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Category: may 2018 (16 posts)


| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Time flies and, it seems, never more so than when you agree to become President of DASLS.  I can scarcely believe it is over two years ago that I got the phone call from Tony Mason at the behest of the College of Past Presidents, to enquire whether I would be prepared to be nominated as Deputy Vice President.  My personal involvement with our local Law Society had been peripheral until then.  However, since stepping onto the conveyer belt which has brought me to the Presidency for 2018/19, I have come to appreciate what a lot of time and effort goes into making DASLS the highly regarded and effective body that it is.  The bedrock is undoubtedly the stability and experience provided by Tony Steiner and Monique Bertoni (now supplemented by new recruit Harry Martin) at Aston Court and Honorary Secretary Chris Hart and Honorary Treasurer Richard Adams.  Monique and Tony joined Devon & Exeter Law Society in 1989 and 1995 respectively.  Richard has just celebrated 20 years as Honorary Treasurer.  Chris, a former DASLS President himself has been in post as Honorary Secretary since 2014.    Then there are the members of the main Committee and various Sub-Committees diligently working to represent the interests of the different specialisms of lawyer in our counties, maintain links with our twin bars in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland as well as contacts with lawyers in other parts of Europe and, in the case of the Social Sub-Committee, just trying to ensure there are opportunities for us all to socialise and have fun.   The last two years have been an education and an enjoyable one.  I have had the good fortune of working with and learning from Mark Roome and Sue Aggett as Presidents while I have served as Deputy Vice President and Vice President.  I am also lucky to have Nigel Lyons as my Vice President.  Nigel has previous presidential experience himself at Plymouth Law Society.  I am pleased to welcome Paul Kelly to the team as the ...

Monique Bertoni | 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Congratulations to our 2018 Legal Awards Winners and Runners up! All photos credited to Pyramid Torbay Photography     TEAM AWARDS    CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Scott Richard Solicitors Sponsored by  CLIENT EXPERIENCE  Rosie Bracher Solicitors LLP   Sponsored by  EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR Slee Blackwell Blackwell Solicitors LLP Sponsored by  TEAM OF THE YEAR  Rosie Bracher Solicitors LLP   Sponsored by LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR (1-10 Partners)  Boyce Hatton LLP    Sponsored by  LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR (11+ Partners) Wollen Michelmore LLP Sponsored by  HIGHLY COMMENDED Kitsons Solicitors     INDIVIDUAL AWARDS    SOLICITOR OF THE YEAR    Italo Cerullo, Nonwovenn Sponsored by  LEADER OF THE YEAR  James McNally, Slee Blackwell Solicitors LLP Sponsored by HIGHLY COMMENDED Ramin Shamsolahi, Rosie Bracher Solicitors LLP    RISING STAR Rachel Thain, Slee Blackwell Solicitors LLP Sponsored by   HIGHLY COMMENDED Emily Stott, Everys Solicitors    SUPPORT TEAM MEMBER OF THE YEAR Vivien Cocks and Emilia Stachowska, Cartridges Law   Sponsored by  HIGHLY COMMENDED Kate Gillette, Boyce Hatton Solicitors      LEGAL 'HERO' OF THE YEAR Norman Hartnell, The Family Law Company   Award collected by Rachel Buckley and Stephen Sowden of the Family Law Company L-R Mark Tyler, Martyn Jennings, Rachel Buckley, DASLS President Sue Aggett and Stephen Sowden Sponsored by     HIGHLY COMMENDED Oliver Thorne, Slee Blackwell Solicitors LLP    LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Charles...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Rachael Morley is an Associate & Solicitor at Tozers LLP, where she works in the Wealth Management team.   She is the incoming Chair of the Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committee.   ⁠  Why did you join Devon & Somerset Law Society?   I joined DASLS as I wanted to be involved in the wider local legal world and to meet other lawyers working in Devon and Somerset. All too often it can feel as if we’re locked away in our offices, so it is nice to be in touch with others – even if just to find that we have the same pressures and experiences!   I also think that it is vital to promote such an active organisation as DASLS, to give our region a voice in legal affairs across the country. I wanted to be part of this generally, but also to discuss problems or approaches faced by those working in the Private Client sector by joining the Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committee. It has been fascinating to work with others in the area and hear their experiences of similar cases and trends.   ⁠  What would you say to anyone who might be interested in joining the NCBSC?   I would invite anyone who may be interested to come along to a meeting, to see what we discuss and whether they would like to join in for the future.   It was my predecessor, Steven Came, who first suggested my coming along when we met at the DASLS Admissions Ceremony in the autumn. The Committee made me very welcome at my first meeting, which I found reassuring, and everyone is invited to participate in the discussions – so I kept coming back again to hear and share views of current matters.   