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Virtual Solicitors Conference 2023

ICAEW's annual Solicitors Conference provides finance professionals working in this specialist area with expert insight and knowledge.

Watch on demand


Sessions will cover a range of practical and technical issues to keep you at the top of your field, enabling you to provide your clients with solutions to the challenges in this ever-changing sector.

Gain insight into the key benchmarks and performance indicators being monitored by successful law firms


Learn how we all need to adapt to ensure work places can be a supportive and inclusive place for rising stars


Update on latest SRA guidance, consultations and the state of play with the SRA Accounts Rules generally

The programme

Please note that the programme is subject to change.

Morning sessions

Chair's Welcome and Introduction
Ian Johnson, Chair, Solicitors Community, ICAEW
SRA Update
This session will give attendees an update on the latest policy activities at the Solicitors Regulation Authority, including amendments to the SRA Accounts Rules, Recent SRA Accounts Rules guidance, SRA regulatory insights on matters relating to the SRA Accounts Rules and also emerging trends in relation to the use of AI and compliance from our innovation and horizon scanning teams.
Delivering a return from investments in IT and Technology
Alex Hutchinson, a Freelance IT Director for law firms, will highlight the importance of delivering a return from investments made in IT and Software. He will discuss why a number of firms feel they never realise the expected returns, along with high-level info on how to change this! He will also share some insights around the future direction of IT for law firms, AI and the Microsoft evolution.
Benchmarking: Using the data to drive performance
In this session, our speakers will examine some key areas of benchmarking for law firms, both financial and non-financial. For those advising law firm, or for individual working within law firms, you'll learn how to leverage data to help drive performance. Whether looking to improve client or staff satisfaction, increase efficiency or improve profitability, this session will provide insights from a group of experts with years of experiencing not only working closely with law firms, but also preparing their own unique benchmarking reports.
The changing face of property risk
John Kunzler will cover recent claims trends in property work, and the possible combined impact of new legislation, lenders requirements, and climate change concerns.

Afternoon sessions

Changing legal Industry - Why It Matters To You
In this session, Dana Denis Smith will explore how demographic changes and the rise of women will affect the shape of the future legal profession. 
Are you ready to earn more interest on your client monies
Interest rates have risen to levels not seen since 2008. With rising interest rates firms must consider what level of interest is fair to pass back to their clients. The problem is high street banks are reluctant to pass on interest rates which encourages firms to negotiate bespoke pricing. In this presentation we will highlight how firms can comply with their SRA obligations whilst still generating significant income for the firm, without falling foul of the SRA Accounts Rules.
Millennials - supporting the next generation
Millennials have very different expectations of leadership to that which has been traditionally known within the professional sector. As the world of work is changing rapidly around us, and there is a generational shift in the workforce of today, we must consider how our workplace can adapt to support our new generation of leaders. Together with Michelle Howard you will explore this concept, preparing your business for future sustainability.
SRA Accounts Rules Update
Janet Taylor's annual update for conference delegates on the impacts of any changes, common problems and risks around compliance with the SRA Accounts Rules.
Chair’s closing remarks
Ian Johnson, Chair, Solicitors Community, ICAEW
Event Close

Our speakers

Speaker: Dana Denis Smith
Dana Denis Smith CEO, Obelisk Support

Dana Denis-Smith is the CEO of Obelisk Support and the founder of the First 100 Years campaign. A TedX speaker, Dana is regularly invited to address industry events and comment in the media on gender equality, entrepreneurship and legal technology. In 2020, she was recognised for her work as a women's advocate and champion of gender equality with the Special Contribution Award at the Women in Law Awards.

John Kunzler Risk and Error Management Leader, Marsh

John specialises in risk and claim reduction in the FINPRO PI area at Marsh JLT Specialty,and delivers risk management advice and consultancy for UK and global law firm clients. John has experience of Professional Indemnity for Solicitors, Surveyors, Architects, Technology companies, Local Government, and Financial Advisers. John is a Solicitor and has a postgraduate degree in Management from Guildhall University.

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

Janet has been joint owner of Taylor Mowbray LLP for over 15 years. Prior to that she spent over 10 years with a top 20 accounting firm heading up their specialist solicitors’ group. A highly experienced presenter Janet and over the last 20 years she has also become known as a specialist on the SRA Accounts Rules She presents to a wide range of law firms through in-house and public seminars.

