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The Strategic Scoop #5
June 28, 2024

Welcome back to another issue of The Strategic Scoop – your chance to catch up on all the essential news we have covered over the last fortnight. Below, you will be able to read about data theft attacks on an NHS Technology provider and the importance of your firm’s Cyber-Crime responsibilities. We will also delve into the SRA’s latest warning for firms to address client account shortages. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce the addition of the Vacancy Section – beneath the stories listed below, you will be able to browse all the latest jobs listed by our partners and members, so whether you are looking for a new challenge or change of pace, be sure to review all the latest opportunities available now.

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New Data Theft Attacks Act as Warning Sign to Take Cyber-Crime Responsibility Seriously

 Introduction

A recent cyber-attack against an NHS technology provider, in which highly sensitive patient data was stolen and subsequently posted online, is another warning sign for firms to take compliance with Cybercrime and GDPR seriously and implement effective policies to control and communicate how data is protected.

Although not all firms handle data on the same scale as those involved in the recent attack, they still hold highly sensitive information. As a result, law firms have increasingly become prime targets for cybercriminals due to their possession of confidential records, critical intellectual property, and proprietary knowledge. Therefore, a successful cyber-attack could have far-reaching consequences beyond financial loss or regulatory sanctions, tainting the firm’s reputation and undermining client trust.

These increasing attacks emphasise the importance of protecting sensitive client information and maintaining firms’ hard-earned reputations. Despite this, many firms still lack the necessary precautions or procedures, leaving them susceptible to devastating cyber-attacks and regulatory scrutiny.

Firms must re-evaluate their existing systems, policies, and training programs to ensure full compliance with the SRA’s recommendations. Among these key recommendations are adopting multi-factor authentication, installing up-to-date antivirus software, and conducting regular security audits to identify and address any weaknesses.

In addition to technical measures, fostering a culture of awareness and vigilance is essential in mitigating cybersecurity risks. It is important to provide employees with comprehensive training on the latest cyber threats and best practices for ensuring data privacy and security. By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity, law firms can effectively protect themselves and their clients from potential breaches and the resulting consequences.

Read our previous articles for further insights:

2. GDPR and Data Protection Audit Services 

All firms must ensure they have evaluated risk, remain compliant and ensure that all staff are aware of the potential cyber-security dangers with a robust strategy put in place and followed for improving cyber defence. Our GDPR audit will provide the firm’s management with the confidence of knowing that it is compliant with the requirements of the regulation and can demonstrate such compliance. We will identify any issues or concerns along with knowledge gaps and provide solutions and proposals to rectify these. Download our brochure to find out more about these services:

GDPR and Data Protection Audit

3. Regulatory Guidance and Support from Industry Experts

At The Strategic Partner (TSP), we have developed a compliance product that addresses each key stage of managing a compliant law firm. From implementing policies and IT system reviews to file audits and supervision, we work with you to implement a proportionate and sensible approach to compliance.

Our packaged risk and compliance solutions provide guidance and support to firms on a range of topics and include:

  • Our Risk, Regulation and Compliance Service (including AML), provides firms with the necessary Policies, Control and Procedures (PCPs) alongside training, supervision structure, an annual independent assessment and reporting. This solution ensures that firms and their staff are compliant and remain so. It also clarifies what to do in the event of a mistake and/or if a breach occurs.

If you would like guidance on how your firm should approach staff training, policies and procedures, including those for Cybercrime, GDPR and Data Protection, or you wish to confirm your firm is achieving the required standard, at The Strategic Partner we offer a range of solutions which include:

  • Review – A review of the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include all regulatory requirements and AML procedures. The output of this provides the firm with a written gap analysis and solutions to remedy any issues. Find out more about the Detailed Firm Strategic Review.
  • Cybercrime Training – Our Cybercrime Training is a training course specifically designed for law firms to understand, avoid or respond to a cyber-attack.
  • Full Training Courses – Whether you seek training on a one to one or group basis, The Strategic Partner has a range of training courses and mentoring programmes to suit any firm. We can also design any additional bespoke courses that you need. We train firms of all sizes, and our clients range from sole practitioners to multi-office, multi-service firms with overseas offices.
  • Auditing – Procedural staff, systems, and files to ensure procedures are up to the required standard and being implemented at case level with a report of the outcome. Find out more about our Auditing Services.

