Category Archives: Employment Law

Employment Law Reforms Announced to Shake Up the Work Place and Encourage Businesses to Hire Again, reports Thomas Mansfield

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced reforms to the UK’s employment laws that make it easier for employers to dismiss under-performing employees. The amended laws include settlement agreements which will give employers the opportunity to pay-off under-performing staff to prevent future claims of unfair dismissal. Although workers are not obliged to accept a pay-off, if they do so it will be legally protected and as such cannot be brought up as evidence in a future court case or tribunal.

At the same time, the maximum limit for a pay out for unfair dismissal is being reduced. It currently stands at £72,300, but MPs want this reduced to a maximum of 12 months’ salary. The aim is to encourage employers, particularly small and medium sized firms, to employ more people.

Critics say the proposals only benefit employers and remove rights from workers, but many employers, particularly smaller firms, should find some benefits, including savings of time and resources, and greater security.

Thomas Mansfield, employment solicitors London based, points out these new settlement agreements are pretty much the same as the existing compromise agreement system. Currently employees and employers can come to a specific agreement over a financial pay out from the employer in return for the employee bringing no claims against the employer in the future. Free legal representation is offered as part of this package, and Thomas Mansfield predicts it will be included in the new settlement agreements too.

The UK’s legal system is a confusing one and often beyond the reach of the ordinary worker. Thomas Mansfield is well placed to provide advice, support and representation on matters relating to employment law, including unfair dismissal and employment tribunals. It predicts the new rules are bound to cause further confusion among both employers and employees and advises anyone confused by the new laws to seek out legal advice when necessary.

Via EPR Network
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Shoosmiths launches new Bereaved Service

Access Legal, the private client arm of top national law firm Shoosmiths LLP, has launched a new service for those recently bereaved that aims to provide a thoroughly professional, seamless, integrated and empathetic approach to the legal issues associated with a death.

Commenting on the new Bereaved Service launch, David Palmer, practice group head of Access Legal Private Client said: “Aligning our proposition to satisfy our clients’ need is key to how we differentiate ourselves. While other law firms simply list their products and services under categories and headings convenient for them, this new, integrated service addresses the complex and interconnected issues people have to face after a bereavement in a way they will appreciate and relate to.”

Presenting legal services in terms that are both understandable and accessible is nothing new for Access Legal. However, the new Bereaved Service is intended to grow into a comprehensive one-stop resource providing not just technical legal advice, but all the information, support and practical guidance needed in the aftermath of bereavement with absolutely no obligation to purchase or commission any of the services on offer.

National head of clinical negligence, Richard Follis, added: “The Bereaved Service does incorporate all the discrete areas of legal expertise that many other solicitors would offer, but what is new is the approach in providing those legal services together with other advice about benefits, official responsibilities and coping with the emotional impact of bereavement. To my knowledge, no other law firm has such a holistic, integrated proposition based on the needs of the bereaved rather than the convenience of lawyers.”

Follis maintains that the service has been shaped by the fact that bereavement is not a discrete or episodic experience. A death generates many onerous official tasks and obligations for surviving family and friends at what is an emotionally difficult time so the service aims to minimise the personal stress the recently bereaved must endure.

Practicalities may dictate legal expertise that could range from power of attorney prior to a death through to representation at an inquest, challenging a will, sorting out probate issues or seeking financial compensation immediately afterwards. However, Shoosmiths has also invested heavily in training the staff who will man a dedicated bereavement helpline to provide not just advice and assistance about legal issues, but also to understand the caller’s situation and give advice and guidance about the many issues that confront any recently bereaved person.

The helpline on 03700 864 570 is available seven days a week and lines are open Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.

Via EPR Network
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Access Legal From Shoosmiths Announces Uplift On All Compensation Awards Next Year

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has announced that a decision handed down at the Court of Appeal recently means that people awarded damages in court for all personal injury claims will get 10% more compensation from next year.

A case handled by Shoosmiths’ private client arm Access Legal (Simmons vs Castle) was successfully taken to the Court of Appeal in February of this year and has been used by the Court of Appeal judges to set guidelines on the level of general damages at 10% higher than at the present time.

Access Legal’s client, Christopher Simmons, was riding his motorbike when the defendant carried out a U turn immediately in front of him, causing Mr Simmons to collide with the vehicle. He was knocked off his bike and thrown across the bonnet, suffering a traumatic rupture of the spleen and soft tissue injury to his knee. The personal injury solicitorssuccessfully won compensation amounting to more than £24,000.00 and if Mr Simmons should develop a long term disabling illness related to his injuries which causes significant ongoing loss of earnings, he can go back to the court for further compensation.

