Tag Archives: law firms

Why the legal profession is changing – Part-time partners

CPD on the move with expresscourses

CPD on the move with expresscourses

Only 9.4% of equity partners in law firms are women, despite equal numbers of men and women entering the profession

Article by Nicky Richmond Guardian Professional,

The statue of justice at the Old Bailey court in London. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

In the world of big law, equity partnership is broadly equivalent to being on a board of directors. In the top 100 law firms in the UK, just 9.4% of equity partners are women. This is even lower than the percentage of board members at FTSE 250 companies who are women, at 9.6%.

Given that equal numbers of women and men enter the legal profession, why is it that so many women don’t reach equity partnership? The Women’s Business Council – set up to advise the government on how to get more women into executive positions – came up with some interesting conclusions in a recent report.

They reveal an overwhelmingly masculine, patriarchal corporate culture, and point to the double burden of work and domestic responsibilities, the “anytime, anywhere” model of management and, a particular curse in the UK, the long hours working culture wired into city law firms.

A large proportion of women who drop out of law do so because they decide to have a family. Many women feel that they simply cannot combine the demands of life in a law firm with the demands of their families.

It’s little surprise they reach this depressing conclusion; at most law firms it is either full-time or nothing. A law firm may offer a woman a career downgrade to ‘support lawyer’ status but for many the cut in remuneration for part-time working or a lesser role are options not worth considering. Factor in the expense of childcare, and it’s little wonder many women conclude that the high cost simply isn’t worth it.

The goal of a partnership becomes more distant for many women once they decide to have a family. In many firms there is no route to partnership for lawyers who work part time. It just isn’t allowed. This is not only morally wrong, it is nonsensical.

There is no reason why a part-time lawyer – female or male – cannot make an outstanding contribution as a partner in their practice. Critical to a woman’s decision as to whether or not she returns to work following maternity leave must be the availability of flexible working. This means flexibility in both hours and location.

In order for things to change in law firms, firms must prioritise retaining their best people for as long as possible. This could include accommodating requests for part-time or flexible working. Given the demands of clients this isn’t always easy, but in most cases – with a real will on both sides – it can be done.

I work for a law firm that is owned equally between men and women. This is key to the day-to-day operations. A number of our lawyers work on a part-time basis. Some work certain days from home, others are consultants who hardly ever come into the office. We try to accommodate people’s real lives and ultimately, it’s the service to the client that counts.

Equality in the law will not happen on its own. In the 25 years I have been in practice I have seen all sorts of attempts to deal with ‘the women issue’, but evidently none of them have worked. Suddenly, however, it has become clear to City law firms that losing women is losing them money. So now, in line with the government’s recommendations, some of those firms have introduced their own targets for senior women. Money talks, and that’s what will drive the change.


CPD pending? Pressed for time?

CPD on the move

CPD on the move

Continued Professional Development is entering a new phase for UK Law Firms.

At the Academy of Vocational & Professional Training we understand that you firm is often pressed for time, so nudge thinking, heuristic learning, or brain plasticity are great but, your law firm already have complex challenges, so we are going to keep it simple.

We train in soft skills courses like HR, PR, Management, Technology and Social Media to name but a few. CPD approved by the SRA to help you and your staff meet the challenges expected of skilled professionals.

Doing your CPD the smarter way

Doing your CPD the smarter way

You can study on the move using your smartphone, tablet or at our intense 1 day workshops.

Give us a call on 0203 551 2621 to request a quote or visit our http://www.avptglobal.com

Leading Training Provider ‘AVPT’ Approved To Deliver CPD ‘Soft Skills’ Courses To The UK Legal Industry

CPD does not have to be hard anymore

CPD does not have to be hard anymore

Press Release  Press Release

London UK, Thursday 3rd April 2014 – A national organisation specialising in the delivery of vocational and professional training has been approved to deliver recognised ‘soft skills’ courses to the legal profession, following formal assessment and accreditation by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

The Academy of Vocational and Professional Training (AVPT) now offer ‘soft skill’ courses within the legal sector after successfully becoming the latest organisation in the UK to reach the expecting standards required by the national regulatory body. Not only are the courses approved and recognised industry wide, but also count towards CPD certification of course candidates.

Within professional development arenas, it is now widely accepted the development of ‘soft skills’ within a workforce plays a significant part in the performance and continued success of companies and organisations across every niche. This has lead to an upsurge in organisations looking to complement the traditional ‘hard skill’ base with ‘soft skill’ development programmes.

Law firms begin to up skill their staff with soft skills

Law firms begin to up skill their staff with soft skills

In contrast to the occupational ‘hard-skills’ – those needed to physically undertake a role, ‘soft skills’ focus on the personal characteristic traits which allow individuals to excel in the work place, such as communication, empathy, emotional intelligence and social interaction.

As the legal industry settles after a fundamental reshaping which has resulted in a considerable increase in competition from smaller firms and individuals, law firms across the country are adapting their approach by improving the soft skill abilities of their employees and partners. Modernisation has helped them recognise the importance of technology in the learning environment to overcome geographical, language barriers and time constraint when up-skilling their entire business, so as to become more customer and user friendly.

