January and early February saw me fulfilling my intention to attend at least one meeting of each of DASLS Sub-Committees. Having done Contentious Business, Non-Contentious Business, International Relations, JLD and Social during the course of last year, I was pleased to have the opportunity to take part in meetings of Education and Training, the In House Lawyers’ Group and Practice Management in the first month and a half of 2019 and to witness lively discussion and contributions at all of them. Just for good measure, I took in another International Relations Sub-Committee meeting a couple of days before joining Chair Emma Mitcham along with Rebecca Parkman and former FBE Presidents, Michael Cosgrave and Rod Mole at the Annual Barcelona Bar Conference (14-16 February). This coincided with the celebration “Festivity Sant Raimon de Penyafort” the Bar’s Patron Saint. With 25,000 practising lawyers registered as members and around 10,000 non-practising, Barcelona is a heavyweight among European Bars/Law Societies. The conference attracted delegates from across Europe as well as the USA, Argentina and Japan, Osaka Bar attending to renew a friendship agreement with the hosts.
Our national President Christina Blacklaws was there, speaking at one of the Friday morning working sessions on “The Power of Gender Equality” and she was accompanied by Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, The Law Society’s International Programmes Manager. Amongst other events on the Friday afternoon, there was a formal session chaired by Barcelona Bar President Eugenia Gay at which certificates of congratulation were awarded to some twenty plus Bar Members who have achieved 50 years’ service to their profession. The day (or rather the night) was rounded off with a Gala Dinner for over 1,200 guests at the Institut Nacional d’Educacio Fisica de Catalunya or, as it is better known, the Basketball Arena for the 1992 Olympics! The Spanish are happy to eat late. The pr...
I recently had the pleasure of convening the inaugural meeting of the DASLS Environmental Sustainability Working Group (it’s a bit of a mouthful so let’s call it the ESWG). My thanks to those that have helped get this idea off the ground.
We are all aware of the imperative to reduce our carbon footprint and conduct our lives and businesses in a more environmentally friendly way. Not only is this good for the planet but it is good for business as well. Increasingly staff and clients expect law firms to adopt responsible environmentally aware working practices and there are operational savings to be made.
The ESWG want to make a difference that will show how solicitors in the South West value their landscape and communities. Over the coming months we will seek to source and signpost easy and effective ways in which firms can improve their performance.
We have started by asking firms to complete a short survey about power usage, waste disposal and use of plastics. If your firm hasn’t responded yet, please contact me for details.
If you are interested in this work, then please get in touch.
The County Societies Group (CSG) has just met; regular readers will recall that this is the group of 6 of the more active local law societies consisting of DASLS with Cheshire & North Wales, Kent, Leicestershire, Newcastle and Surrey law societies. We were pleased to be joined for part of our meeting by the current Vice-President of The Law Society Simon Davis who talked about his forthcoming Presidential year and how he intended to put the Rule of Law at the very centre of everything he planned to do. We have also been briefed by Richard Miller, Head of Justice at The Law Society who spoke about the recent LASPO review. He is very upbeat believing that for the first time in 20 years things are beginning to move in the right direction. If there is interest, then we would invite Richard to come and speak to DASLS – let me know!
The CSG meeti...
As a DASLS Member you are invited to attend the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 30 April starting at 6.00 p.m. at the Exeter Golf & Country Club . The short business meeting will be followed by a members’ dinner. The Committee hope to see as many members as possible.
The purpose of an AGM is to give members an opportunity each year to meet the directors i.e. the Committee members, to ask questions and receive information about the Society. The AGM notice will be sent out electronically with the e-bulletin Buzz. If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of the AGM documentation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Below the report from the President and Committee, part of the AGM documentation which members will be able to access on DASLS website prior to the AGM on 30 April.
My year as DASLS President has passed as swiftly as I expected. It has been challenging in terms of time management but has also been a personally rewarding experience I would not have missed. Being President provided me with my first visit to 113 Chancery Lane when attending the Local Law Society Presidents’ and Secretaries’ Conference in June and, before that, the unforgettable experience of addressing Lords, MPs and fellow solicitors as a member of the County Societies’ Group deputation to Parliament in May.
I would never have expected it before becoming President, but I have embraced social media to a greater extent, learning to tweet and quite enjoying it. My thanks to Tony Steiner for getting me started and to my small, loyal band of followers, but the DASLS President’s Twitter account still has a long way to go to match the following The Honorary Secretary attracts.
