News in brief: Gulliford leaves Co-op Legal Services, ABS innovation award, LPO shunned, and more

Co-op Legal Services: Gulliford led move to ABS

Gulliford leaves Co-op

Jonathan Gulliford, one of the architects of Co-operative Legal Services (CLS), is leaving the company this week. Mr Guilliford, who has spearheaded CLS’s move towards becoming an alternative business structure (ABS), joined from RAC Legal Services in 2006 along with managing director Eddie Ryan.

Mr Ryan said: “Jonathan has been a leading advocate of the changes currently taking place in the legal services market and he has been working extremely hard to ensure The Co-operative is one of the first to apply for an ABS. We wish him every success in the future.”

First ABS wins innovation award

A case progression service offered to clients of Premier Property Lawyers – the UK’s first and so far only ABS – has won an innovation of the year award at the Mortgage Finance Gazette awards.

The prize, handed to Premier’s parent company, conveyancing and panel management provider myhomemove, was awarded for eWay. This uses a secure online casefile and blends technology with the conveyancing service to cut out delays, keep clients informed and help keep cases moving towards exchange and completion.

The company says eWay is unique in that it allows clients to read and complete key forms and documents online, upload documents to their case file, make secure online payments and communicate with SMS text messages. All documents from other parties are scanned as they are received. Clients can access what they want, when they want, including by a smartphone.

Training review “going to plan”

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is still “more than confident” that the Legal Services Education and Training Review (LETR) will have its final report delivered before the end of 2012 – despite suggestions to the contrary.

Sir Mark Potter, who chairs the review’s consultation steering group, recently said the 2012 deadline looked “ambitious”, but Tracey Varnava, SRA education research mManager, said there has been a lot of progress of late “and we remain on track for the independent research team to deliver its final report in December 2012. All is going according to plan”.

Among the plans for next year is an international symposium in Manchester to discuss some of the key themes emerging from the research.

Most general counsel are shunning LPO, survey finds

General counsel (GC) are not embracing legal process outsourcing (LPO), a survey by City law firm Nabarro has found.

More than three-quarters (78%) are not using it, leaving 22% either using LPO or thinking about implementing it, albeit in clearly defined areas.

The survey, which spoke to over 100 GCs and senior in-house lawyers, said: “A majority of GCs felt that LPO was not appropriate for their businesses for a variety of reasons, from the volume of work they needed to the type of service they provided. Some had investigated it but had not found a way to make it happen. Specific concerns about quality were voiced by a significant number of GCs.”

The report, on how GCs establish the value of the legal function to the parent company, found that while 80% of GCs agreed that improving cost-effectiveness was either very important or important, only 45% are doing anything about it. Of those that do, most simply measure their spend on external legal advisers rather than using more sophisticated metrics.

Only 21% of GCs measure the performance of their legal teams with key performance indicators, while fewer than half saw external lawyers as partners in delivering financial value.

Case management “could boost work”, says Jackson

The introduction of more robust case management could increase business for litigators, Lord Justice Jackson suggested this week. In his latest lecture on implementation of his reforms, hosted by the Judicial Institute at University College London, the judge cited the experience of Singapore in adopting a similar new approach to case management.

The effect was “electric”, he said. Once lawyers had adapted to the new regime, “it was generally recognised that the long-term effect of these reforms was highly beneficial”, he said.

“The work of the profession increased. The enhanced efficiencies in court administration and case management played no small part in helping Singapore position itself as a major financial centre and a leading dispute resolution centre within the Asia-Pacific region.” Lord Justice Jackson said he hoped that a “similar change of culture can be achieved in England”.

Litigation funder forms arbitration partnership

Third-party litigation funder Commercial Litigation Funding Ltd (CLFL) has entered into a partnership with the International Arbitration and Dispute Board Chambers (ArbDB) to assess arbitration cases for funding. Developed in collaboration with global law firm clients such as Bryan Cave, CLFL will use to ArbDB to undertake due diligence on a case to help shape its suitability for funding, and then secure funding for it if appropriate.

Ben Hawkins, CLFL’s managing director, said: “By offering much-needed advice and best practice specifically suited to client’s and case needs, we are ensuring funding is secured quickly and safely, without risk. We often see the need for arbitrators’ costs to be paid in advance as a trigger to seek funding, and it requires specialist knowledge to risk assess the case quickly and effectively and to add value as well as simply funds to the process.”

ArbDB was set up in July, claiming to be the first international multi-disciplinary chambers for arbitration, adjudication, mediation and dispute boards. Its members include former Court of Appeal judge Sir Jonathan Parker and Arthur Marriott QC.


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