The Connaught Solicitors’ Symposium 2019 was organised by the Law Society Finuas Skillnet and the Mayo Solicitors’ Bar Association.
The two-day annual conference was an opportunity for local solicitors to stay up-to-date with important practice changes such as limited liability partnerships (LLPs), drafting wills and conveyancing.
Small practices and sole practitioners
This year the conference had a particular focus on smaller practices and sole practitioners. It comes as the Law Society provides special supports for local solicitors and their businesses through the Small Practice Support Project.
The project, which was launched in February this year, makes 11 strategic recommendations to help sole practitioners and smaller firms in rural and urban Ireland grow their businesses and achieve greater success for their clients, their firms and their local communities.
Mayo solicitor Dermott Morahan of Oliver P. Morahan & Son, Westport, is the President of the Mayo Bar Association and attended the event. He said solicitors and smaller law firms in rural Ireland face many unique challenges.
“Smaller law firms aren’t just like small businesses – we are small businesses. Many of the challenges solicitors face in smaller firms are similar to those faced by other business owners,” he said.
“Solicitors practicing in the west of Ireland employ hundreds of people in high-quality professional jobs,” he explained. “We are business advisors, legal advisors, employers, colleagues and friends. Although the role of a solicitor is a valuable and fulfilling one, we also need support and advice to ensure the success of our own practices.”
“The Law Society’s Small Practice Support Project is working to support us as businesses as well as legal experts by offering tools and resources on how to efficiently manage and grow our practices.
“These resources have provided a new level of support for rural, and sometimes isolated, practices. A key message of the Small Practice Support Project is to communicate the value and importance of a solicitor’s daily services,” he said.
For more information on the Small Practice Support Project, see: Small Practice Support Project
Limited Liability Partnerships
On 1 November, the Law Society welcomed the availability of LLPs as an option for partnerships of solicitors in Ireland. The move comes following a 20-year campaign by the Law Society to Government.
“Earlier this month the Government introduced Limited Liability Partnerships as an option for partnerships of solicitors in Ireland,” said Mr Morahan.
“Until now, partners in solicitor firms could be personally held responsible for the debt accrued by an employee of the firm. This put solicitors at great financial risk while providing much needed services for their clients."
“LLPs will now give similar protections to solicitors’ practices as those enjoyed by limited companies. While this is open to small firms, it does not yet extend to sole practitioners,” he explained.
“This change will provide a new level of protection that is welcome amongst solicitors in the west of Ireland. It will help to ensure successes and provide certainty for many smaller firms.”
For more information on LLPs, see: Limited Liability Partnerships