Friday, March 28, 2014

Lawyers and Social Media- The Do’s And Don’ts.

Brought to you by our friends at Vannin Capital PCC Ltd

There is little doubt that there are benefits aplenty for the savvy lawyer/law firm who engages with and carefully exploits social media. In short, social media offers cheap and extensive marketing opportunities and as such is a formidable commercial tool. Also social media is an excellent forum for communication with clients and potential clients. Furthermore, social media provides facilities for engaging in professional debate and accessing global and up-to-date legal resources. Additionally, adroit use of social media offers wide legal networking opportunities and a platform from which to raise one’s professional profile. The choice of social media sites is wide: for the purpose of this article the three most pertinent are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Judicious choice of site will be a first do or don’t for the prudent lawyer. From the outset, the modern lawyer/law firm must be aware that use of social media carries potential risks, as well as the aforementioned benefits. An initial risk is that participation in social media can blur the distinction between professional and personal identity. Social media is public by its definition; its contents may well prove to be permanent. Given that such content can be also pernicious and pervasive, it can be a dangerous tool.

Set out below are some basic do’s and don’ts, many of them based on common sense as much as any legal tenets.

The Do’s
  1. Firstly, lawyers should appreciate that professional conduct rules apply to their conduct online. These are clearly set out in the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, which includes a section on the use of social media. This highlights the aspects of a solicitor’s conduct that are most likely to be prejudiced when using social media, and these are integrity, independence and trust. The solicitor-client relationship is a fragile one. Being contacts of friends on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter could easily breach rules governing confidentiality and disclosure. Posting comments and opinions could cause conflict of interest and damage trust and confidence, leading to disputes over defamation and privacy issues. The best advice here is to read the SRA guidelines carefully and to follow them exactly.
  2. There are some fundamental, practical common sense rules that are to be followed when using any social media. These include using safe passwords, remembering to log out, having good back up systems, protecting and safe filing of client information and investing in good security systems that are anti-viral.
  3. Another essential safeguard for the law firm or lawyer planning to use social media, is to plan that use carefully. Initial questions to be asked include, what are the practice’s legal and commercial objectives? Who will direct and manage the social media operations? (The advice here is to have strong professional direction, both external and in-house.) Policies about use, and penalties for misuse, of social media should be clear and communicated to all staff.
  4. Where legal blogs are to be set up, access routes to them will be crucial. Lawyers writing such blogs should be careful to protect client’s and colleague’s confidentiality. Naming of clients and cases should be avoided. Content should be topical and informative. Care should be taken to make clear disclaimers that legal advice is not being offered, only personal opinions and interpretations. Most will be written in the personal voice (I) to make this clear. To provoke debate and a wide following they may need to be controversial as well as topical.
  5. The best overall advice is to be professional and do everything to ensure high standards. These standards will extend to accuracy of information, spelling and grammar. Politeness, respect and courtesy should be maintained at all times. Avoidance of personal criticisms, sarcasm and inflammatory statements is the rule. Ill-thought, knee-jerk and emotive statements could lead to further claims. So use social media cautiously and responsibly and minimise the risks.

The Don’ts

These are just the antithesis of the do’s, so are much shorter, and all are best avoided.
  1. Don’t breach any of the SRA on professional conduct.
  2. Don’t do anything that would jeopardise client confidentiality and client care.
  3. Don’t breach rules on disclosure.
  4. Don’t befriend clients on social media sites.
  5. Don’t talk to or about clients cases.
  6. Don’t breach any marketing-related rules on professional conduct.
  7. Don’t give legal advice on social media sites.
  8. Don’t use social media if you haven’t considered the potential risks and pitfalls. Not only could it be professionally damaging, it will also be time-consuming. Finally, remember, bad publicity is worse than no publicity.
  9. Do not put anything on social media if there is anyone, anywhere, anytime (the future can be a very long time) who you would not want to see it. 
  10. Don’t say anything you might be ashamed of, or later regret.
This article was written on behalf of Vannin Capital. Visit the site today to learn about Litigation Funding uk.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book recommendation: Solo: A James Bond Novel by William Boyd



It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge. A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors. Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book recommendation: Just Law by Helena Kennedy



