In recent years there has been a renewed focus on how misconduct allegations are managed by law firms. That focus has arisen for a variety of reasons, including cultural shifts resulting from the #MeToo movement, generational changes, heightened media scrutiny and regulatory pressures.

In this article, first published for ThoughtLeaders4 Disputes Magazine, CM Murray LLP’s Regulatory and Professional Discipline Partner Andrew Pavlovic and Partner and General Counsel Beth Hale outline the 10 legal and regulatory issues for law firms to consider when managing an investigation into partner misconduct allegations.

Read the article here.

In the next of CM Murray LLP’s Ten-Minute Talk series, Partners Corinne Staves and Andrew Pavlovic discuss own interest conflicts for lawyers and law firms, with a particular emphasis on how they can arise through mistakes. 

In particular, Corinne and Andrew discuss the following:

  • If I make a mistake, do I have to tell the client?
  • If so, what do I tell them?
  • Can I continue to act for the client?
  • Do I have to self-report my conduct to the SRA?
  • How can own interest conflicts arise through other professional appointments, such as acting as executors or deputies?

The issues raised in this Ten-Minute Talk are considered in more depth in a practice note which Andrew has authored for PLC’s new Practice Compliance Management resource hub, which can be found here.

If you have any questions arising from this video or would like to discuss own interest conflicts in more detail, please contact Andrew Pavlovic, who specialises in professional discipline and regulatory law, or Corinne Staves, who specialises in partnership law.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are most often considered relevant in relation to employees. But how do they apply in the context of firms?

In the next of CM Murray LLP’s Ten-Minute Talk series, Partner and General Counsel Beth Hale and Partner Corinne Staves discuss NDAs, with a particular focus on the key issues arising in Partnerships and what firms should take into consideration when drafting them.

In particular, Beth and Corinne discuss the following:

  • Confidentiality clauses in retirement deeds and what firms, GCs and partnership secretaries need to take into account when they are being drafted;
  • NDAs vs confidentiality provisions;
  • The importance of the regulatory regime and SRA Warning Notice from March 2018, which applies to firms entering into settlement agreements with departing or joining partners, as well as the lawyers who are drafting such documents;
  • The risk of a ‘boilerplate’ approach to confidentiality clauses;
  • Do firms need a confidentiality clause in retirement deeds at all if one exists in the LLP deed?
  • Being clear on the meaning and extent of an NDA;
  • Confidentiality agreements in the context of a merger: could such agreements prevent firms from reporting to the SRA serious regulatory breaches found during their due diligence process?

If you would like to discuss NDAs and issues specific to firms, or if you have any questions arising from this video, please contact Beth Hale or Corinne Staves.

CheckYourNDA Online Tool

We are delighted to share with you CheckYourNDA, CM Murray’s free online, interactive tool to help you check the terms of any non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement to ensure they are appropriate, enforceable and in line with best practice.

You can try our new interactive tool, with its traffic-light based feedback on areas of potential concern on your NDA provisions, and with explanations and suggestions for improvement, here.

The UK is facing a period of considerable economic uncertainty. Compared to the past decade, everyone is feeling the effects of increased living costs, high inflation, high interest rates and a recession is on the way, if it is not already here.

In this article, first published in IFA Magazine, Partner Corinne Staves considers how wealth management firms can bolster their business during difficult financial circumstances. These themes and ideas apply equally to all professional services firms.

Partnerships, Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) have a wide range of uses and occur in a range of structures. In this article, Partner Corinne Staves explores these business forms and their uses, with a focus on families, financial services and in the professional practices world (including internationally).

A wise corporate lawyer once introduced a presentation on partnerships and LLPs as ‘everything you need to know when there’s a triangle in your structure diagram’. That remains one of the most accurate definitions to date.

In this article, CM Murray Partner Corinne Staves explores these business forms and their uses, with a focus on families, financial services and in the professional practices world (including internationally):

Families, Financial Services and the Professions: The Many Uses of Partnerships and LLPs

 

We are delighted to share with you the recording of our recent webinar, ‘The Greater Good; How Professional Firms Are Embracing B Corp Status, ESG & Other Non-Profit Making Objectives’, in which partnership law specialists and sustainability management experts discuss the importance of promoting accountability and transparency to a wider group of stakeholders along with environmental, social and corporate governance and how this can be achieved within professional firms.

There is increased pressure on professional firms to enhance their social engagement and sustainability. Thus, it is important to consider what measures professional firms should undertake to assess their impact performance on stakeholders and subsequently improve it. In this webinar, you can hear Chair Rob Millard, (Cambridge Strategy Group), and speakers Emma Bartlett, (CM Murray LLP), Dr John Henry Looney, (Sustainable Direction Ltd) and Corinne Staves, (CM Murray LLP) discuss the following:

  • What is B Corp and how can professional firms achieve certification? The strategic thinking behind the implementation of ESG and other non-profit making objectives.
  • The importance of driving diversity and inclusion from the top and its impact on staff retention rates.
  • Box-ticking exercise vs the true meaning of sustainability: The need for professional firms to consider adopting a proactive approach toward accountability and to implement high business standards for the benefit of their stakeholders and wider community.
  • The impact of client base on professional firms’ commitment towards sustainability has dramatically increased, with some clients refusing to engage with the firms that have inadequate measures in place.
  • The difference between accountability obligations in companies and LLPs and how to ensure that professional firms achieve full visibility on their commitment towards the greater good.