As Steven has, I will be attending the DASLS Admissions Ceremony in future, which I found a fun night celebrating the achievement of all newly-qualified solicitors in the DASLS area. I’d be pleased to meet anyone who would like to discuss the Committee’s work there.   ⁠  What gets you up in the morning?   My alarm! I bet everyone makes that joke.   More seriously, I ...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Earlier this year, 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 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 2018 and nominated no later than 30th June 2018.   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.   Personal Information   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. ...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Brexit is an historic incident, which could inspire other political parties across Europe to call for their own countries to leave the EU. So, after Brexit, could there be Grexit? Departugal? Italeave? Czechout? Oustria? Finish or even Latervia?   Post Brexit life remains uncertain. British politics has become a little less than coherent and neither Conservatives nor Labour have figured out how to squeeze new nationalism into their old philosophical platforms. Wry humour aside, it seems somewhat trite to question how Brexit will affect lawyers when politicians have slight clue as to what is going on.   The Law Society, however, in the last twelve months and more since Article 50 was triggered, has worked tirelessly on behalf of its members. Although it has sought to ensure that our interests as lawyers are supported and promoted throughout the Brexit process, uncertainty has precipitated the dash of UK lawyers to Ireland (1,317 solicitors in 2016 and 2017). This is an emergency measure to safeguard rights of audience in the EU courts as well as the rights to practise across all member states. Whilst the draft negotiating guidelines issued by the Council of the EU indicate a degree of hope for legal services in a post-Brexit world, the Law Society is encouraging its members to act and put pressure on the Government. By writing to your MP (a template letter is helpfully provided at https://lawsociety.e-activist.com/page/21829/action/1), you can help ensure that the legal services sector is supported in the Brexit negotiations and lawyer rights across the EU are preserved so I encourage you to do the same.   Emma Mitcham, Chair, International Relations Sub-Committee...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Developing a risk and compliance culture   When the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched its current Handbook in 2011, it imposed compliance officers on all types of firm, even though the Legal Services Act 2007 only provided for them in Alternative Business Structures.    The mere fact of having a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) and Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA) in role, though, does not guarantee that the firm will have the right culture when it comes to risk and compliance.   The desire for firms to have a well-developed risk culture has long been held by the SRA.  As it says on the SRA’s landing page for compliance officers, the COLP and COFA are instrumental in creating a culture of compliance throughout a firm, becoming its focal point for the identification of risk and the key point of contact for the SRA.  Whilst a firm-wide compliance culture is expected, there are few regulatory requirements.    If you look further afield, you will see that the Law Society’s Legal Excellence standard, Lexcel, is completely silent on culture.  It talks about operational efficiencies and managing risks but nothing specifically about culture, although some of the steps that are required for Lexcel will feed through into your culture.   As culture is so intangible, firms may find it helpful to think of the ABC of culture.  Attitudes and Behaviour build your Culture.  The Attitudes of those within a firm will influence how they Behave.  Everyone’s behaviour produces the firm’s Culture.   The attitudes of individuals within a firm reflect their approach towards risk and compliance.  This will be influenced by their perception of risk which will affect their behaviour.  Attitudes tend to be internal, whereas behaviour is the externally observable activity resulting from these attitudes.   If a policy or procedure is introduced to manage a risk that is seen as unclear or unfounded, an individu...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Is your brand fit for purpose? Do you even have a brand? Cutting through in competitive markets, especially in professional services such as law firms, is difficult at the best of times, but even harder if a business has an ill-defined brand, a weak proposition or indistinctive marketing or communications. A nice logo and shiny website can help, but too many businesses ignore or do not even think about the fundamentals of a brand strategy and how it can help.   