The proposed increase in damages is intended to ensure the reforms set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 is a package to compensate for the loss of conditional fee agreements and after the event insurance when the rules come into force in April 2013. These new rules are based on the recommendations of a 2009 report produced by Sir Rupert Jackson (who sits in the Court of Appeal as Lord Justice Jackson) which proposed abolishing the no-win-no-fee Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) system where the claimant’s lawyers recover a ‘success fee’ to compensate for those cases that are not successful and where they cannot recover their costs.

Instead, from next year, the Act means that it’s the winning claimants who will have to pay the success fee (capped at 25%of the damages they are awarded). They will also no longer be able to recover premiums paid for After the Event insurance (taken out to cover having to pay the other side’s costs in the event they lose) from the defendant. This can be seen as a positive step against the background of the new rules which penalise deserving and genuine claimants on costs. At least the 10% uplift partially ameliorates the significant negative impact of the abolition of the claimant’s right to justice; however, claimants will still lose out.

Access Legal partner Rose Donoghue commented: “Although the 10% uplift on personal injury claims is a step in the right direction, we must not lose sight that the new rules may, because of the financial risks, deter those the individuals who have suffered serious injuries, from pursuing genuine claims.”

The package of measures introduced by the government to reform civil litigation costs emphasises why it’s now even more crucial that any solicitors appointed to represent a client in any personal injury claim is experienced, qualified and professional. No matter how credible and convincing the case may be, those involved are now exposed to a greater element of financial risk, so a solicitor who can give an accurate and realistic assessment of the chance of success based entirely on the merits of the case to ensure that any the damages due are retained is more important than ever.

Via EPR Network
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Atlanta Newspaper Names Kitchens New Cleghorn “2012 Best Law Firm”

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, a firm with a proud history representing diverse family law in Georgia, has been named 2012 Best Law Firm by the GA Voice, an Atlanta-based publication serving thousands of gays and lesbians statewide.

The honor follows two months of reader voting, which deemed KNC the best Atlanta gay lawyers at providing sensitive, effective and inclusive legal representation to the LGBT community.

It is the first year the firm has won the title, beating out two other city firms for the top spot.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Georgia Voice for our law firm’s advocacy on behalf of all families,” said KNC partner Jeff Cleghorn.

Best Atlanta Gay Lawyers Title Part of Annual Series

The honor was part of the publication’s “Best of Atlanta” series. That series lets readers vote for their favorite Atlanta businesses serving the LGBT community with respect and pride.

“With a team of law professionals that is almost unsurpassed, Kitchens New Cleghorn is your top choice. Joyce Kitchens, Randy New and Jeff Cleghorn fight for their clients and causes, including LGBT equality,” the newspaper wrote in its July 5 edition, which announced winners in categories like entertainment and services.

Honor Highlights Atlanta Gay Lawyers’ Commitment to Inclusion

The local recognition underscores the firm’s commitment to promoting tolerance and educating gays and lesbians on their rights in accordance with family law in Georgia. Besides helping many gay and lesbian couples expand their families through adoption, the firm hosted a gay marriage forum in June and an event last fall outlining powers of attorney, second parent adoption and many other legal protections existing for Georgia same-sex couples.

In addition, on Aug. 16, these tireless Atlanta gay lawyers will host an event aimed at cutting suicide rates among gay and lesbian youths.

“Protecting the legal rights of LGBT people and families is a priority of our law firm,” Cleghorn said. “Georgia’s laws are not always hospitable to its LGBT citizens, so it is a privilege to advocate for them.”

Via EPR Network
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Former Judge Joins Kitchens New Cleghorn As Of Counsel

Former Merit Systems Protection Board judge and nationally recognized legal professional Stuart A. Miller has joined the Atlanta law firm of Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC as Of Counsel, bringing 33 years of extensive experience with federal employment law.

Miller comes to the firm having recently retired as Administrative Judge with the MSPB Atlanta Regional Office, where he served for 21 years. His career also includes positions as Associate Counsel for Personnel and Ethics with the Defense Contract Management Agency and as Labor Counselor with the Department of the Army.

Miller started May 1.

“I chose KNC because of its impeccable reputation for excellence, integrity and fairness in dealing with clients and opposing counsel,” Miller said. “ I was honored to join a firm of consummate professionals.”

Addition Brings Far-Reaching Expertise to Atlanta Law Firm

Miller brings an impressive resume which partners Joyce Kitchens, Randy New and Jeff Cleghorn consider an invaluable addition to the firm.

A former adjunct faculty member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps School, in Charlottesville, Va., Miller has specialized in MSPB practice and procedure and made countless presentations on labor law topics. Miller also spent years as a teacher for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. In addition, for more than a decade, Miller has been the featured speaker at the federal Bar Association’s yearly Labor Law Symposium, in Huntsville, Ala.

