Society's News


Corporate Members 2021

3PB Albion Chambers Ashfords Barcan + Kirby Battens Beale & Co BLM Burges Salmon Clarke Willmott CMS CMNO Cooke Painter Ltd Clyde & Co DAC Beachcroft The Family Law Practice Foot Anstey (including Enable Law) Fussell Wright GL Law Guildhall Chambers Irwin Mitchell Solicitors Lyons Davidson Marc White & Co Meade King Osborne Clarke Paragon Costs Solutions Queen Square Chambers … more


BLS features in Bristol Post oldest thriving companies in Bristol

Excerpt from the article: How Bristol’s oldest companies are still thriving after more than 100 years in business They include the city’s last-surviving chocolate maker a wine merchant and a tannery. Why do some companies struggle to survive beyond a year while others flourish for hundreds? Although more than 90 per cent of small companies in Britain will survive one … more


No 12, The Meeting Rooms – Conference, Meeting and Mediation Rooms for Hire

Please note that the BLS office is shut to members at present as we continue to work from home during the pandemic.  Bristol Law Society’s suite of conference and meeting rooms including a suite of mediation rooms are conveniently located in the centre between the Waterfront Area and the Old City in a modern building situated on the corner of … more


News


BLS AGM bids farewell to Ben Holt and welcomes Co-Presidents Erin Sawyer and Edd Thompson in progressive move

The BLS AGM was held on 16th November and in a move reflecting that both Erin Sawyer and Edd Thompson will have very young family responsibilities over the coming two years, the two will share the role and responsibilities of President over the two year term. BLS is delighted to be able to support such a progressive change in our 251 year history and we very much look forward to supporting and working with them both in the next two years.

We would also like to say a thank you to Ben Holt, who gamely took on the President’s role for two back-to-back terms during the pandemic – not an easy task or one he anticipated but it allows him to be the only consecutively twice appointed President in our history – an unprecented move or twice- presidented move as he likes to say!

Thanks also to former President Nick Lee who finishes his time on Council after many years of service and also to Jonathan Peacock, our Treasurer who has also stepped down. We thanks them both for their time and effort in supporting BLS over the last few years. We simply could not do it without our volunteer lawyers.

Welcome to our new officers, Rachel Fisher who comes in as Treasurer and Stuart Henry who joins us as Junior Vice President.

You can read Ben Holt’s AGM speech here providing his overview of the last year and  Erin Sawyer and Edd Thompson speeches setting out briefly their hopes for their co-presidency.

L to R Coralie McKeivor, Hon Sec; Stuart Henry, Junior Vice President; Edd Thompson and Erin Sawyer, Co-Presidents; Ben Holt, Immediate Past President; Rachel Fisher, Treasurer

 


Bristol Drug Project – BLS Presidents’ Charity of the Year

BDP opened its doors in the city in 1986, delivering services to individuals, families and communities affected by drugs and  alcohol, which reduce harm, maximise individuals’ potential and promote independence from drugs and alcohol.

BDP has been at the forefront of harm reduction for 35 years in Bristol and nationally, operating one of the first needle exchanges in England, supporting people through detox  and  developing support for a new generation of young people using heroin in the early 90’s before Youth Offending Teams and specialist Child & Mental Health Services were developed.

They remain  committed to meeting the needs of different populations e.g. running  groups for women, older people and people identifying as LBGTQ+ and developing new initiatives to reduce harm including a drug education programme which offers young people arrested in possession of any drug an alternative to a criminal justice disposal. Despite the challenges of Covid, BDP supported 2,807 individual adults and young people during 2020/21, maintaining face-to-face support wherever safe to do so.

https://www.facebook.com/Bristoldrugsproject / https://twitter.com/bdpROADS

“Maximising People’s Potential: Promoting Independence from Drugs & Alcohol”


Bristol Old Vic are reaching out to the legal community to help them realise their upcoming show, The Meaning of Zong.

The Meaning of Zong is the debut play by Olivier Award-winner Giles Terera (Hamilton), an exploration of a watershed moment in the campaign to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade which shines a light on modern day Britain.

For a pivotal moment in the play, set during a trial hearing at the King’s Bench in Westminter Hall, writer-director Giles Terera and designer Jean Chan have imagined an incredibly ambitious piece of set design, in which the stage will transform in front of the audiences’ eyes, creating one of the most technically brilliant and emotionally powerful transformations ever conjured on Bristol Old Vic’s stage.

To deliver this moment, Bristol Old Vic need to raise £15,000, and we would love to say that this moment has been made possible thanks to the support of Bristol’s legal sector.

There is a long-standing relationship between our theatre and members of the legal profession in Bristol, and we believe this is a fantastic opportunity for a group of dedicated supporters to gain unique insight the creation of this show, and be part of what promises to be a historic production.

We would love to hear from firms or individuals interested in supporting this production, and in return for support we can offer some unique experiences around the production, example benefits may include:

  • Tickets to a performance of The Meaning of Zong, including an opportunity to meet some of the cast and creative team
  • The opportunity to attend either a dress or technical rehearsal of the production
  • An invitation to be part of the Directors’ Circle
  • Supporters crediting in-print or online as appropriate

To find out more about this exciting opportunity, please contact doug.middling@bristololdvic.org.uk

 


Wessex Searches – Streamlining our commercial offering

click here to enlarge


BLS Awards 2021 – Winners Announced!

Congratulations to all those shortlisted nominees who attended our dinner last night but our most particular congratulations to the winners of the awards!

We hope all our guests had an enjoyable evening and thank you again for all your support of Bristol Law Society in its 250th year!

 


Thomson Reuters 2021 UK Small and Medium Law Firm Market (UKSMLF) report

Author; Gilly Grant, Director, Thomson Reuters Legal Europe

 

Identifying opportunities and embracing challenges for small UK law firms

The last eighteen months have been a tumultuous time for law firms in the United Kingdom (UK). In a profession that is typically office-based, firms had to adjust their standard operational practices and remote working became unavoidable. The regular business of running a law firm changed overnight.

Despite the considerable disruptions to standard law firm operations, many small UK law firms have made progress to overcome some obstacles. However, on the horizon, key issues remain that will need longer-term solutions for these firms to compete.

Five key challenges for small law firms in the market today, are:

  1. Market and revenue expectations;
  2. Increase in client expectations;
  3. Practice area demands and business development;
  4. Technology; and,
  5. Attracting and retaining talent.

Data from the Thomson Reuters 2021 UK Small and Medium Law Firm Market (UKSMLF) report holds insights into these challenges

Market and revenue expectations

According to the UKSMLF report, “the pandemic has caused challenges around ‘uncertainty’ and adapting to new ways of working — from dealing with challenges around IT infrastructure — to seeing fluctuation in workload and challenges with cash flow”. These issues are in addition to themes that flow from last year, such as managing expenses and the impact of regulatory change in the market. Though the competitive landscape remains tough, the biggest threat to law firms is online legal service providers (53%), according to the survey.

Increase in client expectations

Client demands on their law firms are on the rise as clients themselves become increasingly legally aware and business savvy. Over a third surveyed for the UKSMLF report indicate that client expectations are higher over the last year. Under increased pressure, too, from the pandemic — clients are seeking additional support from their external counsel. The respondents of the UKSMLF survey note that clients expect their lawyers to work out of hours, causing the line to be blurred between home and office — and faster response speed is also expected.

Change in practice area demands and business development

The pandemic has brought about some unexpected changes in practice area demand. One of the top areas experiencing a surge is employment law. This was primarily brought on by the UK Government furlough scheme with advice on employment contracts. Other areas that law firm leaders expect higher demands are ligation / dispute resolution; private client; commercial transactions; and, residential, according to the UKSMLF Report. Though, an increase in new practice area demands can off-set the decline in other areas. Agile law firms with access to up-to-date knowhow and research tools can take advantage of the surge in alternative practice areas and keep a competitive edge.

Technology

The increased competition from online legal service providers is seen as the number one commercial threat to small law firms, and medium law firms deem it in their top three. Conversely, only 18% of respondents for small law firms indicate an objective of ‘improving technology infrastructure and security’, with medium law firms slightly higher at 36% and noted as their third most important objective in the next 12 months. There is huge opportunity to promote firm growth with legal technology. By automating some of the more repetitive tasks, reducing research time — this leaves more time for client care and business development. Unsurprisingly, 75% of the survey respondents believe that technology will help them address many of the concerns law firms have in the current market climate.