Acute, questioning, humane and passionately concerned for justice, Helena Kennedy is one of the most powerful voices in legal circles in Britain today. Here she roundly challenges the record of modern governments over the fundamental values of equality, fairness and respect for human dignity. She argues that in the last twenty years we have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties, culminating today in extraordinary legislation, which undermines long established freedoms. Are these moves a crude political response to demands for law and order? Or is the relationship between citizens and the state being covertly reframed and redefined? Available from Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health and Safety Executive Reveals Mistakes That Small Businesses Make In Compliance Attempts

Brought to you by our friends at Concierge Legal Services Ltd

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently issued a news release directed to small business owners and their employees. The press release aims to target those companies who are incorrectly dealing with health and safety within their organisations. Some measures taken by companies have been deemed as “bizarre and unnecessary” by HSE, and they have published a few examples to help other businesses to figure out how to properly comply with health and safety.

What have small businesses been doing wrong?
The fact that businesses are trying to comply with health and safety laws and guidelines is of course to be commended, but time and money can be wasted by doing it incorrectly. After carrying out a survey, HSE shared that one business “completed a risk assessment for using a tape measure” and another “introduced written guidelines for walking up stairs”.

How can these mistakes be rectified?
HSE recommends that small and medium sized employers use its free online tools and guidance. They have a section online called H&S ABC which is designed to be an easy guide for getting the basics right. The idea is that business owners will be able to achieve the right level of risk management, as it seems that many are unsure as to what this should be. In line with this theory, nearly a third of small businesses have said that they are “aware they have to take some action but unsure where to start or if what they are doing is correct.”

What myths can be avoided?
Some companies just follow the advice of others, meaning they can end up doing things wrong - kind of like copying off someone’s test paper at school only to find out you could have done it better yourself. Common myths include needing to hire a specialist consultant when it comes to health and safety; one in five people believed they were not capable of managing this themselves and sourced an external person to help. Eleven percent of people who answered the HSE survey thought that they needed a qualified electrician to test appliances including kettles and toasters each and every year - this isn’t actually necessary.

Next steps for small businesses
Kate Haire of HSEs small business team says: “Health and safety is all about taking steps to manage serious risks of ill-health and injury in the workplace” - and also provides procedures for business when accidents at work happen. She continued by saying: “If something sounds completely unreasonable, more often than not it will be totally unnecessary too.”

The National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Allan, spoke on the topic, saying: “The fear factor forces many businesses to adopt unnecessary health and safety procedures which costs time and money.”

To avoid these problems in the future, more research should be done by business owners to clarify what is needed, and what isn’t. Of course, the HSE website is a good place to start, including the resource at http://www.hse.gov.uk/abc/.

Monday, March 17, 2014

From Then to Now: How Has Litigation Funding Reformed?

Brought to you by our friends at Vannin Capital PCC Ltd

Over the last five years, legal funding in the UK has changed considerably. Third party funding has become a global phenomenon and the number of businesses going down the funding route has increased immensely.

Why? Taking a case to court is a costly endeavour and in such tough economic times, it is no wonder why so many firms are taking the high road when it comes to pursuing a patent dispute or insolvency claim.

However, third party funding has witnessed a boom in popularity given that it is a viable means to achieving justice and spreading the risks. It gives businesses the chance to go to court when money is lacking. 
  • Investment

A third party funder fundamentally sees it as an investment. Yes, it is a huge risk to cover your legal fees because if the case loses, they don’t get any of their investment back and they have to cover the defendant’s legal costs. The client on the other hand, can walk away without paying anything.

Nevertheless, if the case wins they will expect a return which is roughly around 25-40% of the investment. This may sound a lot but given that some cases can take around five years to reach a verdict, the fee is justifiable. You will probably find that most funders don’t take cases on unless they value more than £2million, simply because they have to be financially viable.

As covering all of the costs is so risky, third party providers will not accept a case unless it has a strong defence and a sound likelihood of winning. This is why up to 80% of applications for funding are rejected. 
  • Code of Practice

It has been claimed that legal funders bet on the outcome of a litigation dispute when in reality, it is much more professionally calculated. Reputable funders are members of the recently formed Association of Litigation Funders of England and Wales (ALF). All members are bound by a rigorous code of practice which is in place to ensure good practice in the industry.

