Picking up where I left off in my report for the July newsletter, I was part of the DASLS rounders team which took on the Junior Lawyers’ Division which was bolstered by members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. On a perfect mid-July evening, dry, sunny and pleasantly breezy, JLD/CILEX won by a margin of 10 points to square the series at 2-2. The rounders was good fun and is one regular social event we currently hold with JLD. I am hoping we can arrange more joint social events.
Rounders in action
at the Double Locks
Over supper at the Double Locks pub afterwards, I chatted to a group of young lawyers, one a newly qualified solicitor, the others still trainees. That conversation reinforced how impressed I am by the efforts the latest generation of would be solicitors now have to put in to achieve that status, to fund themselves through their studies and, after passing all their qualifying exams, to earn a training contract. On 8 October, DASLS will be holding its seventh Admissions Ceremony for newly qualified solicitors at the Guildhall in Exeter. Letters of invitation have now gone out to all those entitled to receive their Certificates congratulating and welcoming them to the Profession at this Ceremony. I urge everyone invited to attend to do so. Your achievements deserve to be officially recognised and celebrated.
A few days before the rounders, I made my second trip in less than a month to the Celtic Manor just outside Newport to attend the 70th anniversary celebratory dinner of the Association of South Western Law Societies. It was a fantastic location, in glorious weather for a wonderfully relaxed but meticulously planned evening.
ASWLS 70th Anniversary Dinner
Then on 19 July at the ASWLS AGM, I was elected President of that Society too, with Mel Bevan-Evans of Monmouthshire Incorporated Law Society becoming Vice Preside...
DASLS has signed up to Grow Green.
This means we have committed to:
Recycle waste where possible
Limit plastic consumption
Limit energy consumption and/or use renewable alternatives
Encourage and/or reward green commuting
Allow remote working where possible
Give local companies an opportunity to tender for business
Reducing paper use, more effective ways to work online
Reduce water consumption
You can learn more about Grow Green launched by our Legal Awards Partners, Grow Marketing at http://growgreensw.co.uk/.
We have discontinued use of poly bags for the DASLS Newsletter in favour of 100% recycled packaging and we are working hard to ensure that all of our processes and supplies are as environmentally friendly as possible. One of the greatest challenges so far is our binding process for course notes. Wherever possible notes are stapled but larger sets use plastic combs. I am yet to find a viable alternative – any ideas very welcome.
Elsewhere in this Newsletter you will find an introduction to the team at Unoccupied Direct. This new DASLS sponsor offers property insurance solutions for empty homes and will be of particular assistance to those working in probate. Do have a look at their website - https://www.unoccupieddirect.co.uk/ . Our other sponsors are Aon, Alchemy Systems, PKF Francis Clark, Wessex Searches, WebBoss and Barclays. They provide DASLS with invaluable support both in practical and financial terms. Please use them when you can – links can be found on our website.
May I give a plug for our Social Sub-Committee. They have worked hard to maintain a programme of events through the year. Their mission is to offer DASLS members of all ages the opportunity to network and socialise with one another in a non-formal environment. They would like to put on more events, especially around the various DASLS areas but as a small Committee they are limited in what they can do. Bringing lawyers together is an important functio...
We are delighted to announce a workshop run by Grow Marketing and Sampson Hall that will help members of Devon & Somerset Law Society prepare their entries for the 2019 Legal Awards.
This workshop will encourage and support legal firms across Devon & Somerset with their nominations, ready for them to be considered by the independent judging panel who will shortlist and pick a winner for all 13 Legal Awards categories.
Our workshop leaders will help you with:
What category or categories to enter?
How to make sure your nomination stands out from the competition?
Are you sure you are prepared?
By the end of the workshop you will be ready to prepare and submit your nomination(s).
Leading the workshop is one of the Directors of Sampson Hall, Phil Sampson who, over the past five years, has played a key part in the Devon Venus Awards which required Phil to be very involved from the start; visiting every nominated candidate, forming a shortlist and selecting an overall winner. Sampson Hall is focused on success and helping organisations recognise their full potential and unique attributes.
Supporting the workshop is Grow Exeter’s Head of Business Development & Events, Alice Bryan, who recently joined Grow Marketing after a regional role running events in Devon and Cornwall for Trinity Mirror. Alice project manages the DASLS Legal Awards and has done so since the start of the awards back in 2016. She will be able to share experiences, anecdotes and offer encouragement to those looking to enter. Being a part of many award programmes over the past 3 years, Alice’s insight, support and in-depth understanding will be invaluable to entrants.