Attracting and retaining talent

One consequence of the pandemic is what has been termed ‘The Great Resignation’ with a flood of people leaving their job. According to the 2021 State of the Legal Market UK report, 86% of the standout lawyers would like to change the way they work moving forward to embrace more flexible working practices. Most notable is that one-third of the respondent lawyers indicated they would leave their firm within two years if their firm doesn’t adopt more flexible working practices.

The trend seems to be moving away from primarily office-based and paper research tools. The use of legal technology assists with flexible working — and offers benefits from promoting greater efficiency, increased productivity, and improved client response time. Ultimately, the use of legal technology will help keep a firm attractive to the top candidates — and increase retention rates.

 Conclusion

Despite the significant changes in the legal industry, there are opportunities for small law firms to grow and thrive. Traditional business models should be reviewed, updated, and changes implemented to stay competitive in a challenging landscape. Seizing the opportunity to expand practice areas will require investment in on demand and current legal information for your legal professionals. Moreover, staying competitive is paramount with the increase in demand for legal services that is predicted for 2021 and beyond.

You can read the online digital version on Thomson Reuters website here


NEW RESEARCH INTO LAWYER WELLBEING MAKES CASE FOR PROFESSION-WIDE CHANGE

Legal professionals at high risk of burnout, 69% have experienced mental ill-health, 1 in 5 bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work

Legal mental health charity LawCare has today released the findings of its research study Life in the Law. The research into wellbeing in the profession captured data between October 2020 and January 2021 from over 1,700 legal professionals in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, and Isle of Man. The aim of the research was to take a snapshot of mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession to help inform future steps the profession must collectively take to improve wellbeing in the sector.

The study questioned legal professionals on a range of areas, including work intensity (workload and working hours), and used three recognised academic scales for burnout (disengagement and exhaustion), autonomy (ability to control what, where, how, and with whom, work is done), and psychological safety (ability to speak up with ideas and questions, raise concerns or admit mistakes).

Mental ill-health
The majority of participants (69%) had experienced mental ill-health (whether clinically or self-diagnosed) in the 12 months before completing the survey.
Most common experiences of mental ill-health, experienced often to all of the time, included anxiety, low mood, and depression. Of those who had experienced mental ill-health, only 56% said they had talked about it at work. The most common reason for not disclosing mental ill-health at work was the fear of stigma that would attach, resulting career implications, and financial and reputational consequences.

Burnout

Data from the study suggests legal professionals are at a high risk of burnout with participants aged between 26 and 35 displaying the highest burnout scores, and also reporting the lowest autonomy, lowest psychological safety, and highest work intensity score. Female legal professionals, those from ethnic minorities, and those with a disability also scored higher than average for burnout and lower for autonomy and psychological safety at work. Participants with lower autonomy at work and lower psychological safety at work displayed higher burnout.

Negative effects of current working culture and practices
Being exposed to high levels of work intensity (having a high workload and working long hours) was associated with higher burnout, regardless of how much autonomy a person had, or how psychologically safe their work environment was. 28% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed that their work required them to be available to clients 24/7 and 65% said they checked emails outside of work hours to keep up with their workload.

Sleep
The study suggests that many legal professionals are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours a night) with just over a third of participants (35%) estimating they had slept between 6 to 7 hours a night over the 2 weeks before completing the survey, a quarter (25%) averaging 5 to 6 hours, and over one in ten (12%) indicating they had less than 5 hours a night. As the number of hours slept per night decreased, levels of burnout increased.

 COVID-19
Most participants were not furloughed (88%) and only 2% were made redundant because of the pandemic. Nonetheless, almost half expressed concern about their job security and 58% were more concerned about their finances during COVID-19. 59% reported being more concerned about increased pressures around work-life balance.

 Bullying, harassment, or discrimination at work
Just over one in five participants (22%) said they had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination in the workplace in the 12 months before completing the survey. These individuals displayed higher burnout levels, lower autonomy, and lower psychological safety at work, and reported higher levels of work intensity.

What makes a difference to wellbeing?
The most commonly provided workplace support measures were regular catch-ups or appraisals, mental health policies, mental health and wellbeing training, and signposting to external support. Of these, regular catch-ups or appraisals were reported to be the most helpful. Having these in place helped to bolster confidence in personal development and reduce anxiety. Despite this only 48% of those in a position of management or supervisory capacity had received leadership, management, or supervisory training.

Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare said: “This research, the first of its kind in this country, provides robust evidence that the legal profession is stressed, tired, anxious, at high risk of burnout and that those working practices in the law that undermine mental health need to change. We want this research to be the catalyst for us to come together as a profession to create that change, to create a culture in law that puts the law’s greatest asset – it’s people – first. The experience of living and working through a global pandemic has had a profound effect on us all and presents an opportunity like no other to reimagine the future and make it happen.”

Full report available at www.lawcare.org.uk/lifeinthelaw

 


HMCTS – Family Public Law Service Mandation

Please see attached letter dated 14th September for full details: FPL Digital Service_External Mandation Letter_v1.0


BLS Annual Awards Dinner 2021 – Shortlist announced!

Congratulations to all the individuals, teams and organisations that were nominated this year with particular congratulations to those who were shortlisted by our judging panel.  The outstanding quality of the nominations, made for some lively discussion and tough decisions for the panel!

Our thanks to the Judging Panel:

Nick Lee, Immediate Past President BLS; Erin Sawyer, Senior Vice President BLS; Sheldon Carlisle, Hays; Roger Isaacs, Milsted Langdon; Matthew Baker, Howden; Zara Nanu, Gapsquare, and HHJ Paul Matthews

Good Luck to all shortlisted candidates on 14th October! We look forward to celebrating with you!

You can download the shortlist here

Law Student of the Year
Sarah Barnes, University of the West of England
Laura Meredith and Eleanor Lewis (Joint), University of Bristol Law Clinic Inquest Team

Support Team Member of the Year
Siobhan Fagan, Senior Digital Marketing Executive, Barcan+Kirby
Catherine Smith, Head of Facilities, TLT

Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Award
Foot Anstey
IP Inclusive
Womble Bond Dickinson

Junior Lawyer of the Year
Sophie Brown, Cook Corporate
Grace Humphries, TLT
India Jenkins, Burges Salmon
Stephanie Pugh, Barcan+Kirby

Legal Innovators Award
Burges Salmon
Osborne Clarke

Chambers of the Year
3PB Barristers
Albion Chambers
Guildhall Chambers

Lawyer of the Year
Robin Denford, Bristol City Council
Joanna Newton, Stowe Family Law
Heledd Wyn, GL Law

Team of the Year
Property Team, GL Law
Stowe Family Law, Bristol
VWV approach/NET

Community Engagement Law Firm of the Year
Burges Salmon
DAC Beachcroft
Irwin Mitchell
Womble Bond Dickinson

Sustainable Business of the Year
Burges Salmon
Womble Bond Dickinson

Law Firm of the Year (Up to 20 Partners)
Barcan+Kirby
Cook Corporate
GL Law

Law Firm of the Year (Over 20 Partners)
Bevan Brittan
DAC Beachcroft
VWV

President’s Outstanding Achievement Award

To be awarded on the night


Insight Legal wins the ILFM Solicitors’ Software Users Award 2021

 

Insight Legal are proud and delighted to announce that we have again been awarded the Solicitors’ Software Users Award from the Institute of Legal Finance and Management (ILFM), a title we’ve had the immense pleasure of winning in previous years.

For more than 15 years the ILFM’s members have been asked for their feedback on their day-to-day use of software and asked to choose their award winners based on a set of questions. Members are asked to give their honest views of their legal accounts software package and how it helps to carry out their duties.

The ILFM currently has over two thousand of members and the range of designations from the award’s survey answers is a mixture of legal cashiers, practice managers, COFAs, senior partners, and sole practitioners.

From the 30 different software packages put forward, Insight Legal were crowned winners with excellent feedback from users in these areas; our team being approachable and exceptional with communication; straightforward use of the software; an outstanding satisfaction rating for quality of helpdesk/support calls/tickets handling; top marks for how the software helps users carry out their role in a compliant way; effective for meeting the regulator’s requirements; and overall satisfaction for the software and the Insight Legal team meeting the day-to-day needs of a user.

On behalf of everyone at Insight Legal, I am absolutely delighted that we have again been announced as winners of the Solicitors’ Software Users Award from the ILFM.

