COVID-19 Communication

The government has now moved towards the next phase of their strategy for managing the Coronavirus epidemic in the UK. In light of the sweeping impact of this nationwide, we wanted to brief you on the contingency plans we have now put in place at Denney King.

We have completed health and travel reviews for all our staff, our business processes and client contact in order to assess how we can reduce and where possible eliminate the risk of virus transmissionthrough our business activities. 

We believe it is important to protect our team, our clients and our service users, to ensure none of them are placed at any increased or unnecessary risk of catching this virus in their ongoing relationship with Denney King.   

We remain committed to maintaining excellent customer servicestandards for all of our clients, whilst operating our business in a safe and effective way. We will continue to review business activities, contact and service standards on a regular basis throughout this difficult period.

We have implemented a number of important measures at Denney King immediately as follows;

  • We have reviewed our company technology and can confirm that all staff are able to operate seamlessly on a remote / virtual basis. 
  • Our staff are fully equipped to work remotely from home for a reasonable period of time and will do so wherever this may benecessary until further notice.
  • We remain open, working remotely, for our usual business activities and enquiries, all interactions will continue as normal with staff picking up and responding to email and calls remotely and undertaking video conferencing with colleagues and clients.
  • We are currently arranging for training sessions to be carried out by way of video conferencing and webinars and will be rolling this out in the coming weeks, so watch this space!
  • We will continue to review our working practices in line with government guidelines weekly whilst the COVID 19 crisis continues. 

We have taken these steps to prepare for the increasing challenges that are facing us all during this pandemic. You will appreciate government guidance is changing on almost an hourly basis at present, however we ask you to remain confident that we will continue to fulfil our commitments to you in the weeks and months ahead in line with government advice and shall remain fully operational, albeit in a flexible format

Resilience and wellbeing

Not just lunch time meditation

With no guarantee of a job, a mountain of debt and a drive for survival (according to the Law Society in 2017/18 over 35 000 UK and overseas students applied to study law in England and Wales and in the year ending 31 July 2017 only 5719 traineeships were registered with the SRA) our junior lawyers I suspect start their first day in “the office” as I did, with equal measures of relief, excitement and trepidation.

However, the fighting spirit that got us this far along the journey can soon seek to divide us into those that “make it” and those that fall by the wayside. Our “trade” becomes largely irrelevant to our “success”, replaced by an “unspoken” assessment of our ability to deal with inappropriate office banter, answer the phone within 3 rings (having no idea who is on the other end) and interpret acronyms such as ROI and KPIs and don’t get me started on “utilisation” ??!!! Cue whispers around the office “did I miss that part in the induction where they issued a glossary of terms?”

Our job descriptions talk of “business development” and “client communication” and our first couple of days are spent watching videos telling us that we are one “out of date passport” away from a prison sentence! By the end of the first week we raise a glass and collectively toast the unknown! Our destiny is set; eat or get eaten! Fast forward and we get another lost generation of talent or exhausted, disillusioned partners craving retirement.

The terrifying reality is that most businesses are acutely aware of the levels of cortisol pumping around the floors of their offices but are either not willing to or simply don’t know how to change behaviour for the long term good of the business. I am not just talking about break out areas and lunchtime meditation. Whilst great initiatives, let’s start with simple training. It is no secret that investment in personal as well as professional development creates stronger teams and encourages innovation and yes if along the way we all drink a little less caffeine and say “good morning” to each other, then surely that is not a bad thing?

It is no surprise to me that lack of engagement over costs and timescales continues to be a major source of complaint for so many clients, when so few firms invest in soft skills training. Not to mention the collective fear that sweeps through the office when there is a request to “scope” a new job! What does that even mean…? Pass me that glossary!

Rural Land Occupation – Statutory Schemes Explained

Rural Advisors – the importance of building an alliance!

The dreaded business plans are due for next financial year and the pressure creeps in to push “business development” for the agricultural and rural sector of the firm.  The usual questions flow “which work referrers are you targeting?”; “what is the marketing budget?”; and “where does the reciprocity come from?”

Having been a rural advisor for…well longer than I care to admit…it is wholly apparent to me that no amount of wining, dining and golf days has produced the quality and nature of practice that I strive for.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a day at the races as much as the next person (in case you were about to send me an invitation) but have never considered them the foundation of a longer term professional relationship.

Success in my eyes, has come time and time again from building strong, collaborative relationships with fellow experts; relationships not established in the pub or at the rugby but through a respect and trust for what they can offer the client that I can’t.