Members are invited to book their place now for:
28 September, 9.00-10.30 am, Grow Marketing offices, Exeter Click here to book
Sampson Hall say: “In our work with lawyers and legal firms we have seen some great results both in terms of profitability and performance whether it is ...
GDPR – where are we now and where are we going?
The General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) and the Data Protection Act 2018 came into force on the 25th May 2018. Despite the long lead in time, a considerable amount of confusion still remains about what firms need to do to ensure on-going compliance with the new rules.
So what are the key challenges that firms face?
First, they need to comply with the new accountability principle. In practice this means more user-friendly information for clients about what is being done with their personal data.
Secondly, they need to think about what the basis for their processing of personal data is. An awful lot of noise has been made about consent but there are other grounds that can be relied upon and this also applies in respect of marketing.
Thirdly, firms need to be aware of changes to the rights of data subjects including
access to information and the ability to request deletion of their personal data.
Fourthly, firms need to update their procedures in respect of security breach reporting. Previously entirely voluntary, this is now mandatory in a number of scenarios and firms need to ensure that employees are aware of the relevant time frames and information to be provided.
Fifthly, firms need to review their marketing to ensure that it is compliant with the GDPR and other relevant rules. They also need to keep a watchful eye on the forthcoming E-Privacy Regulation and consider what changes, if any, need to be made in the light of this.
Sixthly, firms need to consider whether it is appropriate to appoint a data protection officer. Although in most cases this will not be mandatory it is still good practice to have a person who has responsibility for this area.
Failure to comply with the new rules can potentially lead to very large fines, compensation claims and reputational damages.
Keith Markham will be giving his seminar ...
Why did you join Devon & Somerset Law Society?
I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of DASLS before, but I knew I wanted to move away from music (my degree subject) and this role seemed to offer the chance to challenge myself, learn new skills - and meet interesting lawyers! I felt very welcome in the interview and I love the variety of responsibilities that come with being part of a small in-office team.
What is your dream job?
Maybe something in politics, but as this interview is for my current employer I’m going to say DASLS Team Secretary.
What has been the most embarrassing moment during your professional career?
As my career with DASLS is all of 7 months old, I’m pleased to say there haven’t been many as yet. In my musical days I’ve had countless - singing out of tune, kicking amps over, unplugging guitars with an over exuberant high kick, dancing terribly – and all with an audience! It definitely taught me the value of powering through mishaps!
Which sort of work gives you the most job satisfaction?
I enjoy helping with the Social Sub-Committee; putting on events that people enjoy is a lot of fun and is certainly something I’d like to do more of… by the way readers, please do sign up for the 5-a-side football!
What do you do in your spare time?
Probably not as much as I should! I enjoy going to the cinema and bingeing on various TV series. I still write songs and record when I feel like it, but I think I’m still a student at heart - I do lots of sleeping!
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m not a big reader; I tend to listen to audiobooks. At the moment I’m listening to The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
What is the most recent film you have seen?
I think it was Disney Pixars’ Coco – I was fighting tears with that one!
What are your favourite food / restaurant?
There’s a Persian restaurant in Bristol called Kuch,...
On 22 August Wollen Michelmore announced that they will be merging with North Devon Law Firm Toller Beattie on the 1st October.
Toller Beattie have been trading in their current form since 1998 but their origins date back to 1780.
Wollen Michelmore’s history goes back 150 years.
Both firms have offices in Barnstaple – Wollen Michelmore at Roundswell and Toller Beattie at Pottington.
Left to Right: Maurice Clark, Clive Meredith, Gillian Jones, Jon Dunkley, Deborah Baker, Mark Roome, Alex Jenkins, David Eastman, Penelope Glaister, Charlotte McGregor and Chris Hart.
Flicking through magazines in the hairdressers the other day, I read an article in which famous celebrities were penning letters to their younger selves. Life lessons they wished they had realised earlier in their lives. It was highly illuminating!
Back at my desk and working through less exciting, but more work-appropriate, reading, I was saddened to read of a newly qualified solicitor whose career was taken away from her before it had really developed. Sadly, the reason was not unfamiliar.
The solicitor was found to have been dishonest. The reason for this was simply because she had demonstrated the wrong response to overwork. She had dishonestly backdated 23 documents in clinical negligence and personal injury matters and added the letters to her files. She also made false representations to the parent of a client in respect of the progress of litigation to cover up lack of developments. The SDT struck her off the roll of solicitors.