The current range of ‘soft skill’ development packages for the legal profession have been specifically tailored to meet the needs and requirements of clients working in legal niches. Skills such as HR, Marketing with Social Media, Information management, Leadership & Management skills, Business development, Negotiations and customer services to name but a few from the list of 300 which can now count towards their annual CPD requirements.

Diane Shawe, CEO of AVPT commented “in 2013 the Legal Services Policy Institute estimate as many as 3,000 high street law firms (or 35% of the total) will have to disappear in the subsequent upheaval, law firms with good local reputations will be able to withstand competition if they can successfully reach the demands of clients for greater convenience and ease of access to services by generating greater efficiencies within their practices.”

AVPT is the only UK globally accredited online and workshop based provider of over 300 Soft Skills courses, which uses a cutting edge proprietary online learning management system. Workshop courses are professionally executed in 1-3 days which are delivered as foundation to expert levels.

AVPTLTD LOGO  6As a provider of Soft Skill training courses which are accredited by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and globally by the IAO, AVPT are now offering CPD applicable courses to the legal profession. For further information please visit the official website at www.academy-of-vocational-and-professional-training.comor get in touch using the details shown with this release.

Can traditional law firms innovate on-time to save their practices?

Can legal services face up to the 21st Century challenges?

Can legal services face up to the 21st Century challenges? it’s clear that the web is now an important channel for law firms and this trend will only continue.

By now the severe challenges facing the legal profession will be familiar to all but the most complacent of high street firms. The UK’s regulatory environment which once protected solicitors from competition has just undergone the most radical shakeup in its history, a moment akin to the big bang in financial services of the mid-eighties.

article by Richard Cohen Chairman of Epoq Group

Is it time to herald the death of the high street? When accessing legal services consumers prize expertise, trust and local knowledge; all the key values of a smaller firm. This suggests that law firms with good local reputations with be able to withstand competition if they can successfully reach out to and meet the needs of this potential client base. To do so will require these firms to overcome two major obstacles; the demands of clients for greater convenience and ease of access to services and the now pressing need to generate greater efficiencies within the practice. With advances in technology both are now within the capabilities of small firms.

the scales adjust for the legal services

Legal Services Policy Institute estimate as many as 3,000 high street law firms (or 35% of the total) will have to disappear in the subsequent upheaval

The small size of most firms and a set of engrained cultural problems have prevented many from investing sufficiently in customer service. The result has been a very high number of complaints and a poor public reputation.

It’s clear that innovation is required but many firms still operate only during traditional office hours and require clients to visit the office; a practice which is more and more out of step with the modern lifestyle. A large segment of today’s consumers of legal services are part of an ‘internet generation’ which is highly receptive to new methods of online delivery. Our own research, conducted by YouGov, revealed that 56% of consumers expect good law firms to give customers the ability to use their services online in the next couple of years.

Far from being peripheral, it’s clear that the web is now an important channel for law firms and this trend will only continue. The question is can law firms offer more than just brochureware for their online presence? Technology platforms have come to market which operate on a ‘software as a service’  (SaaS) model,  which allow a law firm’s clients to collaborate with their solicitor and perform legal tasks over the internet.

The impact of these web-based, interactive applications is to save lawyer time and often increase lawyer productivity and profit margins, while providing a more convenient and satisfying experience for the client. Small law firms can now adapt their business model without prohibitive capital investment, service their clients in a very different way to the traditional high street firm and overcome many of the barriers described above.

An example of this new model is DirectLaw, an online legal document drafting solution  which uses pre-programmed logic to ask the user the same questions a lawyer would ask in a client interview. As the user answers these, the system determines the right language and clauses to be inserted into the document to reflect the client’s circumstances. The end product is a highly detailed first draft of the legal  document which has been individually tailored for the client. Once completed, the draft can be securely sent through to the solicitor for review and further changes. The client is also able to log into a secure client extranet, communicate electronically with the firm, pay fees and check the progress of their matter.

Using this approach, legal documents can be produced at a fraction of the internal cost thus increasing a law firm’s recoverable hourly rates. The time that solicitors have to spend on the interview process is massively reduced, yet from the clients perspective, the firm is providing a more convenient and accessible way of delivering law.

Furthermore, by shifting a proportion of the legal work onto the client fee-earner time can be freed up to concentrate on more complex matters and consultative elements of the solicitor-client relationship. And, as the service can be paid for online, further cost savings can be achieved by negating the need to issue and chase up invoices.

cpd soft skills training for legal firmsFor law firms implementing this model the website is increasingly becoming the primary way to relate to clients and manage the flow of legal work. Firms can add information to their home page about their interactive capabilities, which save clients time and money. These will set firms apart from others and increasingly attract a client base that prefers to do business over the Internet.

Another area of opportunity is that of pricing. With an online strategy that reduces internal costs, law firms could use their improved margins to address client demand for clarity of price as they will be able to provide certain document services at a fixed fee.

The market in which we have been used to operating is changing beyond all recognition. The entrance of retailers, banks and insurers into the market will introduce consumers to new models of legal service delivery; multiple service levels, legal packages, efficient customer service and greater accessibility. However this can serve as a catalyst for change amongst traditional law firms, offering scope for some real innovation, and affording firms the opportunity to build better relationships with clients, generate new revenue streams, and tap into latent markets.