 The ILFM is an organisation that we hold in very high regard, and it means so much to us that the award is voted by the Institute’s members. All of our staff take great pride in knowing that the software we work hard to develop and the service that we provide are well received, and most importantly that we are making a difference for our users.

We are very grateful to have also been winners of the award in past years (2016-2019 – we don’t talk about 2020!) and it’s always been a source of great pride. This year, knowing that the users were surveyed not just on the functionality of their software, but also the quality of the support and their trust in their supplier, makes this year’s award an even greater achievement.

 Deborah Witkiss, Chief Operating Officer, Insight Legal Software Ltd

The Solicitors’ Software Users Award winners are voted by the ILFM’s members, each of whom are asked several questions about the software and supplier they use. The ILFM remains strictly impartial and no recommendations or advice are ever imparted to the members. The ILFM produce a Software Suppliers’ Guide focusing on legal accounts and administration systems and services to all its members as part of its yearly fee.  The aim of the guide is to assist all ILFM members with insights from the research which it carries out; independent and impartial data and information is then collated into the guide, which then operates to help ILFM members choose the software package that best suits them and their teams.

The award will be presented by ILFM Chief Executive Tim Kidd in September 2021.
This highly respected and sought-after award is presented to show that the winners have earned the title “the ILFM Solicitors Software Users Award 2021” based on actual users’ feedback.

Insight Legal is a software firm specialising in Legal Accounts, Practice Management and Case Management system. The software is specifically designed to meet the needs of UK and Irish Law Firms. As a team Insight Legal design, develop, deploy, train, service and support the Insight Legal system for all the firms who use it. The software is entirely its own and we are proudly independent.

www.insightlegal.co.uk

 


BLS’ new Annual Dinner Sponsor LCR provides 5 reasons to Mediate Costs Disputes

 

  1. Resolve costs disputes quicker and cheaper for your clients
  2. Avoid the uncertainty of the Courts
  3. Avoid costs sanctions
  4. You can pick the Mediator
  5. Mediation is confidential

 

            “£250,000 Fixed Fee Arrangement found to be unreasonable and set aside”

Achara Tripipatkul v WH Lawrence Limited [2021] EWHC B13)

            “CFAs unenforceable in High Court critical ruling”

            Global Energy Horizons Corporation v The Winros Partnership [2020] EWHC B27 (Costs)

            “Retainer must state if invoices are intended to be final statute bills”

Iwuanyawu v Ratcliffes Solicitors [2020] EWHC B25 (Costs)

These are three of the recent headlines you will find on our website. Retainers and funding arrangements continue to be challenged, solicitor and client disputes are increasing, there are conflicting authorities on proportionality, and nobody knows what hourly rates will be recoverable.

Costs litigation is probably one of the most unpredictable areas of litigation. The ramifications of your CFA or Retainer being ruled unenforceable do not stop with the matter in dispute. Firms have written-off hundreds of thousands of pounds where a dispute has arisen in respect of their funding arrangements or costs.

Costs disputes can be expensive and time-consuming. Let’s be honest, most Solicitors do not enjoy dealing with costs and would rather be dealing with their own area of expertise. Whatever your issue, and regardless of the size of the dispute, there is an ADR solution which will save time and money.

The sales bit. Our panel of highly experienced costs lawyers and barristers have a wealth of experience and knowledge. We have conducted high value and complex costs litigation across the courts and tribunals for many years. We are experienced in dealing with technical points of law relating to retainers, proportionality, hourly rates and costs management. Whilst we enjoy advocacy and have had much success with the detailed assessment procedure, the modern world requires a modern approach.

What if ADR is not for you? Here are a few more headlines from our website:

            Claimant awarded costs on the indemnity basis after Defendant refuses ADR

BXB v Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Pennsylvannia and Trustees of the Barry     Congregation of Jehovah’s Witness [2020] EWHC 656 (Admin)

DSN v Blackpool Football Club Limited [2020] EWCH 670 (QB)

Various Claimants v Mirror Group Newspapers SCCO 4 October 2016

            Defendant deprived of their costs for refusing to engage in ADR

Wales (t/a Selective Investment Services) v CBRE Managed Services Ltd & Anor [2020] EWHC            1050 (Comm)

PGF II SA v OMFS Company and Another [2012] 3 Costs LO 404

Laporte v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] 3 Costs LR 471

The consequences of refusing ADR are significant. It is not in the client’s interests to refuse ADR. The solicitor must act in the client’s bests interest. It will be a matter of time before their retainers are challenged, and negligence claims are brought because solicitors have not properly advised their clients about the benefits of ADR.

ADR includes mediation, expert determinations and early neutral evaluations. If you don’t want us to resolve your disputes, then maybe we can just point you all in the right direction.

Legal costs are a consequence of a dispute and should not be the focus of the dispute. Often there are one or two sticking points which prevent a settlement. These issues can often be resolved through ADR.

Legal Costs Resolutions provides an alternative to resolving costs disputes by way of detailed assessment. Our range of services is designed to eliminate issues between the parties and help achieve a quicker, less expensive and more efficient resolution than would be achieved through a traditional detailed assessment.

Click for ADR

Click for Budgets and Bills

LCR is delighted to be sponsoring Team of the Year at the 2021 BLS Annual Awards Dinner. We wish all nominees the best of luck and look forward to seeing you all on the night.

LCR can offer BLS Corporate members 50% off their first mediation. Its like Dr Pepper- what’s the worst that can happen?

Save the date- Mock Mediation on 16 November. Details to follow.


Bristol City Council – Consultation on priorities deadline 26th Sept

We’re consulting on a new draft Corporate Strategy 2022 to 2027. Tell us what you think about our priorities: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/bristol-city-council/corporate-strategy-2021/


Dispute Resolution in England and Wales – MOJ call for evidence – deadline 30 Sept

This Call for Evidence is seeking evidence on Dispute Resolution from all interested parties, the judiciary, legal profession, mediators and other dispute resolvers, academics, the advice sector, court users. We are particularly interested in collecting evidence from individuals or organisations with data to share on the relevant questions; or those who have had experience of dispute resolution within and outside of the courts system to support the development of more effective dispute resolution mechanisms. We welcome frontline insights with tangible examples.

 

Read the full detail and access the survey via the link below:

Dispute resolution in England and Wales: Call for Evidence – Ministry of Justice – Citizen Space


Employment Advice from Bristol Law Centre is changing

Employment Advice from Bristol Law Centre is changing

Our advice line for the public will cease after the 10th August 2021.

Our assessment team will continue to offer either clinic appointments, or call backs from our employment team. Urgent advice needs can still be dealt with within those routes. All advice is free.

Call the assessment team 0117 924 8662 or freephone 0330 024 0389. Lines are open 10am-12noon and 2pm-4pm, Monday to Friday. Emails will be considered on an equal priority to calls, and partners or clients should email reception@bristollawcentre.org.uk

For more details and for links from your website:

https://www.bristollawcentre.org.uk/get-help/employment/

You will also find details on our website about how clients may be able to access advice through having LEI, and our support for settlement agreements.

And if someone has experienced discrimination please read more here https://www.bristollawcentre.org.uk/get-help/discrimination/

Please share with your frontline teams, and other partners/networks as much as possible.


Howden’s second Solicitors Market report of 2021 is now ready.

In our latest Solicitors’ Market Report we discuss the outcome of the April 2021 PII renewal and our forecast for the rest of the year. We share renewal housekeeping tips, D&O Liability focussed FAQs, causes of PII claims and offer guidance on Pre-Action Protocol that applies to professional negligence claims.

https://view.publitas.com/howden-uk-group/howden-solicitors-market-report-july-2021/page/1


HMCTS – Safely increasing capacity in our buildings from 19 July 2021

The government has confirmed that the legal requirement for social distancing in England will be removed from today (Monday 19 July 2021), as well as the detail of which other aspects of step 4 on the roadmap will be adopted. In Wales, meanwhile, it is hoped most restrictions will be lifted on 7 August 2021. In Scotland, it is hoped that all major restrictions will be lifted on 9 August 2021.

We have published our updated guidance for all court and tribunal users during the COVID-19 pandemic, Organisational Risk Assessment and assessment tool, and keeping our buildings safe, secure and clean which forms the basis on which we are working from today (19 July 2021). As ever this may be further refined in the light of any additional guidance that is issued.

