The skills shortage in our businesses is the biggest threat to our industry when looking at cybercrime. Cybercriminals are not just after money but are looking for sensitive information too, so the legal services sector is an obvious target. In the last year we have had reports of around £7m of client money being lost to such crime. This is not an IT issue and it should not be left to the IT teams to sort out. It is a high-level responsibility and a board-level issue that must be taken seriously. We suspect that we will look back on 2016 and ask why we didn’t respond quicker.
When it comes to business, there’s no point in having a plan A unless you’ve got a plan B. While plan A might be the route to profits, plan B is the means of surviving, whatever challenges you come up against. Every business is at risk of potential natural or man-made disasters. Despite our wishful thinking, sometimes the dreaded ‘what if’ scenarios become a harsh reality. While we all hope for the best, it’s essential to prepare for the worst. Then there are minor interruptions which, with adequate forethought, can be circumnavigated completely. So, what’s your plan to recover from disaster and get back on track to plan A? And, what’s your plan for continuing running your business during lesser disturbances?
It was only in January that I wrote how we religiously attend meetings of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s board. Well, may the appropriate deity (the SDT?) forgive me, because we lapsed only a week or so later: the meeting was being held in Birmingham and such was the paucity of the agenda that it simply didn’t justify the time or cost of the trip. But now we can drop the habit for good as the SRA has decided to stop open meetings altogether and limit reporters to a briefing afterwards.
In part one of this blog, I set out what the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) says it is concentrating on as ‘priority risks’, and some others that they have missed. These are the ‘imminent threats’ to the profession and the users of legal services, and it is absolutely right for the SRA to focus on them. However, instead of these priority risks, here is what you are likely to hear most about this year, ranging from Handbook reform, the unregulated sector and the SQE, to transparency, independence from the Law Society, and enforcement.
A big part of my job is to keep up-to-date with the legal press. Especially what’s going on at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and other regulators, so I can then give our clients a heads-up about what’s on the horizon. As we settle into 2017, I can’t help thinking that the SRA is looking in the wrong direction. There is not enough focus on the real risks, the things that profoundly threaten the legal profession and the public.
A report from the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation warns that law schools in the US are “in crisis” and doomed unless they must respond positively to the “disruption of the traditional model for the provision of legal services”. The report relishes the coming of Armageddon by a sector whose financial viability it says will soon be choked off by the transformation of the legal market. How does this thesis stack up from the other side of the Atlantic?
Lawyers will give you any number of reasons why their win-loss rates in court are not accurate reflections of their legal skills. Yet a growing number of companies are evaluating lawyers by this standard – compiling and analysing lawyers’ litigation track records to help consumers and businesses make more-informed hiring decisions. The shortcomings of evaluating lawyers by win rates are many. Not least of them is that so few cases ever make it to a win or loss. Of equal concern is that, in the nuances of law practice, it is not always obvious what constitutes a win or a loss.
The ‘quality versus quantity’ discussion has been prevalent in conveyancing firms for as long as I can remember. Sacrifice one to achieve the other is the common perception – but should we really see these elements as mutually exclusive? According to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the UK lags behind the US and Germany by some 30 percentage points when it comes to productivity, meaning a German worker takes four days to produce what a British worker does in five.
Cyber-security has been the subject of repeated headline news over the past few years. It’s a stark warning about the enhanced threats to our IT infrastructures and the need for constant vigilance of IT usage in the workplace. Worryingly, despite its high-risk status, cyber-crime remains fairly low down law firms’ agendas. Let’s give cyber-crime the attention it deserves. After all, it really is better to be safe than sorry. To help you out, here are 10 top tips on desktop security to create a robust, reliable and secure cyber environment.
In 2005, after spending some 25 years in and around the law, I set about writing down what I had learned and valued most. What emerged as of central importance in my career and for the firm I created was relationships: with colleagues, clients and indeed anyone I dealt with in the course of practice and business. Professional, working, relationships are different to personal relationships, and perhaps a little simpler in some respects, and they deserve our deliberate attention.