HOW A RAINBOW OF COLOUR CAN HELP THE HOSPICE PROVIDE CARE AT HOME
North Devon Hospice has been named as charity of the year for the Devon & Somerset Law Society, as nominated by new President Mark Roome.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the hospice is explaining to the public the scale of the care provided, and how much support is available to patients and their loved ones.
One of the hospice’s newest services is called Hospice to Home, which offers care in someone’s own home right around the clock. This can be in place for when symptoms become more severe and the person’s main carer may be struggling to cope.
Stephen Roberts, Chief Executive of North Devon Hospice, said it was care like this that goes on unseen, and is therefore difficult to communicate to the public. “So much of our care takes place in people’s own homes and that is quite rightly because that’s where most people want to be. Therefore, our aim over the last few years has been to take even more of our support out in to the community. It is so important to our patients and their families because we cover the largest geographical area of any hospice in the country.”
He added, “Hospice to Home is a great example of us doing this, and it has more benefits than people might initially think. As well as being cared for by a professional and experienced hospice nurse in your own home, this service also avoids unnecessary admissions to hospital, usually via A&E. Not only does this cost the NHS a fortune, but it is distressing for the patient and their family, while the discharge process can also take a long time. But thanks to the intervention of the Hospice to Home team, we are able to make sure the person is cared for in their own home without that unnecessary rigmarole.”
Services like Hospice to Home are only made possible thanks to the generosity of the local public, and Stephen Roberts encourag...
News from the Devon & Somerset Junior Lawyers' Division
A sojourn to Strasbourg and the European Court of Human Rights
by Emilie Haine, Secretary of D&SJLD
A lot of people think that training at a South West firm must be a little, well... insular. Stuck down in Devon, with perhaps the chance to venture up as far as Bristol if you're lucky. This is certainly not true of my experience, with regular trips to London throughout my training contract, but a few weeks back I got the chance for a more European perspective with a trip across the Channel.
My destination was Strasbourg, to attend the General Congress of the European Bars Federation (the FBE) at the European Court of Human Rights. The FBE is a group of 250 member bars from cities across Europe, bringing together lawyers from across the EU to discuss the challenges affecting the profession and to share information and expertise. The Devon and Somerset Law Society is a member and, when they offered the chance for a junior lawyer to attend, I was delighted to get the chance to go.
The theme of the congress (unsurprisingly given the venue) was human rights. We heard from some intimidatingly accomplished people, including several former presidents of the ECHR and current judges of the court. A whole range of issues were discussed, including the right to legal representation while detained at a police station (Salduz), the role of the lawyer in ensuring a fair trial and considerations for lawyers when dealing with the media.
So, all very interesting you might say, but not especially relevant to life at a commercial firm? Before I went, I was chatting to someone who asked about the topic of the congress. When I said human rights, the response was raised eyebrows and a sarcastic 'hmmm.... well that will be useful for your future career at Michelmores....' I admit I could see their point, but on thinking over my (so far very short) legal career, I can already see how human rights have ...
Erlangen May 2016 by Rob Newman
It used to be “Don’t mention the War!” This time we assumed the watchword would be “don’t mention the Referendum!” And accordingly the DASLS team heading for the International Lawyers’ Meeting in Germany (Mark Roome, Claire Turner and Rob Newman) spent time and effort in scrutinising their presentation, with a view to removing all those inappropriate words or comments that might cause offence to our European friends and colleagues.
In the event of course we need not have worried. The Referendum was the very thing that everyone was keen to hear about. The general view was shocked disbelief at the possibility that any nation could possibly consider withdrawing from the club. And we for the most part were happy to reassure everyone that such an event could not conceivably happen; that we would naturally, when it came to it, draw back from the brink.
But let’s not dwell on that too much. Despite subsequent events back home, the-pan European lawyers group remains as united as it always was. And thoughts of Brexit were far from all our thoughts as we talked, ate and drank our way through a three day-long lawyers’ legal fiesta in Erlangen in mid-May.