Her explanations shed light on the reasons for her career-ending decisions. She said that she had an excessive workload and that the reason for her dishonesty had been “to buy her time” and in “an effort to give myself some breathing space”. She continued: “I did not send any of the letters created and always tried to act in the best interests of my clients, it was simply a case that I was no longer able to cope.”
This got me wondering. In much the same way as the celebrity life lessons, what letter should a lawyer write to the younger version of themselves in terms of law lessons? What tips would a young lawyer like to hear from someone with more experience?
Here are some of my thoughts:
1. It’s ok to say that you are not coping. In fact, in terms of your career, this is the only sensible option when things are getting too much (as they do, from time to time, for all of us).
2. You will make mistakes. Everyone does. It’s what happens next that is mo...
When so much of the work they handle involves financial or property transactions, law firms find themselves, often reluctantly, in the front line of the fight against money laundering. Along with banks and financial institutions, they act as the government’s gatekeepers. It is 25 years since the first Money Laundering Regulations were passed, although legal services were not caught until ten years later. In this time, the criminal landscape has changed almost beyond recognition, but it is less clear whether the steps taken by law firms have kept pace.
The first EU AML directive from June 1991 resulted, inter alia, in the Money Laundering Regulations 1993. While there has been growing concern about the role of law firms as professional enablers, file reviews suggest that many firms continue to pay lip service to certain aspects of the requirements.
Consider the number of money laundering reporting officers who admit to not having attended any training on the current regulations, the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, let alone the Criminal Finances Act 2017 or the European Union Financial Sanctions (Amendment of Information Provisions) Regulations 2017.
This attitude feeds through into a firm’s policies and procedures. It is all too common to see procedures (and Terms of Business) that still refer to the 2007, or even the 2003, AML regulations. Changing the date from 2007 to 2017 without any substantive review of content is as unconvincing as printing the 2017 regulations or the Legal Sector Affinity Group’s March 2018 AML guidance without anything to show that they have been read or applied. This is particularly so if the firm’s AML folder also includes information and staff training records that are way out of date.
Most firms are aware of the need to identify their clients and to verify that identity. But when reviewing files, it is very common to see co...
Professional services remain on the Brexit back burner
When Barclays started to write about Brexit back in 2015-2016, our experts believed it to be a surmountable headwind for the UK. Two years on, do Head of Investment Strategy, Will Hobbs, and Head of Government Relations, Peter Gordon, still agree?
In spite of lengthy Brexit negotiations, UK companies putting investment plans on hold and plenty of political manoeuvring within the Conservative Party, Barclays’ Will Hobbs and Peter Gordon agree that the resilience of the UK’s economy and stability of its political landscape are commonly underestimated.
The UK is not a corporate community that has grown up behind barriers or protectionism, stresses Hobbs. “Essentially the companies operating in the country have been forged in the white heat of global competition. As a result, they tend to be more resilient and adaptable than the caricature.”
While both domestic companies and those with international exposure are putting their investment plans on hold, Hobbs says the UK makes a very interesting place to invest in once the ‘considerable’ dust from Brexit settles.
“Although Brexit is viewed by some as a mess, we still live in a country with a rightly famed legal system and much envied institutional context. These factors, alongside a likely still growing and flexible workforce will continue to be part of the long term attraction of the UK economy.”
Hobbs predicts that, post-Brexit negotiations, much deferred investment will be syphoned into the UK. “If the scenario becomes less ‘hard Brexit’ and the ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra is dispensed with, UK businesses may become more confident in investing, and that will be more beneficial for financial services.”
Banks are providing steady leverage into the economy but it’s “just not kicking off as it is elsewhere,” says Hobbs, who adds that, while Brexit is not a disaster, the comparative ...
In this article we reflect back on our own experience in Accountants Reports in 2017 and also provide some information from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about the impact they have seen since the changes in regime that commenced back in 2014.
There have been 3 main phases in terms of changes in the reporting regime over recent years which can be summarised as follows:-
Phase 1 (Oct 2014) – exemptions for certain LAA firms, unqualified reports not submitted
Phase 2 (Nov 2015) – new report, outcomes based, extended exemptions for report being required
Phase 3 (Expected - 2019) – new rules to come into effect.