Speaker: Leon Hutchinson
Leon Hutchinson Director, Assurance, PwC

Leon is an Audit Director in PwC's Law Firms' Advisory Group. He works with a number of national and international law firm clients, advising them on accounting issues and SRA Accounts Rules compliance. Leon also co-leads PwC Annual Law Firm's Survey, which provides insight and thought leadership covering the Top 100 UK law firms.

Michelle Howard Consultant and Director, Michelle Howard Consulting Ltd

Michelle is a skilled and experienced leadership, management and marketing consultant and trainer working with professional service firms and organisations across the public, private and the voluntary sector. Her career began in marketing within Legal 500 Law Firms as a Chartered Marketer, a title she has held for over 20 years. It progressed to the public sector where Michelle built up a great level of expertise implementing change initiatives and leading transformational projects, often developing strategic practices which were recognised for their contribution to national best practice.

Speaker: Matthew Byng
Matthew Byng Policy Manager, SRA

Matthew has been at the Solicitors Regulation Authority since January 2022. He plays a key role in delivering key elements of the SRA’s policy agenda including, the SRA Accounts Rules, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and climate change. Matthew has previously developed Health and Social Care policy in Local Government, and more recently education and training policy at the specialist professional regulator, Social Work England, where he supported the implementation of new Education and Training Standards, and developed a revised competency framework for trainee and newly qualified social workers.

Speaker: Paul McCluskey
Paul McCluskey Managing Director, Gemstone Legal

Paul McCluskey is the Managing Director of Gemstone Legal, providing finance and risk management services to the UK legal sector. He is an approved Lexcel assessor, helping law firms establish a strong risk framework and achieve operational excellence. Paul also specializes in finance, supporting firms in accessing funding and optimizing client money structures. He previously served as the UK Head of Professional Practices at Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland, gaining extensive knowledge of the legal sector.

Speaker: Robert Blech
Robert Blech Director, MHA

Robert is a qualified accountant and specialises in accounts preparation, audit and general consultancy as well as areas of taxation. Robert has a legal background and due to his extensive technical knowledge and deep understanding of the sector, takes charge of Solicitor Accounts Rules audits and is responsible for training within the firm. Robert has worked within the industry for over 20 years and joined MHA MacIntyre Hudson in April 2019.

Jatinderpal Loyal, Policy Associate at SRA and speaker at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
Jatinderpal Loyal Policy Associate, SRA

Jatinder joined the SRA’s regulatory policy team in 2012 and has worked closely on the SRA’s Standards and Regulations including exploring how solicitors practise. Jatinder leads on the SRA’s regulation of financial services, the SRA Accounts Rules and Client Protection arrangements. Jatinder also engages with innovators that are using technology to help deliver legal services and to help remove any myths about regulation standing in the way.

Alex Hutchinson, Chatham Group at ICAEW Solicitors' Conference 2021
Alex Hutchinson Freelance IT Director for law firms

Alex has specialised in helping law firms with their IT challenges Since 2017. He focusses on the firms who have a headcount of 30 -200 people and markets himself as the "IT Director for the law firms who do not want (or need) a full-time IT Director".

Conference Chairs

Speaker: Ian Johnson
Ian Johnson  Partner, Hazlewoods LLP 

Ian is a qualified accountant and auditor and has spent his professional life working almost exclusively with law firms, ranging from small sole practitioners to large international LLPs, Limited Companies and PLCs. Ian spent a number of years as an auditor at a Big 4 accountancy firm, working with some of the UK’s largest law firms. He then spent more than 15 years as a legal sector specialist and is currently part of the Executive Council of The Institute of Legal Finance and Management (ILFM) and Chair of the ICAEW Solicitors Advisory Committee.

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 in 1997. The Hazlewoods Legal Team works with around 170 law firms 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.


This year the line up of speakers was excellent, thank you

Previous attendee ICAEW's Solicitors Conference 2023

The conference offers a wide range of interesting topics. The virtual format allows delegates to pick and choose their sessions according to other work commitments.

Previous attendee ICAEW's Solicitors Conference 2023

As an accountant new to the Legal sector, this was a fascinating and really useful insight into a broad range of topics.

Previous attendee ICAEW's Solicitors Conference 2023

An interesting and diverse set of sessions, all thought-provoking and informative.

Previous attendee ICAEW's Solicitors Conference 2023

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