Category Archives: Finance Law

Research Highlights Stress Problem in Legal Profession

Recent research from Lawyer 2B has identified huge amounts of stress among legal professionals factors behind the problem include long hours, poor managerial support, and difficulty creating an effective work-life balance.

In recent times, legal firms have made efforts to improve the experience of staff when it comes to stress. Programmes have been introduced by many firms to help maintain the mental health of employees. Hagan Lovells pledged to carry out a review of its policies around the management of employee stress after an IP partner committed suicide. This resulted in the firm’s counselling service being moved on-site. Clifford Chance are another example, having announced a firm-wide rollout of its trainee anti-stress programme in April. Despite such moves, however, the research suggests that stress continues to be a major issue for professionals in the industry, particularly young lawyers.

The survey was carried out in April and looked at a number of factors to get a picture of the state of the industry. Among the areas examined were a number of key stress-inducing factors, working hours, perceived employer commitment to providing a work-life balance to employees, and the stress-busting initiatives that firms put into place.

One interesting and, for some, unexpected finding of the survey was that stress is not necessarily linked to long hours. However, many respondents found that high volumes of work were a key factor at causing stress, and long hours were certainly prevalent within the industry. 36% of respondents reported a typical working week of 46-55 hours and 20% said they worked between 56 and 65 hours. A further 11%, mostly working in a corporate, finance or litigation practice, reported working 66 hours or more in a week, and 2% exceeded 75 hours.  The longest hours are worked by Magic Circle lawyers across all seniority levels.

Nonetheless, support from the firm for which they work was a far more central factor than working hours. The worst-performing firms in this regard were generally those from the US. Of those lawyers working for a US firm in London that responded to the survey, 70% felt that their management did not make any real effort to encourage a work-life balance.

Given the various recent moves by major city firms to combat stress, the discovery may come as a disappointment to some. The problem could potentially be one of awareness. According to the findings of the survey, a mere 17% of lawyers are aware of their firms’ stress management initiatives.

Field Fisher Waterhouse Reports 7% Revenue Boost

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), one of the UK’s largest international law firms, has reported that they have come in ahead of budget in their half year global revenue. The figure of £49.9 million exceeds expectations, and puts their revenue 7% higher than at this time last year. Their turnover for the equivalent part of 2012 was £46.8 million.

The City Office of the firm was a strong performer, achieving better results than it has seen in five years. Other major contributors to this success were the offices in Paris and Brussels, which both also achieved excellent figures.

The announcement of the figures took place at FFW’s annual partner conference. This was held outside the UK for the first time in order to demonstrate the firm’s impressive European expansion. The conference too place in Lille, France.

Michael Chissick, who has held the role of managing partner of FFW since February, was pleased with the figures. He attributed the firm’s strong performance to the fact that many practice areas within the firm saw high-billing periods. These include the corporate law section of the firm, as well as financial services and dispute resolution. By contrast, FFW’s real estate practice experienced a slow start to the financial year, but this was more than compensated for by the strong performance in other areas.

Of the recent promising figures, Chissick said: “We don’t want to count our chickens until they come home to roost, but partners are feeling confident and I’m pleased with our direction.” He also pointed out that the firm has a history of performing slightly better in the second six month period of a year than in the first.

Chissick went on to describe the figures, and the conference at which they were announced, as an example of the firm turning the corner. Several difficulties are still firmly in FFW’s recent memory. Not least among these is the fact that in May 2013, three franchising partners flew away from FFW to join Bird & Bird. FFW is also aware that it did not escape unscathed from the recent recession, and the last financial year the firm saw an overall drop in turnover of £2.5 million. 2012/2013 ended with a total figure of £95 million, compared to £97.5 million the year before. Set against this backdrop, the recent figures will surely come as a reassuring sign for the firm, its partners, and others with an interest in FFW.

FFW is also due to downsize its physical offices in the near future. This is expected to significantly reduce the business’ running costs, which also leads many to look positively towards the firm’s future.

MOJ to Name and Shame Rogue PPI Claims Firms

MOJ

Claims management regulator, The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), has recently confirmed that it plans to name and shame rogue PPI claims companies on their website allowing consumers to see exactly what rules have been broken and by whom, and the reason that action has been taken.

