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Solicitors Conference

Tuesday 14 September

The last year has been unlike anything we have ever seen. Moving forward, firms will need to capitalise on a number of lessons learned in staff, technology, economy and compliance related. Our virtual conference is designed for professionals who want to do just that, so that themselves and their clients can thrive in the years ahead.

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Solicitors Conference 2021


Sessions will cover a range of topics.


Hear from the SRA how the pandemic has impacted on compliance within law firms, what practical problems remote working has highlighted, and the best solutions the SRA have seen that will help firms move forward and adapt to what is expected to be a more hybrid working environment in the future.



With law firm mergers on the rise, this Q&A session with Knights will look at the key drivers that influence the valuing of a law firm from the acquirer’s perspective.


SRA Accounts Rules

Get yourself fully updated on any changes; developments in SRA and ICAEW guidance; testing and reporting issues for the Reporting Accountant; as well as any common problems and breaches.



Learn how to support staff and partners to build their mental resilience and maintain wellbeing as we gradually return to the ‘new normal’.



Find out about the rapid increase in the use of technology in firms and the latest developments.

The programme

Please note that the programme is subject to change.

Chairman's welcome
Andy Harris, Chair, Solicitors Community, ICAEW
How has Covid-19 impacted on compliance within firms, and lessons learned for the future?
Jonathan Chambers and Sean Hankin, SRA will look at how the pandemic has impacted the legal market, how firms have been able to comply with their obligations and some of the challenges they have faced. We will discuss how our Standards and Regulations and Accounts Rules have bedded in during this period and how we are evaluating their impact. We will also consider some of the compliance issues we are currently seeing and our current and planned policy initiatives.
M&A in legal services businesses - value drivers, deals done and prices paid
James Sheridan, Partner at Knights, will explore some of the deals that have been done over recent times, what makes a law firm attractive to an acquirer, the characteristics of those businesses that drive value and the steps to take if law firm owners want to realise capital value in their businesses.
Disbursement -v- Recharge’
Darren Whelan from ILFM will focus on the correct treatment of disbursements for VAT purposes and recharged overheads. The session therefore has an emphasis on the practical application of both HMRC’s and the SRA definition of disbursement to help law firms to remain compliant. The session will look at recent case law and enable law firms to easily identify what is and what isn’t a disbursement for VAT purposes.
Life after lockdown; The challenges and opportunities
Rachel Wesley from CABA will explore various themes that may arise as we continue our journey out of lockdown and will give reflections, tips, and strategies to help us navigate these challenges and embrace new opportunities.
Financing and bank relationships for law firms post Covid
Mike Stevenson, Iceberg, will be exploring the lessons that we can learn from Covid and how to deal funds from with the Government loan schemes, CBILS and BBLS will also be discussed. What the financing opportunities available from the Government, banks and elsewhere are now, as we move out of the pandemic, will be considered, and options available for law firm funding into the future will be looked at. There will also be an explanation of the effects of the new Insolvency Regulations regarding the change in Crown preference which came into force in December 2020.
Delivering a return from investments in IT and technology
Alex Hutchinson, Strategic IT Consultant, will highlight some of the main reasons law firms (and other Professional Services businesses) feel they never realise the expected returns on any investments in IT and Tech, but they certainly increase their costs! He will then provide some insight on to early key elements of running a successful IT / Technology project to ensure focus on the right areas and includes key components to ensure project success, user adoption and a clear R.O.I.
Turning the tide: how to take a data driven approach to employee well-being
Looking back over the most bizarre nineteen months and biggest mental health crisis we’ve experienced in our lifetime, Julian Bryan at Quill presents a tried-and-tested two-part plan to promoting employee well-being in your business.
SRA Accounts Rules Update
Janet Taylor from PKF Francis Clark will be looking at any recent rule updates and/or developments in the SRA and ICAEW guidance including the work of the Reporting Accountant that involves: How robust are your testing, review and reporting processes?; Common themes/weaknesses seen; Some thoughts around testing procedures and risk areas; Reporting to the firm and reporting to the SRA.
Chairman's closing remarks
Close of event


Well done! An excellent virtual conference. Well organised, the separate zoom links was great, very easy for delegates to register and attend.

Past Virtual Solicitors Event delegate 2020

Excellent and very helpful event.

Past Virtual Solicitors Event delegate 2020

Very interesting bitesize programmes with a wide variety of content and engaging speakers.

Past Virtual Solicitors Event delegate 2020

I thought that the virtual format actually worked really well, particularly as I could easily choose the sessions which most interested me and get on with month-end reporting in between!

Past Virtual Solicitors Event delegate 2020

Our speakers

Julian Bryan
Julian Bryan Managing Director, Quill

Julian Bryan has been Managing Director of Quill since 2012. Julian brings a passion for the legal industry as well as 36 years of software experience, strength of commercial thinking, a successful track record of managing change and executing strategy, and the ability to motivate a diverse organisation. Julian’s ultimate goal is for Quill to gain widespread recognition as an ethical, responsible provider of transformative, future proofed software and outsourced services to the legal sector.

Sean Hankin, Head of Forensic Investigation and Intelligence at SRA and speaker at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
Sean Hankin Head of Forensic Investigation and Intelligence at SRA

Sean has been with the SRA and previously The Law Society for over 20 years. His Forensic Investigation teams conduct on-site investigations with a focus on compliance with the Standards and Regulations including the Accounts Rules. The Intelligence team liaises with other regulators, law enforcement and various government departments. Sean specialises in the Accounts Rules, Anti-money laundering and financial stability. As a Chartered Accountant, Sean has previously worked with EY and PKF.

