By Riliance 
This year’s conference was entitled “Maximising stability, minimising risk”, and was attended by over 200 people from various sized law firms and ABS; the conference is seen as one of the “go to” events for those responsible for risk and compliance.
The keynote speaker was Francis Dingwall from Legal Risk, who spoke on Measuring Risk, and who provided some real insight into why it is important to measure risk and look at the rewards and opportunities that could come from doing so. It was interesting to listen to his holiday analogy and the risks posed by sharks and jellyfish!
Our Director of Regulation & Compliance Services, Brian Rogers, was the next speaker who spoke about the need to manage and monitor compliance using software; his particular focus was on compliance culture and how you should deal with those who don’t want to play their part in compliance. It is quite clear that firms cannot allow “loose cannons” to operate without challenge!
The next session was with a regulation and redress panel made up of Adam Sampson, Legal Ombudsman, Suzanne McCarthy, Immigration Services Commissioner, and Andrew Garbutt, SRA Director of Risk. Each speaker gave a brief overview of what was happening in their areas and then allowed questions from the floor. Some reassuring words came from Adam Sampson in terms of dealing with dubious complaints, and warnings came from Suzanne McCarthy about the risks involved in dealing with immigration work. Andrew Garbutt gave an overview of the SRA’s Risk Outlook 2014 that is due to be published shortly, and firms are advised to watch the SRA website for the release of this document and update their risk registers accordingly.
Lunch was followed by three concurrent sessions on financial stability (1-2 partner firms, 2+ partner firms and ABS). Clearly, firms need to give much thought to their financial positions and manage their cashflows accordingly; you can have the best profit projections in the world but if you don’t have the cash to pay the day-to-day bills you will have a real problem!
The final session of the day was a panel looking at the hot topics for the year ahead. The speakers were Tim Hill, technology advisor, The Law Society, Alison Matthews, Director at Alison Matthews Consulting and Prashant Joshi, lead consultant, finance & accounting, The Law Society. Cyber crime is a real issue for firms and Tim Hill gave some tips on what to watch out for. Alison Matthews, who is a leading advisor on anti-money laundering, gave an insight into the major changes that will affect law firms in the next 12-18 months; it is clear that firms will need to address their minds to these changes or face severe consequences! Praschant Joshi gave an insight into the good and bad behaviours firms should and shouldn’t be adopting in relation to their financial management strategies.
The conference provided attendees with plenty of food for thought, but also plenty of ideas and solutions to help them make their risk and compliance processes more effective.
Riliance was busy on the conference twitter wall all day keeping those who could not attend abreast of the various issues that arose; if you want to follow Riliance go to @RilianceSL. Riliance also run a number of risk and compliance groups on Linkedin with over 5,000 likeminded professionals as members.
Clearly risk and compliance is here to stay and firms need to be prepared for what is coming around the corner; doing little, or nothing, is not an option!