My name is Tom Banks, founder of Quite Early One Morning – a brand consultancy that believes in the power of ideas and bringing these to life through well-told and beautifully crafted stories. I have asked by the Devon and Somerset Law Society to create and facilitate a one-day brand training workshop on Wednesday 27th June at Exeter racecourse. I have 30+ years' experience advising businesses on brand issues, especially professional services companies such as law firms (in 2017 I advised CMS, Nabarro and Olswang on their brand launch for the merger of these three great law firms).     I often find that professional services clients struggle to articulate their point of difference beyond explaining what they do or listing features (for example value, service, quality). Whilst these are important, usually it is the thinking behind them that forms the basis of a powerful and relevant brand. The workshop is designed to help build understanding of how branding can be instrumental to a firm’s future success. It’s a mix of presentations and activities that combines theory with practical exercises.   It covers the important principles of brand building; a perspective on the constituent parts of creating a brand strategy, positioning and proposition; and examples, hints and tips along the way.   For more information or to book a place go to DASLS website. To find out more about me or Quite Early One Morning visit http://quiteearlyonemorning.com   I look forward to seeing you there!...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
What is ‘Making Tax Digital’? Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of HMRC’s plan to transform its current system into one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world. HMRC’s vision is that paper tax returns will be abolished and digital records will enable taxpayers to update HMRC frequently on their income position, thus having a ‘real-time’ idea of their tax liabilities presented to them in their digital tax account. The intention is that a taxpayer should not have to tell HMRC something that HMRC should already know.   What are the advantages for me to using MTD? The future for record keeping is definitely digital. Many businesses, large and small, could see great advantages from moving to cloud based accounting systems, including the ability to track sales and costs in real time and automate manual tasks such as invoice input and bank reconciliations. Additionally, your accountant has access to the same financial information and can monitor your margins and profitability, and provide proactive advice on tax, accounting and business issues when you need it most.   What will MTD mean to me? That depends; MTD will impact the business taxes of sole traders, partnerships and companies. More pressingly, MTD will apply to VAT from April 2019.   MTD for VAT From April 2019, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000 until at least March 2020) will have to: keep their records digitally (for VAT purposes only), and provide their VAT return information to HMRC through MTD compatible software. This means the imminent end of the manual cashbook for a large swath of businesses, and others will need to review their accounting software (to ensure it is compatible with HMRC’s new Gateway.   MTD for business HMRC wants to abolish annual tax returns. Unless you are exempt, you will need to update HMRC digitally every quarter (or more frequently if you choose) with details of your income and expe...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Phishing hits business at tax time   Phishing schemes abound every season, and tax season is no exception. It's an important time of year in the corporate world and cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of it, which is why your business must ensure that your confidential data is kept under lock and key.     Phishing baits to watch out for   Phishing attacks often consist of fabricated or compromised emails sent to finance/payroll or human resources employees that are made to look like they're from an executive in your company. The message might contain a request to forward employee records, including their W-2 forms, but that’s not all...   Another common scheme, which doesn’t only happen during tax season, involves getting a call from a person declaring to be a Tax office employee, and no, caller IDs won’t save you because they can forge that, too. The phisher will inform you that you owe them cash from back taxes and they will threaten legal action if you don’t pay via credit card at that instant.   Always remember, the Tax office will never contact you on the phone to let you know that you owe them money. And they certainly won’t threaten you or demand payment over the phone. If they really need to notify you of such matters, they’ll use the postal service and will give you a chance to discuss payment terms.   Standard protection protocols   Don’t worry, the usual security measures against these phishing scams are pretty easy to integrate into your business. Begin by developing a policy that bans the request of private details through email. If an employee ever requires such info, they should get in touch with the person directly, follow your established protocols for the transfer of sensitive information, and minimize the number of people involved in the transaction.   Taking security a step further   Data loss prevention (DLP) systems are also valuable weapons against these types of phishing attacks. They evalua...