Andy Harris, Partner  at Hazlewoods LLP  and speaker at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
Andy Harris Partner, Hazlewoods LLP

Andy has worked closely with law firms since he joined Hazlewoods LLP as a trainee back in 1997, and is one of three partners in Hazlewoods Legal Team. The team of 35 sector specialists works with around 170 law firms on a retained basis, and many more each year on projects such as structure changes, mergers and acquisitions, benchmarking, valuations and succession planning. Andy writes and produces the Law Society’s LMS Financial Benchmarking Survey and is the current Chair of the ICAEW Solicitors Group. He is also a former director of the Institute of Legal Finance and Management.

Alex Hutchinson, Chatham Group at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
Alex Hutchinson Strategic IT Consultant (Freelancer)

Alex Hutchinson, a Freelance IT Consultant, will highlight some of the main reasons law firms (and other Professional Services businesses) feel they never realise the expected returns on any investments in IT and Tech, but they certainly increase their costs! He will then provide some insight on to early key elements of running a successful IT / Technology project to ensure focus on the right areas and includes key components to ensure project success, user adoption and a clear R.O.I.

James Sheridan, Client Services Director at Knights plc and speaker at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
James Sheridan Client Services Director at Knights plc

James is Client Services Director at Knights plc, the listed UK mid-market professional services business. Prior to this role, James worked as an M&A lawyer in regional, national and global law firms both in the UK and overseas. Having joined Manchester independent law firm Turner Parkinson in 2011 and led its sale to Knights plc in 2018, James has worked on a number of Knights’ acquisitions since its IPO, most recently those in Leeds and Sheffield. He has been one of North West England’s top ranked deals lawyers for the last 15 years, having advised on some of the region’s best-known deals across a wide variety of business sectors.

Mike Stevenson
Mike Stevenson Managing Director, Iceberg

Michael Stevenson qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen. Since 2009, Michael has been instrumental in the development and growth of Iceberg, the business that lends money to UK law firms and their clients. He is currently Joint Managing Director of the Iceberg business, which since 2017 has been part of Paragon Bank plc, the Footsie 250 challenger bank, based in Solihull. Iceberg lends in excess of £100 million per annum to UK law firms, hence providing the sector with a very significant level of PII loans, tax loans and other working capital loans.

Janet Taylor is Director at PKF Francis Clark and a speaker at ICAEW's Solicitors' Conference 2021
Janet Taylor Director at PKF Francis Clark

Janet joined PKF Francis Clark as part of the firm’s specialist legal team in 2018 having been an owner in Taylor Mowbray LLP for over 12 years. Prior to that she spent over 10 years with another top 20 accounting firm heading up their specialist solicitors’ group. A highly experienced presenter Janet provides relevant and practical training on a number of financial issues for lawyers. Over the last 18 years she has regularly presented training on the SRA Accounts Rules to a wide range of accounting and law firms through in-house and public seminars. Janet is the current Subject Matter Expert for the ICAEW’s Solicitors Community Advisory Group.

Rachel Wesley
Rachel Wesley Trainer, CABA

Rachel began her career in HR. She decided to retrain and specialised in mental health qualifying as a mental health therapist in the NHS. She now runs a private practice in the North West specialising in psychological trauma and works for a variety of EAPs as well as running mental health and wellbeing workshops in both the public and private sectors. Rachel's corporate clients describe her style as "user friendly and pragmatic". Rachel practices mindfulness and compassionate mind therapy personally to maintain emotional resilience as well as running a charity that rescues St Bernards and provides pet therapy services to vulnerable people.

Darren Whelan
Darren Whelan Director of Education & Development, ILFM

Darren has been a member of the ILFM since 2002. During that time, Darren has been subject to many external audits including SRA, VAT, PAYE and has successfully defended many ILFM members during VAT inspections. Darren is also the author and trainer of the ILFM’s VAT for Legal Accounting workshop which offers guidance and practical advice about key aspects of VAT compliance, including the treatment of disbursements and recharges. Darren is also co-author and trainer for ILFM SRA Accounts Rules workshop and has recently co-written “VAT for Legal Professionals”, a publication about VAT and the practicalities within legal practice.

Gareth Winters
Gareth Winters Relationship Development Officer, CABA

Gareth joined CABA in November 2019 and works in the relationship team at CABA. Gareth engages with firms/businesses and the institute, delivering presentations and raising awareness of how CABA can support members. Being a previous actor, communication and building relationships is a natural part of who he is. Prior to working for CABA, Gareth’s experience has been in B2C and B2B sales, Management and Performing Arts.

Jonathan Chambers
Jonathan Chambers Forensic Investigation Manager, SRA

Jonathan is a Forensic Investigation Team Manager at the SRA. His Team investigate a range of regulatory issues including compliance with the Accounts Rules and other conduct issues. Solicitors can be targeted as professional enablers in dubious activities. This continues to be a risk to the profession, as does the largely uncertain impact of the Pandemic. Prior to the SRA Jonathan worked as a finance director. Combined with his accounting background, gives Jonathan a useful insight into the business challenges faced by law firms.


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ICAEW is offering a subsidised ticket price for ICAEW Solicitors Community members. The community is open to ICAEW members and non-members, and gives you have access to practical guidance, tailored resources and support to help your firm or clients navigate the latest changes in legal services. You must be a member of the community before booking an event to be eligible for discounts. Please note: you may need to wait 24 hours after subscribing before you can book to attend.


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£120.00 +VAT

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