We recognise that not every legal firm needs the same level of support from their professional advisors. We take time to understand the needs of the firms we act for and tailor our approach to provide the technical skills and practical advice required, in the most cost effective manner possible.
The legal sector has undergone significant change in recent years, and with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s red-tape initiative ongoing, further change is expected in the years to come. At Wilkins Kennedy we have brought together our team of specialist advisors to the legal profession under the banner of “WK Law”, and this team is on hand to help you make sense of the relevant regulations, meet your obligations, and support you with the growth and future plans of your firm.
We currently act for a number of solicitors, both national and local, and strive to keep ahead of new developments so that we are able to advise on issues as they emerge and impact on the legal sector.
Briefing seminars are run throughout Wilkins Kennedy specifically aimed at addressing topics which are relevant to those operating within the legal profession. These seminars provide an alternative and refreshing alternative to training. WK Law also produce regular e-briefs and also highlight issues affecting the sector on our WK Law Linkedin group.
We have developed accounting and support services that are specifically tailored for our solicitor clients. These services include:
- SRA Accounts Rules compliance
- Annual statutory audit and accounts preparation
- Tax and financial planning
- Advice on business structuring and incorporation
- Managing mergers, acquisitions and de-mergers
- Strategic planning and succession planning
- Partnership capitalisation
- Remuneration planning for partners and employees
- Lexcel consultancy
SRA Accounts Rules compliance
The SRA Accounts Rules (“SAR”) were updated in 2011 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The primary objective of the SAR is to keep client money safe, and in conjunction with the SRA Handbook, protect both the firm itself and consumers of legal services.
Wilkins Kennedy undertake annual SAR compliance reviews and compile Accountants’ Reports (AR1) to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We can also advise on the operation of client accounts to ensure that potential breaches are minimised or eliminated.
Wilkins Kennedy have also been actively involved in responding to the SRA consultations in 2014/2015 surrounding the future of the SAR, and will be monitoring the position to ensure we can advise our clients accordingly as and when any changes are implemented by the SRA.
We see the annual audit and accounts preparation as more than a statutory requirement. It provides an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive and objective appraisal of the financial controls and issues impacting your organisation, following which recommendations can then be made to help improve efficiency and profitability.
By taking a holistic view of your business, we are able to work with you to highlight areas of risk, both current and in the future.
Our tried and tested audit and accounts approach involves detailed planning and communication with you and your staff. This way we can ensure that we identify any major considerations at an early stage.
Effective communication with management and the accounting function also means that we are able to deliver your audit and accounts on time having regard to your commitments and reporting requirements.
Regardless of how the firm is structured, we provide a full tax compliance service covering the completion of tax returns for both the individual owners and the business itself.
We can also help with tax planning advice to ensure that tax liabilities are legitimately minimised, and ensure that the tax planning strategies are put in place meet the commercial objectives of the firm, and the personal objectives of the individual partners or directors.
We also have a specialist VAT advisory team who can assist with this increasingly complex area of tax, and the VAT issues that directly affect professional services firms.
Over the years the business model adopted to operate as a legal practice has changed significantly to encompass unincorporated partnerships, limited liability partnerships (LLP), and limited companies. By spending time discussing your business model and plans for succession we can advise on what is the right structure for your business. We can also assist in advising on any revisions, or the creation of new partnership/LLP/shareholders agreements. This could include advising on entry and exit arrangements, capital contributions, and property ownership.
A number of law firms have now chosen to incorporate as a limited company, and whilst full incorporation can bring benefits for firms, there are also some practical issues to consider. We can help identify the advantages and disadvantages with you, and if incorporation is the right route for your firm, help you to achieve that status as smoothly as possible.
In what is becoming an increasingly competitive market, with new entrants to the sector, most firms continue to look at potential merger and acquisition opportunities in order to either grow their business or solidify their position in the local marketplace. This type of activity has also led to internal changes such as individual offices or divisions to spin off or demerge.
We believe that these transactions need to be carefully planned and managed in order to ensure that they are effective for all concerned and are carried out with the minimum of disruption. Wilkins Kennedy can help with due diligence, tax and financial planning, identifying and helping overcome areas of difference, such as internal procedures and IT systems. Our specialists on the WK Law team have a wealth of first-hand experience in this field.
We work closely with our clients to identify their strategic goals. Having identified these goals, we then help firms formulate business and action plans, including identifying relevant key performance indicators so that they can measure progress in meeting those goals.
Succession planning is proving a key concern for owners of legal firms in the current climate. It is crucial that partners/directors have rewarding, tax-efficient exit strategies in place that also ensure the firm continues successfully after their retirement. We have expertise in this field and can advise on retirement planning and exit/continuity strategies.
Cashflow and the availability of capital are major limiting factors on partners’ ability to draw down profits. We can help you identify areas where there is excessive lock-up of debtors and work in progress, formulate and implement strategies to deal with lock-up, and help manage your partnership capital to best advantage
Recruiting and retaining the right partners and staff is key to any firm’s success in the legal sector. We can help with advising on reward structures for partners and staff that are tailored to your circumstances and needs. We can also advise on the most tax efficient ways of extracting remuneration from the business
We believe benchmarking is a key area in assessing how your firm is doing, both in terms of judging against competitors, and against your own internal goals and objectives.
We calculate key performance indicators for our clients and their peer groups, using our own internal database and through established sector benchmarking surveys. We then compare results to help our clients identify critical areas for improvement as part of their strategic planning, and assist with formulating and implementing improvement programmes.
A number of our specialist WK Law team are accredited Lexcel consultants. If your firm is considering applying for Lexcel accreditation, we can work with you and help you to ensure that your systems, procedures, documentation and processes are ready for evaluation.