“As a former federal judge, Stu Miller brings decades of legal experience to Kitchens New Cleghorn,” said KNC partner Jeff Cleghorn. “Judge Miller is nationally respected for his subject-matter expertise.”

Miller received his law degree in 1978 from the Emory University School of Law and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

Miller Expands Employment Law Capabilities at Atlanta Law Firm

Miller’s extensive federal employment law background is particularly valuable to KNC, which maintains an MSPB and federal employment law branch. In his position as Of Counsel, Miller will work closely with KNC partners and lend his years of experience to resolving cases involving this sophisticated area of law.

With offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, Athens, Marietta and Lawrenceville, KNC is a comprehensive law resource for central Georgia. For more information about KNC, visithttp://www.gadivorcelitigators.com or http://www.gadivorcelitigators.com/alpharetta.htm.

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Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Announces ProductsThatHurt.com – a Website Dedicated to Informing Consumers about Defective Drugs and Medical Devices

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is proud to present ProductsThatHurt.com – a website dedicated to informing consumers of the dangerous side effects and recalls of various defective drugs and medical devices in the United States.

ProductsThatHurt.com is hosted by the NC defective products lawyer team at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, and it provides information about recalls and the serious side effects of many dangerous drugs and medical devices –some that are still currently on the market. Visitors can stay current on the latest information about these dangerous drugs and medical devices through up-to-date blogs and can post comments and questions about their concerns.

ProductsThatHurt.com has been divided into distinct categories to make the website easier to navigate:

The site will feature frequently updated blogs about these categories and the various recalls of defective drugs and medical devices that affect consumers in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Through these blog posts and in-depth informative articles, readers can leave the website feeling better informed and updated about the various risks of dangerous drugs and medical devices that they may be taking or that may be suggested as a course of treatment by their doctors. Ultimately, the website will be a place for readers to educate themselves about recalls and potential dangers, while also providing them resources for getting legal help if they need it.

“There are many prescription drugs and medical devices on the market that are being promoted to help patients but that are actually proving to be quite harmful and to cause even more serious health problems in some cases,” said President James S. Farrin. “We want to give consumers the information they need about these defective products. We are also here to offer them the legal protection they may need if they feel that they have suffered serious side effects as a result of these dangerous products.”

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Access Legal From Shoosmiths Wins Compensation For Former Prison Officer

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has reported a significant compensation win for a former prison officer diagnosed with mesothelioma.

The 63 year old, who was diagnosed with the fatal illness in June 2011, sought advice from Access Legal from Shoosmiths, concerned to ensure his wife would be adequately provided for in the event of his inevitable death. The Yorkshire man had worked for the prison service in the 1990’s up until the early 2000’s. It was during this period that he was exposed to asbestos when he was required to inspect the prison boiler houses, roofs and cellars which contained asbestos and were in a poor state of repair.

The prison authorities also arranged for asbestos removal in parts of the prison and, while the contractors actually carrying out the work took precautions, his employers did not make provision to ensure he was adequately protected during the times when he came into contact with the asbestos. Nor did they give him any training on the dangers of asbestos in the course of carrying out his normal duties to ensure the security of the prison, which inevitably required him to enter areas where removal work was being carried out. It was therefore while conducting his normal and expected work as a prison officer that he was exposed to the hazardous dust.

After receiving instructions from the client, Sara Hunt, Access Legal partner and asbestos specialist, began to assemble all the medical evidence required for the case. Mesothelioma is a malignant and sadly incurable illness. Once contracted, all medical intervention can hope to achieve is to relieve the symptoms and pain and marginally increase life expectancy. Mesothelioma can be caused by one single asbestos fibre and can take as long as 40-60 years before someone exposed to asbestos will develop the illness. Despite his pessimistic prognosis, the former prison officer insisted that Access Legal pursue the mesothelioma claim so that his wife would be adequately provided for.

Sara Hunt, partner and asbestos specialist commented: “Compensation can never replace someone’s good health but in this case we could at least ensure that his wife would be financially secure for the future which was our client’s main objective.”

On settlement Access Legal’s client said: “A heartfelt thanks from my wife and me for your attentiveness and professionalism. Thank you to you, your staff and colleagues in pursuit of my claim.”

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Access Legal From Shoosmiths Announces £10.8m Payout For 11-Year-Old Left Disabled From Birth

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has announced that Milly Evans, an 11-year-old-girl left severely disabled from birth, was awarded £10.8 million compensation.

The national law firm Access Legal and its team of medical negligence solicitors helped secure the amount – believed to be one of the largest ever in the UK – at a High Court hearing.

The injury to Milly happened during her birth at Lincoln County Hospital. Milly’s mother, Kate Evans, was already in established labour when she was admitted to hospital at 7pm on 1 March 2001. Her baby’s heart was initially monitored, but later heart rate monitoring was totally inadequate. By 10pm it was discovered that the baby had an abnormal heart rate and was suffering fetal distress.

