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Ashurst advises on the establishment of Oak National Academy

International law firm Ashurst advised on the launch of Oak National Academy, a virtual school established groups of schools and The Reach Foundation to deliver education remotely to the UK during the COVID-19 crisis.

The new initiative is supported by a range of organisations including Teach First, Google and the Department for Education.

Launched on Monday 20 April, this brand-new enterprise has been created by over 40 teachers from some of the leading schools across England, with government grant funding to support its start up. It will provide 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10.

Ashurst advised Teach First and The Reach Foundation, both charitable entities to support teaching and education across the UK, on a pro bono basis on the IP and branding associated with the launch. This included advising on the availability and use of logos, trademarks, domain names and associated assets and the registration of various IP rights to ensure the protection of the brand and its associated goodwill. The team was led by IP partner David Wilkinson, associate Anouska Fabes and legal analyst manager Jessica Whitfield.

Anouska Fabes commented: “Oak National Academy is an inspiring project that demonstrates the power of collaboration during difficult times, and will provide access to valuable resources for those teachers, students and families in the UK in need of support and a helping hand. The Ashurst IP team are delighted to have worked with Teach First to contribute towards its launch.”

Clifford Law Offices offers free program on ethics

Clifford Law Offices is offering a free two-hour webcast program at 2:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20. Already more than 1,500 lawyers across the state have registered for “Ethics 2020 – The Future is Now.” The program has been approved for two hours of professional responsibility credit.

This webcast will examine ethical dilemmas of today and tomorrow. From non-lawyer referral services to fake-based discovery to social media consequences, a distinguished panel moderated by founder and senior partner Robert A. Clifford will discuss cutting-edge problems through hypotheticals. Some recent and proposed Rule changes that impact all lawyers across the state will be examined.

Topics include:

  • Ethical Considerations in Boosting Client Reviews, can they be solicited?
  • The Right Way to Start a Law Blog — ethical pitfalls
  • Post-Trial Communications with Jurors–Do’s and Don’ts
  • Does Email Tracking Violate the Rules of Professional Conduct?
  • Is Jury Research on Social Media an Ethics Risk or a Competency Requirement?
  • Can Lawyers and Judges Be Social Media Friends? How has this evolved?
  • How to Respond to Negative Online Attorney Reviews Keeping Ethics and Marketing In Mind
  • Limited Scope Appearances in Illinois State Courts
  • Fake-Based Discovery – what is it and how to watch for it

Panellists include:

  • Wendy Muchman, Northwestern University School of Law Faculty, former Chief of Litigation and Professional Education, ARDC;
  • Mark C. Palmer, the Chief Counsel, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism;
  • and the Honorable Clare J. Quish, Circuit Court of Cook County, First Municipal District.

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://cliffordlawcle.com/

Cambridge secure victory in the 138th men’s Varsity match

The Varsity Match is an annual rugby union fixture played between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England. The event began in 1872, with interruptions only for the two World Wars. Since 1921, the game has been played at Twickenham Stadium, London. It is normally played in early December.

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation after the University of Bologna.

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://www.thevarsitymatch.com/

The 10 best universities to study business

Think you could be the next Mark Zuckerberg? If you have a mind for innovation and business, you might benefit from a degree at one of the finest business schools in the UK.

Most business courses give students a thorough understanding of business theory, economics, entrepreneurship, accounting, management and business law.

As such a diverse degree course, Business Management can open doors to a multitude of careers. Upon graduation, you could find a job as a business adviser, a data analyst, investment banker, human resources officer, stockbroker or even join the team of a new start-up.

Here, we have compiled a list of the best business degree courses in the UK, including information on entry requirements, course details and the most advantageous features. The following are the 10 best universities to study Business & Management, according to the latest 2020 league table from Complete University Guide, which ranks universities according to their entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects.

10. University of Lancaster

The course: The Business Management BSc incorporates modules from every department within the Management School. In first year, all students cover accounting, marketing, management and business analysis. In second year, you expand on this knowledge and study operations management, economics and entrepreneurship, including modules in management decision making and spreadsheet modelling. There are optional modules in further economics, marketing and entrepreneurship, which you take into your third and final year. You juggle these subjects with a core module on strategic management.