Head of Claims Management Regulation Kevin Rousell said: “Consumers can sometimes unknowingly sign-up to a CMC that may be under investigation by my Unit… By creating an online list that names CMCs that are being investigated it will ensure consumers know exactly what action is being taken and the reason for it. It will also give consumers peace of mind that their complaints are being acted upon”.

The move, brought about by the increasing number of complaints against PPI claims firms has been welcomed by leading claims management compnay, Mis Sold PPI Claims Co, which have stated that “We welcome these changes as they will give consumers better protection against rogue CMC’s who are making it increasingly difficult for legitimate firms to work in this sector”.

We think this move long overdue, as many other regulatory bodies such as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), and the Health Professions Council (HPC) already have similar processes in place. The idea of making public any disciplinary proceedings and actions currently affecting licensed Claims Management Companies should send a clear message of intent to CMC’s that the MOJ will not tolerate firm that flout or break the rules.

The MOJ has already banned over 100 PPI claim firms and warned a further 149 to clean up their act. Last year, more than 10,000 complaints were made to the regulator, which found that the main reasons for consumer complaints were misleading marketing, high-pressure sales techniques, poor complaints systems and unclear fees.

As part of an industry wide crackdown, the MOJ is also looking to ban advertisements that offer cash incentives to vulnerable individuals for signing up to use their services, as well as new conduct rules that will put an end to all verbal contract arrangements between consumers and CMCs thereby enforcing written contracts before any fee can be taken.

FOS Proposes No-Claim PPI Payout for Victims of Mis Sold PPI

The Financial Ombudsman Service recently proposed a no-claim payout proposition against banks who seemingly try to “delay and inconvenience” customers intending to reject their claims or have the customer drop their claim as well. The proposal is still under evaluation, but many customers are hopeful for the proposal to push through.

FOS chief Natalie Ceeney stated that banks are “trying to impart blame” on their customers by slowing down the PPI claims process attempting to discourage customers from pushing through with their claims. She states that this activity only leads to customers getting claims management companies to handle their claims. The “clogging” of fraudulent PPI claims is actually an incident wherein a customer uses professionals to make the claim over and over again.

Respectable CMCs continue to aid customers in reclaiming their repayments for the insurance policy. CMCs state that they are not trying to gain more profit and be a nuisance at the same time for the PPI claims process. Instead, they are just waiting for customers to allow them to help make the claim. They gain their profit properly as it makes use of the no win, no fee terms of agreement, which means that customers only pay when they accomplish the task effectively and satisfactorily.

UK’s PPI bill has currently reached £13 billion in total, but analysts mention that it can go as high as £16 billion to actually end the PPI crisis. The biggest high-street bank to have a large PPI bill is the Lloyds Banking Group with a bill of £4.3 billion in total and looking at an additional £2.3 billion for additional compensation claims.

Credit Management: How Easily You Could Get Into Debt

Financing from different financial institutions are indeed helpful items to have especially during trying times. However, credit can spiral out of hand due to high interest rates and your financial irresponsibility. Credit cards could easily get you into debt if you’re not careful with managing them. Here are a few ways you can easily get into huge debt without your knowledge.

1. Supplementary Cards

Credit cards actually have an option to have supplementary cards for use by other people you trust in your household. However, because it is not only you but a few more people in your house that makes use of the credit, you can instantly get into debt. See to it that the people you entrust the use of the supplementary cards are financially responsible in using them.

2. Insurance

Payment protection insurances or PPI are the usual insurance that goes with any loan, mortgage or credit card. It is an insurance policy designed to cover your expenses in case you face financial difficulty caused by unemployment, sickness or injury. It can come free with your card and you will pay for it after the first month you receive your card. However, if you’re ineligible for the insurance, you may be paying too much for your card, and the debts you have might be earlier resolved if not for the insurance. But you can make PPI claims to get back your repayments

3. Overspending

Credt card companies and other financial institutions by practice work with merchants and establishments to provide their customers discount, freebies and reward packages. However, you might be too motivated in using these privileges that your bill piles up to amounts that you can not manage. Overspending is common with most credit card users and it is important to avoid such.

4. Mis Sold Products

You can be mis sold insurance or financial products by your financial advisers. Financial advisers work on a commission basis, and if they have given the card to you including a PPI policy, you might be in trouble. If they claim that any insurance or financial product is indeed a requirement or free with your package, it is important you have experts take a look and see if the product is indeed mis sold. You might be due a refund.