We’ve started serving English Brexit tea in our office. Some say it leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste while others find it quite refreshing. The suppliers told us they weren’t sure how it would turn out when they were blending it but apparently they’ve thrown out all the old varieties now and so, for good or bad, we’re stuck with it. I feel like a mug right now, as it happens.
Conveyancing is hard work – I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. Here’s why. The work isn’t just limited to the complexities of legal paperwork and the necessary due diligence involved in transfers of title. Conveyancers are often unfairly maligned for delays in property transactions and then berated for deals falling through: a guaranteed driver of stress and anxiety that add to work pressures.
Nobody enjoys regulatory compliance. Those who say they do are lying. It’s an unglamorous job. Nobody will thank you for getting in the way of practising law or the being the ‘tail wagging the dog’. Overcoming internal inertia can be a real headache, and so the role is usually reduced to box-ticking and paper trails. Which, of course, is not what outcomes-focused regulation (or whatever OFR’s successor is being called) is all about.
The UK’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union is still fresh in our minds, as speculation grows about the next steps for the country. While we don’t yet know specifics about the effects on the legal industry following the referendum, we can assume that certain changes will follow in the personal injury sector.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s study of legal services – publication of which is due very shortly – is timely. Approaches have grown up that set out with good intentions but that may now have a negative impact on competition, market entry and the consumer interest. They also raise questions about quasi-regulatory activity that escapes the rigour of the Legal Services Board’s oversight. In essence we might ask, ‘who regulates?’
Post-Brexit the separation of powers could be said to be all that is holding this nation together. The Executive is in tatters and Parliament has entered a hiatus without an effective opposition. The only element of our constitutional framework which carries on without pause is the judiciary. It’s a moving proposition to think that those who daily work in courts and public services decimated by cuts are the ones who right now form the only fully functioning element of government.
Whether you care to admit it or not, your legal practice is vulnerable. Hackers are becoming more aware of the wealth of data held by most law firms. They know how to find that valuable information and how to get it. They also know that most law firms don’t appreciate the threat that cyber attacks present, and are vulnerable. In fact, Cisco ranked legal as the seventh most vulnerable industry in its annual security report.
You may have heard of Sir David Brailsford CBE. He is the former performance director of British Cycling and currently the manager of professional cycling’s Team Sky. He is also credited for championing the notion of ‘marginal gains’, a phrase that has now become commonplace in the world of elite sport. It’s a world in which the difference between winning and losing – a podium-finish and an also-ran – can be minute. Marginal gains is about making tiny positive changes across the board that will ultimately add up to significant improvements to secure a competitive edge.
The market for cloud-based practice management is growing rapidly and so is the number of companies providing this service. If you’ve already decided that the convenience and cost benefits of a cloud-based legal practice management solution are suited to your firm, how do you go about ensuring that you’re purchasing a truly cloud-based product? Here’s what you should look out for.
On the whole, most of the proposed changes seem sensible, although an unexpected proposal is a change to the definition of client money, so that money received in advance for the payment of the firm’s fees and disbursements for which the solicitor is liable (for example counsel fees and expert fees) will in future be office money. Currently, for the majority of practices, money in advance for fees must be held in client account until an invoice is raised. It is difficult to understand why the SRA is looking to make a change here.