Milly was born at 10.20pm and transferred to the neo-natal unit, where she underwent resuscitation and suffered a seizure. Mrs Evans said that if the baby’s heart had been properly monitored, the midwife would have spotted the fetal distress sooner and Milly would have been delivered earlier and not suffered catastrophic injury.

After many years, United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust, which runs Lincoln County Hospital, eventually admitted liability for its mistakes, but national law firm Access Legal from Shoosmiths had to fight to secure adequate compensation for Milly.

Milly suffers from cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour care. In addition to being confined to a wheelchair, she is unable to speak and is dependent on others for all daily activities. Milly’s intellect has remained fairly well intact, and she communicates through an eye-gaze system.

Milly’s parents will use the money to pay for past and future full-time carers, plus ongoing treatment, education, special equipment, transport, and loss of future earnings. Additionally, the compensation amount takes into account general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Mr and Mrs Evans have had to make many sacrifices for their daughter over the last 11years. Milly’s father, Andy, was an RAF Squadron Leader and a former member of the famous Red Arrows display team. He was not able to continue with his career as a consequence of Milly’s disabilities.

Milly will now be able to have a specially-adapted home featuring hoists and a hydrotherapy pool, and it will be big enough for Milly to access all rooms in her wheelchair.

Mrs Evans said: “We’ve all been through a very difficult time. The money will never make up for the mistake that condemned Milly to a lifetime of dependency on others. However, it will ensure that Milly is provided with full-time care and equipment throughout her life. We now want to build a loving and secure life for Milly in a new adapted home.”

Access Legal partner and medical negligence specialist Denise Stephens said: “Milly is an amazing girl, with a beautiful smile and a sense of humour. She requires round-the-clock care and attention, and will do so for the rest of her life. It was crucial, therefore, that we were able to secure a compensation award of this size to provide for Milly’s needs.”

Via EPR Network
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Access Legal from Shoosmiths announces that it will provide free wills for Marie Cure Cancer Care charity

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has announced that it will become the national free wills provider for end of life care charity Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Access Legal will support Marie Curie’s Free Wills Scheme by writing wills for anyone over the age of 55. The service will be provided with the hope that some people will include a gift in their wills to the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity; however, there is no obligation to do so.

In addition to Access Legal from Shoosmiths, other law firms and will-writing providers will continue to work for the charity as well.

Tevor George, Partner and Head of Access Legal’s Wills, Family and Wealth Team said: “We feel privileged and very proud to be associated with such a highly respected UK charity in this way.

“We’ll work closely with Marie Curie Cancer Care to ensure that both the charity and its supporters benefit from the free Will writing service our knowledgeable legal advisers are able to provide.

“This is a new and exciting relationship, and one we hope will last for many years to come.”

Marie Curie Cancer Care is dedicated to providing quality end of life care to patients and their family members. In addition to its home nursing service and nine hospices, it also supports terminally ill patients with more logistical advance care planning- often with the help of its partners. Advance care planning may include making advanced funeral arrangements, setting up an advance directive and writing a living will.

Access Legal is highly qualified to take on this charitable endeavour, as it devotes a large portion of its consumer services to wills, family and wealth. It offers legal advice on probate, making a will, contesting a will, inheritance tax and estate administration. The Access Legal website features will-related case studies, useful legal guides and an extensive FAQ section on wills and family law.

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NC Workers’ Compensation Attorney Ryan Bliss Joins the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is pleased to welcome NC Workers’ Compensation Attorney Ryan Bliss to the firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department.

Bliss has experience working on both sides of the Workers’ Compensation law, having worked on the defense side prior to joining the firm. In addition to Workers’ Compensation, Bliss’ experience in law encompasses several areas including family law, real estate, trust and estates.

Bliss enjoys working on the side of the law that helps injured NC workers because he values the relationships that develop. Bliss is able to develop strong, meaningful relationships with his clients while helping them navigate the complicated Workers’ Compensation system.

“It is important to me to represent people who are most affected by an injury from simply doing their job,” said NC Workers’ Compensation Attorney Ryan Bliss. “Representing faceless companies with lots of red tape on the defense side was not the reason I became a lawyer.”

Bliss received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Law, and his bachelor’s degree in English from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, where he graduated magna cum laude.

“I’m proud to be part of a team with such a great reputation in helping injured NC workers,” Bliss said.

Bliss joins a team of 5 other NC Workers’ Compensation Attorneys who have a wealth of experience helping injured workers in North Carolina. Several have experience on both the defense and plaintiff’s side of Workers’ Compensation law. In addition, the Workers’ Compensation team includes a former Deputy Commissioner and a former Special Deputy Commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission . The Workers’ Compensation department also has three attorneys who are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law.