These annual meetings have, over the last 25 years, developed a standard format, and the first day is always devoted to a specific (normally topical) legal topic, selected by the host Law Society, and structured around a case study. Each group must talk entertainingly and informatively for around twenty minutes, giving the audience an insight into the way in which a particular legal problem would be dealt with in their own jurisdiction.
This time our German hosts had asked us to focus on the dangers and risks we all face as a result of the internet, and in particular, social media. We were invited to select one of three cases where the use of the internet had impacted on people’s private lives; namely in their private life, their ...
What's on @ DASLS
By Tony Steiner, DASLS Executive Director
We are very excited about the second DASLS Annual Dinner and Legal Awards evening in 2017. The organising team are working hard to make the event even more stunning than the inaugural event earlier this year. There are twelve categories of award and nominations are already being accepted via the Awards website -http://www.daslslegalawards.co.uk/ We are especially keen to receive nominations from solicitors' clients for the Legal Hero award.
Our CPD training programme continues to be updated on a rolling basis and we intend this to continue. The Education & Training Sub-Committee believes that relevant courses at sensible prices will remain in demand. If there are topics that are not being included please do let us know.
Our marketing and PR programme continues. Wall to Wall Sunshine have lined up a PR specialist to get some relevant positive press coverage. A recent report by the national Law Society claimed that the public think that a ‘lawyer’ is in some way more qualified than a ‘solicitor’; we have much to do!
The SRA have now issued consultations about the new Code of Conduct and the Accounts Rules. DASLS Practice Management Sub-Committee will be looking at these but would welcome any views from other DASLS members.
The DASLS Practice Management Conference is confirmed for 16th November, the theme being planning for growth. Our headline speaker will be one of Barclay’s senior economists who will help delegates understand the economic environment against which business is being done – I am writing this on the day after the EU referendum and I expect that his commentary will be very helpful. Our other speakers will look at the key components of business development; marketing, client experience, staff engagement and retention, management and ownership structures. We are now taking bookings – members £70 + VAT / non-members £95 + VAT – includes lunch. Just ...
LawCare - Happy Holidays
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10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. weekends and bank holidays.
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A 2015 survey by insurance company LV= found that Britons consider holidays to be one of their top spending priorities, second only to smartphones, yet a survey by The Lawyer revealed that only 58% of lawyers take their full annual holiday entitlement. Penny de Valk of global HR services group, Penna, says "Evidence shows you become less productive without proper breaks. People … can't maintain the same intensity level." Lawyers are often driven and dedicated to the extent that they struggle with being away from the office. No one likes a martyr – give yourself permission to use your entitlementand to dream about sunny shores, culture, exploration, or whatever you’ll most look forward to.
If you find you’re reluctant or anxious about taking a holiday, a little preparation can help. Discuss your workload and obligations with colleagues; find out who will be covering your work and how they plan to do so. You may like to inform clients that you will be away and let them know who they should ask for in your absence. (To avoid overloading colleagues, it’s best to pass your work over to several people.)
Plan and book your holiday as far in advance as possible. If you have children you might want to take your holiday during the school breaks and find yourself competing with every other parent on your team for those precious few weeks.
Use the last day or two before your holiday to clear the decks and put ongoing work into a holding pattern. Let your firm know whether you can be contacted, and under what circumstances. You might want to put a return date on your answerphone and out-of-office which is actually a day to two after you get back to give you time to catch up and ensure you’re no...
Oops there go my Principles!! by SPONSOR - Brighter Law:
Oops – there go my Principles!! New Codes of Conduct and Accounts Rules
by Trevor Hellawell
On 1 June the SRA announced its proposals for a new Code of Conduct, and with it, new arrangements for the Accounts Rules. Their consultation will last for 16 weeks (so plenty of time to comment before the closure date of 21 September).
