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Dentons office move, Solicitors for the Elderly rebrand, Divorce wars, Bo’ness Fair, and more

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A Landmark Address and Green Oasis: Setting the Stage for an Exciting Future for Dentons

Dentons, one of the world’s largest law firms, has recently finalised plans to move into a brand-new office in London in 2026. The new office will be located at One Liverpool Street, following the expiration of the firm’s leases at 1 Fleet Place.

In addition to its marquee address, One Liverpool Street stands out for its exceptional green credentials, a trend among law firms right now. The building’s development prioritises environmental sustainability and incorporates key design features to minimise its ecological impact. These include aiming for a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating, the highest certification for sustainable building performance, exceeding current building regulations with an expected 33% carbon saving, and the inclusion of a green roof to provide a habitat for plants and animals, contributing to water management and reducing the strain on drainage systems.

By investing in a state-of-the-art office space, Dentons is signalling its intention to create a modern, collaborative, and customer-centric workplace. Darran Stevenson, Chief Operating Officer of Dentons said of the move, “We want to offer our people and clients an office environment they look forward to coming into – a place that will enable our people to get the most from their careers, and for our clients a first-class experience when working with us at our new London home.”

One Fleet Place was my first-ever Legal 500 meeting as a researcher when I went in to see Denton Hall about their film finance practice. It’s incredible to think how far the firm has come in the intervening years and I think this move sends a strong signal to the market about its City intent: we’re not done.

The Power of Language: The Rebranding of Solicitors for the Elderly

The recent rebranding of Solicitors for the Elderly, now known as The Association of Lifetime Lawyers, highlights the importance of language and branding in the legal profession. This membership organisation, dedicated to supporting vulnerable and older individuals, recognised the need to better reflect its mission and values, as well as showcase the expertise of its members.

The name change is set to take effect in September. The Association of Lifetime Lawyers will continue to provide valuable resources and support to its members, who adhere to high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. They specialise in offering guidance on critical issues such as estate planning, powers of attorney, and care home fees.

The rebranding effort aims to emphasise the organisation’s commitment to lifelong legal support, transcending old age alone. It also underscores the expertise of its members in delivering legal services tailored to the unique needs of older clients. Lakshmi Turner, the chief executive, explained that the new name acknowledges the fact that the group’s members are the most highly qualified lawyers in the country when it comes to assisting clients throughout their entire lifetime, regardless of how complex their circumstances may be.

I love it when organisations have the self-awareness to be able to evolve and set themselves fresh targets.

Unmasking Bias in the Legal Profession: Over-Representation of BAME Solicitors in Complaints

It is time to confront the uncomfortable truth about the legal profession – that there is a disproportionate number of complaints against Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) solicitors. But the first report of a research project investigating this issue has shed a light on a crucial factor that has been overlooked for far too long – “socio-cognitive biases.”

This research, commissioned by the SRA a year ago and carried out by the universities of York, Cardiff, and Lancaster, has revealed that these biases may be contributing to the over-representation of BAME solicitors in complaints. The study suggests that these biases could be a factor in why BAME lawyers receive a higher number of complaints pertaining to potential misconduct, as reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). However, the report also highlights that there is no simple explanation for this disparity.

This report sheds light on the need for law firms to better understand and address these biases, particularly in the context of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations. Recognising unconscious biases and implementing measures to ensure equitable treatment and opportunities for all legal professionals can help foster a more inclusive and diverse legal industry, which benefits everyone.

Law firms must proactively examine their internal systems and practices to identify and rectify any discriminatory patterns that may contribute to the over-representation of BAME solicitors in complaints. By promoting cultural sensitivity, embracing diversity and inclusion, and fostering an environment free from biases, law firms can work towards creating a more equitable and fair legal profession. Let us use this report as a call to action, and work towards a more just and equitable legal system for all.

