How to start a law firm in 2021
Happy New Year!
We are passionate about helping lawyers start their own thing. And over the years we have learned a thing or two about how to do it.
So what better way to start 2021 than thinking BIG?
In this monster article (warning: 6 thousand words), we had a go at sharing that knowledge in an easy-to-read format.
Hopefully it will help someone realise their dream of becoming the captain of their own ship. If you know someone in that position, please share it.
We are very excited to announce an addition to our team, Jake Schogger. Welcome, Jake!
Jake is a commercial lawyer-turned-marketing ace. He is a very skilled copywriter, and some of our clients already use him for their internal and external comms.
One of the challenges we set ourselves last year was, “can we provide a law firm-in-a-box“? That’s something we are now actively working on together, so watch this space.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) – free policy template
NDAs have become a risky affair for solicitors. #MeToo threw a spotlight on the role that lawyers play in buying silence from victims of misconduct.
See for example the recently stayed SDT prosecution of Allen & Overy partner Mark Mansell, over the Harvey Weinstein NDAs.
And yet most firms do not have a policy to either distinguish between high and low risk NDAs, or set out how they should be dealt with.
This is an oversight. Whenever the SRA issues a Warning Notice (see ‘Use of non disclosure agreements (NDAs)’, last updated in November 2020), the profession needs to take notice.
That’s why we have produced a free template NDA policy for you to incorporate into your own practice.
The policy distinguishes between low risk (think standard commercial confidentiality) and medium-high risk NDAs.
The latter – under this policy – need some level of supervision.
We hope it helps mitigate an increasingly important risk area.
- Enforcement work around transparency rules continues – see Disciplinary Decisions, below
- Brexit and the effects on your business
- Less than a week for firms to check tax advice work for money-laundering obligations – see also our post “Money Laundering Regulations: Are You Sure Your Law Firm Isn’t Caught?” here
- SQE: Meeting our standards for good qualifying work experience
- SQE: Solicitors and Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) confirming qualifying work experience
Law Society practice notes and updates
- Diversity Profile of the Solicitors’ Profession 2019
- Working at home with trauma: how to protect yourself, your employees and others
- ICO – New data sharing code of practice published
- ICO – Motor industry employee sentenced in ICO Computer Misuse Act prosecution
- Lawyer Watch blog – NDA, Redacted – on the stayed SDT prosecution of Mark Mansell, arising out of the infamous Weinstein NDAs
Our clients and their staff recently enjoyed two compliance webinars via Zoom, the first an AML update and the second a Data Protection session.
Recordings have been sent out to those who registered, but are available to all JBL clients. Contact Us if you did not register, but would like a copy.
These sessions are also an ‘Ask Me Anything‘ forum. If you or your colleagues have any burning compliance questions, we do our best to answer them live!
Not a client? Talk to us to find out more.
Question of the week
“Do we need to send a privacy notice with our terms of business?”
Rachael answered this one in Wednesday’s Data Protection Webinar.
Data protection notices (or Privacy Notices) are an important part of the communications piece, i.e. telling the client what personal data you are are collecting about them, how it is used, stored etc.
How you deliver the Privacy Notice depends largely on your client. What is suitable for the GC of a multinational corporation may not be suitable for frail Mr Jones.
There is no set format or mandated delivery method for Privacy Notices, although the medium of mime is probably pushing it.
So, whilst it is perfectly acceptable to send Privacy Notices with your engagement packs (as we know a lot of firms do), you may prefer to do it slightly differently. After all, clients have enough paper to sift through.
- Simply directing the client to your Privacy Notice on your website? Bonus points for having different versions for individual and commercial clients.
- Recording your Privacy Notice as a short presentation or slide show on YouTube? This could make your documentation more accessible to hearing and visually impaired clients.
- Commissioning a designer to produce an infographic or cartoon, making it much easier to quickly absorb?
- Vincent Howard O’Neill – struck off for dishonestly ‘taking advantage’ of a family member in a property transaction.
- David Sewell – fined £8,000 for failing to advise overseas investors of the inherent risks in an off-plan investment scheme, involving almost £30m of deposits.
- Chidi Umezurike – struck off for using money meant for disbursements to prop up his firm (CK Law), and for misleading his regulator during the investigation.
- Susan Helen Orton – junior lawyer suspended for six months for attempting to destroy evidence of a notification of a hearing, which she had missed. (Falls into the category of “the cover up is worse than the crime”).
- Charles Edward Swatman Knapper – exonerated by the SDT over charges relating to misleading the court, but has to bear his £100k costs in any event.
- Adrian Anthony Ring – fined £2,000 for recklessly (not dishonestly) filing a witness statement containing an error that was “untrue and misleading”. Despite the finding, the SDT found the SRA should pay costs of £27,000 since a full prosecution hearing should have been avoided.
- Ashfords – regional firm fined £16,000 for using the client account as a banking facility for sums of approximately £1m.
- Hilary Meredith – high profile firm fined £8,000 for keeping disbursement monies (£700k) in the firm’s office account for…three years.
Transparency Rules enforcement
The SRA is making good on its promise to punish firms not publishing their prices correctly.