To read the full article, click here.

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SRA Warning Urges Firms To Address Client Account Shortages Immediately

A recent warning notice from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reminds firms of the critical need to promptly rectify any shortages in client accounts as soon as they are discovered.

Client account shortages can arise for a number of reasons, including administrative errors, cyber-attacks, or, in rare cases, employee dishonesty. Regardless of the cause, firms are reminded of their regulatory obligations to replace any missing funds immediately to safeguard client interests.

The new warning notice from the SRA highlights the potential risks to both solicitors and clients if shortages are not addressed quickly. Clients looking to deposit money into already deficient accounts must be fully informed of the situation to avoid further complications.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, reinforced the vital importance of this directive, saying:

‘Caselaw is very clear that the client account is sacrosanct. However, firms do report shortages on the client account for a variety of reasons.

‘Our rules are also very clear – you must make good on any deficit promptly. A shortage on the client account presents a risk to all clients for whom you hold money.

‘Ultimately, solicitors have a trusted position when they hold client money, and it is in the best interests of every solicitor to maintain that trust.’

The warning notice also advises firms to establish clear processes for regularly verifying client account balances and be mindful of other obligations, such as notifying insurers if discrepancies are found.

For further information, read the full article here: Client Account Shortage.

Read the full warning notice here: Client Account Shortage Warning Notice.

Regulatory Guidance from Industry Experts

  • Risk Assessment Service and Independent AML Audit: Our experts will review your firm’s approach to regulation and compliance, providing a written gap analysis and actionable solutions to address any compliance issues.
  • Accounts and Finance Manual Service: Our Accounts and Finance Manual Service has been devised to provide law firms with an effective solution for the implementation and management of their procedures for managing the office generally and the accounts processes. We will then work with you to communicate and train your staff on the firm’s requirements and maintain your accounts manual and accounts procedures, so that they are always relevant and up to date.
  • Ongoing Compliance Support: Our experts provide continuous support, keeping you updated on the latest AML regulations and best practices, offering regular compliance reviews and assistance with regulatory reporting.

Training and Education

Training is an essential part of any law firm’s maintenance and development. Enhancing the knowledge of those who work within a law firm allows that firm to evolve, improve what it does and keep pace with the complex and changing world of legal services.

Our tailored training programs equip your staff with the knowledge and skills to fulfil their compliance responsibilities, including understanding Accounts Rules, AML regulations, Risk assessment, and Suspicious Activity detection. We offer various in-depth training programs, such as SRA Accounts Rules training and Cyber Crime training.

All our training courses have been developed to provide firms with relevant training for all levels of staff and partners. Most of our courses have a basic level, which provides sufficient details to gain a good understanding of the issues being addressed, and a more detailed course, which gives additional insight to enable decision-making around a topic or issues. We deliver ALL training live, enabling the delegates to ask questions and clarify understanding.

We do not provide pre-recorded webinars because we believe that interactive training adds more value than simply being convenient. Additionally, we offer discounts when two courses are booked at the same time.

For further information and to view a list of the courses available, see link below:

Training Courses for Law Firms

To read the full article, click here.

VACANCIES

Beverley Morris & Co, a law firm based in Blackheath Village, London, SE3 0TJ, seeks a Residential Conveyancing Solicitor with a minimum of 3 years PQE.

Key requirements for the role include:

Ability to handle all types of residential property matters, including:

  • Lease extension
  • Transfer of equity
  • Sale and purchase of freehold and leasehold property
  • New build
  • Auction sale and purchase
  • Re-mortgage
  • Help to Buy
  • Shared Ownership

NB If some training is needed in any of the above fields, this can potentially be provided.

Further attributes will include:

  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • A team player
  • Well organised
  • The ability to supervise junior staff.

Job Type: Permanent, full-time, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and office-based.

Salary: To be discussed based on ability and experience.

Visit the TSP Members’ Hub to apply.

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Beverley Morris & Co, a law firm based in Blackheath Village, South East London seeks a Paralegal to join its Residential Conveyancing Team.