Other News

Pleasure or Professionalism? The Debate Surrounding Lawyers and Pornography

A recent poll conducted by RollonFriday reveals that over 60% of young lawyers believe it should not be considered a disciplinary offence for a practising solicitor to appear on a legal sex site.

The poll garnered over 600 responses, with nearly 30% stating that it is acceptable for lawyers to feature in pornography, even if their identities are known. Another 31% expressed approval if lawyers used a stage name when appearing on such sites. However, 32% of respondents believed that lawyers should not feature in pornography under any circumstances, with 8% remaining undecided.

This debate among young lawyers arises in the wake of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s announcement that solicitors in England and Wales would be obligated to maintain proper conduct both in their professional lives and personal spheres. Some lawyers express concerns that these regulations could potentially be used to probe into their private lives.

It’s clear there’s a diversity of opinions on this matter which highlight the ongoing tension between personal autonomy and professional responsibilities. While some argue for personal choices, others emphasise the need for maintaining public trust and upholding the reputation of the legal profession.

My instinct is that this debate is going to run and run.

Divorce Wars: The Battle for Low Mortgage Rates

It’s no secret that financial stress can put a strain on any relationship, and when it comes to divorce, the stakes are even higher. Divorce disputes over low mortgage rates are becoming increasingly common as interest rates continue to rise.

Divorce lawyers have noticed a rise in conflicts between couples over who gets to keep the advantage of lower interest rates on the family home. These low-interest mortgages are now seen as a valuable asset comparable to gold-plated final salary pensions when determining a fair financial settlement.

In some cases, solicitors have even gone so far as to calculate the monetary gain that each party would have from keeping the low interest rate for the remaining fixed-rate period within the mortgage. This calculation is then included in the divorce agreement, demonstrating the significance that low mortgage rates now hold in divorce settlements.

There is a sense of urgency among divorce lawyers to quickly resolve these issues, as the prevailing trend suggests that interest rates will only continue to rise. Tahina Akther, director of Wildcat Law explains that by delaying the resolution of these disputes, couples not only risk facing higher mortgage rates in the future, but they may also have to bear the additional cost of renting a new property while the matter is being settled.

In light of these developments, it is increasingly important for many divorcing couples to settle their financial arrangements more quickly.

Rhymes on Trial: The Use of Rap Music in Criminal Prosecutions

Rap lyrics are being used as evidence in court cases, as highlighted by recent research conducted by the Guardian and the University of Manchester’s Prosecuting Rap project. The study identified over 70 trials from 2020-2023 where rap evidence, including lyrics, music videos, and audio recordings, was used by law enforcement and prosecutors to construct their cases. This marks a significant increase compared to the previous research spanning from 2005 to 2020, which found 67 cases.

According to Eithne Quinn, a professor of cultural studies at the University of Manchester, music, particularly rap, has become an avenue for conviction for police and prosecutors in the UK.

The use of rap lyrics as evidence in court cases raises important questions such as the potential for bias and misinterpretation of lyrics, which often include violent or aggressive language. Yet, it is important to consider the context in which these lyrics are written as many rappers use their art as a form of social commentary or personal expression, rather than as an admission of guilt. However, the Crown Prosecution Service asserts that individuals are not prosecuted solely based on their involvement with drill/rap music. Instead, music may be deemed relevant to a case if it has specific connections to a suspect, in which case it can be used as evidence.

As the relationship between music and criminal proceedings continues to evolve, it will be crucial to carefully examine the potential impact on individuals, particularly young defendants, to ensure fair and just outcomes.

Behind Bars and Offline: Closure of Prison Inmates’ Social Media Sites

Over the last five years, the Ministry of Justice has made significant strides in shutting down access to social media sites associated with prison inmates. The decision to take such action was prompted by instances where criminals misused their social media pages to taunt victims and their families. With the closure of 1,561 groups and platforms, including popular sites like Facebook and Instagram, they are sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

These closures are part of a larger effort to curb the negative impact that inmates can have on individuals outside of prison walls. By preventing prisoners from accessing social media platforms, the Ministry of Justice aims to minimise any potential harm caused to victims and their families.