The Codes have undergone a personality split, in that there are now two Codes – one for individual solicitors, and one for Firms. So, maybe we will know who “you” are under the new regime.
Both are subject to the overriding Principles which are now reduced (back) to 6 in number, and repeat in reordered form the old 6 that we used to have – upholding the rule of law, acting with independence, acting with honesty and integrity, upholding the reputation of the profession, encouraging diversity and acting in the interests of the client.
Beyond that, Outcomes and Indicative Behaviours are a thing of the past, as is much of the detailed guidance (such as it was) in the old Code, 45 pages being reduced to two Codes of around 6 pages each. The aim of the SRA is to increase the flexibility which they see the profession requires to compete in an open marketplace.
It was felt that firms should be allowed greater latitude in how to organise their commercial activities.
It would be easy (under the new rules) for a firm comprising entirely of solicitors to set up as a legal services provider and employ individuals who are all solicitors, and yet decide not to be SRA-regulated at all.
Such a step, though unusual, would come at a cost, however.
Only an SRA-regulated firm could undertake reserved activities.
Only an SRA-regulated firm would charge for SRA mandatory PII cover (though others may be available).
Only an SRA-regulated firm would be able to claim on the Compensation Fund.
Only an SRA-regulated firm would be able to take advantage of le...
Going Fishing ... or being Phished? by SPONSOR - Alchemy
It’s summertime – you’re off on a fishing holiday. Meanwhile someone could be about to engage in their own phishing trip – more precisely spear-phishing. This is a targeted phishing attack intended to look credible to its recipient.
No-one is immune. The more senior you are the
more likely you are to be targeted by a spear-phisher or
be used as bait to target a junior member of staff.
Usually the spear-phisher aims to obtain information such as password and banking details to steal money or hold a firm to ransom. They may also seek to install malware on your computer systems.
Malware, as many of you know to your cost, can cause computer systems to grind to a halt. In seconds your business could be non-operational and worse, company data and confidential client data compromised – possibly irrevocably. Law firms are especially attractive targets.
A Security Breaches Survey by HM Government in 2015 revealed that 74% of small businesses and 90% of large organisations suffered a security breach in 2015. Symantec has described attackers as: “bigger, bolder and faster.”
How the spear-phisher operates
To be successful a spear-phisher needs to gather information from a variety of sources so that he can send a communication that appears to be from a trustworthy source. This is the reconnaissance phase.
Let’s say you’re a partner in a law firm and the firm’s website has your photo, email address and some information about you. You might also be on LinkedIn and even Facebook where perhaps you haven’t blocked non-Friends from seeing your account or you comment on the Wall of a Friend who hasn’t secured their Wall. Such disparate information can be fodder for the cyber criminal.
Construction and delivery of a Spear-phishing attack
Armed with this information they can send a personalised email which could be as simple as “Are you at your desk?”...
Donation of Client Balances - Getting the Process Right - By SPONSOR PKF Francis Clark LLP
For a number of years now, the SRA Accounts Rules have permitted firms to donate residual client balances of less than £500 (historically £50) to charity without the need for specific SRA approval. As contained with SRA Accounts Rule 20.2.
We have however seen a surprising continued tendency for firms to assume that client fund balances of less than £500 can automatically be given to charity. However it is important firms remember the precise application of the rules when this can apply.
The Rules and Processes
Firstly it is important to highlight that SRA Accounts Rule 14.3 explains that any residual client balance, regardless of its size must be returned to the client.
As such in the first instance, firm’s should have solid controls to ensure residual client balances do not arise. However in practice inevitably situations occur where residual client funds do arise from time to time.
If the client is no longer traceable, attempts have been made to return the residual balance and the cost of tracing the rightful owner is deemed excessive in relation to the amount held, it can then be donated to charity if less than £500, ensuring the requirements of rule 20.2 are followed.
