Solicitors Conference 2022

Ideal for partners and senior managers with responsibility for a number of solicitor clients, our one-day conference will cover a wide range of practical issues.


Who should attend the conference

Mercia's Solicitors Conference is a must-attend event for any accountancy firms with solicitor clients.

Through this one-day virtual conference, you will get practical advice about all the latest changes and challenges currently facing the legal sector. Hear from the SRA and legal firms themselves on how you can add value to your clients.

cloud_download Download Solicitors Conference Programme

Loading events...

Full conference agenda

Natalie Darby and Matthew Byng, SRA

During this session Natalie and Matthew will cover:

  • SRA’s Year One evaluation of the Standards and Regulations
  •  A forward look at SRA’s business plan. 

Sarah Charlton, BlueSky Legal Finance Solutions

This session will cover the key areas to help evaluate how effective the COFA is at implementing policies and procedures to protect client money and to manage and report breaches.

It will look at key areas such as banking facility rule, surplus client balances, use of a suspense ledger and insider tips on auditing to verify compliance with the Accounts Rules 2019.  

Janet Taylor, Taylor and Mowbray

The session, which will include the latest on the ICAEW guidance for carrying out this work, and any changes to the SRA accounts rules or guidance, will focus on the work of the reporting accountant and consider:

  • How robust are your testing, review and reporting processes?

  • What are some of the most common areas of weakness on accountant’s files?

  • Some key testing and risk areas

  • Preparing reports to the firm and reports to the SRA 

Paul McCluskey, Gemstone Legal

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has mandated within the Code of Conduct for Firms (2.4) that legal practices must monitor their financial stability and business viability. In this session, we will discuss the trends associated with financial management and explore the role accountants can play to coach their law firm clients to ultimately enhance their financial controls.

Robert Mowbray, Taylor and Mowbray

This session will look at time recording; why it remains important and practical advice on how to maximise revenue from your time records including:

  • Why time recording is still the most important process in professional firms

  • The reasons why time is normally not fully recorded

  • The need for clarity with a time recording policy & FAQs

  • Communicating value delivered to the client through better narratives

  • The significance of working “outside scope”

James Bannerman, Creative Change Agent

It is not always easy for accountants to ‘coach’ their solicitor clients and inspire them to listen to their professional advice. With this in mind, the purpose of this ‘Lateral Coaching’ session by James Bannerman – the best-selling author of Genius! and Business Genius! -  is to help delegates think more laterally and explore additional and alternative ways to achieve their coaching goals, rather than banging their heads against the same brick wall. In the process, we will explore the following:

  • The deceptive power of lateral thinking

  • The 5 key tools and techniques for generating new ideas and solutions (as and when required)

  • Compelling insights on the links between effective coaching and creativity

Conference speakers

Natalie Darby

Natalie Darby is a Policy Manager at the SRA. She is responsible for a number of policy areas including the transparency rules and the five-year evaluation of the SRA’s regulatory reform programme. Prior to joining the SRA in 2018, Natalie was Head of Policy at the Bar Council, leading on regulatory issues and law reform.

Matthew Byng

Matthew joined the Solicitors Regulation Authority in January 2022 and plays a key role in delivering key elements of the SRA’s policy agenda. He currently leads on Accounts Rules policy and the SRAs response to the Competition Market Authority’s 2020 evaluation of the legal sectors response to the 2016 market study into the legal services sector. Matthew has previously developed Health and Social Care policy in Local Government. More recently he has led education and training policy at the specialist regulator, Social Work England, where he worked closely with key stakeholders and Department for Education and Department of Health and Social Care to implement revised Education & Training Standards and develop a new competency framework for trainee and newly qualified social workers.

Sarah Charlton

Sarah has a BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting and is a Fellow member of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants. Her career spans nearly 35 years working within the legal sector for both small and medium-sized law firms, fulfilling roles from CEO through to COFA. During her career she has worked with a number of legal regulators, professional bodies and government organisations.

Sarah thrives on opportunities to share her knowledge and experience with others whilst bringing value through improvements and efficiencies and launched a joint venture in 2021, BlueSky Legal Finance Solutions. She is often referred to by her peers as the Mary Poppins of the legal finance profession!

Janet Taylor

Janet spent over 10 years with a top 20 accounting firm heading up their specialist solicitors’ group. A highly experienced presenter with, Janet provides relevant and practical training on a number of financial issues for lawyers and accountants. Over the last 20 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. Clients have include several major international and national law firms as well as their reporting accountants. Janet is the Subject Matter Expert for the ICAEW’s Solicitors Advisory Group.

Paul McCluskey

Paul McCuskey is the former UK Head of Professional Practices at Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank and has worked with law firms of various sizes and complexity across the UK and Northern Ireland. Having seen banks shift away from legal sector specialism, Paul set up Gemstone Legal to offer firms a trusted, independent approach to source finance and improve returns on client monies. Paul is also a Law Society approved Lexcel assessor and consultant and combines his experience to help legal firms to improve their approach to finance and operational risk management. Paul speaks and writes regularly on financial factors impacting the UK legal sector.

Robert Mowbray

Robert is an accountant who has worked in and with professional service firms for 30 years and who is an expert on law firm profitability and management. He has provided training and consultancy services to over 1,000 firms across 30 countries. He is regularly asked to help with a wide range of issues including time recording, pricing and fee negotiation, project management, accelerating cash flow, strategy, profit sharing arrangements and improving the quality of management information.

Robert is the author of “Maximising the profitability of law firms” and the annual NatWest financial benchmarking survey and has recently co-authored “COFA – The law firm finance & administration handbook”. He has been voted “Trainer of the year” by the Legal Education & Training Group.

James Bannerman

James is a Creative Change Agent who combines creativity with psychology to help businesses innovate (eg. Aston Martin, Disney, DLA Piper, Duracell, Eversheds, HSBC, NFU Mutual, Schroders, Unilever and the European Space Centre).

He also lectures on business ‘innovation, creativity, enterprise’ on the MBA programmes at Grenoble Ecole de Management and Warwick Business School (where he has twice been awarded the ‘Outstanding Teacher Award’: 2007/08 and 2010/11), and on business leadership at Oxford Brookes University where he is in the final stages of his PhD on the impact of lateral thinking upon organisational performance.

Before working with businesses James was a platinum-selling songwriter (BMG), a freelance cartoonist (eg Punch), is trained in clinical psychotherapy, and has an M.A.Hons from Edinburgh University in English Literature.

More recently, James authored 2 best-selling books - Genius! and Business Genius! (both published by Pearson) – which were fortunate enough to receive positive endorsements from Edward de Bono and Tony Buzan, and they have since gone on to be translated into multiple languages around the world from Italian to Japanese.

One Day Conference
Group of people sat in a room watching a man present stood up

Mercia Conferences

Want to find out more about Mercia conferences?

Mercia hosts a wide selection of conferences every year covering numerous topics.

Get in touch with us to find out more information.