Our Acting CEO Kevin Sadler also published a blog last week which provided details on the changes we’ll be making to some of the measures in our courts and tribunals in England to safely increase capacity. We’ll do our best to respond to any questions with the information available to us, making use of our existing regular meetings and communication channels to update you whenever we can.

In addition, we’ve organised an online panel discussion for legal professionals on Tuesday 27 July 2021 from 5pm to 6pm. The session will discuss how we are responding to Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of national restrictions for England. The event will be chaired by Paul Harris, HMCTS Operations Director, with questions and feedback steered by legal professional body representatives who will also sit on the panel, including representatives from The Law Society, Bar Council, Criminal Bar Association and CILEX. Registration for the event is now open.


The transformational powers of workflow – Article by Insight Legal

The transformational powers of workflow

By Tim Smith, CEO, Insight Legal

If there’s one critical business lesson for us to take from the last 18 months, it is the vital importance of having the right software in place to tackle whatever changes and challenges come your way.

Your office likely looks quite different to what it once did and your working methods may have changed, but in a time where change is the only thing that is certain, operating an organised workplace has never been more pivotal to success.

A successful law firm must be two key things – efficient and effective. At a time when demands on firms have never been greater, this article puts workflow capabilities at centre stage and explores how software helps us to navigate a successful course whilst thriving in the hyper-competitive legal landscape of present day.

The problem of disorganisation

Fully understanding the benefits of workflow begins with an appreciation of disorganisation. Untidy piles of paperwork, cluttered desks and unanswered, ringing phones may instantly spring to mind here. However, a disorganised office is not necessarily as visible as this. Stereotypical dishevelled appearance aside, a law firm’s disorganisation may manifest in diverse ways, be it making mistakes in documents and losing files or missing deadlines and failing to inform clients about landmarks reached in matters.

For end users of legal services, these signs are no less visible than the chaotic-mess typecast. Client outcomes are impacted negatively by errors, delays, confusion, oversights and general topsy-turvy-ness. Needless to say, an unhappy consumer will not bring repeat business or refer your practice to others.

The signs of disorganisation are equally visible to senior leaders. With a lack of efficiency, both billable hours and caseload volume are capped. This, of course, limits revenue. A high client churn rate means overspending on attracting new business and struggling to compete with better-organised rivals. Lack of audit trailing and monitoring of case progress makes it easier to breach regulatory rules which can lead to intervention by the SRA, CLC or other supervisory bodies.

Disparate systems for working and for storing information results in the inability to collaborate, arrange cover during staff absenteeism and gain a coherent picture of overall practice performance. Heavy staff turnover is another unavoidable consequence because it’s demoralising and demotivating day to day, which places unnecessary strain on your HR resource for incessant recruitment. The list goes on.

In sum, disorganisation is damaging for business.

Getting organised with workflow

A solution presents itself in the form of workflow. The word workflow itself presents certain connotations. Some imagine the workflow systems of old, which were no more than a prescribed checklist of tasks and events. Almost a tick-box exercise.

Put simply, a workflow maps out in advance the sequence of actions relating to particular case types. But far from the systems of the past, modern software and well-designed workflows offer a guiding hand and a supporting framework for staff whilst catering for potential deviations in cases which are more complex in nature. A workflow does not have to prescribe the entire case from start to finish, and it would be naïve to think that every eventuality in every type of legal case can be defined in this way. What is certain though, is that no matter how complex the case, there are certain elements where defined process is absolutely critical.

Take client onboarding, engagement and client care for example. Can your law firm afford not to have clearly defined processes for your staff to follow at this stage when compliance is of the utmost importance? Workflow can be bought out of the box, tailored to your ways of working or written completely from scratch, depending upon your unique set up, so there really is no reason why any firm cannot benefit from these essential tools.

Whether you are committed, open-minded or reserved about workflows for your business, it is useful to illustrate how it offers automation support during a matter’s entire lifecycle. It is also reassuring to understand some of the steps to implementing workflows, and where you can see immediate benefits.

Start by identifying each phase in your workflow from beginning to end. These are the repeated processes pertinent to particular categories of matters. Conveyancing is a prime example of how logical parts of a property conveyance can be created via workflow as they rarely veer from a standard course.  Even if you are running a type of case that does not follow the same path every time, breaking down a case into phases that can be started as and when needed allows you to plan and control even complex and irregular types of matter.

For each of the aforementioned phases, attribute tasks to yourself and others with timely reminders. These are defined actions required at that specific phase. Note any dependencies or associated actions, say a related Probate and Property Sale. With proper workflow solutions, actions can be triggered in one matter once a milestone has been reached in the other.

Many of the required tasks necessitate completion of prescribed or customised documentation, whether it is from an integrated legal forms library or your own branded templates. The correct document can simply be assigned to a task, opened at the right time, automatically populated with case information straight from your database, calculations done automatically and submitted to the relevant recipient.

Workflows are not just about documentation, either. You can set prompts for gathering information, make relevant hyperlinks available to users at key points in the matter, submit already populated payment requests to your accounts department, and even link directly to property search providers where required.

The benefits of workflow and organisation

Workflows occur across every kind of business and industry. A business becomes effective by organising their processes, their requirements and their responsibilities, and becomes truly efficient by making them streamlined. Many of the benefits of an organised office are glaringly perceptible. Cast your mind back to the chaotic mess which can be resolved by electronic filing, paperless office vision and clear desk policy – part-and-parcel of workflow. However, the impact of an organised office runs far deeper than mere aesthetics and it is workflow that brings about this transformation.

It is the ability to avoid repetitive work for greater job satisfaction. It is the ability to free your schedule of administration so there is more time for the practice of law. It is the ability to do what you do to the best standard – quality documents, every appointment remembered and milestones met. It is the ability to centrally store your digital assets with no more misplaced files. It is the ability to connect all employees regardless of location, gain a unified firm-wide view and present your brand consistently. It is the ability to retain clients due to service level improvements. It is the ability to comply with regulators’ guidelines because there is simply no room for slip ups. It is the ability to retain staff as your office is a nice environment and there is flexible working. It is the ability to accomplish a whole lot more besides.

If you are not yet familiar with Insight’s Enterprise module, comprising a series of pre-built workflows and also the tooling to create your own, head over to https://www.insightlegal.co.uk/solicitors-software/enterprise/

Enterprise might just be the key to your organised office.

 

 

 


Contested Financial Remedy Applications – HMCTS Update June 2021

Please see attached letter from the Court : Contested FR Update June 2021


COVID-19: Operational notice for external court users of Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre

HMCTS has been notified of suspected and positive COVID-19 tests amongst a small
number of people who attended our site within the last 14 days. Those awaiting test results or who have received positive test results are self-isolating for a minimum of 10 days fromthe onset of their symptoms. We wish them a speedy recovery.

As a precautionary step, the areas they occupied or visited while on site are isolated for 72 hours, with signs clearly indicating the isolation points, and followed by regular touchpoint cleaning or s16 cleaning, as appropriate.

Those affected have reported that they had no contact with members of the public visiting the building. Anyone they identified as having been in close contact (which includes spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of somebody, face-to-face contact of less than one metre, skin-to-skin contact, or sharing a vehicle), would be notified immediately by the court or tribunal they attended, as well as by NHS Test and Trace.

READ THE FULL NOTICE HERE: Friday 16 July external

 

 


2021/22 round of Queen’s Counsel honoris causa (honorary silk) awards by inviting nomination

Dear Colleagues

The Ministry of Justice has launched the 2021/22 round of Queen’s Counsel honoris causa (honorary silk) awards by inviting nominations.  All practitioners and members of the public are free to make nominations (including self-nominations, if they qualify) directly to the Ministry of Justice.

As in previous years, the Law Society is participating in this process by making nominations itself of solicitor members of The Law Society. We are publicising the Law Society’s role as a nominating body and inviting nominations through a range of channels, including the Professional Update, local law societies, and the website. We are inviting people to nominate either themselves or others to us. A review panel will then select those who will go forward as nominees of The Law Society.

To make a nomination, you will need to provide basic personal details of the nominee (or yourself) and the following:

  • Legal qualifications and legal experience to date
  • What significant contribution(s) has the nominee made to the law in England and Wales, other than in court
  • The major and particular contributions the nominee has made that reinforce the case for awarding the title of QC (honoris causa)
  • Why you think this person should be nominated by the Law Society as an Honorary QC

Please download and complete the standard nomination form from the Ministry of Justice web site  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/honorary-queens-counsel-nominations-deadline-monday-9-august-2021.

