Hear from Grant Saw Solicitors, who were Highly Commended at the British Wills and Probate Awards 2020

On Thursday 22 October 2020, professionals from across the wills and probate sector came together to celebrate the successes and achievements of the industry is what has been a challenging year, at the British Wills and Probate Awards 2020.

The awards, which was back for it’s third year, took to the virtual stage and was hosted by ex-Royal correspondent, Jennie Bond, alongside headline sponsor Arken.legal (UK), and champagne sponsor Executor Solutions.

500 people watched the winning organisations take the crown this year. The full list of winners is available here. The online event is available to watch here.

Let’s hear from the Highly Commended, Solicitor Firm of the Year (South) Award, Grant Saw Solicitors

About the Solicitor Firm of the Year (South) Award

This award represents the regional Solicitor firm who has best proven all round excellence within the practice area of Wills, Probate and Estate Management. They effectively engage with their clients through various channels be it directly, online or through panels.

The winner of this award must:

  • Be able to demonstrate extensive development and progress as a business within the last year, including but not limited to; strategy, growth, financial performance, employee development, diversity and training
  • Have evidence of active engagement and community and or corporate initiatives
  • Be able to demonstrate that they are operating in the best interests of the client and the profession
  • Be able to demonstrate they excel at dealing with service issues or complaints which may arise
  • Be able to demonstrate a clear approach it IT security and cyber crime prevention

Grant Saw Solicitors were shortlisted alongside:

  • Simpson Solicitors (Winner)
  • Morrisons Solicitors

During the judging process, the judges decided that Grant Saw Solicitors should be highly commended saying:

 “This firm clearly has strong ties with the local community and prides themselves on practicing law on the highest of standards”

How did you feel being Highly Commended in the Solicitor Firm of the Year (South) Award this year?

As a Partner at Grant Saw and Head of the Private Client department, I am delighted that the team has achieved the highly commended accolade at the 2020 British Wills and Probate Awards. We have continued to work hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and I am proud not only of their continued work ethic but also the team’s commitment to helping our clients during this challenging time and often in difficult circumstances. The British Wills and Probate Awards recognise exemplary service and achievement and we are delighted that the team has been recognised.

The department works hard to support the local community and has links with local hospices (Greenwich and Bexley and St Christopher’s). The team regularly deliver talks about the importance of Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney at community groups such as the Lewisham Pensioners Association, Greenwich Stroke group Advocacy for Older People in Greenwich and Age Exchange, as well as having strong links with the Greenwich and Lewisham Carers Centres. This allows us to provide pro-bono advice to the local community who may not normally have access to our advice and services due to a costs barrier.

We take part in the Will writing charity schemes such as Will Aid and Free Will Month, along with the schemes run by Stroke Association, Cancer Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, as well as supporting our local charities free Wills week.

So, who are Grant Saw Solicitors? What do you do?

The Private Client team comprise a team of women, led by myself. I have over 10 years’ experience and specialise in contentious and non-contentious work.  I am an associate member of STEP and work closely with clients to deal with difficult family dynamics to achieve a resolution so that an estate can be administered, or a trust dispute can be settled. I also specialise in contested Court of Protection applications.

We are a diverse team of five with William Meakin retiring last month. William, who had been a practicing solicitor since 1971, provided invaluable support for the entire department for his incredibly astute mind and ability to solve problems in a pragmatic and incredibly logical manner.

Laura Bailey joined the team in 2015 and has helped to grow the department through her client and marketing work. Laura is also a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly. Laura deals with all of the private client services which the firm offers and is used to dealing with a large and busy caseload, yet is able to maintain excellent client relationships.

Sarah Conner joined the Grant Saw team in 2019 and has exemplary communication skills when it comes to explaining technical or procedural matters to clients in plain terms that they can understand. She is particularly mindful to progress matters with compassion and empathy at what can be a difficult time for individuals and families.

Our newest additions include Charlotte Mandy and Daniela Koceva. Charlotte has extensive experience dealing with vulnerable and elderly clients and also clients with high net wealth and complex financial positions. Charlotte recently completed her STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates with Distinction and is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

Daniela is a newly qualified solicitor and joined Grant Saw’s Private Client Department in October 2020. She is dedicated to making legal matters understandable so that clients can make informed decisions. Daniela prides herself on providing an efficient service and having a proactive approach to matters. Daniela is in the process of taking her Solicitors for the Elderly exams, and plans to complete the STEP accreditation. She is fluent in English, Macedonian and Serbian, and has intermediate Bulgarian language skills.

Our services include advice on and the drafting of Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, inheritance tax planning and advice, drafting trusts, Probate, contesting a Will, trust disputes, complex Wills, estate planning, intestate estates and all types of declarations and deeds for tax purposes.

How has your firm developed in the last 12 months and navigated the added complexity of the coronavirus pandemic?

As a firm, we have always been equipped to work remotely with our IT infrastructure. Our cloud-based technology has ensured the COVID-19 pandemic has not had too much of an impact on our service levels and client work.

As a department, we have adapted very well to the changes. We communicate on a daily basis and can be contacted by video link via Microsoft Teams, Zoom or WhatsApp, which is end-to-end encrypted, ensuring security for our colleagues and clients. We have provided presentations for our charity partners via Facebook Live and Zoom, and have the flexibility to meet clients virtually outside of our usual office hours to accommodate their needs and requirements. In fact, the full process of drawing up a Will can be completed remotely.

What’s next on the cards for you?

The Private Client department are determined to continue to grow. We would like to further increase efficiencies with the use of technology. I am currently working on a project to develop a workflow for deputyship orders and probate matters via our case management system.

Focusing on technological advances, we are also looking to automate more administrative processes. This will free lawyers up to concentrate on providing advice and delivering legal solutions thus increasing service levels further and keeping costs at a reasonable level to ensure our clients receive excellent value for money.

What advice would you give someone thinking of joining the Wills and Probate sector?

The Private Client sector is a very rewarding area of law that allows you to deal directly with the client. As Private Client lawyers, we often give our clients peace of mind rather than just a legal document.

We provide a bespoke legal service with a thorough understanding of an individual’s personal needs and conditions and take pride in building long-term relationships with our Clients and the wider local community. We act as trusted advisers to individuals, families, trusts and businesses for personal and business-related circumstances. Private Client work is intellectually challenging, often dealing with complexities of tax laws and multi-jurisdictional issues.

Why is the British Wills and Probate Awards event, which recognises excellence and highlights achievements in the industry, so important to the industry, especially this year?

The British Wills and Probate Awards gives recognition to the law firms and other businesses that do an excellent job for clients that often contact you in difficult circumstances.

This recognition is particularly important given the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves facing this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, 2020 has been an extremely busy time for the industry and the awards provide a sense of focus for everyone involved and something to strive for.

Everyone at Today’s Wills and Probate congratulates all those who were shortlisted in this year’s awards.

More information about the British Wills and Probate Awards can be found here.

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