Biggest advantage: All students have access to a Business Management Careers Coach, who will run sessions on CVs and the skills that you will need in the workplace.

9. Durham University

The course: In the first year of the Business and Management BA, you develop a business plan for a start-up and take optional modules in business, economics or a language. In second year, you further develop your investigative and business skills and take modules on information systems and the management of operations, as well as optional modules in accounting, entrepreneurship, marketing and business law. In your final year, you focus on a double-weighted dissertation and a core module in strategic management, as well as optional modules.

Biggest advantage: Students can take the Year Abroad or a Year In Industry programme, either of which could boost your employment prospects.

8. University of Warwick

The course: On the first year of the Management BSc course, you study the basics of business management – including economics, marketing, financial management, strategy, organisations and business analytics. In second year, there are electives to choose from, alongside core modules in international business, operations management and entrepreneurship. In third year, you have the option to take a Year In Industry. Alternatively, you can go straight into your final year, where you will study critical issues in management and a range of optional modules.

Biggest advantage: This course is flexible, and you can specialise in specific areas (such as finance or marketing) in your final two years. Modules are varied and include marketing, auditing, supply chain management, business law, risk management and team leadership.

7. University of Strathclyde

The course: In the first three years of the the Management BA, you take classes in business alongside the Management Development Programme (MDP). In the first year of the MDP, you focus on theory, including disruptive technologies, business ethics and creativity and responsibility. You also take a module called Managing in a Global Context. In the second year of the MDP, you study global business, the Third Sector, oratory and more. You also take modules in strategy, analysis and change within organisations. In third year, you undertake a work placement, complete the final year of the MDP and take core modules in management practice. In the fourth year, students cover management, the global economy, strategy and ethical leadership.

Biggest advantage: On the third year of the MDP, there are four options for how you can put your knowledge into practice. You can take an internship, work on two live consultancy projects, go on an international exchange, or conduct problem-solving projects with other students.

6. University of Leeds

The course: On the first year of the Business Management MA, you cover economics, accounting and organisational behaviour. You also take the Exploring Your Potential module, where you assess your own managerial skills. In second year, you study the basics of marketing and managing people and operations, develop your research and analytical skills and learn to consider social responsibility. In your third year, you further develop your management skills in modules on strategic management and leadership, and you can take optional modules in employment law, technology, international business and advertising. There is also a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Biggest advantage: There’s a real emphasis on developing leadership qualities on this course, with modules on strategic leadership and management. In addition, if you choose (and pass) the Contemporary Management Consulting module in your third year, you can register with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and gain the CMI Level 5 Certificate in Professional Consulting.

5. King’s College London

The course: The Business Management BSc at King’s College London is a comprehensive course. In your first year, there are 12 core modules, covering economics, financial reporting, business ethics, accounting and marketing. In second year, you are taught research methods, international business, strategic management and take optional modules. There is also the option to study abroad either in the first term of second year or for the entire academic year. In third year, there are no core modules so you can choose specialisms, including employment law, leadership, banking and managerial economics.

Biggest advantage: Located in the heart of London, King’s Business School is close to the Square Mile (the hub of international commerce and finance) and a few tube stops away from Canary Wharf.

4. University of Loughborough

The course: In the first and second years of the BSc Management degree you are introduced to the core business and management topics, including business economics, financial reporting, marketing, human resource management, accounting, data analysis, business ethics and operations management. There are also optional modules. In your third year, you can either study abroad or take a work placement. In your fourth and final year, you study three core modules on decision-making, leadership and global strategy, and select optional modules.

Biggest advantage: If you go on a Year Abroad or work placement in your third year, you receive an extra qualification: a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) if you do a work placement or a Diploma in International Studies (DIntS) if you study abroad. Alternatively, you can split your third year and spend six months studying abroad and six months on a work placement.

3. University of Exeter

The course: In the first year of the Business and Management BSc, you mainly cover the theory of business management, with classes on accounting, statistics, economics, marketing, management and the relationship between business and society. In the second year, you take core modules in accounting, human resource management, consumer behaviour, operations management and organisations. There are more optional modules in second year than first, but even more to choose from in your third and final year of study. In final year, there are just two core modules, covering finance and strategic management.