Send your completed form to appointments@lawsociety.org.uk no later than midday on Wednesday 21 July 2021 for consideration. Nomination by the Law Society is subject to our own internal review process and there is no guarantee of success.

Kind regards

Stephanie

 

I.Stephanie Boyce

President of the Law Society of England and Wales


Promotions and retirements at Wards

New era for Wards Solicitors as it announces a new Managing Partner

Leading South West law firm Wards Solicitors LLP has appointed a new managing partner, effective from 1 June.

Jenny Pierce, who is Head of Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity practice at Wards and is one of the firm’s long established senior team, has taken on the new position.

Commenting, Jenny said:  “I am hugely proud to be appointed Wards’ new managing partner. As the first female head of the firm in its 100 year history, it’s an exciting new chapter in my career and also for the business.”

“We have always prospered by being a friendly firm which combines outstanding levels of client care with excellent legal advice.  The last 14 months have been challenging but from when we first went into lockdown, the firm’s performance has exceeded expectation – we adapted quickly by using new technology and different ways of working across our teams.  Now it’s about keeping the best parts of our working practices in this new environment, although nothing will ever replace one to one contact – we are all looking forward to resuming face to face client meetings safely.”

“I am really looking forward to working with our strong management team and helping the firm continue to thrive, supported by our fantastic lawyers and support teams who work incredibly hard delivering the best legal service to our clients.”

Former managing partner David Sheridan, who was instrumental in the successful growth of Wards over his 26 year tenure, continues to advise Jenny and other members of the firm’s senior team as a Consultant.

David said: “Jenny is dedicated, highly respected professionally and an experienced leader. She has developed Wards’ Wills and Probate team into one of the region’s largest and most respected.  Having worked with her personally for many years, I know that she will do a fantastic job bringing that same enthusiasm to the firm as a whole.  I wish her every success in her new role.”

Established more than 100 years ago, Wards Solicitors LLP is an established regional law firm with twelve offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset.

The company employs more than 75 legal specialists providing a full range of legal services to both local businesses and individuals.

 

Wards Solicitors announces six new Partner promotions

Regional law firm Wards Solicitors LLP has announced that six of its solicitors have been promoted to Partner, across the firm’s family, conveyancing, disputes, cohabitation, Wills and Probate practice areas.

The newly promoted Partners are:

  • Claire Blackman in the Residential Conveyancing team, who is based at the firm’s Worle office
  • Sylvie Feltham who specialises in Family cases and is based in Weston Super Mare
  • Lucia Mills a cohabitation and residential property disputes specialist based at Wards’ Bristol office
  • James Murray a construction and property Disputes specialist based in the Bristol office
  • Liz Pople in the Residential Conveyancing team, based in the firm’s Staple Hill office
  • Sarah Woodward, who specialises in Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity work, based in Clevedon

Commenting, Wards’ Managing Partner Jenny Pierce said: “This year more than any other, our teams have experienced enormous disruption to their personal and professional lives but despite everything, they have shown the ability to adapt and thrive while remaining dedicated to our clients.

“I’d like to congratulate our new partners who have each made excellent contributions to the firm and their promotions are thoroughly well deserved.”

Wards Solicitors LLP is a well-established regional law firm with twelve offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset.

The company employs more than 75 legal specialists who provide a full range of legal services to both local businesses and individuals.


Burges Salmon receives platinum Investors in People accreditation

 

 

Investors in People awards Burges Salmon the highest level accreditation, recognising the firm’s commitment to its people.

Independent UK law firm Burges Salmon has been recognised with a platinum ‘We invest in people’ accreditation by Investors in People for the deeply engrained policies and practices in place at the firm to support its people and enable them to flourish.

Investors in People is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support and manage people effectively to achieve sustainable results and enabling organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale. Platinum is the highest accreditation available and only two per cent of organisations achieve this level of recognition.

The three-year accreditation follows an in-depth assessment carried out by Investors in People through one-to-one interviews, focus groups, observations of key meetings and people surveys. The prestigious recognition is particularly noteworthy having been achieved during COVID-19.

In its report, Investors in People applauded Burges Salmon’s commitment to high performance through exceptional people management which underpins the firm’s collaborative and inclusive culture. Areas highlighted in the accreditation assessment include: the firm’s approach to learning and development; its benefits package; its wellbeing strategy; the engagement with women whilst on maternity leave and the external coaching provided to support their return to work; and more.

Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, says: “We’d like to congratulate Burges Salmon. A platinum ‘We invest in people’ accreditation is a remarkable effort for any organisation, and places the firm in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.”

Jenny Goward, HR director at JJG HR Solutions Ltd and Investors in People Practitioner, comments: “Congratulations to Burges Salmon for achieving platinum in their recent We Invest in People assessment; platinum level is not easy to achieve and demonstrates excellence and high performance. Platinum clients are our superstars, with their people management and the way they continuously improve in everything they do. Burges Salmon has a unique and strong organisational culture that is highly collaborative, purpose driven with strong organisational values that are at the heart of everything they do. It is a pleasure to work with them.” 

Burges Salmon’s Managing Partner, Roger Bull, says: “We are delighted that the firm has received this platinum accreditation from Investors in People – it is testimony to the collective efforts made across the firm to ensure it is a place where all our people can flourish.”

The firm’s Chief People Officer, Robert Halton, adds: “We are incredibly proud to have been awarded a platinum accreditation by Investors in People in recognition of our efforts to ensure Burges Salmon has an open and inclusive culture, where our people are encouraged and feel able to be themselves at work.

“This achievement is all the more significant following a year during which the business and every one of our people faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the global pandemic, and it is of huge importance that our unique, collaborative culture has prevailed and strengthened through such testing times.” 


EU Settlement Scheme – deadline 30th June!

As you may know, the deadline for EU nationals to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is next week, on 30 June.

 Due to Brexit, EU citizens must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to continue living in the UK after June 2021. Even if they have lived in the UK most of their lives. EU nationals who have lived continuously in the UK for five years or more should be entitled to settled status, meaning they are free to go on living in the UK indefinitely.

If those needing to apply miss the deadline, they may lose their existing rights, like living and working here, access to free health care, and benefits.

Please help us to get the message out to your staff, colleagues and networks so that EU community are able to stay living, working and studying here.

You could share this tweet , or one of our EUSS posts on Facebook, Instagram or linked in. I have attached our digital slide poster for you to print or share digitally, and please do include in your next newsletter or on your intranets.

You can find out more about the scheme and where residents can find help at Bristol.gov.uk/EUSettlement

If you have any questions, please contact stephanie.champion@bristol.gov.uk or laura.densem@bristol.gov.uk


Nine Feet Tall Host Legal IT Panel Discussion on Digital Transformation

On Wednesday 16th June, Nine Feet Tall hosted a Legal IT Event with panellists from leading firms: Allen & Overy, DAC Beachcroft and Osborne Clarke. The theme was “Digital Transformation and the Role of IT” and the event addressed IT adoption and key challenges, as well as emerging technology and the future of Legal IT.

The online event was attended by representatives from the top 50 UK law firms who submitted questions to the panellists throughout the online discussion. One of the topics centred around ensuring behaviours and rapid decision making, which accelerated during the pandemic, are continually embraced and firms do not fall back into more traditional ways of working.

The IT function within the legal sector has changed rapidly in the past few years, not just in terms of the technology available but also the growth in scope and limitation of boundaries. Andrew Brammer discussed some of the changes Allen & Overy have seen: “A while ago we might have struggled to get people on IT training courses, now they recognise the need to use technology to fulfil their role.” The panel agreed that the role of IT has become more consultative and working collaboratively with business teams is key.

Nathan Hayes (IT Director) from Osborne Clarke expanded on this point whilst addressing the role of IT in Digital Transformation versus the role of the rest of the business: “Playing a consulting role is key for us. We play an essential role in connecting our lawyers with the toolsets they need to deliver key outcomes including outstanding service delivery, reducing risk and improving profitability.”

David Aird from DAC Beachcroft led a discussion around whether firms are fully utilising their current technology stack. The panel discussed issues with adoption and misconceptions as to what can be achieved within legal services. This included how the successful rollout of applications such as MS Teams, over the last year, has proved that barriers to adoption can be overcome. Helping individuals to understand how technology fits into their role is critical for addressing adoption.