This was affirmed by a junior lawyer recently when we were driving back from a completion meeting at an accountant’s office.  The deal was a land sale for a farmer that had obtained planning permission for a number of houses.  In isolation perhaps a relatively straightforward deal.  However, the nature and structure of the farming business meant that a wider consideration of the tax position, future interests of the partners’ and ongoing finance arrangements was necessary.   Around the table sat the client, the accountant and land agent with the banker being conferenced in.  The sale completed as it started; with complete collaboration amongst professionals.  

After the meeting I asked my colleague “what did you learn today?”  Expecting an overview of “Entrepreneurs’ Relief” I was taken aback when he said “to accept that you don’t know everything and that it takes a team of professionals to do a job properly.”  Of course, I already knew this but started to wonder how many next generation rural advisors are being exposed to this level of alliance?  

So perhaps in a world of increased silo working take a moment to consider, not just what you can do for your client, but what your client needs.  Let’s remember that agricultural clients are special.  They practise a lifestyle not a trade.  Their wealth and assets are often generational and their desire is “legacy.”  Every step along their journey is likely to impact on tax planning, business succession, family dynamics and financial provision.  Their affairs are multi-faceted and so are the professional skills needed to manage them!

So perhaps the 2020/21 business plan should simply read “who does that better me?”

Is your approach to cross selling stifling growth

Recently I was privileged to deliver an in-house workshop for a law firm in the south west.  Whilst not in itself a new experience for me, I was pleasingly surprised to find myself talking to a variety of disciplines and levels of experience from across the firm.  What started as a discussion about the Common Agricultural Policy and BREXIT, quickly turned into a conversation about sector marketing and collaborative working.  

The importance of “hunting in packs” is often overlooked by firms, in favour of “personal targets” and “individual performance.”  Yet here we were actively accepting that there was money to be made from talking to each other and working together!  So why did this surprise me?

Well it is no surprise to me that Men’s Health magazine appeals to more than just the body building, gym obsessed man.  It hits the spot across all areas of men’s health, nutrition and wellbeing.  Similarly I doubt that the million or so* subscribers to Runner’s World are all training buddies of Mo Farah.  Putting aside those New Year resolutions….you know the one “2019 is the year that I run a marathon”… I would guess that readers span from those interested in the latest running gear, amateur athletes looking for nutrient advice and those seeking out their next adrenaline rush.

Not convinced?  How about Farmer’s Weekly? Clearly followed by a mass audience actively in the market for a new arable farm!  Think again…can I suggest that hundreds of people buy the magazine each week to perhaps educate themselves on the latest technological advances in agricultural plant and machinery, maybe see what rural events are going on their area, simply sift through the advertising section at the back or just to look at the pictures?  

The point that I am trying to make is that you tend to be attracted to a product or service because you are interested in the wider subject area; and this is what firms tend to overlook!  Lawyers continue to work with a silo mentality, serving only the client’s direct needs and dismissing (often through ignorance) the wider appeal! 

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that all lawyers lock themselves in an isolated office every day, refuse to attend BD meetings and call their clients exactly that; “their clients!”  In fact the agenda for most Board meetings would suggest that quite the contrary is happening around the country.  Law firms boast IT investment to ensure that their website links Corporate Acquisitions to Wills and Probate as “ever Director or business owner needs a Will…” and Commercial Property is only a click away from our Head of Employment “who can take care of all of your TUPE concerns!”  So why are firms still not seeing the financial rewards of fluid cross selling across their businesses?

Well here are a few of my thoughts:-

  1. It is human nature to fight for survival and in the work place survival tends to mean “hit your KPIs!”  Most firms still operate and communicate on a personal level when measuring performance, despite the conflicting messaged coming from the top which is to “share” work.  Try telling a child that they will get a sweet for every toy that they bring home at the end of the day but to also share their toys amongst their friends!  I’m confused and I’m not a 5 year old!
  2. Our instinct is to set physical boundaries within our environment.  At work this often manifests itself in a fight for office space, the corner desk, client control or even who makes the tea or coffee in the morning.  If people encroach on our boundaries we react and often not in a positive way.  Whilst open plan working is not necessarily rights for every organisation, the removal of physical boundaries can aid the flow of ideas, creativity and skills across teams.  As communities are built, boundaries become less relevant to our egos and we tend to trust more! 
  3. The irony of most firms is that the top talks “I” and “you” but expects the “staff” to talk “we” and “us”!  Change the language of your managers.   True leaders within your business will already be talking “us” so copy them; your workforce is!

Our Next Generation Law Firm offers modules focused on sector working and cross selling.  Click here for information on our in-house courses which we tailor to meet the needs of your business and run from your premises or off site as you feel appropriate.

*I have no idea of the subscription base for Runner’s World!  It is probably a lot more than a million.