Biggest advantage: There is an optional Year Abroad or Year in Industry work placement.

2. University of Bath

The course: In the first year of the Management BSc, you get to grips with the basics of business management – including accounting, business economics, international business, management, finance and marketing. In second year, you study more specific topics, such as business law, consumer psychology, entrepreneurship and managing a multinational enterprise. There are optional modules in both second and third year, covering E-business, corporate responsibility, UK tax and conducting business in China, to name a few. In third year you also study international strategy and complete an entrepreneurship project.

Biggest advantage: The entrepreneurship project in your final year allows you to apply your knowledge to a practical assignment. This module requires teamwork, identifying a suitable gap in the market and planning how you would build your own business.

1. University of St Andrews

The course: During the first two years of this four-year course, you will take Management modules alongside at least one other subject. Typical Management topics include the role of managers within organisations and the role of organisations within society. In your final two years you can take more optional modules, including (bit not limited to): advertising, corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship, human resource management, sustainable development and international banking.

Biggest advantage: This flexible course will make you more of an all-rounder as you are required to study two additional subjects in your first year and at least one in your second year. This could give you the chance to develop your languages skills, for instance.

How to incorporate Bundled Services into your accounting firm

Accounting firm owners could benefit from taking the time to evaluate their accounting firm as a business. As the owner of my accounting firm, I did just that and realised some changes needed to be made, starting with bundling our services.

Many accounting firm’s follow the traditional model of accepting clients in various industries through recommendations. Others provide clients with valuable services along with business-related compliance services, but don’t highlight those.

We as business advisors would agree that best practices for any business start with an evaluation of current practices so that weak points can be identified and evaluated for improvement. When speaking with other accounting professionals, I find many have similar concerns and “pain points”:

  • We spend countless hours learning tax law, software applications and best business practices. Clients call with a “quick question” and expect an answer without a charge for the time or advice.
  • We set up a plan for “making it through another tax season” and then lose control of our process when the client is not forthcoming with the necessary information to complete the engagement in a timely manner.
  • We bill for the services provided once the engagement is complete and then may have to negotiate our fee or wait for payment until the client receives their tax refund.
  • We start an engagement and then find that there is unanticipated work to be done in order to complete the job properly. We feel we should be paid for this “scope creep,” and then we have to explain to the client why the bill is higher. In some cases, we may not be adequately compensated for this extra work. If our clients are buying our services and advice based upon our knowledge, why are we selling them time?

Our lawmakers have identified us as Specified Service Businesses, they clearly see that we have great expertise as our clients’ advisors. They have also challenged us to interpret the sweeping new laws and provided us with an opportunity to reach out to our clients and start a conversation.

What better time than now to step back and evaluate your accounting firm’s procedures and incorporate a bundled services approach into your pricing and onboarding process? This is an opportunity to redefine how you work with your clients, be specific as to expectations and get paid for your knowledge.

Incorporating a bundled pricing system will also enable you to:

  • Standardise your service offerings into packages that your clients and staff can understand
  • Give your clients what they want, in addition to what we think they need, by separating compliance work from advisory engagements
  • Lock down your fee based upon a service level, helping to eliminate scope creep
  • Get paid up-front when you start the work, thus freeing up time and creating an improved cash flow for your accounting firm
  • Enhance your clients’ experience as you take the time to discuss their concerns
  • Ease into advisory services

When getting started, remember to do the following:

  1. Develop your mission statement. I recommend that you and your staff members get together and create a mission and vision statement that is right for you.
  2. Create a business plan. When creating the accounting firm that you want rather than the one that you have, best practices endorse starting with a business plan. Just as you would recommend to any one of your clients who is evaluating their business and looking to make a change, think about the steps that you need to take in order to reach your goals.
  3. Review your current processes. I recommend you make use of an action plan to help you organise and accomplish your goals. Even though you are excited to create the accounting firm of your dreams, it is important to try going slowly at first by creating tasks you can accomplish.
  4. Evaluate your services. Are there services you wish you could offer but do not know how to initiate the conversation? Start by setting up a list of service categories — you can then identify value propositions that will “delight your clients” and create new opportunities for accounting firm revenue.