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James Scott Farrin’s Workers’ Compensation Attorney Hunter Gentel Selected for the NC Bar Association’s Leadership Academy

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is pleased to announce that NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer J. Hunter Eddins Gentel has been selected by the N.C. Bar Association to attend the 2012 Leadership Academy.

Attorneys are eligible to apply if they are members of the N.C. Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and have been in practice between two to ten years.

The mission of N.C. Bar Association’s Leadership Academy is “to help young lawyers become effective leaders in their communities, whether their communities be the legal profession, their firms, legal departments or other workplaces, other organizations with which they are associated, or their local, state, national or even international communities, or any other environments where lawyers regularly have calls or opportunities for leadership.”

Gentel is among 16 young lawyers who were chosen to participate in this selective leadership program developed by the N.C. Bar Association.

“I’m both excited and proud to be part of this select group of young lawyers,” said Gentel. “I look forward to applying the skills and strategies I will learn at this Leadership Academy to help my clients who have been injured while working on-the-job and to help my community.”

The program will span over 4 months in 2012. The sessions will take place at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary, NC, at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC and at the N.C. Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Asheville, NC.

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James Scott Farrin NC Workers’ Comp Attorney Recognized As a “Rising Star” for a Second Year In A Row by North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine

NC Workers’ Compensation attorney Barry Jennings, a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law and shareholder at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has been named a 2012 “Rising Star” by North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine for the second year in a row.

While up to five percent of the lawyers in any state are named “Super Lawyers,” by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. Rising Stars undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state by state basis.

The Rising Stars list will be featured in North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine, which will be circulated to various attorneys and ABA-accredited law school libraries across the state. Approximately 19,000 copies of the magazine will be included with The New York Times on Saturday, February 5, 2012. In addition, selected North Carolina attorneys will be in a special advertising feature in the February 2012 issue of Charlotte magazine.

As a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation attorney, Barry Jennings works to help protect the rights of people who were injured while on the job and assist with the Workers’ Compensation process.

“I am honored to be deemed a “Rising Star” not just once, but two years in a row,” Jennings said. “It motivates me to work even harder as a NC Workers’ Compensation attorney.”

Barry Jennings received his J.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2003 and received his BA, magna cum laude from North Carolina State University in 2000.

Barry Jennings’s other professional affiliations include the North Carolina Bar Association; North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ); Durham County Bar Association, Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group; and the US District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina.

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Have A Safe & Healthy Workplace Over Christmas – What Employers Can Do Over The Festive Season

Although this is a traditional time of year for enjoyment and celebration, employers need to take extra care in dealing with hazards created by workplace related festivities.

Hazards that may arise include: –
+ fire caused by poor quality electrical items, e.g. festive lights on Christmas trees
+ falls from chairs or tables when decorating offices and trees
+ alcohol related incidents, e.g. violence, vehicle accidents.

By implementing some simple procedures, risk of harm or damage can be minimised, for example:
+ for work related parties, ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to control alcohol consumption and that employees have arranged safe means of transport for after the event
+ ensure that all portable electrical items brought onto the premises are inspected and tested, where relevant
+ turn electrical items off when not in use
+ follow manufacturer’s guidance for using electrical items
+ keep decorations away from hot surfaces e.g. light bulbs, heaters
+ use good working at height practices and suitable access equipment when putting up decorations, lights, etc.
+ ensure that celebrations do not affect the safety performance of employees undertaking their work activities.

Citation has found a common concern for employers at this time of year is around the company Christmas party. Many businesses organise a company Christmas party, however some employers are concerned about a small minority of employees who may behave inappropriately at such social events.

Lindsay Hill, Chief Executive of Citation plc says:
“In general, employees attending employer-organised Christmas parties are doing so ‘in the course of their employment’, so employers have some liability for their employees’ actions and welfare when they are attending these functions.

“Putting aside the obvious health & safety issues, the more boisterous the party, the more likely it is that things could go wrong; and the more you’ve done to help make it boisterous – a free bar, themed it ‘devils and tarts’, etc. – the more responsible you’re likely to be if it does go wrong.

“My number one advice is don’t have a free bar. Either mingle and try to buy each of your employees a drink, or arrange to have bar tickets – one ticket, one drink – and issue each employee with a couple of tickets. If you must theme the evening, don’t make the theme provocative – stick to ‘back to the 70s’, or ‘country and western’, etc. Think about designating some senior members of staff to be ‘alcohol free’, so that they can deal sensibly with any unacceptable behaviour.

“Employers also need to think about the steps they can take to help employees to get home safely, such as organising a coach or mini-bus, making sure that no-one will be walking home alone, or having a phone list of local taxis available.

