Monthly Archives: February 2016

Busy HR teams are recruiting. Next step – Induction. How do you make sure that you get them on board, keep and develop them?

Every law firm I have talked to over the last 6 months has been looking to recruit more people, so there is a challenge to make sure that new people are inducted effectively when they arrive; but not JUST when they arrive!  Induction and ongoing development has been a big challenge for law firms as long as I can remember.  It has improved but could generally be a lot better.

How do people (HR, the new recruits, the experienced people in your practice) find time; how do they make sure the right things happens and that every recruit gets consistently effective input from all the right places?

It takes time for people to settle in and there is a lot to learn that can’t and shouldn’t all be crammed in only during Week 1.  There should be a structured induction programme that spans week 1, the first quarter, the first 6 months … the first year.

How do you make sure this happens in a busy legal office?

One solution comes from our learning and development (L&D) partners, e-Alliance as an integral part of a pro-active blended approach to learning and development.  Their L&D software platform allows you – for each legal and support role across your practice – to manage your induction processes using our Learning Management System enabling you to:

  1. Identify all the components of induction that is needed
  2. Set a timetable for each to  be completed
  3. Make training available from their existing library of content to your people online.
  4. Incorporate your own material in the programme and timetable
  5. Track and report visually to the new employee, their manager and HR on progress
  6. Plan next steps in their development to achieve the appropriate competences they need
  7. For solicitors; map out development in line with SRA competency requirements to ensure compliance.

Discover how eAlliance can help you improve the efficiency and simplify the delivery and management of every of your staff induction process.  Their Staff Induction Programme has been designed to simplify and join up all aspects of your induction process through a series of easily navigated, online modules which can be accessed from a PC, Laptop or any mobile device.

To find out more call John Baxter on 01787 370735 or email e-Alliance at

Meeting EU requirements for Online Dispute Resolution is the best approach for clients … and law firms.

EU ORD Directive ComplianceThe European Union has stipulated that consumers who buy a product or service online should be able to submit complaints to the supplier via an EU Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform, so – from 15 February 2016 – all e-commerce businesses must carry a link to this platform on their website.  The complaint, once submitted, will be transmitted to a recognised alternative dispute resolution entity to try to facilitate a solution.

It appears that law firms are probably caught by these regulations as providers of legal services,  so the safest approach is … to comply and then make the most of this approach to improve client satisfaction.

The link to the EU ODR platform is accessed here.

Weightmans Solicitors, which advises on regulatory issues in respect of law firms, has advised members of Manchester Law Society to update their websites to include the ODR EU Platform link due to a new EU requirement that came into effect on 15th February 2016 – and they practice what they preach here where you will find their wording for this on their own site.

Why Lawyers Should Take Steps Now to Comply

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) considers that the regulations will affect law firms who send or receive contracts and client-care information by email as this constitutes “offering goods or services on a website or by other electronic means”.

An advert for legal services on a website is not an offer; merely an invitation to treat, but emailing  a contract or an engagement letter might be construed as an offer “by other electronic means.”

To comply with the regulations, businesses MUST provide:

1. A link to the ODR platform

2. The firm’s email address

The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) will continue as one option to resolve any complaints, but there is also an obligation to nominate a certified ADR entity such as ProMediate (with particular experience of legal services) to mediate complaints and claims.

  • LeO is not a certified ADR provider, so complaints coming though the EU’s ODR system cannot be referred to them.
  • ProMediate offer faster turnaround times than the LeO, which both law firms and their clients generally want, which increases satisfaction with the complaints process.
  • Many clients will prefer engagement in the dispute resolution approach in contrast to a complaints process.

Even if the LeO become an approved ADR provider in the future – which is unlikely as they decided NOT to do this in early December 2015 – there would still be a requirement (in addition to any existing regulatory requirements under relevant Codes of Conduct) for law firms to provide information regarding the ODR platform to clients by email and in Terms and Conditions.

We recommend that law firms should:

  • Include a link to the EU ODR platform on their website; and,
  • Identify and nominate an appropriate certified ADR entity to deal with:
    • At least any complaints that are initiated through that platform; but also,
    • Other disputes that arise with clients if they or you consider mediation is a more attractive approach than making a complaint to an Ombudsman in the circumstances.
  • Nominate ProMediate as your certified ADR entity because they have all the accreditations needed, commit to a short turnaround time, charge a reasonable fee and have experience with legal services.

For more information about how to comply or about nominating ProMediate, contact Peter Causton on 07827 961764 in confidence to explore options; or by email to options.

ProMediate is a CTSI Certified Alternative Dispute Resolution Provider under the ADR Regulations 2015 and have partnered with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to deliver a dispute resolution service to their c. 4,500 members.

Share this – Make it easier for your lawyers to rate their performance and get agreement on how to improve it.

Natwest Benchmarks 2015 Snapshot - Profit per Equity Partner, PEPDownload this free series of slides which condenses the key financial benchmarks identified in NatWest’s 2015 survey of law firms.   Then share them with your fee earners to set achievable expectations and develop a better understanding of the potential improvements that lawyers can influence directly to put more money in their pockets.  The challenge then is to explore and agree how best to do that.

The opening slides introduce the key components that you and your people can pro-actively work on within your practice to improve profitability.

The remainder pull out the comparative numbers for firms of different sizes and levels of performance that enable you to compare your performance with others, highlighting medians that can help fix some measures in the minds of your people.

NatWest Law Firm Financial Benchmark report 2015Good information here to work with that includes:

  • Fees per Fee Earner
  • Fees per Equity Partner
  • Profit as a % of Fees
  • Profit per Equity Partner (PEP)
  • Gearing
  • Fee Earners as a % of total headcount
  • Recorded chargeable hours per fee earner
  • Recovered rate per hour
  • Business Model options
  • Lock-up –  Work in Progress, Debtors and combined (days)
  • Partner capital as % of fees
  • Bank Borrowings as a % of real partner capital
  • Client account balances as a % of fees.

There is a good chance that you will find that your lawyers need more help to understand how the way they work and manage client relationships impacts directly on financial performance – and what they should change to make a difference.  This is an area where we provide powerful training and ongoing support to help you improve the financial performance of your practice.

TO FIND OUT MORE about how we and our business partners can help you to engage your people in more effective financial management of their work, call Allan Carton in confidence to explore what might work best in your particular circumstances. Tel: 07779 653105 or email