Monique Bertoni | 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Restructuring a struggling law firm can be a huge undertaking. Yet, if other avenues have been exhausted, going into administration may well protect clients and staff and ensure there is some return for creditors. Clearly, the best advice is to avoid an insolvent situation and effect a turnaround – reacting early to issues as they arise.   “Turning around a troubled law firm can be complex” says Paul Jarrett, Barclays Relationship Director.  “Increasing financial distress, mounting operational challenges or inconsistent cash flows tend to hasten a firm’s decline. Issues should be addressed early. If it is left too late, and you run out of cash, you face the real prospect of administration.” This was the topic of discussion at a recent Barclays’ Professional Practices event in London. Paul Jarrett   Reorganising debts or selling off non-essential assets can put a firm back on an even keel. However, legal practices experiencing more than a spot of financial bother may be forced into entering ‘pre-pack’ administration. As a last resort it can be a lifeline for failing law firms, allowing the healthy parts of a business to survive – making the best out of a bad situation.   Sometimes seen as a controversial insolvency route, this widely employed solution allows for a quick sale. It also means jobs are preserved and generally results in higher returns for creditors.   Near-term headwinds   Pre-pack administration can also be used as a consolidation solution by struggling insolvent legal practices to sell a firm on to a new, stronger buyer. Although the UK economy has picked up since the financial crisis, there are strong headwinds building for many law firms – especially in the mid-market bracket.   “Unfortunately, there are currently too many law firms,” Steve Cottee, a partner at Pinsent Masons, told assembled guests at Barclays’ Restructuring and Turnarounds breakfast.   “The ‘big four’ accountancy firms have a...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
I am writing this having just attended The Law Management Section’s annual conference at Chancery Lane. This year the theme was the Law Firm of the Future with speakers dealing with human resource issues, the growth of technology and the use of artificial intelligence, the need for flexibility, agility and proper business/strategic planning. These are themes that we will be picking up through our own conferences; the annual Practice Management Conference is already pencilled in the diary for 7th November.   Other events in the planning stage include our Family Law Conference on 16th October. Mr Justice Mostyn has already accepted our invitation as headline speaker and we are lining up other speakers dealing with private areas of work.   Our In-house lawyers’ conference will be on 3rd October and will look at compliance, cyber security, and managing external solicitors and counsel.  There will also be an opportunity to discuss representation through Chancery Lane.   The Challenge Cup is underway with Footgolf on 17th May. These social events are a great way of getting to know colleagues across the area. They are organised by our small but very active and enthusiastic Social Sub-Committee. They would love to welcome a few more members - just give me a call if you might be interested.   On the recruitment side of things we are keen to speak to any candidates locally or thinking of relocating to Devon and Somerset. Please do tell people about our service if they are thinking of moving. DASLS is the first choice for many practices to advertise their positions through and our experience and knowledge of these firms is second to none.    And finally - who will join me for the legal walk on 4th June? It would be great to have a strong DASLS team this year and perhaps some sponsorship   Click here to sponsor DASLS team   Tony Steiner DASLS Executive Director...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
The pilot Mediation Court Scheme is now successfully up and running at Exeter and Barnstaple County Court.    To date the scheme has a 100% success rate with each of the cases mediated having settled to the satisfaction of the parties. This has ultimately saved further court time and resulted in an agreed settlement for each case that the parties have had the opportunity to explore and decide without a Judge making a ruling in one parties’ favour.    Process   The Judges at Exeter and Barnstaple County Courts are now ordering, in suitable cases, that the parties should attempt mediation and it is an opt-out rather than an opt-in process.  The mediation is arranged by Devon & Somerset Law Society and one of their panel members will act as the mediator for the case.   The Small Claims Scheme involves a specialised form of mediation as the mediations are short and extremely effective. The mediators are skilled in dealing with time restricted mediations and are trained to be very effective with time management during the process.  The mediation itself is scheduled for 1 hour meaning the mediator must cut through the information and emotions to get to the crux of the case and concentrate on the pertinent issues in the hope to come to a resolution.   