing out a poorly painted hand in a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, so look closely at the details. If you can’t tell, a knowledgeable art adviser will be able to help. 8. Or something symbolic Something you can easily check for is whether the artwork has features, such as symbols or motifs, which make it instantly recognisable as by that artist. A study by David Hockney was recently sold for £6 million at Sotheby’s. The high price reflects not only the characteristically bright colour and style of Hockney’s landscapes, but the fact that it was painted in preparation for a larger work that belongs to the National Gallery of Australia.
Annette Pugh, ‘Riviera Bay’, Giclee on Paper, 58x76cm, image courtesy of Reuben Colley Fine Art
Is it a good idea to invest in contemporary art? How do I start my collection? Where should I buy art from? These are all valid questions and to which there are no simple answers; of course, this is what makes art collecting so exciting. The art market is hard enough for the experts to understand, let alone anyone else, which can leave a lot of people feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. So, here are some guidelines for getting started as a collector of contemporary art. 1. Go to galleries Visit exhibitions, attend previews, and listen to artist talks. Get to know what you like, as well as what you don’t. In the digital world we see so many images online but it’s crucial to look at art in person where you can appreciate it as a tangible object. 2. Attend auctions These are a great starting point for new collectors. Auctions provide transparency, to some extent, because you can see what the rest of the market is willing to pay for a particular work. You can also do your research into previous auction history for the artist and art works coming up by using result databases, such as Artnet, Artprice and Blouin Art Sales. These will show you the typical value for an artist’s work, and you can see what similar works have sold for in recent years. 3. Pay by degrees Each year thousands of graduate artists exhibit their work in degree shows. This offers a great opportunity to pick up art direct from 26 www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk
an emerging artist (without commission from a gallery or dealer added on) and which could turn out to be a smart financial investment. Look for something that is unique, with a recognisable style. 4. Visit art fairs Art fairs are another fun way to get a feel for art and the type of work you might want to buy. Avoid being sold to and impulse buying at art fairs, where lots of galleries will be competing for your attention. Instead, use it as an opportunity to discover artists which you hadn’t previously heard of, before then doing more research into them once you return home. 5. Buy what you love Living with a piece of art that you love can have a profound effect on your mood and wellbeing. Choose a work that you will continue to see new things in each time you look at it. I have a photograph by Sophie Hedderwick, which I bought from Argentea Gallery in the Jewellery Quarter. It’s printed on brushed aluminium, and shimmers in the light, changing colour at different times of the day. 6. Do your due diligence Most collectors are aware of the need for this when purchasing older works of art but when buying contemporary art it is equally important to take precautions. You can request a search of the Art Loss Register’s database to discover whether an item has been registered as stolen, missing or subject to a dispute. At auction, you need to ask for a condition report to ensure that the work has not been damaged. If the artist
9. Start small I began my art collection by buying work from local artists. If you want to start with just a few hundred pounds, signed limited editions are a great way to begin your collection. One of the first works I bought was a print by Birmingham painter Annette Pugh from Reuben Colley Fine Art on Colmore Row. The gallery even arranged for the artist to write a personal dedication to me on the back. 10. Summing up Don’t bank on a making your millions from art: in the art market prices go up, and down again. Contemporary art remains the most volatile market, which means investing is no simple business. Mixing your portfolio with a variety of artists is a good idea. Careful consideration and expert advice is also key. Most important of all, however, is buying art which you will love to look at, and from which you will continue to find intriguing as you live with it. Ruth Millington has over 7 years of experience as a modern and contemporary art specialist. Since completing her Masters in Art History at the University of Oxford, she has worked for numerous museums and galleries, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and the renowned art dealership Connaught Brown. Ruth writes about art on her blog, www.ruthmillington.co.uk, for which she was recently shortlisted for the final of the UK Blog Awards in the Arts & Culture category. Ruth Milington www.ruthmillington.co.uk Twitter @ruth_millington Instagram @millington_ruth
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