The key point here is that the firm needs to show the client is untraceable and that they have complied with the above procedures. It’s not allowable to simply donate the money to charity because it is an old or a small balance.
Historically where the threshold for donating client balances for untraceable clients was less than £50, in most situations the expense required to trace the client could be easily justified as being excessive.
However as this threshold is now £500, firms need to carefully consider what would be reasonable costs to incur by taking into account areas such as:
the age of the residual balance;
the amount held;
the client details avail...
Cyber insurance: can you really live without it? by SPONSOR Aon -
Cyber insurance – can you really live without it?
Some of the world’s largest technology companies have been hacked to exploit them for financial or other gain, as a protest against the services they offer or to damage their reputation. Even these technological bastions have been unable to protect themselves from a concerted hostile attack. One might reason that high profile targets would attract a level of hacking resources that are unlikely to be brought to bear against a provincial solicitor but this might not be the case.
Sophisticated hacking tools are almost distributed as commodities these days through commercial websites and hackers’ clubs. Their availability, coupled with an expert human resource pool spread across the globe, perhaps even in jurisdictions that represent a haven for cyber criminals, means that it’s now cost effective for even the smallest commercial target to be subjected to sophisticated hacking techniques. Indeed, smaller organisations are now actively targeted by cyber criminals as they tend to be less secure and the hacking process can be automated allowing criminals to bulk hack.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has warned that "law firm client accounts are being targeted and solicitors and their clients are suffering disruption and potential loss. It is essential that firms understand the risks and take precautions to avoid falling victim to these attacks”.
“This is an issue that is not going away. This is obvious not just from the reports we are receiving direct from law firms and members of the public, but also in our discussions with local law societies."
The SRA has “warned repeatedly against the threat of cybercrime since it was first highlighted in its Risk Outlook spring update”.
“The risk has not eased, however, and criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to obtain money or sensitive informa...
From the Mediation Sub-Committee: Overcoming Objections to Mediation
By Kathy Trist, Chair, Mediation Sub-Committee
Given the Court’s encouragement to use mediation, I find it surprising that I still have to persuade others of the benefits of mediation. As an advocate of mediation this is how I convince parties to mediate.
I want my day in Court – it is for a Judge to decide not a mediator
On this occasion it was my own client that needed persuasion as to why he should give mediation a try. My client was adverse to mediation because he was looking for the Court to make a determination one way or the other on one specific point of law so that both he and the opponent had a definitive answer. Understandably the client was reluctant to attend any form of mediation because, quite frankly, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. Here mediation is not going to give him the decision he is looking for. In this situation, I explained that whilst he might not have a definitive answer to his question he may be able to reach an agreement he is satisfied with which resolved the dispute without a Court hearing.
I also explained, that it may be the other side were requesting mediation because they were looking for a way out of this dispute but need a way to do that. Finally, even if the opponent were unsuccessful at trial they could use the client’s “refusal to mediate“ as a tool to persuade the Judge that he had “unreasonably refused to mediate” and therefore my client would have to suffer those cost consequences. The risks of an Adverse Costs Order and the possibility that the Court may consider that my client was an unreasonable party meant mediation was worth embarking upon.
How to ensure Mediation is at least considered as an option
It may be that it is your opponent refusing to mediate and I am sure you will have already set out in writing that the Courts consider mediation as a way forward and to be considered in all cases and...
Ethics Column: All Change for Compliance
Oakalls Consultancy Limited
It is easy to forget how striking and different the SRA Handbook seemed when it was published in October 2011. Antony Townsend, the Chief Executive of the SRA who oversaw its launch, described it at the time as a catalyst for a quiet revolution in the provision of legal services. The changes were indeed radical; a decrease in rigid rules, the ability to be flexible in response to outcomes and regulatory duties, the introduction of compliance officers and the expectation of active risk management, and of course the accommodation of alternative business structures. The legal profession has been on quite a ride in the past few years and accepted a number of challenges to what had been the status quo for a very long time prior to the publication of the Handbook.