Before Phase 1 commenced around 10,000 reports were prepared each year; with the advent of exemptions for LAA and small balance firms this has now reduced to around 7,500. So in absolute terms the impact of phases 1 and 2 was significant in this respect.
To date however the most significant impact has been phase 2 and the move to reporting accountants (RA’s) being required to exercise “professional judgement” in their conclusions and reporting. From the RA’s perspective this has changed the way we approach a good deal of our work and audit approach; from the SRA’s perspective this change has reduced the volume of qualified reports submitted.
In broad terms before Phase 2; as a firm our statistics show that we typically qualified around 40% of the Reports we completed for law firms. Since the implementation of Phase 2 combined with guidance issued by both the SRA and ICAEW this has reduced to between 10% and 15%. With further public guidance by the SRA on certain areas we expect this percentage may reduce further in the future.
Looking back to 2017 the most common reasons we experienced for the qualification of reports included:-
Provision of banking services
Residual balances not being returned to clients on completion of matters
Residual balances being transferred to office without notification of cos...
IT systems in todays every evolving world must deal with pressures and demands from all sides, including the critical need for high end security. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving the ways that they attack unsuspecting users, both at home and in the work place. We often hear clients say that they think their location, type of business, size of company, and numerous other reasons are why they do not need to worry, the statement “who is going to want to come after us” is often bandied around. The answer is cyber criminals. If you have anything online at all, you can be targeted, often the criminals are not in the UK or even Europe. They do not care what you do, how often you do it, or where you do it, they just want to get access to your data or systems.
We should all have secure firewalls, encrypted all our machines, and even periodically run vulnerability tests on our networks. If you do not do any of those things, then please get in touch with us today so we can help you, just email us at email@example.com and we can get you protected. Unfortunately though, even with all of these things in place, if you are also not utilising MFA or multi-factor authentication techniques, then these other security measures can be bypassed.
MFA does not have to be complicated or costly. It should also be possible to roll it out quickly to all staff that need it. With advancements in remote access enabling more and more employees to be able to work from any location, it is even more imperative that there is a safe yet simple authentication strategy.
Here are just a few of the reasons that you should Multi-Factor Everything:
Identity theft is an easy, low-risk, high-reward crime. Everyone in every location is at danger of being affected by this. It is also widely regarded as one of the fastest growing type of crime with more money being made by these criminals that drug-related crimes.
Weak or stolen user credentials are hackers' weapon of choic...
Providers of straightforward, hassle free insurance for unoccupied properties
Unoccupied Direct’s product has been developed to provide cover for properties that are unoccupied due to the owner moving into a care home, back in with family members or during probate. We work directly with solicitors to ensure that their clients have market-leading cover in place for their loved one’s property whilst it’s empty.
Our market-unique product and services were set up after 20 years of experience insuring unoccupied properties by our parent company, Vasek Insurance. As one of the leading wholesalers of property insurance in the UK, Unoccupied Direct’s product is the accumulation of years of Vasek’s industry experience, designed to suit a market in need of a particular type of cover and service.
Working with The Law Society, Law Skills, STEP, SFE and regular features in Property Division, the last few months in particular have seen Unoccupied Direct become the go-to provider of insurance for lawyers who work with probate clients, as well as a key resource for direct customers. As such, we’re excited to have become sponsors of the Devon and Somerset Law Society, and continuing to offer our services to a wider client base in the surrounding areas.
Key Features of Unoccupied Direct’s Product
Developed with solicitors, executors and powers of attorney in mind, our insurance is designed to be straightforward and easy to use. Some of the unique services we provide include:
Credit account facility - obtain immediate cover for the property, but make the payment later
Clear policy wordings and literature available in full - can be provided to you and your clients
Team of Business Development Executives on hand to help with any queries, with excellent customer service over the phone, email, or via LiveChat on our website
We can provide cover for every UK residential property, charge no excess in the event of a claim and provide £1m Buildi...
The first year’s NHS Resolution Annual Report and Accounts 17/18 was published on 12th July and makes for excellent and positive reading. In terms of mediation, the report highlights NHS Resolution’s success in achieving and going beyond their goals in what has been the first year of a five-year strategy.
I spoke with Julienne Vernon, Solicitor and Head of Claims Management Quality for NHS Resolution for her thoughts around this success.
L: One of the goals set was to increase the use of mediation in healthcare and to reduce the number of cases proceeding to Court. In previous years, how was mediation perceived on either side? What do you think were the barriers to cases being mediated?