Nine Feet Tall Partner and Event Panellist Tiggy Robinson said “we were so pleased there was such an interest in this event and the discussions were animated and valuable. Law firms are starting to move beyond traditional ways of working and IT plays a huge role in enabling this. It has been interesting to hear different opinions and discuss pressing topics such as data compliance and security as well as the value of innovation. I hope our attendees have left with plenty of food for thought.”

A recording of the whole event will be hosted on NineFeetTall.com for anyone wishing to watch the discussions. If you would be interested in attending our events in the future, please contact: TiggyR@NineFeetTall.com.


Contested Financial Remedy Applications – HMCTS Update

Please see attached letter: Contested FR Update June 2021

 

 


SRA agrees to Law Society’s request for SIF extension

Press release • 15 Jun 2021

The Law Society of England and Wales welcomed the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s
(SRA) decision to extend the life of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) for a further 12
months and is pleased the SRA has heard our concerns and those of both the profession
and consumers.

However, the Law Society called on the SRA to act quickly and work with us and others to develop a viable alternative scheme to provide post six-year run off cover.
Law Society president, I. Stephanie Boyce, said: “We are pleased the SRA has heard the
many reservations expressed by us and others about the closure of the SIF and has now
removed the risk of imminent SIF closure at a time when no viable alternative is available.

“We have been raising our concerns with the SRA, the regulator for this issue, for more than three years. We are pleased they are now taking steps to find an effective solution and undertake the detailed analysis required to assess the future of post six-year cover.

“The SRA has accepted, as an important element of consumer protection, it is a problem
that it, as regulator, must solve.

“But it is not enough simply to delay closure again in the hope that next year the commercial indemnity insurance market will change and fill the gap in consumer protection that SIF closure will create. The SRA must move quickly to publish its consultation on future options and put a plan in place.”

“We urge the SRA to work hand in hand with the Law Society, the insurance industry and others to find a long-term solution to the problem of run-off indemnity cover. It needs to show imagination in looking at long-term solutions that provide proper levels of consumer protection, and that do not expose solicitors to ruinous claims or consumers to potentially lengthy and complex litigation.”

“The Law Society will continue to make the case for solicitors and their clients, and we look forward to supporting the SRA in this critical area of its work.”


Are you working from home or living at work? Article by Insight Legal

Are you working from home or living at work?

By Deborah Witkiss, COO, Insight Legal

Remote working has become universal during the pandemic. The office is replaced by a designated area somewhere at home. The journey to the office is replaced by the telecommute. The standard 9-to-5 day is replaced by flexible hours.

While these operational changes have given business continuity, the impact on individuals working from home (WFH) has not always been positive, argues Deborah Witkiss at Insight Legal. However, software can resolve many of the problems experienced by WFH employees and their employers alike.

Blurring the boundaries between professional and private life

The line separating work from home is blurred. There’s no clear geographic division from workspace to personal space, no punctuation to the daily grind and no set time of day to shut down the laptop.

The conjoining of work and home, and working longer days, mean that stress is rising with accuracy and attendance bearing the brunt. Other emerging concerns are supervision and teamworking, resulting in lack of essential direction and failure to function coherently.

These factors do not a successful law firm make.

Gaining immunity through software

Part of the solution comes in the form of cloud case management and legal accounts software which contains functionality to support home workers and management teams.

The first way software helps is by introducing efficiencies. Where Insight Legal Software is concerned, this plays out in areas such as the workflow, tasks and time recording features of our Enterprise system.

Assigning tasks and actions at each step in your workflow makes sure that the right things are being done (or not being done) by the right people at the right time. The automatic prompts to perform an action, automatically populate data, automatically calculate financials, and automatically save correspondence and documents eliminates errors to which anyone working long hours is prone. With work made easier, morale benefits, as does attendance records. Plus, your staff get more done in less time, as shown in accompanying time recordings.

The second way software helps is by enhancing management and collaboration by setting up approval measures, performing file reviews, distributing work and redistributing during sickness or holiday. The associated monitoring and reporting permits identifying mistakes for rectification, tackling unfair volumes so that no one is stretched more than another, prioritising work for its timely completion and continuing case progress to stay on track.

Teamworking capabilities are revolutionised because you can coordinate everyone’s schedule, align employees and oversee junior people. Your business is more orderly, your procedures more methodical and your service delivery more consistent, for advantages internally (morale and engagement) and externally (stakeholder perceptions): the visible manifestations of a well-managed company.

Risk, trust and control

Insight Legal participated in the Law Society Gazette roundtable on the changing nature of risk with wellbeing and supervision discussed at length. The consensus being not getting overly distracted by the tangential issues of WFH at the cost of people. As a sector whose business is delivering legal services, we wholly rely on our people.

HR programmes are the primary channel to overcome staff welfare challenges. As we have demonstrated here, though, software also plays a leading role.

Software’s role is about more than just empowering your talent to be productive anywhere with cloud faculties. Software’s role is to elevate efficiencies, reimagine legacy processes, mitigate risk in all its guises, unite and protect workers, and strengthen controls to tick your ‘working from home’ box, not ‘living at work’.

From 21st June (as per the current government roadmap) you can choose how you will operate, whether it is returning to a totally office-based structure, paring back on office space or adopting a hybrid architecture. Whatever your business decision, Insight Legal is here to support you. Our software gives you the total flexibility to run your company any which way with tools designed to optimise procedures, connect people and equip partners to manage better: insightlegal.co.uk/solicitors-software/enterprise.


The Law Society Good practice for supervision of junior staff and trainees article May 21

Click here to read: Supervision: good practice for remote supervision of junior staff and trainee solicitors | The Law Society


SRA Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF)- Article by BLS Council member

SRA Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF)

Before I start, I declare an interest as a former sole practitioner.  I closed my practice in 2010 after 23 enjoyable years, with no successor practice.  If I had known, then what was going to happen I would probably have done things differently.

The SRA has decided to close the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF).   Well, so what, you might ask?   Bear with me and please keep reading –   because this has the potential to affect not just solicitors like me, but every one of you, whether you are a partner, sole principal, or an employee, whether past or present.

Last year the SRA, following representations from The Law Society, extended the closure date for SIF by one year.  The date for closure is now 30 September 2021.  The reason given for the extension at the time was the covid pandemic, and the difficulties in the insurance market, and to give The Law Society time to find a solution such as an alternative insurance product.   Nothing has changed since then.

No solution has been found.   There is no insurance product available in the market. We are now approaching the cliff edge.

I am aware that many of you won’t have heard of SIF or know very much about it – especially those of you who qualified after 2000, and those of you who have never had to deal with applications for your firm’s professional indemnity insurance.  But it is important that all solicitors know what is going on.

For a bit of background see the recent statement by the SRA:

https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/resources/indemnity/solicitors-indemnity-fund/

There is also background information on The Law Society website, an extract of which is as follows:

Originally, SIF was the statutory fund that used to provide cover to solicitors in England and Wales.

When the profession voted to move from a statutory fund system to purchasing professional indemnity insurance (PII) on the open market, a portion of SIF was retained to provide ongoing run-off cover for firms that had already closed. Later, its scope was extended to cover other closed firms once their mandatory six-year run-off cover had expired.

After a law firm closes, run-off cover must be purchased to protect solicitors and their clients in the event of any civil claims that arise because of negligence. This mandatory run-off cover is purchased as part of the firm’s professional indemnity insurance (PII) and lasts for six years.

Coverage after this six-year period is called supplementary run-off cover and is currently provided by SIF by way of indemnity, at no additional cost to the former principals of a closed firm. However, for firms that closed on or after 1 September 2000, this cover will end on 30 September 2021.

Unless alternative arrangements are made, the former principals of firms that closed from September 2000 onwards, their estates, and even individual employees, may be personally liable for losses from any claims that are made.

Please also see a recent article in the Gazette:

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/dont-close-the-sif-in-this-tough-insurance-market-sra-urged/5108591.article

……..Read the rest of the article here

 


Howden proud to announce new PII sponsorship of the Bristol Law Society

Howden are delighted to announce that Bristol Law Society have chosen Howden as their new, long-term Professional Indemnity Insurance sponsor.  This appointment will allow Bristol Law Society members access to resources and exclusive facilities only available through Howden.

Howden will also be providing regular guidance on risk management and other areas of expertise such as Cyber Liability Insurance, Directors & Officers Insurance and Employee Benefits & Wellbeing solutions.

Matthew Baker, Associate Director, Howden, commented – “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Bristol Law Society and their members. We see that the Law Society provides a crucial role for law firms and through this partnership we will be adding further value for members.”