It is clear that this has been a challenging learning curve for regulator and regulated alike. The defects and pinch points with the SRA Handbook were fairly quickly and publicly admitted by the former. At the time of writing, we are working with the sixteenth edition of the Handbook and we have witnessed some fundamental rewrites during its brief history with topics such as the regulation of overseas practice, training and education, and the relationship with external accountants all being areas of huge change since 2011. The theme of all such changes has largely been focused on achieving a more proportionate response to the risks attached to these matters.
This regulatory introspection takes another step forward this month with the publication of two major consultations (available to read at www.sra.org.uk). They are designed to continue the theme of proportionate and appropriate regulation with proposals for substantial revisions of those parts of the SRA toolkit which deal with professional conduct and the holding of client money and w...
Mental Health Case Study: Angus McNicol
This article was first published on 17 May 2016 and can be found on The Law Society website as part of the Mental Health Awareness Week 2016.
My life/work life in the lead up to developing a mental health issue
As I moved into my mid 50's, I felt less secure in my job, which I had (I now see wrongly) come to believe was the bedrock of my existence, despite having a happy marriage and great children and an enviable lifestyle living near the Topsham estuary, which involves a lot of sailing. I came to realize that my role in the firm was far from pivotal, despite the fact that I was invariably supportive and enthusiastic and perceived to be a good operator as a disputes resolution partner.
What happened to my wellbeing and mental health and how my mental health issue manifested – my diagnosis
Despite having no history of mental health difficulties, I became anxious and depressed and stopped sleeping. Despite this, I was adamant that I had to carry on working a 50-hour week, believing that the moment I showed any sign of weakness, my legal career would come to a halt and I would no longer be able to afford to maintain my family and our comfortable lifestyle and that everything would have to be sold. I also did not want anyone, including friends, parents and non-immediate family, to know what I was going through.
The treatment I received
Eventually, and after about nine months of trying to bottle up how I felt, I finally took my GP's advice and was signed off work. While that was the right decision, doing nothing had a bad effect on me and made me feel worse, despite doing 45-minute runs two or three times a week. I was capable of sitting in an armchair, staring into space for days on end.
Nevertheless, I was absolutely determined to work to get back to full-time employment as quickly as possible. I underwent private counselling, which was helpful, though the focus was to phase me back to my old...
Interview of the Month with Deputy Vice President Stephen Mahoney
What gets you up in the morning?
I am usually awake before the alarm goes off, so it must be the well developed instinct to click on the hot water for a bath and the kettle to bring my wife a cup of tea in bed.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have played hockey at school, university, law college and club for a combined total of 43 years, 31 of them for Chard Hockey Club. I find the camaraderie of team sport and the physical exercise a great way to work off the pressure of work, at least between September and March. In the summer I try to swim at least once a week, Friday evenings being my favourite – a great way to start the weekend.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am an avid reader of most things written by Bill Bryson, whether they be his amusing travelogues or more academic stuff on such topics as the life of William Shakespeare or the history of the English language. I have also enjoyed Tim Moore, another entertaining writer of travelogues in a style which differs from Bryson. However, I am currently reading “A Lifetime in a Race”, the autobiography of Olympic gold medallist and world champion rower, Matthew Pinsent. It gives a fascinating insight into the emotional as well as physical aspects of becoming the best in the world and then maintaining the commitment and motivation to stay at the top.
What is your favourite restaurant?
When I first joined the Taunton office of my firm 29 years ago, I would occasionally go for lunch at “La Bonne Vie”, a restaurant at the top end of the High Street. When my eldest daughter was at sixth form college in Taunton, I would meet her there for lunch. Now my wife and I go there for dinner. Little about it has changed over all these years. The proprietor is the same and the young lunchtime waitress, as she then was, is still working there at weekends. The same film posters (mainly in French) are ...