The successful candidate will have a minimum of 2 years’ experience in residential conveyancing and be familiar with residential conveyancing transactions from start to finish.

They will work under the supervision of a team leader and will need to be familiar with:

  • Using a case management system
  • Dealing with the file opening process, including AML procedures
  • Asking relevant questions to gather information to provide an estimate of costs
  • Sending an appropriate client care letter with ToB and all relevant questionnaire forms
  • Applying for a management pack for leasehold properties
  • Preparing a contract pack on a sale
  • Applying for searches on a purchase
  • Preparing search reports
  • Reporting to the client on their mortgage offer

For the right person, training will be provided on aspects that are unfamiliar.

Further attributes will include:

  • Proficient with Microsoft Office, specifically Outlook, Word, and Excel
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Willingness to be a team player

Job Type: Full-time, permanent, office-based.

Salary by negotiation according to ability and experience.

Visit the TSP Member’s hub to apply.

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Are you a Commercial Property Solicitor looking to take your career to the next level?

Weisberg Legal are a modern high street law firm with traditional values and an emphasis on Commercial Property, Private Client and Residential Conveyancing. We have a reputation for exceptional client care and we are a supportive environment where our team is like an extended family. We are dynamic enough to support flexible working and utilise the latest technologies for efficiency yet we retain the old-fashioned charm of a friendly and traditional high street firm offering a personal service.

This is a senior role for a qualified solicitor in a growing firm with emphasis on the potential to become a non-equity director and enhance your career.

Whilst this is a full time, largely office-based position, hybrid or part-time working is available to the correct candidate.

The mix of work is varied, interesting and reliable. We currently advise on all aspects of Commercial Property including Commercial Conveyancing / Landlord and Tenant / Small Business Acquisitions / Residential Estate Development Schemes (~ 2 – 20 plots) / Option Agreements / Enfranchisement / Right to Manage / Lease Extensions / Guarantees and Indemnities / Asset Transfers / Independent Legal Advice / Stamp Duty / Commercial Finance Security. Knowledge of general commercial law such as shareholder agreements and company law, or experience with contentious matters is particularly welcomed but not essential.

We pack a surprising punch for a “small firm” with high value deals and exciting clients. We have recently worked on multi million pound option agreements, the purchase of an entire mixed use High Street, asset transfers between Local Authorities, we represent a well known international charity, we have a strong London and International client following and are the go to lawyers for a number of celebrities and sportspersons. We are looking to recruit to expand our team and we have a number of established local developers wanting to instruct us which we are turning down until we have increased staffing capacity as client service is paramount to us.

We are looking for a candidate to progress to the next level with us. Could that be you?

Requirements:

  • Solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, at least 3 years PQE.
  • Recent and substantial experience in Commercial Property.
  • Autonomy to manage own caseload and act with initiative.
  • Exceptional attention to detail, IT literate, strong organisational skills with the ability to solve problems and work under pressure sometimes to tight timeframes.
  • Excellent client care and communications skills.
  • A strong work ethic with an enthusiasm to develop your own long-term career with us and expand the company’s varied client database.
  • Ambition to take a leadership role or other senior position (with training if required) such as COLP / COFA / MLRO.

This role may also be of interest to relocators from larger cities, who are looking to retain a quality caseload but achieve a genuine work life balance that is so often absent.

We are offering a competitive package, £45,000 – £75,000 dependent on experience, plus bonus / fee sharing.

The benefits of working for Weisberg Legal?

We are a family firm and so our team really do mean everything to us and are rewarded with:

  • Competitive salaries
  • 25 days annual leave (plus bank holidays)
  • Ability to buy and sell additional annual leave
  • Half day if your birthday falls on a workday
  • Discretionary annual bonus
  • Private medical insurance with GP consultation service
  • Life insurance
  • Annual eye test / flu vaccination
  • Employee assistance program and discount scheme
  • Support and funding for professional training and career development
  • Weekly all staff “Coffee Mornings” with fruit and cakes
  • Pet dogs welcome to the office
  • Discounted legal services
  • Regular office activities (recent subsidised or free events such as tickets for Bath Rugby, team entry to Bath Boules, evenings at Bath Horse Racing, supporting Bath City ladies team, office “pancake” day, Cocktail Nights etc)

Please email your CV and covering letter to careers@weisberglegal.co.uk or contact Kieran Weisberg for a confidential initial discussion.