Members must follow set rules which safeguard the client against terminating agreements half way through a case, and it guarantees that they have adequate funding supply, so they don’t run out of money during a trial. What’s more, they aren’t allowed to overly interfere in the cases. 
  • Regulations

Solicitors are regulated too by the professional body The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). By law, solicitors must explain all funding routes to their clients, so that they are fully aware of their options.

More recently, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force (1st April 2013) to reform legal costs in the UK. The full effects are yet to be understood however, it has been predicted that it will lead to better budgeting and greater transparency for clients.
Litigation funding has changed significantly over the last five years but cost remains at the heart of it.

Third party funding is an exceptionally worthwhile funding route and it is hoped that the new regulations will make costs clearer.

There’s only one question remaining- what will happen during the next five years? We’re excited to find out!


This article was written on behalf of Vannin Capital. Visit their website to learn more about litigation funding.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Clinical Negligence Claims Infographic

Brought to you by our friends at Blackwater Law (a trading style of Holmes & Hills LLP)
  Clinical Negligence Claims InfographicOriginal source of clinical negligence claims information: Blackwater Law.

Book recommendation: What About Law? Studying Law at University by Catherine Barnard (Author, Editor), Janet O'Sullivan (Editor), Graham Virgo



Most young people considering studying law, or pursuing a legal career, have very little idea of what learning law involves and how universities teach law to their students. The new edition of this book, which proved very popular when first published in 2007, provides a 'taster' for the study of law; a short, accessible presentation of law as an academic subject, designed to help 17- and 18-year old students and others decide whether law is the right choice for them as a university subject, or, if they have already made the choice, what to expect when they start their law degree. It helps answer the question 'what should I study at university?' and counters the perception that law is a dry, dull subject. "What About Law?" shows how the study of law can be fun, intellectually stimulating, challenging and of direct relevance to students. Using a case study approach, the book introduces prospective law students to the legal system, as well as to legal reasoning, critical thinking and argument. This is a book that should be in the library of every school with a sixth form, every college and every university, and it is one that any student about to embark on the study of law should read before they commence their legal studies. All of the authors have long experience in teaching law at Cambridge and elsewhere and all have also been involved, at various times, in advising prospective law students at open days and admissions conferences. Listed as one of the Six of the best law books that a future law student should read by the Guardian Law Online, 8th August 2012. Available from Amazon.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A potential business opportunity for stay at home parents

Moo Music is a potential business opportunity for stay at home parents who don’t want to return to their careers after having had time out to raise a family. It is fun, very easy to run, flexible and potentially lucrative! It can also easily fit around family and other commitments. “If you love children and a good sing-song this could be the perfect business opportunity for you,” says Jess Parker, co-founder of Moo Music.

Moo Music is a musical feast for pre-school children, featuring four fabulous characters – Maggie Moo, Ollie Oink, Henry Horse and Doris Duck – created by renowned artist Alan Rogers, whose credits include TV classics Bod, Pigeon Street and The Flumps. Each character has its own repertoire of 25 songs by well-known songwriter Craig McLeish, who has worked on hit West End shows like Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, as well as many television favourites. The songs were recorded by professional singers and musicians, and a team of primary education experts was involved in every stage of Moo Music’s development.

Ali Hider, who runs Moo Music classes in Winchester says “feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. Every class is designed to develop language, memory and co-ordination while the little ones are enjoying themselves. Parents love that their children are learning such valuable skills while having fun. Even the quietest children are singing and dancing after a week or two because sharing music is such a brilliant way to boost confidence.”

To find out more about Moo Music franchise opportunities visit www.letsmakemoomusic.co.uk.
For the general public website please go to www.moo-music.co.uk.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book recommendation: Glanville Williams: Learning the Law (Fifteenth Edition)



First published in 1945, Glanville Williams: Learning the Law has been introducing new and prospective law students to the foundation skills needed to study law effectively for more than sixty years. Presenting an overview of the English Legal System and covering the essential legal skills that students need to master if they want to succeed both in their legal studies and in their future careers, this is a must-have book for all new law students! Available from Amazon.