Colin Taylor, Divisional Director, Howden, commented – “We aim to provide guidance and support to members in what have become very challenging times.  I am sure our experienced and personal approach will be welcomed, bringing a number for benefits to the members.”

Ben Holt, President of the Bristol Law Society said, “We are looking forward to developing a long term working relationship with Howden. This relationship enables us to offer our members insight and support for Law Firm Professional Indemnity Insurance and maximise the effectiveness of their risk management culture. With recognised expertise in the legal sector, and our history of working with Matthew Baker and Colin Taylor, Howden are a great fit for us.  Howden will help us by providing a range of educational workshops, webinars and market insights as part of our increasing offer to members at a time of significant challenges and opportunities in the legal sector.”

 

 

 

 

 


Online Applications under S8 Children Act 1989

  Download letter here>> C100 pilot letter FINAL (003)

Content of letter below:

Dear Sir/Madam,
Online applications under section 8 of the Children Act 1989
From Tuesday 18 May 2021, online applications made at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre using the online version of form C100 ‘Applications under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for a child arrangements, prohibited steps, specific issue order or to vary or discharge or ask permission to make a section 8 order’ will be processed by a central team as part of a pilot to deliver a faster service for users.

The central team will deal with the initial checks, fee payment and data entry onto our case management system before passing the file to the local court for judicial gatekeeping. The aim will be to deal with applications within 24 hours and urgent applications will continue to be prioritised. If you need an urgent hearing you must contact the local court to arrange an appointment in the usual way.
All subsequent case management will be completed by the local court staff as usual and you should continue to contact the local court with any queries.

The pilot will be subject to an evaluation ahead of a national roll out.

How to submit an application for approval of a draft consent order
• Complete form C100 online
• Email accompanying draft consent order to C100applications@justice.gov.uk quoting
the unique C100 reference number followed by ‘consent order’ in the subject field
immediately after submitting your application.

The process for applications made on paper remains unchanged.

We encourage you to pay the court fee online or quote your fee account number on the
application as this will allow us to process applications faster. We are unable to accept cash payments, but cheques can be sent with your application to:
C100 applications
PO Box 1792
Southampton
SO15 9GG
DX: 135986 Southampton 32

Help and support
Further guidance on completing the C100 is available online. For more information or to ask a question about the pilot, please contact Civil_and_familybusinesssupport@justice.gov.uk

Yours faithfully,
Adam Lennon
Deputy Director and Probate Service Owner
HM Courts & Tribunals Service


Law Care Resources #MHAW 10-16 May 2021

Reclaim your lunchbreak and recharge in nature this Mental Health Awareness Week

10-16 May 2021

 

 Many of us have lost our connection with nature, spending most of our time indoors, at home, in an office or in a car. Sometimes even having a lunchbreak seems luxurious – most of us bolt food down at our desks so as not to miss a minute of the working day. However as humans we aren’t meant to spend so much time indoors. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers spending most of their time outdoors amongst trees, by water, studying plants and animals, in all seasons and weather.  Could our health and wellbeing be compromised because we spend less time outdoors? There are many powerful reasons why we should down tools and step outside once a day, so this week try and use your lunchbreak to get outside.

Being outside can help your productivity

We often think we don’t have time to take a proper break during the working day but having a break outside can make all the difference to your productivity and give you perspective on a work issue. Researchers found that time spent in nature can renew our attention spans when they are flagging after a hard day’s work or an extended period staring at a screen – this is known as Attention Restoration Therapy (ART). This is supported by research from the University of Madrid and Norwegian University of Life Sciences that found seeing natural landscapes can speed up recovery from stress or mental fatigue.

 Contact with nature reduces anxiety and stress

Being anxious, stressed or depressed  can mean you don’t want to go outside, preferring to hunker down indoors. Whilst this may be your natural instinct, going outside and being with nature can reduce your anxiety and stress. There is scientific evidence that we feel calmer when we look at trees for example, this is known as biophilia. Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of spending time slowly and quietly in forests, is proven to lower the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenalin, suppresses the fight or flight instinct, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and improves sleep. Not only that but the activity of white blood cells known as natural killer (NK) cells increases when humans spend time in woods. You don’t have to visit a wood or forest every day – these biochemical benefits last for up to a month.

 In addition there is evidence that exercise outside can be more effective than antidepressants for those with mild to moderate depression and research from the University of Exeter showed that the presence of birds in a landscape can help to lift depression. It is also well known that time spent with animals, or gardening has a positive impact on your mental health.

 Time outside can effect the chemical make up of our brain

There are several physiological and neurological changes that take place when we go outside which can boost the happiness chemicals in our brain. Serotonin is a compound that carries signals between nerve cells in our brain and there is link between the levels of serotonin in our brain and our mood. Time spent in the natural world and particularly in sunlight triggers an increase in serotonin. Exploring a new environment outside and foraging, collecting shells, leaves, blackberries, releases dopamine which helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. Cold water swimming is shown to boost serotonin, oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins which reduces pain, relieves stress, and enhances pleasure. It also helps to control our fight or flight instinct.

Nature can help you learn mindfulness

Meditation, or mindfulness, is proven to reduce stress, however some find it hard to get to grips with. Nature offers many ways to be mindful without even realising, whether its bird watching in your garden, watching a sunrise or sunset, looking at a bee buzz round a flower, star-gazing at night or listening to the sound of the sea, these are all ways to help you be calm and still and focus on the present moment which can help you maintain good mental health and wellbeing and keep stress at bay.

LawCare provides emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their
concerned family members. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at 
support@lawcare.org.uk  or access online chat and other resources, including Mental Health Awareness Week materials, at www.lawcare.org.uk  

 Resources and useful links

Book: Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell

Book :The Natural Health Service by Isabel Harman

Mental Health Foundation Thriving with Nature

Mind – how nature benefits mental health

Nature for Health and Wellbeing The Wildlife Trusts

RHS: How gardening can help mental health and wellbeing

Natural England

Thrive: the gardening for health charity

Forestry Commission: Forests for Wellbeing

Mindfulness in Law Group

 

 

 

 


The Law Society Awards 2021 are now open for entries

 

The Law Society Awards 2021 are now open for entries

It’s never been more important to celebrate the outstanding work of our profession. Last year, the legal industry persevered despite significant challenges. Now more than ever, all your hard work deserves to be celebrated.

Whether you’re dedicated to delivering first class client service or your organisation or firm has gone above and beyond in upholding the rule of law during the most challenging of times, there is a category for you.  The Law Society Awards are here to highlight the outstanding work that solicitors do.  Find out more

Entries close at midnight on Friday 21 May 2021.

 


Lateral Flow Test Guidance for local stakeholders: Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre – April 21

Dear Colleague

COV 19 Home Test kit service launch at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre

Following our previous communication informing you of our intention to make home test kits available for staff, judiciary, contractors, jurors, professional court users (including legal professionals) who regularly access our buildings, we would like to provide you with further detail around the collection service operating at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.

Why are we offering Home Test kits?
HMCTS is committed to supporting The Department of Health & Social Care’s national testing programme to identify individuals within the population who are positive for Covid-19 but do not have symptoms. Identifying asymptomatic positive cases and informing them to self-isolate will reduce the spread of the virus. We have been operating on-site testing stations at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Southwark Crown Court, Leicester Crown Court, Reading Crown Court, Leeds Combined Court, Winchester Combined Court and Northampton County Court Business Centre. Since 8 March, we have been piloting home test kit collection in some of our courts.
Testing will supplement our existing COVID-secure measures, provide additional reassurance to staff and court users and help us identify asymptomatic people who need to self-isolate, but who would not otherwise be identified……………. Click here to download and read remainder of letter :Lateral flow test guidance for Local Stakeholders


Myanmar update post delegation visit in 2019

Bristol Law Society were delighted to welcome a delegation of Myanmar lawyers back in 2019 who were keen to meet local lawyers and hear about the judicial system in our country.

 

It is with concern that we learn of the difficulties facing the country at present and those who practice law within it including the arrest of U Kway Hoe, one of the lawyers who visited BLS as part of the delegation.  The Law Society International Campaigns team have put together a statement of solidarity and we would echo the content of the Law Society statement and support the work they are undertaking to monitor the situation in Myanmar.

 


Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) will stop accepting new claims after 30 September 2021.

Currently, SIF provides ongoing cover to firms once their mandatory six-year run-off period has elapsed. The closure means that solicitors may be personally liable for losses from any future claims that are made against firms that have been closed for more than six years.