I believe I fulfilled my aim of attending at least one meeting of each of DASLS Sub- Committees. I commend them all for the time their members give up from their busy day to day working schedules to attend meetings and to take appropriate follow up action on matters discussed...
Why did you join Devon & Somerset Law Society?
Monique said I had to.
What is your dream job?
To be the skipper of a Scarab power boat giving boat trips to tourists out of Guernsey harbour.
What has been the most embarrassing moment during your professional career?
Having the Presiding Judge’s Labrador sniff my crotch during a bail application in his chambers.
Which sort of work gives you the most job satisfaction?
Exactly what I am doing now.
What gets you up in the morning?
Going to the gym.
What do you do in your spare time?
Go to the gym.
What book are you reading at the moment?
No ordinary life by Peter Stokes. It is the true story of a father who, on his death bed, handed his son a dusty journal containing details of his secret past as a Second World War hero and founding member of the 2nd SAS.
What is the most recent film you have seen?
What are your favourite food / restaurant?
Anyone who knows me is aware that I eat anything.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
The coastal footpath between Polzeath and Port Isaac in Cornwall.
What is your favourite pet?
A Jack Russell.
What is your favourite lawyer joke?
Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: How many can you afford?
What is your passion?
I must say my wife Paula.
Which famous person, dead or alive, would you most like to spend a day with?
The libel barrister Sir Patrick Hastings QC.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I can back squat 600lbs.
As the political uncertainty over Brexit continues, both the Law Society of England and Wales and the UK Government have published information to support businesses, and specifically for solicitors, and I wanted to share some details on this with you.
The Government has published a series of notices on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. The most relevant of these for solicitors are handling civil legal cases involving EU countries and providing services including those of a qualified professional. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has also published guidance for EU lawyers practising in the UK.
The Law Society has published guidance on the potential effects on our members in the event of a no-deal Brexit in the following areas:
Providing legal services in the EU
Civil and commercial cooperation
Criminal justice and security
We have also prepared an extensive overview of the national regulations that apply in each jurisdiction in the EU/EFTA. This can be requested by emailing email@example.com.
We form part of the UK Delegation to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which also recently published extensive guidance on the effect of all Brexit scenarios on practice rights both for EU lawyers working in the UK and for UK lawyers working in the EU.
All this information can be found on the Law Society’s website which will be updated with further guidance and information in the coming weeks. If you have any questions you can contact the Law Society via firstname.lastname@example.org ....
Law was the last profession in England (other than the Church) to bar women from entering its esteemed ranks. She may have fought the law and the law won, but Gwyneth Bebb’s case against The Law Society in 1913 did much to pave the way for women to be admitted to practise as solicitors. Accordingly, 2019 marks 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act , which meant that female lawyers could finally be classed as “people “for the purposes of becoming a solicitor.
Thanks to Bebb and her contemporaries (and perhaps helped by women’s suffrage and World War One), there is no bar to women entrants into the profession. Empirical data indicates parity between the sexes insofar as female lawyers have made up over 50% of new entrants into the profession since 1993. Whilst women represent around 63% of students on the LL.B and LPC, there continues to be a real paucity in the upper echelons of the profession. Diversity data from the SRA evidences that women make up just 28% of partners, members or directors. Why is there such disconnect between education and practice? After all, a diverse legal profession is important when it comes to reinforcing public perception that justice is fair and impartial. It follows that a profession dithering to address its own equality issues risks being undermined in society’s eyes.
The law is underpinned by integrity so giving women preferential treatment in the higher ranks is narrative fracturing. Not only may racial and ethnic minorities be pushed to the periphery of inclusion discourse, but it is self-defeating as well. Even after the slew of equality legislation over the years, bias is not necessarily visible. It can also be implicit.
Implicit bias is hard to recognise because we all have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. These stereotypes are influenced by our own experiences and learned associations and these manifests themselves in certain ...
Whilst we wait for the SRA’s long overdue announcement about the launch date for the new Standards and Regulations, it’s important not to lose sight of the business as usual topics on the compliance agenda. Financial services anyone?