 

As the Conservative Party leadership race draws closer to a conclusion, we are delighted to share with you the latest episode of our Ten-Minute Talk video series, with special guest Dr Henry Marsden, Managing Partner of Professional Services Firms International, where we discuss the often fraught issues involved with leadership transition in professional services firms, and the parallels and lessons that can be drawn from the current race to replace the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

In this Ten-Minute Talk, our Partner, Zulon Begum, and Dr Henry Marsden, discuss the following issues:

  • The key qualities required of a professional services firm leader;
  • How can firms develop a diverse (in terms of skills, background and ideas) pipeline of potential leadership candidates?
  • What types of leadership election/selection process works well for professional practices and how can firms avoid the process becoming a popularity contest?
  • How can firms ensure the partnership unites behind the chosen candidate and help them be a successful leader, especially if the leadership contest was fractious?

We are delighted to share the webinar recording of Part 2 in the Professional Practices Alliance webinar series, ‘”Should we merge?”, a discussion on whether, when and how to merge with another firm, in which an expert panel explores how firms should plan and prepare for a merger. Please see below for full details.

In this webinar, you can hear Chair, Corinne Staves (Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP), Robert Millard (Cambridge Strategy Group), David Fisher (CM Murray LLP), Zulon Begum (CM Murray LLP), David Shufflebotham (Pep Up Consulting) and Andrew Pavlovic (CM Murray LLP) discussing issues such as:

  • How does the SRA view mergers and whether there are any concerns around confidentiality and conflicts of interest.
  • Whether a merger is really about two firms merging, or whether it is about creating a new, more successful firm.
  • How do you persuade and reassure the workplace on the major upheaval causes by a merger?
  • Understanding why it is important to have your finger on the pulse in understanding your partners and what decisions they will make upon a proposed merger.
  • What should firms be focused on post-merger?
  • The importance of emphasising the positives of the merger and why it is a good decision for the firm.
  • Key factors to be considered in assisting fee earners with a dip in revenue during a merger.

If you have any questions arising from this recording or would like to discuss law firm or other professional services mergers, or for any other partnership law issues, please contact our Partner and Head of Non-Contentious Partnership Practice, Zulon Begum.

In this webinar, you can hear Chair, Corinne Staves (Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP), Partner Zulon Begum (CM Murray LLP), Simon Slater (Guest Speaker, Cripps Pemberton Greenish and Byfield Consultancy), Giles Murphy (Guest Speaker, Smith & Williamson) and Rob Millard (Cambridge Strategy Group) discussing issues such as:

  • Mergers are usually the riskiest growth strategy – are there other (less disruptive) routes (e.g., organic growth, lateral hiring) to realising the firm’s strategic goals?
  • Identifying the right merger partner can take time and diligence and requires compromise as there is never a “perfect” merger partner.
  • How to “win hearts and minds” to align partners with any merger strategy early in the process and ensure that the requisite partner approvals for any merger can be achieved.
  • Advance preparation for a merger can make or break a deal; identify any “red lines” in advance and keep these to a minimum, and undertake “reverse due diligence” to identify any potential issues in your own firm and attempt to resolve these before they become a stumbling block to a merger (e.g., onerous annuities, adverse claims history/high PII costs, underperforming partners and expensive borrowing/leases).
  • Consider what protections may need to be built into the merger agreement and/or the merged firm’s partnership agreement to ensure stability for the initial period after the merger, when firms are often at their most vulnerable e.g., a partner “lock-in” period, enforceable restrictive covenants and good/bad leaver provisions.

Whilst there have been positive developments in equality and D&I in partnerships in recent years,  further improvements are needed to stimulate businesses to build more diverse talent pipelines by expanding their talent pools. In this webinar recording, we consider how professional services firms should approach talent management, including the use of specialist recruitment services, the systematic review of policies and, ultimately, questioning their own bias.

In this webinar, you can hear Chair Emma Bartlett, CM Murray LLP, and speakers Pooja Dasgupta, CM Murray LLP, Tom Spence, Donoma Advisors and Victoria Widdows, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, discuss the following:

  • The ‘tie-break’ provision pursuant to section 159 of the Equality Act 2010, which allows employers to take positive action to promote D&I in a stalemate recruitment and promotion situation.
  • The fine line between positive action and positive discrimination, and how the Cheshire police force got it all wrong in the case of Furlong v Chief Constable of Cheshire Police ET2405577/18.
  • Examples of how to drive positive action within professional services firms, including having designated D&I partners, focus groups, a coaching environment, and the use of quotas as aspirational targets.
  • Social and cultural differences pertaining to recruitment in Germany, the UAE and the USA, and the increased pressure to hire individuals from protected groups.
  • The importance of professional services firms having a strategic approach to recruitment and deeper analysis when identifying suitable candidates, rather than hiring in their own image.