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SCAM ALERTS

Warning: Misuse of the Name Thomas Harry Calvert

Emails have been sent from an individual claiming to be ‘Thomas Harry’ and contain the SRA ID for a genuine solicitor.

The suspicious emails were requesting payment of monies in relation to an immigration matter.

The emails were sent using the addresses:

robert.holmes@myaccountantinmerseyside.co.uk, and

solicitor@myaccountantinmerseyside.co.uk.

Please be cautious that any business transactions through the email addresses above are not undertaken by a firm or individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine solicitor called Thomas Harry Calvert, whose SRA ID is 515534. The genuine Thomas Harry Calvert has confirmed he has no connection to the emails referred to above.

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Dubious Clone Website claiming to be A Law Firm Titled ‘Phil Large LLP’

A website with the address ‘www.phillargelaw.com’ is claiming to be a law firm called ‘Phil Large LLP’, cloning the website of a genuine firm of solicitors.

The website provides the following email addresses: ‘enquiries@phillargelaw.com’ and ‘barrister.chris_danie@legislator.com’. The address provided is ‘9 Harley St, LondonK, W1G 9QY’.

Please be mindful that the SRA does not authorise and regulate a firm of solicitors called ‘Phil Large LLP’.

Any business or transaction through the website ‘www.phillargelaw.com’ or the email and postal addresses above are is undertaken by a firm or individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called Wright Hassall LLP. Its website is ‘www.wrighthassall.co.uk’. Wright Hassall LLP has confirmed that it does not have any connection to the website referred to in the above alert.

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Beware: Website claiming to be a law firm called ‘Precision Legal’

A website at ‘www.precisionlegalltd.com’ is claiming to be a law firm called ‘Precision Legal’. The website claims to be made up of ‘Corporate Solicitors’, ‘Property and Estate Solicitors’ and ‘Commercial Solicitors’.

The website provides and misuses a registered company name and address and provides a telephone number of ‘+44 116 464 9541’ and an email address of ‘info@precisionlegalltd.com’.

Please be mindful that the SRA does not authorise and regulate a firm of solicitors called ‘Precision Legal’ or ‘Precision Legal Ltd’. In conclusion, any business or transaction through the website ‘www.precisionlegalltd’ or the telephone number or email address above is not undertaken by a firm or individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.

Please be aware that there is a genuine company called Precision Legal Limited, located at Office 9 The Coach House, Desford Hall, Leicester, Leicestershire, England, LE9 9JJ, Company number 11859382. It is not a firm of solicitors, but is owned and operated by a genuine solicitor, Matthew Buswell (SRA ID:576252), as a separate recruitment entity.

Matthew Buswell has confirmed that neither he nor his genuine company, Precision Legal Limited, have any connection to the website ‘www.precisionlegalltd.com’ referred to above.

The SRA also authorises and regulates a genuine firm of solicitors called Precision Solicitors Limited (SRA ID:645143), whose actual website is at www.precisionsolicitors.co.uk.

I’ve Been Contacted
What are the next steps?

When a firm’s or individual’s identity has been copied (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s), or have received similar information from sources you believe might be suspicious, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means.

You can also contact the SRA directly to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual’s or firm’s practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.

Get in Touch with
The Strategic Partner

TSP are always at hand to provide tailored guidance to help you make the most informed and beneficial decisions. Helping you understand the recurrent regulatory shifts and working with you to provide solutions to any problems that may occur as a result is something we are both equipped and prepared to assist you with. With our team of professional specialists and our renowned legal expertise, we can work with your firm to always ensure you are never left unprepared in the wake of legal changes.

Contact Us

Issue six of The Strategic Scoop will be available on 12 July, yet should you require any further information or support or would like to learn more about any of what you have read in this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the information below. We will always be happy to hear from you.

For more information on how we can help, call our consultants on 0203 9119710 or email us at info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk

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