It would be timely to review your understanding of this topic and, in particular, the changes triggered most by the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) which prompted changes to the SRA Handbook in October 2018. Perhaps the most important question that you should be asking yourself focuses on whether you know what you can do in circumstances where your law firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). The short answer is that we are allowed to ‘dabble’ in certain types of financial services but only where that dabbling is done in a competent manner and in accordance with the SRA Handbook. So, in fine tuning the initial question, I would ask this: are you confident that you deliver financial services to your clients in a legal and ethical way? The fact that all bar a handful of law firms are not FCA-authorised but they can nevertheless perform certain financial services activities is a huge gift from the financial services world. We are trusted to deliver a limited number of services because we are professionals who also operate in a regulated environment. If we were not trusted to do this, there would be a number of different services which we would not be able to provide to our clients and which we would have to outsource.
It is not uncommon, however, for there to be less interest in this topic and all the compliance requirements which come with it than, say, money laundering and data protection. The fact that this is a topical discussion is due to the fact that the aforementioned IDD has created greater protections for consumers of insurance products and we are expected to demonstrate that we understand this and deliver these services in an appropriate manner.
Who needs to unders...
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
STARTING AT 6.00 P.M. ON TUESDAY 30 APRIL
THE EXETER GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
EXETER LEGAL SERVICE
ON SUNDAY 16 JUNE
8TH ADMISSIONS CEREMONY
BY INVITATION ONLY
MONDAY 14 OCTOBER
FRIDAY 8 NOVEMBER
SOMERSET COUNTY CRICKET CLUB, TAUNTON
For more information on all the above events or to register your interest, please contact
Monique Bertoni at DASLS Office email@example.com / 01392 366 333
Devon & Somerset Law Society is twinned with the Bars of Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rennes and Verona.
This year the traditional annual meeting between the twin Bars will be hosted by Rennes on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 of June (with arrival on the 6 and departure on the 9).
The working sessions will focus on subjects linked to the regulation of the profession.
More details about the programme and general arrangements will follow.
This meeting offers an opportunity for DASLS members to meet European lawyers, exchange information, make contacts for their own social and professional benefit.
If you would like to participate, either by contributing to DASLS presentation or by attending the meeting in Rennes, please contact Monique at DASLS office to receive additional practical information nearer the time.
In 2018 the trustees revisited the criteria of the award to keep pace with the ever changing process of how candidates qualify to be solicitors. Traditionally and in the case of larger firms, individuals still qualify through university degree and training contract as well as the LPC and PSC from the SRA. It is increasingly common with smaller firms and Local Authorities that people qualify as solicitors through a more vocational route. For example qualification through conversion from CILEx meaning that while individuals have no law degree and did not undertake a training contract in the traditional sense, they have nonetheless undertaken an academic training and received very considerable practical experience in the law such as to satisfy the exacting standards of the SRA in qualifying as a solicitor. In addition, in future years there will be solicitors who qualify through the apprenticeship route. Often such potential candidates will have achieved solicitor status while combining study with work and families and deserve recognition.
Given the original charitable purposes of these trusts, the Trustees want to make sure they do not overlook such candidates, some of whom may come from backgrounds where they might have needed to work from school rather than pursue academia.
Candidates for this year’s Prize must have been admitted to the Roll during the 12 month period ending on 31 May 2019 and nominated no later than 30th June 2019.
The definition of Somerset for the purposes of the prize, includes Sherborne and the local government administrative areas of Bath and NE Somerset, North Somerset and, of course, Somerset.
Please give full details of the person whom you are nominating and confirm that they are content for their details to be publicised by DASLS including photographs, should they be successful.
Please submit your name and work contact details, title and why you are nominating this person.
Mediation can be a fast, flexible and effective process for solving almost any form of legal dispute. At its core it is a negotiation facilitated by a trusted neutral person (the mediator) within which parties can educate themselves and explore options for settlement. The parties control the outcome. The mediator is both neutral and impartial.
Some mediations have a successful outcome and some result in complete failure. My job is to provide a process that enables the parties to have the best possible chance of finding a resolution. If this doesn’t happen, I look for patterns to see if anything could be done differently to increase the chances of a successful outcome.
The following are a few general suggestions.
Trust that the mediator is independent, impartial, a safe pair of hands and support the mediation process even when the going gets tough. Without a willingness to place that trust the chances of a successful outcome are limited.
If necessary, remind your client that they are not negotiating with the mediator. “I don’t need to be convinced - it is the other room that needs convincing” are words that I frequently find myself using. The mediator is looking to build rapport and trust with all sides.
Preparation. As with most things in life, preparation is key. The better the preparation the better the likely outcome, is true for almost all mediations. Most mediators are very willing to engage with solicitors in advance to answer questions and assist preparation.
