The new normal – an interview with Karen Eckstein
We’ve heard that phrase a LOT recently. It might trigger some anxious feelings. What happens next? Will life ever be the same? Did I have my priorities right?As legal businesses, we might be a bit more focused – how do we give ourselves the best chance to survive and thrive in the new normal? I have been thinking about this a lot recently, as have you no doubt.
What has this got to do with compliance and risk?
Everything! We often bleat on about risk registers and compliance failures like they are a big deal. The truth is – and I don’t think I am busting any myths here – most of them are not that serious, in the scheme of things.
We can remedy most compliance stuff. So long as our moral compass is on course, technical breaches of rules and regulations rarely have serious consequences. Slaps on the wrist? Yes. Hassle we could do without? Absolutely.
But rarely ‘mission critical’.
The new normal, on the other hand, is something different.
There are definitely opportunities out there for legal business the go to the next level. For me, what we seem to be witnessing is an acceleration of progress. What would have otherwise taken a decade or more to come to pass, is happening right now.
Virtual courts. Home working for all. ‘Wills through the window’. Relaxations for wet signatures. These are just the low hanging fruit. They are all opportunities, and there are many more besides. Go back and read some of Richard Susskind’s early work – it sounds particularly relevant today.
But the flip side to opportunity? The new normal may leave some of us behind if we are not careful. If our clients are telling us they prefer to meet virtually but we try to force them into our (expensive) offices, they might move on. If our team is just as productive working from home on a four-day week, but that isn’t the way we do things, could we lose our best people?
And of course there are lots of generic risk issues with all of this. Which kind of brings us full circle back to the technical areas of risk and compliance.
Just because we are in a different world, doesn’t mean we can afford to forget regulation. Even if it’s not life-and-death.
Oh yes, the interview with Karen
Sorry, I digress.
I had a really interesting chat with Karen Eckstein this week. She’s a very interesting person, and comes at risk management in professional services from the insurance industry angle.
That’s important because she knows what the insurers are looking for. She understands what gives them comfort and what makes them jittery.
In a hardening insurance market, we need to be positioning ourselves as a ‘good risk’.
And I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of her thoughts about what issues we should be thinking about right now as we all start preparing to get back to post-lockdown business.
Karen covers some of the issues above, but interestingly she identifies the following areas that need careful attention:
How to be there for your children, and a successful lawyer
Those who know me will know that the tension between work and family life is very close to my heart. Again, it’s something I have been thinking a lot about during lockdown.We’re all so busy trying to be ‘successful’ that we make important sacrifices to our real priorities. At the risk of a bit of armchair psychology, I wouldn’t be surprised if this partly explains why stress levels in the professions are so high. We love our work, but wish it didn’t mean we had to trade off our home life.
Does the new normal give us an opportunity to re-balance our lives? The technology, regulatory flexibility and professional acceptance are all there – so why not?
Anyway, I thought I would share this little interview I put together for the Westminster & Holborn Law Society’s magazine. I spoke to Warren Berwick, who went from big firm partnership to building a law firm with the aim of spending more time with his son.
I’m sure his story will resonate with some of you.
Law Society practice notes and guidance
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Guidance for law firms
- Supervision – update including issues around supervising sick and furloughed workers
- Using LawTech in your practice
- Stephen Deakin barred for a year for failing to close down his failing firm in an orderly manner, to the detriment of clients
- Hashok Parmar and his practice manager jailed for three attempts at ‘Dreamvar’ style property fraud.
- James Mawbey-Shaw fined (on an agreed outcome) £17,500 for acting on both sides of conveyancing transactions, and becoming involved in dubious investment schemes.
- Patrick Adrien Fitzgerald struck off for doctoring a deceased client’s signed form of authority.
- Deian Wyn Benjamin struck off for misleading opposing solicitors. He ‘bluffed’ that counsel had been instructed to attend a mediation in an attempt to strengthen his client’s weak case.
It’s a good idea to share SDT decision with your team, so that they know what they will get in trouble for. And on the flip-side, what they don’t need to stress about and try to cover up!