Tuesday September 8 2020 Teatime publication Edition 25
Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
– STRAIGHT TALK NEEDED ON CHANGE
Herbert Smith Freehills has attracted publicity over the last few days regarding its ‘10 Actions for Change’ to drive progress on ethnic diversity globally (see more below). Accompanying the announcement was the comment by Danielle Kelly, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, that, “It is a priority for the firm to ensure that there are more conversations about race to create a safe, supportive and respectful environment where everyone feels seen and valued. ”
No doubt similar sentiments are being expressed in other firms as well. For those conversations to result in real change, however, maybe they need to be based on the need for real candor on all sides and recognize that they need to go on for quite some time. Change will not be achieved overnight. If people are permitted only to chirrup a standard correct line then deep-seated attitudes are not likely to shift. And people must be given confidence that what’s said as part of a genuine exchange will not be held against them in the future.
Note: The Legal Diary is decamping to Italy for the next four weeks. We will still be publishing but to an ‘Italian’ timetable. So please keep sending your stories and views to email@example.com
IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION
+ THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
+ BOOK OF THE WEEK – AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PRESIDENT
+ COMMENT OF THE WEEK – TIME FOR PARALEGALS?
+ WEBINARS OF THE WEEK – BROWN RUDNICK and MAGRATH SHELDRICK
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
DWF AND PINSENTS OFFICIALLY FAMILY FRIENDLY
Work-life balance charity Working Families has announced its annual list of the top family-friendly employers in the UK. And DWF along with Pinsent Masons have been ranked in the Top 10.
Employers from across the public, private, and third sectors compete annually to gain a coveted place on the charity’s list of Top Employers for Working Families.The benchmarking exercise assesses companies on core areas to build a comprehensive picture of their flexible and family-friendly policies and practices that specifically support mothers, fathers and carers.
Mark Qualter, CEO of Managed Services and Executive Sponsor for flexible working at DWF, said: “We are delighted to be named a Top 10 employer for Working Families again this year. Our positive focus on making flexible working the rule, not the exception, has enabled our colleagues to combine their family responsibilities with a career at DWF and supported our business to adapt easily during the pandemic too. Attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce remains a priority business issue for us, and progressing a family-friendly culture is an important part of helping us do that.”
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said “COVID-19 has demonstrated just how vital it is for employers to support the diverse needs of their staff team and build cultures that embrace flexible working. These employers excelled in our rigorous benchmarking process, proving they are leading the way in building family-friendly workplaces in the UK.”
NO INTERRUPTION TO MISHCON’S BUSINESS
Is ambulance chasing – or at least the travel and tourism equivalent – becoming respectable by bringing in a glossy PR agency to do the actual chasing?
The news this week that Mishcon de Reya – now without doubt one of London’s coolest law firms – has brought in Media Zoo, a rapidly expanding communications agency to support communications by its Business Interruption insurance litigation team marks an important precedent. Media Zoo took the initiative in identifying the non-payment of business interruption insurance as a major issue for British business in this Covid climate. It then became central to the formation of the leading pressure group in this area. Meanwhile, coming from the legal direction Mishcon is already representing over 400 businesses – notably through the Hiscox Action Group and Hospitality Insurance Group Action – who are challenging three insurers (Hiscox, Aviva and QBE) over their refusal to pay out on their business interruption insurance. Media Zoo will now continue to put a spotlight on the issue and also ‘engage with more hospitality businesses who may wish to join to the group action’.
So Mishcon is getting closer to the potential client group via the campaigners. Clever move. But, of course, this is a serious matter. As Mark Killick of Media Zoo points out, “The failure of insurers to pay out on legitimate business interruption insurance threatens the survival of hundreds of UK businesses. We look forward to working with Mishcon de Reya to try and get them to do the right thing.” A marriage made on the Costa del Sol.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF HSF
Leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has announced 10 action areas to improve representation, support and experience for its Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.