Ensure that your client is at the centre of the process, well prepared and with a clear focus of what they would like to get out of the day. They need a realistic understanding of the key issues to be addressed. Clients who are not well prepared may need a lot of support to get the most from the day.
Stress. Recognise just how stressful the mediation will be for the client. The stress of the dispute is now focused on a single day and on them. Remember that ...
Working from home may be an attractive option for some. Here we consider the tax implications of homeworking arrangements for the self-employed.
Your status is important
The tax rules differ considerably depending on whether you are self-employed, as a sole trader or partner, or whether you are an employee, even if that is as an employee of your own company. One way or the other though, if you want to maximise the tax position, it is essential to keep good records. If not, HMRC may seek to rectify the tax position several years down the line. This can lead to unexpected bills including several years’ worth of tax, interest and penalties. The below looks at the basis for the self-employed.
Wholly and exclusively
The self-employed pay tax on the profits that the business makes or their share of those profits. So, the critical issue is to ensure that costs incurred can be set against that profit. For day to day overheads, those costs generally have to be incurred ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of the trade to be tax deductible. What does this really mean in practice? Well, HMRC has issued a lot of guidance on the matter which is summarised below.
Use of the home
If the self-employed carry on some of their business from home, then some tax relief may be available. HMRC accepts that even if the business is carried on elsewhere, a deduction for part of the household expenses is still acceptable provided that there are times when part of the home is used solely for business purposes. To quote:
‘If there is only minor use, for example writing up the business records at home, you may accept a reasonable estimate without detailed enquiry.’
So that there is no confusion, wholly and exclusively does not mean that business expenditure has to be separately billed or that part of the home must be permanently used for business purposes. However, it does mean that when part of the home is being used for the business then t...
The year now disappearing in the rear-view mirror brought healthy revenue growth for many. However, if 2019 is to see a repeat of this, firms will need to adapt to a fast-shifting environment.
Staying relevant to clients' needs
Changing client expectations around professional services mean firms need to remain close to their clients to make sure that what they offer remains relevant.
Many clients are beginning to look for alternatives to traditional law firms for example. They want more than just a legal service – they want more rounded, innovative solutions. I think this opens up some really interesting opportunities for more progressive and niche firms.
Creating the right culture
The culture of a firm can be a decisive factor in attracting and retaining talent. Finding people with the relevant tech skills can be a particular challenge.
By embracing diversity and inclusion, firms can access the widest possible talent pool. It's also worth pointing out that many clients increasingly include diversity as mandatory criteria when selecting their professional advisers – another good reason for a diverse team.
To keep moving with the times and find ways to exploit new technology, it's also important for firms to respond to, encourage and develop a culture of innovation.
Firms that create an environment where new ideas can be aired without fear that they might not work, may stand a better chance of differentiating themselves and winning more work.
Investing in the future
We saw lots of investment in technology in 2018. In 2019 technology will continue to drive the evolution of some of the traditional fundamentals of the working environment, such as embedding more flexible working practices. I think this is an area where the key aspects of people and costs converge, so it’s really important for firms to get this right.
One of the technology challenges we saw again in 2018, and which will remain going forward is cyber...
We are still seeing more and more businesses outsourcing their IT support. With an efficient and secure IT framework being the nervous system of every modern business, it's obvious they're not doing it for no reason.
So what then are the benefits for you to outsource your IT support? Here we'll discuss why specialists such as Alchemy Systems provide the kind of IT support Devon, Somerset and Cornwall businesses have come to depend on.
Saving money IT support services are an investment, there's no way around it. Outsourcing any specialist involvement with your business is going to come at a cost. Virtually all businesses, however, find that outsourcing their IT support requirements saves them money in the long run. Think about it - IT support requires extensive training and understanding. Who is going to hire someone who has that? If it's your business, it's going to be you. It's much more affordable to outsource your requirements to an external service provider, who won't need to be employed on a full-time basis. You'll also avoid the need to foot the bill for their ongoing training costs. Wider experience pools In-house IT support staff can often suffer from working within a bubble or developing what we call skill rot. It's entirely natural, but it means that they'll develop certain habits and working procedures that are only tested within the vacuum of your business. Or just don’t keep up to date with modern systems. This can lead to oversights and bugs finding their way into your IT networks. An outsourced IT support provider should be consistently working with a wider selection of businesses. The benefit for you here is that they will have already seen the kind of problems and solutions that work and don't work in a practical application. When it's your own IT support team, you're the guinea pig. If an idea doesn't go as planned, it'll be your IT system that suffers. With outsourced IT support, however, the engineers will have already ...