Evaluate each one of the services you provide, then review and list all the steps or processes that make up that service. Picture a typical project type, then list the services encompassed in that project. By doing so, you create bundled offers or packages of service offerings.

Your bundles will be specific to your accounting firm and either your current or target clients. Your offerings chart for individual clients may look something like the one referenced in the linked whitepaper, but can certainly be more elaborate. It can contain more lines or services to help your client understand just what they are buying.

Remember that each bundle is a set of services packaged together and each is referred to with a descriptive name that describes the level of service. If you choose to move to a bundled pricing system, you will find that new opportunities will emerge from your regularly scheduled appointments, we have.

Now, our clients call and ask for more and expect the additional services to come with a separate engagement letter and invoice. Incorporating bundled services will help you deliver more value to your clients through advisory work. In turn, you will see improved team morale and cash flow, a better overall client experience and the accounting firm you want.

CN new PHOTO

UK entrepreneurs pledge support for construction skills initiative

An initiative designed to attract new talent into the built environment industry has secured the backing of entrepreneurs from three high-profile firms.

Black & White Engineering (B&W), s h e d and James Christopher Consulting are the latest companies to become sponsors of PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), a flexible training programme designed to attract and retain the brightest new talent in the region, plug skills gaps and create a more flexible workforce capable of working across various construction disciplines.

The initiative was launched in 2016 when Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture formed a powerful alliance with a network of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives trainees the chance to work in several companies across the built environment industry.

This radical approach allows entrepreneurs to make their business more competitive and efficient by hiring staff with a more rounded understanding of the industry.

Students on the programme will now benefit from a wider range of expertise with B&W, s h e d and James Christopher Consulting on board.

Launched in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, B&W is a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design consultancy with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Baku, Manila, London and Newcastle. The company offers design and consultancy services to the construction industry worldwide and has worked on numerous large-scale iconic projects including high-rise towers, data centres, hotels, shopping malls and airports.

Steven Horn, director, in B&W’s Newcastle office, said: “We need to see more young people coming into our industry with knowledge of different areas of the built environment. The way PlanBEE is structured allows us to achieve this. The programme is ideal preparation for how we want to develop our staff, which is to give them opportunities to experience different ways of working on various projects around the world.”

Newcastle-based s h e d is a structural and civil engineering design consultancy that specialises in complex engineering design and Building Information Modelling (BIM), an approach that helps firms risk-assess projects at an early stage by generating intelligent 3D models of buildings before construction takes place.

Marc Horn of s h e d said: “Our expertise in BIM requires us to recruit staff with a rounded understanding of the built environment sector. PlanBEE enables us to achieve this because it moves away from traditional off-the-shelf training initiatives that shoehorn professionals into narrowly defined roles in a single company.”

James Christopher Consulting, an established engineering practice in Gateshead, offers design services to the built environment sector and works on a wide range of projects, from small-scale specialist structures to large-scale commercial developments including land reclamation and drainage works.

Technical director Craig Higgins said: “We were delighted to get involved with PlanBEE and were impressed with this novel approach to recruiting, training and developing staff. There’s a strong emphasis on the application of digital technologies to different types of construction projects and we want our workforce to be at the forefront of this revolution.”

Working with Gateshead College, the PlanBEE group has created a bespoke higher-level skills programme that provides budding professionals with study and off-the-job training at the college’s construction facility on Team Valley, along with a job working with some of the region’s leading companies. It has been tailored specifically for and by the North East construction sector, providing students with a starting salary of £10,700 per year, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation.

Established by Ryder Architecture, the initiative has already attracted some high-profile names, including Brims Construction, NBS, Desco (Design & Consultancy), BIM Academy, Sir Robert McAlpine, Xsite Architecture, Robertson, 3e Consulting, Cundall, Arup, FaulknerBrowns, Sadler Brown Architecture and Tolent.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s great to have three additional sponsors on board. The industry has called for employees to be skilled in a greater range of disciplines, such as surveying, landscaping, architecture and planning, and PlanBEE addresses this fundamental need.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of an industry-led initiative that’s becoming a national exemplar for the recruitment and development of construction employees.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder Architecture, added: “It’s fantastic to see the positive impact the programme is making on the students and sponsoring businesses, and we’re delighted to be welcoming the new sponsors to our third cohort.”