“Like others in the legal industry, we are not where we want to be, or where we should be, in our ethnic representation or our progress in dismantling systemic racism. Over recent weeks, we have been consulting across the firm about how we can actively become an anti-racist organisation, committed to confronting the deep-seated inequities from which no society or business is exempt.” Thus said Justin D’Agostino, the CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills as a prelude to publishing the firm’s 10 Actions for Change, namely
1. Address barriers to the recruitment of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic people
2. Improve retention of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, and improve representation in more senior roles
- Deliver anti-racism workshops in addition to global D&I programmes
- Better inform and track our approach through robust data collection and analysis, and target-setting where appropriate
- Invest in research and continue listening to our people (including leavers) and communities
- Engage meaningfully with our clients on anti-racism
- Increase mentoring and work experience opportunities for young people from Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds
- Support diversity within our supply chain and support businesses and social enterprises owned by Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic people
- Increase pro bono support for organisations that address racial inequality
- Hold regional executives accountable for progress on ethnic diversity
“These actions are backed by initiatives and rigorous data collection to ensure we educate our firm,”added Danielle Kelly, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion. Maybe the findings should be published in an annual report?
“KENNEDYS WITHOUT THE LAWYERS”
Kennedys has revealed a successful collaboration with the University of Manchester’s Decision and Cognitive Sciences Research Centre (DCSRC) following the implementation of ‘next-generation’ fraud prevention software, As well as being very good for Kennedys’ UK business the project also showcased its potential as a general theory to develop explainable artificial intelligence tools in many other sectors. “As fraud continues to become more sophisticated, fraud systems also need to up their game,” says Martin Stockdale, Head of Fraud at Kennedys. “This KTP has been critical in helping us take automated fraud detection across the industry to the next level”
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), backed by funding from Innovate UK, developed software that supports insurance claims-handling using modern machine learning, data analytics techniques, semantic technologies, intelligent modelling methodologies and decision support systems.
Kennedys is now building on this with a new project which will encompass the automation of all claim outcomes such as the liability decision, decisions around offer strategy and claim valuation. Furthermore Dr Xi Liu, who joined Kennedys as part of the KTP in 2018, is staying on as a data scientist. She is joining the team at Kennedys IQ, the separate technology driven company set up by Kennedys earlier this year with the purpose of being “Kennedys, without the lawyers”.
The success of the project has led to Kennedys being shortlisted for the Innovate UK Best of the Best Awards 2020. It has also enabled Kennedys to win funding for another significant new project, looking at how machine intelligence can be used to read insurance policies and automatically evaluate them for coverage.
Kennedys partner Richard West, who leads the Innovations Group at Kennedys, says: “The past two years have demonstrated the value of KTPs for all those involved. The insight the work has given us, and the software we have developed, will greatly benefit our clients and our continuing work to help them manage claims in less time, at a lower cost and with better outcomes.”
BOOK REVIEW OF THE WEEK – A PRESIDENTIAL VIEW
Alys Blakeway reviews HERE’S THE STORY by Mary McAleese
It’s not the only book by a lawyer published this September but this autobiography by Mary McAleese, the first female president of the Irish republic, will reinforce the idea that the legal mind can rise above bigotry
A Catholic Northern Irish qualified barrister who was elected President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese’s first criminal case was typical of her life. She found herself defending a Protestant paramilitary against charges of assault and intimidation. The accused was the very man whom she had last seen throwing a brick through the window of her family home. Cross-examining, she tried to get the police witness to admit that the accused had been mistakenly identified. He responded,as might only happen in Ulster, “Sure you know him as well as I do, Mary.”
This incident demonstrates Dr McAleese’s sense of humour and deep-rooted fair mindedness. Born in 1951, she grew up in Belfast’s mainly loyalist Ardoyne area during the Troubles. As witness to, and subject of, many incidents of Protestant violence and brutality, she also saw a long “ballad of revenge” unfold before her eyes as the Provisional IRA responded to these incidents.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this, she has followed her parents in renouncing violence and revenge. More than that, she has actively sought peace, reconciliation and justice in several areas of life. Not just the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Christian churches on the island of Ireland but she has also fought for the victims of sexual abuse by priests of the Catholic church.
