Hear From The Solicitor Firm Of The Year (South)

Congratulations to Barcan + Kirby for winning ‘Solicitor Firm of the Year’ in the south region category at the second prestigious British Wills and Probate Awards on 17th October 2019 at the esteemed Belfry Resort and Hotel.

With the increased number of submissions in categories for the awards this year, the judging panel were spoilt for choice as they fervently went through the entries to find four outstanding finalists, namely Morrisons Solicitors, Haywards Solicitors, Grant Saw Solicitors and of course Barcan + Kirby. Eventually, judge’s decision was final, and Barcan + Kirby was crowned as cream of the crop in this category.

The judges commented on the winner saying:

“A fantastic submission with great motivation to support an agile working environment, with staff and client satisfaction as paramount.”

Congratulations on winning’ Solicitor Firm of the Year’ award for the south region, tell us about your wills and probate team and services you provide. 

We have a very experienced team of lawyers who deal with Will and Probate matters across our six offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

How has your team developed and progressed within the last 12 months? 

We have recently changed the structure of our department so that we now have Team Leaders in every office.  Some of the Team Leaders have been allocated responsibilities for the department, in respect of Business Development and Marketing; Training and Pricing.   We also have Work-type co-ordinators who head up our Wills, Probate and Trusts teams.  They are responsible for the day-to-day enquiries, peer approval of documents and ensuring our paperwork and literature is up to date

Our roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and the new structure has helped communication within the department and offices. The Team leader meetings are an excellent forum for discussions and each Team Leader then reports back to their respective offices.

We have recruited two new Solicitors in the department and are currently recruiting for a new Will Writer.

All of our lawyers are Dementia Friends and our firm is working towards being dementia friendly. We have strong links with local dementia charities and regularly take part in Public interest meetings with local charities and Older Person’s groups to provide talks on the importance of making Wills and Powers of Attorney.

What new systems and processes have you implemented which operates in the best interests of clients and the profession itself? 

Our Wills are prepared in accordance with the STEP Code for Will Preparation which is a set of ethical principles that operate for our client’s benefit. Some of our lawyers hold the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation and all Wills prepared in the department are peer approved by a lawyer at a senior level to ensure that the Wills reflect the client’s wishes and to check for any typographical errors.

We have a software package to ensure that our Probate matters are dealt with as efficiently as possible ensuring that our Estate accounts are prepared in line with STEP requirements and that they balance with monies held on our client account.

Some of our lawyers are STEP Qualified in Estate and Trust Administration and are members of the Law Society Probate Section. Two of our lawyers are members of Solicitors for the Elderly and hold a certificate in Older Client Care Services.

One of our Solicitors, Thomas Sharkey, is a Law Society Accredited Practitioner for Mental Capacity (Welfare).

As legal firms have become top targets for cyber criminals, what IT security and cyber-crime prevention measures have you put in place? 

We outsourced all IT services to an external provider in January 2019, which has helped streamline our IT process. Regarding cyber security, we have training on a six monthly basis to remind employees about the importance of remaining vigilant whilst emailing, especially with phishing attempts. We’re extremely vigilant in regards to money laundering and our Compliance Manager issues regular training so that everyone in the firm, from secretaries to Partners, are aware of the dangers and consequences. At our annual conference, we had a session dedicated to cyber security.

Why is the British Wills and Probate Awards event, which recognises excellence and highlights achievement in the sector, so important to the industry? 

It important for our field of law to be recognised at awards as all too often Wills and Probate practitioners are overlooked by the public as not providing the same level of service as other areas of law.

An evening celebrating excellence in the field is a wonderful way to get to know other professionals and to celebrate the incredible work that we do. Having our field recognised in this way increases awareness of the work we do and by winning an award, the general public and our peers, recognise our achievement. It also encourages recruitment of staff into the firm.

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