Firstly, we would like to say a big thank you to the
Devon and Somerset Law Society for the support shown to both ourselves and our colleagues at Devon Air Ambulance over the past year.
As we move into the very busy summer months both operationally and from an event and fundraising point of view, we wanted to give you a little insight into some of latest news. Our vision is “To provide the maximum patient benefit by delivering a highly effective, clinically excellent and financially secure air ambulance service in the South West Region". It is deliberately broad and challenges the whole organisation to meet its demands today and into the future.
Our team continue to provide a 19-hour day coverage with two shifts per day, seven days a week. This exceptional level of reliability has meant that clinicians from the South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) know that they can request a Critical Care Team (consisting of at least a Doctor and Critical Care Practitioner) every day between 7.00am and 2.00am. This contributes substantially to the increase in patients that our team are able to reach.
Last year we were tasked to nearly 1,200 incidents. Many of our patients are so severely injured or ill that they do not recall the events after their incident. As a result of their injuries or illness, some also endure enormous physical and mental challenges and at times they do not feel that they have sufficient information about their care or access to help. Sadly, we also attend incidents in which patients do not survive and their remaining families often have important questions about the care that was provided to their loved one in the pre-hospital environment. These are some of the reasons why we began to look at ways of improving patient care more widely than the emergency care we provide at incident scenes, on route and between hospitals.
With our patients spread widely across the two counties and limited road networks in place, we have cr...
The first couple of months of the year have been busy for the JLD; the committee have, in particular, starting putting plans for 2019 into action.
This year, the JLD will be supporting The Wave Project as 2019's charity of the year. The Wave Project is a national charity pioneering surf therapy. Its aim is to support vulnerable young people with physical and mental health problems by engaging them in a 6-week surf course. The JLD is looking forward to fundraising for The Wave Project this year throughout its social events and also by arranging a charity coastal walk and beach cleans throughout the South West.
The JLD committee is already getting involved. Our Sports Representative, Omar Mahboob, will be running the Bath Half Marathon in support of The Wave Project next month and our Charity Representative, Isobel Massey is a volunteer for the South Devon Project.
As a volunteer, Isobel has experienced first-hand what an incredible impact the charity has on so many young people. If you want to read a bit more about Isobel's volunteering experience please read her latest blog post:
In March, the JLD will also be hosting a seminar focussing on 'Approaching Qualification'. This seminar aims to give trainees an idea of things to consider when approaching qualification, the process of qualification and some guidance on the current shape of the legal job market.
15 February 2019
Isobel Massey – Charity Representative
Lydia Robinson – Education Representative...
Bullying is a common concern within the legal community. Last year calls to the LawCare helpline about bullying and harassment nearly doubled.
Bullying in the workplace is a type of abusive behaviour where an individual or a group of people create an intimidating or humiliating work environment for another. This can make those subjected to it anxious, depressed, and it can have an impact on family life too.
TYPES OF BULLYING
Excessive monitoring of work, being ‘micro-managed’
Exclusion with negative consequences
Verbal abuse or insults
Repeatedly manipulating the person’s job specification and targets
Blame for things beyond the person’s control
Menacing behaviour, intimidation or aggression
Being treated less favourably than colleagues, including constant criticism of work
Being targeted due to gender, age, race, for example, or derogatory comments relating to these
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BEING BULLIED
Keep a diary of all incidents, noting dates, times, any witnesses and the impact of the bullying behaviour on you. Keep copies of relevant documents e.g. malicious emails or texts.
If you feel comfortable and safe to do so, talk to the person who is bullying you informally and explain the impact their behaviour is having on you. They may not have been aware that you perceived their behaviour as unacceptable. Let them know that if the situation does not improve you will be taking an official route to resolve it. Try not to let the situation become threatening or confrontational. Keep detailed notes of the conversation and “debrief” with a supportive friend or colleague if you can.
For many informally talking with the person who is bullying you is not an option, in which case take this up with your manager or supervisor and ask them to help you take the necessary formal steps to resolve the issue.
If you feel that you are left with no option but to resign, it may be open to you to claim that you have been constructively dism...