This commitment shines through her forthright account of her time as President of the Republic and canon law student in Rome. Readers will enjoy her brisk demolition of many an eminent priest or politician, including Pope Francis, contrasted with her warm and affectionate portrayal of those she admires – including Queen Elizabeth II. Also, her lively use of language and Irish slang – did you know “bockety” means “rickety”?
Read this book – it will restore your faith in human nature.
Here’s the Story is published by Penguin/Sandycove @ £20
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
– TURN TO THE PARALEGALS
Looking to get back to work after the lockdown? In tough times the paralegal route offers a way forward, says AMANDA HAMILTON, NALP
Covid-19 has impacted us all hugely, including law firms and – by extension – paralegals. Some have lost their jobs or had to close their practices.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are opportunities for younger lawyers who may have been affected and the role of paralegals will almost certainly change as we come out of lockdown.
Law firms are looking to get back into business and onto an even keel as swiftly as possible while also looking to cut costs. Additionally, certain types of work are likely to be more abundant than others in the immediate aftermath of lockdown. For example; commercial leases and contracts, tenancy agreements, contractual disputes, divorce and family law, probate, etc.
This is where outsourcing to a local licenced paralegal may solve the problem for law firms and provide opportunities for paralegals.
In essence, we’re moving towards a multi-layered system that gives the consumer access to legal help at a price and level appropriate to them and the issue they’re dealing with. For some, a paralegal is the perfect solution (for example, eviction or debt collection) and for others a solicitor (for example probate), for others a barrister.
If you’re a paralegal or junior solicitor who’s been unlucky enough to be made redundant during this times, or have had your contract terminated, why not consider taking advantage of the new situation and offering your paralegal services on a freelance basis?
This means that you could work for different organisations as a self-employed paralegal and be paid by the hour/day/week, as agreed.
The benefit to firms is that they can restart their business and get back on an even keel as quickly as possible while cutting costs. For you, the paralegal / unemployed junior solicitor, earning an hourly rate as a self-employed paralegal is better than sitting at home and waiting until everything get back to normal. It also helps your CV and to keep your hand in, gaining experience all the while.
Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). For more see: http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk
WEBINARS OF THE WEEK
– BROWN RUDNICK and MAGRATH SHELDRICK
Two crackers for you from Brown Rudnick for this week
|Grabbing Opportunities: The Landscape for Investment
in European Hospitality
|This live webinar will focus on investments in the hospitality industry and will be relevant to all operational real estate investors into the UK and Europe. The expert panel (including Tuvi Keinan, Partner, Head of Special Situations & Real Estate Finance, Brown Rudnick and Pierpaolo Iasci, Managing Director, Société Générale will discuss topics including the current state of the market amid the pandemic; the recovery outlook ; grabbing opportunities out of distress: features of buying out of insolvency processes; options for debt finance and organising the capital stack ; how to find the right investment partners; how to get to the right price with uncertain revenues|
|Date: 09 September 2020 Time: 18:00-19:00 BST,13:00-14:00 EDT, 10:00-11:00 PDT Event password: BR2020|
BROWN RUDNICK’S ‘WOMEN IN BUSINESS ‘ SERIES
In Conversation with DEBORAH MEADEN (of Dragon’s Den’ fame).
Meet Deborah Meaden along with Beth Chilton and Sarah Sleightholm, founders of Hope & Ivy, one of the businesses that Deborah has successfully invested in through Dragon’s Den.
This Women in Business event is open to everyone interested in attending, as the discussion will be applicable to both men and women alike.
And from Magrath Sheldrick
Immigration 2021 Get Ready for Post-Brexit Immigration Compliance
Webinar: 10 September 2020 at 3pm
In this interactive session Ben Sheldrick and Joanne Taylor from Magrath Sheldrick LLP will explain the new legal and practical landscape that UK employers and workers from outside the new resident labour market can expect to see at the end of the Brexit transition period.
They will provide practical guidance on how to prepare, budget and get compliance ready for Britain’s new place in the world.
Kerry Hough will discuss how British citizens can plan to work in Europe in the future.
Register in advance for this webinar HERE