“Finally, because employees are attending ‘in the course of their employment’, the employment laws concerning discrimination and harassment still apply, so there’s no harm in gently reminding employees that they too have responsibilities and that they are expected to comply with the company’s discrimination and harassment policies and to behave in an acceptable manner.”

Operating throughout the UK since 1995, Citation provides professional advice and compliance packages to business clients, mainly SMEs with between six and 200 employees.

Independently endorsed at the highest level, its market leading services provide guaranteed protection in the high risk areas of employment law and health and safety regulations.

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Access Legal Helps To Launch New Pro Bono Law Clinic

Access Legal, the consumer brand of national law firm Shoosmiths, has helped launch a pro bono law clinic in Northampton. The joint venture, called the Northampton and District Citizens Advice Bureau pro bono clinic, provides clients with free legal advice from Access Legal experts.

The new clinic is the result of a joint effort between Access Legal, Northampton and District CAB, the University of Northampton Law School and LawWorks, all of whom recognised the immense public value of free legal services. These organisations understand that many people across the UK cannot afford to hire solicitors despite urgently needing legal advice.

More than 30 attendees joined Access Legal and the other organisations involved in the pro bono clinic to celebrate its official launch during National Pro Bono Week.

Paul Morrison, Partner at Access Legal, said: “We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to be involved with such an excellent cause.

“The opportunity to work alongside well respected and dedicated groups such as the CAB, the University of Northampton Law School, and LawWorks has been fantastic; it’s given us the chance to use our professional knowledge and expertise for the benefit of those in the community who find it hard to otherwise access legal advice.”

Together, Access Legal and its partners at the clinic will provide members of the community with legal services that are completely free of charge. Some of the legal services provided by Access Legal’s experts include: legal advice on employment disputes, landlord and tenant issues and consumer rights.

The chief executive of the Northampton and Distract CAB, Martin Lord, echoed Paul Morrison’s sentiments, saying: “This is a significant development for us. It ushers in what we hope will be a new era of cooperation with the legal community.”

Lord went on to say that all of the bro bono support involved in establishing the clinic represents an untapped resource for the community. He expressed his gratitude to the University of Northampton Law School, LawWorks and Access Legal for their efforts in developing the clinic and setting a positive tone of collaboration for the future.

The pro bono clinic is one of many charitable endeavours that Access Legal has taken part in. The company also recently raised more than £30,000 for one of its charity partners, Aspire, which provides practical support for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

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Access Legal Contributes To ‘Aspire’ Charity

Access Legal, the consumer brand of national law firm Shoosmiths, has raised more than £30,000 for Aspire, a charity that provides practical support for individuals suffering spinal cord injuries. The charity is one of the firm’s 2010 nominated charity partners.

Access Legal had originally pledged to raise £25,000 for Aspire, but exceeded its initial pledge by an additional £5,000. This donation will allow Aspire to pursue its mission to help people with spinal cord injuries live their life in as happy a manner as possible.

The fundraising effort involved a variety of events, including challenges that the Access Legal staff underwent in exchange for sponsorship from friends, family and co-workers. Some staff members went sky diving to raise money for the cause, while others participated in a 10k fun run.

One of the most difficult challenges completed by Access Legal staff was a sponsored swim across the English Channel. Additionally, employees of Access Legal took part in a rugby game against the London Wheelchair Rugby team and some staff members underwent the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke challenge.

The Aspire charity’s mission ties in closely with the Access Legal brand, which provides personal injury claim services for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

At the opening of Aspire’s newest specialist home for those paralysed through spinal injury, members of Access Legal’s staff were in attendance to show the support for the charity’s cause. The staff members who attended the opening event for Aspire’s Buckingham House included: catastrophic injuries expert Chris McKinney, mixed liability department head Sarah Lake, trainee solicitor Oliver Spicer and campaign assistant Georgia Baillieu.

Every year people across the UK suffer from spinal cord injuries, which can cause partial or full paralysis. Such injuries are often caused by road traffic accidents, but may also be a result of falls or sport-related contact. Access Legal from Shoosmith is determined to offer the victims of spinal injuries the legal services they deserve and to help its charity partner, Aspire, provide them with specialist living facilities.

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H1b Quota Met November 22nd, 2011 Now What?

The H1b quota has been met and came as a surprise as just a bit earlier, there were thousands available. However, many incoming cases were most likely not logged into the CIS computers and thus unaccounted for. Just before Thanksgiving, the CIS announced on November 23, 2011 that on November 22 , 2011 they had met the statutory cap of 65,000 for this year [which officially is Fiscal Year 2012]. Moreover, as of the 19th of October, 2011, the CIS received enough petitions to meet the 20,000 quota for people under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption. What’s next? Well, there is an option that some of my clients consider.

