Due to high demand, Witness for the Prosecution has extended its run on London’s South Bank and is now booking until 16 September 2018.This new production of Agatha Christie’s classic courtroom play has captured the imagination of audiences who have experienced the drama inside the unique setting of County Hall’s ornate Chamber. Director Lucy Bailey thrillingly places the audience in the thick of the action, with some even watching from the jury box, as this gripping tale of justice, passion and betrayal unfolds around them.Leonard Vole is accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. The stakes are high. Will Leonard survive the shocking witness testimony? Will he be able to convince the jury of his innocence and escape the hangman’s noose?Casting for the new booking period is to be announced, and tickets for the dates are now on sale at www.witnesscountyhall.com
Firm Section is always available to help Associate EditorIt seems too pat to say that one of the perks of working in a solo or small firm is that you might get to take your dog to work. But it’s true in Peggy Hoyt’s case, at least. Hoyt is co-owner of The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan and chair-elect of The Florida Bar’s General Practice Solo and Small Firm Section. And the dog is Leiden, a Papillon, who greets clients before settling down in the chair behind Hoyt. “She has to be center of attention for just a few minutes, and then she calms down. It’s great for the clients” who come to Hoyt’s firm for wills, trusts, and estates matters as well as elder law. “She really relaxes them.”Leiden’s laid-back vibe must help a lot, because Hoyt’s practice also at times personifies what’s not so great about solo and small firm practice: a lot of work to do and very few hands around to help. Hoyt & Bryan’s small team got smaller this summer when partner Randy Bryan and funding paralegal Sandra Gfell were deployed to Iraq.“We’re down to three full-time people right now,” Hoyt said. “We’re a very busy little practice.”Contrasted with attorneys at medium-sized or large firms, lawyers hanging out their own shingles have always had to do a lot of their own heavy lifting. So the section has traditionally focused on providing as much education and support as possible.“One thing that sets us apart from other sections is that we’re not focused on any one specific area of practice. We have members who do general practice, where you work on everything that walks in the door, all the way to a specialized practice,” said Theresa Morgan, a private practitioner who serves as the section’s 2008-09 CLE chair. “Our goal is to meet most, if not all, of our attorneys’ needs. We’re really focused on making sure that each presentation during our conference is something that can help everyone.”Section leadership has focused on making sure members have the necessary education and tools at their disposal to get the job done — because law school alone often doesn’t.The General Practice, Solo and Small Law Firm Section’s central goal is to enhance the quality of practice for the solo and small firm lawyer as well as the lawyer who has interests beyond the bounds of a single professional specialty.“The section does so by providing creative and effective member services,” said Chair Ana M. Veliz of Miami, in her chair’s message on the section’s Web site. “Some of these member services include offering quality CLE courses and pro bono CLEs to section members prior to meetings of the section’s executive council.”Veliz said other membership services include informative and pragmatic articles in the section’s quarterly newsletter LINK ; providing networking and informational opportunities through its new Web site — www.gpssf.org — and membership roster; mentoring young attorneys; law school outreach programs; supporting pro bono legal services throughout Florida and recognizing outstanding service to the legal profession through its Tradition of Excellence Award.“I would never, ever in a million years, recommend just hanging out a shingle when you’re fresh out of law school,” Morgan said. “I think that people are doing themselves and their clients a disservice if they don’t get the training they need. You have got to have some heavy-duty experience when you go out to practice law.”One effort that got underway at its first convention this spring was an interview session, where small practice firms looking to hire were invited to interview graduating law students from all over the state. Half of those interviewed got jobs, says organizer Linda Calvert Hanson, assistant dean for career services at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.“This kind of interview process was something that wasn’t all that familiar to smaller firm practitioners – it’s a model that has historically been used for large firms,” Hanson said. “We’re trying to help them realize that we have a wide range of very well-qualified, talented students, and helping to provide an opportunity for everyone to get together.”“Often we tend to think that the big law firms represent everyone, but they’re really the minority,” Hoyt adds. “We wanted to provide a better base of education and networking, and the interview session worked out well.”Morgan says she enjoys having a hand in choosing topics for the section’s conference, which will take place for only the second time in Spring 2009. One representative conference topic focuses on finding balance between practice management and law practice.“I’m really interested in how you can manage your overhead while you’re in small practice and still find time to practice law,” Morgan said. “It’s hard to find time even to go home at night when you’ve got all these balls in the air.”The section also completed a move in its 2006-07 year to merge with the Practice Management and Development Section, to better help attorneys of every stripe manage their practices.“We decided we could be stronger together than apart, and provide a better service to bar members,” says Camille Iurillo, former chair of the Practice Management and Development Section. “We focus on helping lawyers run their offices as successful businesses, but at the same time being successful, professional lawyers.” The General Practice, Solo and Small Why go it all alone? Why go it all alone? September 1, 2008 Kim MacQueen Associate Editor Regular News
The protracted demise of Halliwells was set to enter its final chapter on Tuesday as administrators awaited creditor approval for proposals that would see the defunct firm formally wound up. As the Gazette went to press, it remained unclear how much secured creditor Royal Bank of Scotland would recoup in respect of outstanding loans to Halliwells totalling £17.7m. A report published last week by joint administrators from BDO said taxpayer-controlled RBS was not expected to receive the full amount. The report revealed that Halliwells collapsed owing £14.1m to unsecured creditors, including £2.1m owed to barristers and professional experts, including firms of solicitors. Seven QCs are among more than 20 counsel owed five-figure sums. HM Revenue & Customs is owed £4.3m, the highest amount. However, the list includes a wine supplier, a London sandwich bar, and Manchester United and Sheffield United football clubs, among dozens of trading entities both large and small. Unsecured creditors are not expected to receive a dividend but some fortunate barristers could recoup some or all of the amounts owed to them depending on when payments were processed. Manchester-headquartered Halliwells, one of the UK’s biggest regional law firms, collapsed earlier this year following a steep decline in profitability resulting from the recession. Net profit peaked at £8.5m in 2006/07 before the downturn took hold. The firm recorded a loss of £1.8m in 2008/09. It was the policy of the de facto partners, members of a limited liability partnership, to draw remuneration equivalent to the entirety of projected profits, the administrators noted. As they were LLP members, they are not personally liable for the firm’s outstanding debts. BDO has also drawn attention to the legacy of a multi-million-pound reverse premium paid to Halliwells a few years ago when it agreed to move into headquarters in Spinningfields, dubbed Manchester’s ‘Canary Wharf.’ About 75% of that premium, understood to exceed £20m, was distributed to equity partners, most of whom are understood to have left the firm before it fell into administration. The firm was subsequently run on borrowed money, with RBS taking a security over its assets. Halliwells LLP went under with work in progress of £16.3m and debtors totalling £12.1m. The bulk of the firm was carved up by four rivals – Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and HBJ Gateley Wareing – to which most LLP members and staff transferred. The quartet are expected to pay more than £8m in total for the assets they acquired, partly depending on the extent to which outstanding client bills are honoured. The report shows that the administration has so far cost £1.1m, with BDO partners billing at up to £645 an hour, and principals and directors at the accountancy firm at £400-£500 an hour.