J: As an organisation we have always used mediation as a forum for claims resolution and we have historically found that group action claims have a good mediation success rate. The barriers are really to do with the mindset on both sides and the cultural change required in moving away from only making written offers / Part 36 offers and the parties moving from the view that the only effective mode of alternative dispute resolution is a round table discussion between the lawyers. Mediation is a different settlement process. The claimant is the centre of the proceedings as opposed to the lawyers discussing the formal legalities.
L: How did you go about setting the target number of cases to be mediated in the first year?
J: We set a target of 50 cases based upon our experience of our mediation pilot. In 2014 we launched a mediation pilot scheme over the course of a year where we targeted 50 cases involving elderly care and/or fatalities, so a variety of high emotions were involved together with some low value cases where the claimants were seeking more than just compensation. For example, claimants/ families wanting to know that the NHS had taken on board any failings or receiving the apologies they were seeking. It was ...
The 2018 Regional Dinner will be held on Friday 2nd November at the Somerset County Cricket Club, Taunton.
This year's Guest Speaker is
Mr Denis Burn, High Sheriff of Somerset.
Click here for the flyer and booking form now available. Reserve your table early!...
The JLD have been making the most of the recent sunny weather, with a number of sporting and social events.
In July, the annual DASLS vs. JLD Rounders match took place in Exeter, with a great turn out for both teams. This provided our junior lawyers with the chance to show off their batting, bowling and stumping prowess but also to meet and network with DASLS members. After an hour's play, JLD took the spoils of victory. A barbecue was very kindly organised by DASLS, a few yards away at the Double Locks pub, to cap off the evening.
During the first week of August, we hosted a sporting-social of kayaking along the river Exe. 'Saddles & Paddles' in Exeter provided JLD members with kayaks to paddle downstream for a social event at the Double Locks pub (seemingly a popular venue for DASLS and JLD members!)
'Saddles & Paddles'
on the River Exe
Up next for the JLD is the annual JLD 5-a-side Football Tournament, to be held at Exeter University Sports Centre on Thursday 13 September. Please email Ben Butterworth at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter a team. The entry fee is £10 per team, with 100% of the profits from the evening going to Exeter Leukaemia Fund (ELF), the JLD's Charity of the year for 2017-18. The tournament starts at 6:00pm and matches will last for 15 minutes each.
The JLD are also planning their AGM and elections for the next JLD committee, which are likely to take place in November. Further details about this will be released shortly.
Ben Butterworth (Sports Representative)...
Do you feel like you’re not good enough?
Do you have a constant fear of ‘getting found
out’ or making a mistake? Do you feel you
don’t deserve your job or status? Then you
could, like many callers to the LawCare
helpline, have Impostor Syndrome.
The term Imposter Syndrome was coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Innes and originally recognised in high-achieving women, although it is now understood to affect men and women in equal numbers. Whilst psychologists are not in agreement about why the syndrome occurs, it can develop after experiencing constant criticism or a trauma in childhood. Those with ‘Type A’ personalities, often prevalent in lawyers and other high achieving professions, often have Impostor Syndrome. Characteristics of a Type A personality include those who are impatient, driven, a perfectionist, constantly feeling a sense of urgency, and self-critical. These can all be very useful in the workplace but destructive in your private life.
There are four presenting symptoms of Impostor Syndrome: Anxiety, Drive to Perfection, Self-Doubt and Fear of Failure.
Some examples of calls to the LawCare helpline with Impostor Syndrome that we have listened to include the caller still haunted by a client matter or court case from years ago, the caller who phones LawCare still at work after everyone has gone home or the caller who talks of going over and over something in their head.
If you identify with some of the above and would like to talk, call the LawCare helpline on 0800 279 6888, 9am-7.30pm weekdays, 10am-4pm week-ends and bank holidays. The helpline is free, independent and confidential.
Tips for dealing with Impostor Syndrome
Acknowledge your feelings
Try to have a strong support system both in and outside of work – it’s okay to ask for help
Trust yourself and your ability
Give yourself credit for your accomplishments both in and out of work
Learn to tak...
The following DASLS firms / members have been shortlisted:
Italo Cerullo, Nonwovenn - Solicitor of the Year: In-House
Trowers & Hamlins - Excellence in Learning and Development
Wollen Michelmore - Law Firm of the Year: Medium
Good luck at the Excellence Awards Ceremony in London on 17 October 2018....