It’s important that you understand what this means for you in order to protect yourself against potential future claims. This is a short summary – links to full details are available at the end.

What you need to do

You’ll need to start by reflecting on your risk exposure.

The first thing to consider is areas of work. Some work areas are at greater risk of long-tail claims, such as residential conveyancing, wills and trusts, child personal injury, and matrimonial property.

Secondly, you may be affected differently depending on whether a practice at which you were a principal or employee is now closed, and when the closure took place.

Below we have outlined four groups of members which will be affected differently and suggest practical steps you could take.

Group A: Firms that closed on or before 31 August 2000  

These firms are currently covered by SIF. As they closed before the profession moved to purchasing insurance on the open market, arrangements will be made for them to receive ongoing cover after SIF has closed.

Suggested action

If you fall into this group, you may not need to take any action.

Group B: Firms that closed between 1 September 2000 and 30 September 2015 

These firms are in SIF, or will be in SIF, by 30 September 2021. This is the group that we believe faces the greatest difficulties as a consequence of SIF’s closure. For some time now, we have been actively pursuing options for this group and continue to earnestly engage with the insurance industry to find a solution. However, there are currently limited alternatives available.

Suggested action:

  1. If you’re aware of any matter which could give rise to a claim and can identify the former client who was affected, consider contacting that client (or their beneficiaries) and encouraging them to register a claim with SIF prior to 30 September 2021.
  2. Gather and keep whatever relevant paperwork you still have available relating to your practice and indemnity insurance records, including previous applications and claims.
  3. If you had a good claims history and paid your excesses and run-off premium, consider approaching your former broker or underwriter to see if they’re willing to consider providing you with supplementary run-off cover. This would not have to be on the same terms as your original mandatory run-off cover.
  4. If you were part of a traditional partnership, you may want to discuss with your former partners whether and how you would pay for any supplementary cover.

Group C: Firms that have closed since 1 October 2015 

These firms have closed, and they will never benefit from SIF because it will stop accepting new claims before their mandatory six-year run-off period comes to an end. Unless alternative arrangements are made, these firms will be left without protection once their run-off cover expires.

Suggested action

For former principals, we suggest that you take the practical steps outlined in points 2 through 4 above and preserve any records which may be of assistance in dealing with future claims.

Group D: Existing firms 

Unless alternative arrangements are made, existing firms will be left without protection once their run-off cover expires. However, there are still precautionary measures that firms can take to reduce their long-term exposure.

Suggested action

  • Principals of existing sole practices or partnerships should consider incorporating as a limited liability company, as this will reduce personal exposure to claims arising from work carried out subsequent to incorporation. But you should take independent advice on this, as it may have other consequences for your practice.
  • Work to improve risk management systems, and carefully consider whether you should stop taking on any new work in areas with a higher risk of long-tail claims. Retain records of any such work you’ve done previously, or do in the future, in order to defend any claims that may arise subsequently.
  • Principals should also think about their likely need for supplementary run-off cover, and how they’ll pay for it. Consider setting aside funds now or start to implement a plan to help you to pay for your mandatory and supplementary run-off cover in the future.

To find out more about the SIF closure and register for updates

  • Visit www.lawsociety.org.uk/SIF-closure for the full details on the closure of SIF, its impact on closed, existing and new firms, and practical steps to take for principals and employees.
  • Sign up or log in to My LS and add the ‘Solicitors Indemnity Fund’ topic. Select ‘Manage topics’ and search for ‘Solicitors Indemnity Fund’.
  • Register interest in receiving further information by calling the Support Centre of the Law Society of England & Wales on 020 7242 1222 and leaving your contact information, or email SIF@lawsociety.org.uk to be included in future updates.

 


Legal Services Board – Launch of Reshaping Legal Services: a sector-wide strategy

Following a year of engagement, consultation and research, the LSB have launched Reshaping legal services: a sector-wide strategy.

The strategy outlines how long-term, sustainable change is needed to reshape legal services so that we can better meet society’s needs. It builds on the State of Legal Services 2020 report, which offers an evidence-based account of the legal services sector over the last ten years and the challenges it continues to face and the three strategic themes for the sector to address to reshape legal services: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.

Critically, the strategy recognises the importance of collaboration. We invite you to work with us and others across the sector to contribute to meeting the strategy’s aims.

We have also published our 2021-22 business plan and response to the recent consultation. The business plan sets out the our  budget and priorities for the year, and we are looking at which areas will be best supported by collaboration. We are grateful for the offers already received and welcome other expressions of interest.

We are grateful to those who have contributed to this strategy’s development and who recognise the collective work needed to deliver better outcomes for society.  We look forward to working with you.

Kind regards,

 Helen Phillips signature (2)

Dr Helen Phillips

Chair

Legal Services Board


LawCare News March 2021

Volunteer for LawCare!
Join our fantastic team of volunteers, we’re currently looking for the following:

  • Helpline Volunteers who can cover weekday shifts (particularly Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon)
  • Peer Supporters who are young and/or newly qualified and have experienced and overcome workplace bullying
  • Peer Supporters who have been through disciplinary proceedings
  • Peer Supporters who work in-house and in the public sector
  • Peer Supporters who are pupil or newly called barristers

We would particularly welcome Peer Supporter applicants from BAME backgrounds as this group is currently underrepresented.

Full training is offered for these roles. To find out more please email admin@lawcare.org.uk
or call 01268 771333. Please note that we require all helpline volunteers and peer supporters to have had experience of working in the legal profession.
BeKindWeCare
LawCare is thrilled to be a charity partner of The Be Kind We Care initiative, launched by the Conveyancing Foundation to promote kindness and wellbeing within the property industry and raise over £30,000 in 2021 in support of charities providing mental health and welfare initiatives.

The Be Kind We Care Resource Hub offers access to a host of useful guides, top tips, podcasts, and webinars.

The Legal Mind podcast
LawCare’s Gemma Matthews talks to Joanna Fleck and Rachel Francis, founders of Claiming Space, about Vicarious Trauma in the legal profession. Listen here or find us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Take part in research
We want to let you know about some interesting research studies happening in the wider legal profession that you might like to get involved with.

The Work in Lockdown study is examining experiences of working from home.

Advancing Wellness in Law: Digital Conversation
Advancing Wellness in Law was created by four legal academics with strong research interests in the areas of wellness, wellbeing, emotions and mental health in legal education and the legal profession. Join them on Tuesday 23rd March 2021 at 9.30 am for a discussion of wellbeing in law schools and law firms.  A chance to share experiences and ideas on what are the key wellbeing issues to focus on, what wellbeing initiatives do and don’t work and how we can develop a more ‘joined-up’ approach across law schools and legal practice. Email lawwellnessuk@gmail.com for an invitation.


Bristol City Initiatives of interest to the local legal Profession

We were pleased to welcome the Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees speak to many of our local Managing Partners and Senior Leaders this week.

The Mayor thanked the local profession for their contribution to the City and also outlined a number of initiatives that might be of particular interest to the local legal community:

West of England Black Interns Pilot: In recognition of the employment gap that exists for black graduates, and inspired by the #10000BlackInterns initiative, we are launching a new internship programme in the region – the West of England Black Interns pilot.

The scheme will provide a four week paid work experience for black and mixed heritage students at the end of the summer, with Hargreaves Lansdown coordinating the recruitment and placement of interns.

To find out more, you can go to the website or email WestEngInterns@hl.co.uk – please get in touch with expressions of interest, including how many interns you’d like to take, as soon as possible.

Bristol WORKS – information on how to sign up to offer experiences of work is available at Bristol WORKS and the team can be contacted directly at works@bristol.gov.uk

Domestic Abuse legal support – if firms are in a position to help improve access to representation and advice for people affected my domestic violence, please do contact us and we can put them in contact with Next Link Housing who are leading this work – mayor@bristol.gov.uk The report of the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse is available to read here, and as part of this work we are asking employers to engage with Hestia’s Everyone’s Business Campaign. Hestia have been commissioned by the government specifically to advise employers on domestic abuse within the workforce.

No Recourse to Public Funds – A ‘One City’ working group is being established on legal support for vulnerable migrants, particularly those that have been accommodated on an emergency basis during the COVID pandemic. For more information, please contact mayor@bristol.gov.uk


Bristol One City- March Newsletter

March 2021 Newsletter – Bristol One City

Includes City Office updated One City Plan and Annual Report 2020