Local practitioners within Exeter and Barnstaple will find their clients are being asked to participate in mediation and indeed, if so ordered by the court, will have to respond and explain why they will not attend a mediation before the Judge will make a further order for the case to progress through the court system.    The Judiciary at Exeter and Barnstaple will attempt to guide many cases through mediation and therefore it is vital that all local practitioners understand the process and support their client through the mediation in the hope to settle the case in the most expeditious and cost effective manner. Even if a case does not settle at a mediation the process will be advantageous to the...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Admissions Ceremony 2018 Invitation DASLS Newly Qualified Solicitors Admissions Ceremony Monday 8th October 2018 at 5.30 p.m. for 6.00 p.m. at Exeter Guildhall — by invitation only! Did you / will you qualify between 1st September 2017 and 30th September 2018? If so, please contact Monique Bertoni at DASLS office to make sure that you receive your personal invitation. Email: Monique@dasls.com or call 01392 366333   Devon & Somerset Law Society would like to congratulate all NQ Solicitors from Member Firms in DASLS area.    Below photo of the 2017 Admissions Ceremony  ...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
  Mental Health Awareness Week takes place 14-20 May this year in the UK and this year focuses on stress.   At LawCare we know that life in the law can be challenging and sometimes things can get on top of you.  We also know that people often don’t notice the signs of stress, some of which are: Sleep deprivation: This is a vicious circle: worries about work lead to lack of sleep, which makes it difficult to perform well at work Physical changes: Headaches, skin complaints, frequent colds, aching muscles and digestive problems Drinking and smoking: Many turn to drinking and smoking to cope with the demands of work Eating: Comfort eating or skipping meals Mood swings: People can become irritated and frustrated, get very angry one minute and feel fine the next. They can be short-tempered or difficult Panic attacks: These can happen suddenly, for no clear reason. It can mean feeling sick, short of breath, shaking, sweating and experiencing a sense of unreality Chronic stress increases the risk of addictive and damaging behaviour, of developing anxiety, depression and other mental and physical health problems. If you are feeling stressed and want to talk give us a call today.   We’ve been supporting all branches of the legal profession for 20 years: solicitors, barristers, barrister’s clerks, judges, legal executives, paralegals, trade mark attorneys, patent agents, costs lawyers, and their staff and families. Our  confidential helpline is answered by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law. We offer a safe place to talk without judgment.   Last year we responded to nearly 900 calls, with half of those calling citing stress and depression as the reason.    As well our helpline, we offer one-on-one peer support. If needed we can  match you with one of our dedicated  team of over 100 supporters who will help you work through your problems over a period of weeks or ...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
The JLD's latest education event was an "Approaching Qualification" seminar held at Ashford LLP's Exeter office.   The evening started with a presentation, followed by a Q & A session and drinks and nibbles. Pizzas were kindly donated by Dominos Pizza to help raise money for our chosen charity of the year, Exeter Leukaemia Fund (ELF).   JLD committee members, including our charity representative Emily Stott, ran for ELF on 14 April - doing the 10 mile "Maverick Race" across the Quantocks. ELF aims to ensure that every family affected by blood cancers and disorders across the South West receives compassionate, tailored support. They support families from diagnosis and through treatment.   Any donations to ELF are much appreciated - you can donate via the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/devonandsomersetjuniorlawyersdivision   The spring and summer will be busy for the JLD - next up is a "Clip 'n Climb" session on Friday 27 April (6:30 p.m. to 8:00) at Exeter's Quay Climbing Centre. The Quay Climbing Centre is "the ultimate vertical playground" with over 26 different climbs to try. A portion of the proceeds will be going to ELF.    The JLD will then be at Exeter racecourse from 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday 8 May. Tickets are £18 each for JLD members, which includes a drink voucher and a £5 food voucher. Please rsvp to ANewman@trowers.com. Payment must be received by 24 April.   The centrepiece of the JLD calendar, the JLD's annual Summer Ball, will be on Friday 1 June 2018 at the Mercure Exeter Rougemont Hotel. A masquerade ball, the evening also includes a three-course meal, a DJ, photobooth, charity raffle and entertainment. Tickets are £38 for JLD members and £40 for non-JLD members.   Benjamin Thomson, Chair ...

| 08th May 2018 | Newsletters
Sometimes graphics speak louder than words.   ...

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