The BBC’s Loss is LinkedIn’s Gain

In a recent post, BBC presenter Ros Atkins explores the art of explanation and how to effectively present on a topic. Atkins emphasises the importance of asking and answering three core questions in order to make communication clear and helpful. This second video in a series accompanying his upcoming book, “The Art of Explanation,” focuses on the role of questions in enhancing clarity.

Atkins believes that using questions is a powerful tool for ensuring understanding and engagement. By asking questions, presenters can gauge their audience’s knowledge, gain insights into their perspectives, and address any potential areas of confusion. This approach allows for tailoring explanations to the specific needs and interests of the audience.

When it comes to gaining this valuable knowledge, there’s truly no better person to learn from than Ros Atkins himself. With years of experience as a BBC presenter, Atkins has honed his skills in explaining complex topics with clarity and flair. His expertise is unrivalled, and he’s eager to share his secrets with you. So, jump into the conversation and let your voice be heard!

Beyond the Law

Sometimes, one of the TBD gang escapes the office to go and do something unrelated to lawyers. This week, it’s our Head of Digital, Charlie Archibald who’s attending and photographing Scotland’s most spectacular children’s festival in his hometown.

Dubbed Scotland’s most spectacular children’s festival and  ‘Europe’s biggest children’s festival’, today is the Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival (or Fair Day). Thousands gathered in Bo’ness last night for the annual Fair E’en that starts the celebrations, which will see hundreds of local boys and girls engage in their various roles; flower girls, fairies, presentees and, of course, one lucky eleven-year-old will be crowned the Queen of Bo’ness – the ultimate title.

I felt compelled to write about it since after asking Charlie what he was doing this weekend, he told me all about it – as well as his family history and strong roots with the royal titles of the fair.

How was I only hearing about it now?

For the whole last week of June since 1897, the town of Bo’ness has been celebrating with a magical parade, performances, and arch decorations over their homes that could compete with Disneyland.

So when did it all begin, and why?

The Fair’s roots can be traced back to the Mines Emancipation Act of 1779, which freed miners from their forced duties for a day’s holiday, granted on the last Friday in June – and the Fair has been held on this day ever since.

Who gets involved in the Fair?

The participants of The Fair are all local school children. Each school rotates who will choose the Queen of Bo’ness for that year. The children all vote, and whoever is picked will be crowned on the day.

TBD’s Charlie has strong links to The Fair as he has two aunts and a cousin who were all Queens. In fact, his Auntie Helen was dubbed ‘Queen of the Queens’!

And Charlie himself has played an important role, too, as in 2001, he was given the prestigious role of Chief Herald and tasked with reading the Royal Proclamation to the thousands of people watching. Since his school years, he has continued involvement with The Fair like many of the townspeople and runs the website, alongside taking the official photographs of the big day.

What happens on the day?

Thousands of people from across Scotland and as far as Australia will come to visit Bo’ness this week, many arriving throughout the week in time for the traditional Fair E’en (last night) – an opportunity to admire the arches of the characters that families have personally paid for to decorate their homes.

These homes often fit a theme that the school themselves have decided. One year, they even had a Harry Potter theme!

On the day, there will be a crowning ceremony where the new queen will be crowned, a dance performance (presentees), a parade with all the characters and young children of the town, before a smaller afternoon ceremony that completes the festivities.

Those watching will admire the creativity of the whole town, taking in the traditions of the unique outfits that are designed and brought to life for the children wear, the carefully choreographed performances, the traditions of the crowning, and, of course, just taking in the whole event.

The slogan on Bo’ness Fair Facebook page really captures the magic – “Once every year, right in the middle of our ordinary lives, Bo’ness gives us a Fairy Tale.”

You can watch the magic unfold at the crowning ceremony on the live stream below from 10am (Friday 29th).

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