First, let’s preface. The H1b is the work visa for people with a degree or the equivalent. The government defines a position that requires a degree as a ‘Specialty Occupation’. If you do not have a degree you can trade 3 years’ experience in a qualifying field for a year of university training, and yes, you can apply for your entire 4 years of college to be waived if your equivalency is granted. The equivalency is evaluated by a CEF, or credentials evaluation firm, that an immigration lawyer can refer you to. The CIS has the right to challenge them but such a situation is rarely seen by us. The more common challenge is that you will have a position the CIS does not feel requires a degree in the first place. This type of challenge can be quite a burden so make certain that your position is a high-level one so this problem is not one you will face.

At this time, the only things an H1 applicant can do is extend a current H1, change employers, change employment terms, or work in a second H1 position. This last one is interesting. If a person is already on an H1 visa, he or she can still apply for a second one to hold concurrently. A lot of people are not aware that an H1 can be used for part-time employment or that the person is able to work for two companies simultaneously. There is one last two-part solution.

Some people who call us are businesspeople in their own country. However, thinking the transition to the US is hard, they secure employment with an American company so that they can make the move with some level of security. The trade-off, apart from a loss of independence, is a loss of earning capacity…of course this applies to anyone in any country. However, some of the people calling us are highly talented…but afraid. For those of you who are not afraid of entrepreneurial risk, read on.

Some of our callers have companies in foreign countries. If you have owned your company in your country (or any country for that matter) for a year and it is legitimate and creates revenue, you may be eligible for an L1 visa. In order to qualify, simply invest in a company in the United States and own at least 51% of it. If you are the manager or executive of that firm, you may remain in the United States for up to a year. However, a year later you may apply for the highest level Green Card there is, the EB1, and if you qualify, you may have it a year or so later. That particular type of Green Card does not require that the position (of the Green Card applicant) be advertised. That is a great advantage because if people more qualified than you apply for your position, they will move you off your place on the chess board of immigration. Another plus is that you don’t have to wait for the current 8 or so years for your Green Card. A benefit of the L1 is that your spouse will have work authorization.

A second option is available for people who do not own a current business. If you are from a Treaty Country (primarily Canada, Mexico, Australia, and most of Western Europe), you can apply for the E1 or E2, also called E-2 visa. The E visa group if for foreign investors who want to open a company in the United States. The reason I mention it is because a lot of people calling me seem to confuse the EB5 or EB-5 category with the E visa and think they must invest a million dollars and hire 10 US employees. The EB5 is too complex to discuss now and will be the covered in another article. However, with the E visa, we have successfully won cases with investments of $100,000 and a good business plan.

Many talented people feel that the H1B visa is their only option. It’s not. Sure, investing in your own company is risky, but so is working for someone else. If you are entrepreneurial, the E visa may turn your financial life around. Although the world economy is in a slump, the United States values brilliance and hard work. If you have a plan, maybe you can take it to the next step. For more information on the E and L visas, feel free to visit www.my-immigration-attorney.com/index-2.html. If you are moving to the United States, we created a site to help you understand the country a bit better: www.usa-explained.com. I hope this helps you find another option to the H-1b. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the new filing date of April 1st 2012 in order to start working on October 1st, 2012. Think of what you can do with your life between now and then as an entrepreneur!

Via EPR Network
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Access Legal From Shoosmiths Secures Law Society CQS Status

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has secured the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), making it the largest law firm in England and Wales to do so.

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) requires practices to undergo a strict assessment, compulsory training, self-reporting, random audits and annual reviews in order to maintain CQS status. It is open only to members of the Law Society who meet the demanding standards set by the scheme, and has the support of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies’ Association, Legal Ombudsman, and the Association of British Insurers.

Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive at the Law Society said: “Access Legal from Shoosmiths’ accreditation illustrates that CQS is an initiative that is suitable for firms of all sizes.

“Firms that have gone through the CQS application and assessment process have gained the quality mark in recognition of the high standards they have met in residential conveyancing. CQS is the benchmark for the conveyancing sector, and Access Legal from Shoosmiths’ commitment to securing it is further acknowledgement of the high standards the scheme embodies.”

David Parton, partner at Access Legal from Shoosmiths added: “We’re delighted to have secured CQS accreditation, which is recognition that this particular consumer service meets the benchmark for conveyancing set by the Law Society.

“It enables our current and future residential conveyancing clients to identify the excellent service level we provide, at what is often a stressful time for many people.

“Our clients receive a reliable, efficient service, which is at the heart of our ethos and the CQS standard.”

Access Legal from Shoosmiths assists clients in preparing to move house and provide legal advice for whatever issues they may encounter. Its solicitors are experts in the conveyancing process and its services are available on a no-move no-fee basis.

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Prominent Labor Litigation Economist Joins BLDS, LLC

Labor Economist Christopher Erath, Ph.D., has joined the national statistical and economic consulting firm BLDS, LLC as a director. Dr. Erath will consult with BLDS clients on issues arising in litigation, including class-action certification, liability in employment-discrimination claims, wage-and-hour claims and economic damages. Dr. Erath has written extensively on labor and employment litigation and has testified on labor and employment issues in over 30 matters.

Bernard R. Siskin, Ph.D., founder and head director of BLDS, LLC, said Dr. Erath affords BLDS clients added depth. “In addition to significant experience in the analysis of statistical liability and damages in labor matters, Dr. Erath has directed research on antitrust issues, including patent-infringement damages. He also has significant experience in regulatory hearings. He is a welcome addition to our firm.”

Dr. Erath previously served as senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting. He earned his doctorate in Economics at the University of Wisconsin.

About BLDS, LLC: For nearly 40 years, the nationally recognized statistics and economics experts of BLDS, LLC have advised law firms and their clients — including Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, and privately held enterprises — on a wide variety of issues requiring quantitative expertise and coherent explanation.

Led by Bernard R. Siskin, Ph. D., BLDS statistical experts provide independent expert analysis in applied statistics and effectively communicate both the results and implications. They have been retained in matters of employment discrimination including hiring, promotion, compensation, reductions-in-force, and class action certification. BLDS experts are frequently retained to analyze the work force impact of planned management actions in an effort to minimize litigation exposure.

BLDS’s rigorous statistical approach has also been applied to questions of credit discrimination, wage and hour disputes, and insurance issues.

BLDS economic experts provide litigation support and advisory services on economic damages in commercial, employment and tort actions. They are also recognized experts in business valuation theory and practice, including valuation discounts and premiums.

BLDS experts have been appointed by courts as neutral experts and have testified before arbitration panels, and in federal and state courts, including the Delaware Court of Chancery.

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Shoosmiths Appoints David Palmer as New Head of Access Legal

Shoosmiths has announced it has appointed David Palmer has the new head of its consumer legal services operation Access Legal. David has been appointed to drive Access Legal forward after a successful first 18 months.

David will be taking over from the current head of consumer services, Judith Dorkins, who has worked for Shoosmiths for 20 years, and spent months helping to develop and launch Access Legal.

Judith Dorkins, who is retiring to pursue other interests, commented on David taking over from her: “David is an experienced business leader who had developed success across a wide range of sectors and for some of the most challenging and innovative international companies.

“He has just the skills we were looking for to take Access Legal to the next level in the journey to become a leading and trusted provider of high quality legal services to consumers.”

David Palmer, new head of consumer services, Access Legal, commented: “This is a wonderful challenge at what is an exciting time for the consumer legal services market. To be the leading player as we intend in this brave new world we must offer legal expertise coupled with traditional service values, delivered in a modern way that deploys the best practices from other fast-moving consumer sectors. I’m looking forward to making this happen.”

Before moving to Access Legal, David has enjoyed a wide ranging career, including roles such as director of the UK personal cards business of Citigroup, international marketing head for US private equity and investment banking group Robert W Baird, and head of personal customer marketing for Royal Bank of Scotland’s card division.

Access Legal was first launched in February 2010, and marked its first year anniversary at the start of 2011 with an impressive set of launch-year statistics.

It recorded a 178% increase in direct enquiries, saw web enquiries up more than 100%, staff referrals and member claims climbed from 1% to 11% and it experienced 25 times more enquiries through recommendations.

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Access Legal from Shoosmiths joins the Institute of Customer Service

Access Legal from Shoosmiths has announced it has joined the Institute of Customer Service, making it the first top 30 legal services firm to do so.

The national law firm believes that becoming a member of the Institute of Customer Service will help support its key strategic aim of delivering the highest levels of client and customer service.

Access Legal provides a variety of services including personal injury claims, and considers customer service to be extremely important. The team at Access Legal aim to be friendly, supportive and caring and treat each client as a real person rather than a ‘case’.

Claire Rowe, chief executive of Shoosmiths, commented: “One of Shoosmiths’ central tenets is that only the very best customer service is good enough.

“And while we’re proud of the service levels we’ve already achieved, we’re the first to acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement.

“We must make sure everyone at the firm is committed to delivering great customer service all the time, which is why we’re rolling out an Institute-associated people development programme, to ensure client service is understood at all levels of the firm.

“One of the reasons we chose to join the Institute is because it’s recognised as the leading body in its field by so many of our clients. And it would be wonderful to think that as the first top 30 law firm to join it, we might just be setting a new benchmark for the legal industry.”

The Institute of Customer Service is an independent, professional membership body for customer service. It aims to be the first port of call for every aspect of customer service, so that its customers can improve their business performance and their overall customer experience.

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