Q & A with Nick Milner
1. What is the Practice Advice Service?
The Practice Advice Service operates the Law Society’s primary helpline providing free and confidential advice for members. Our team of experienced solicitors can advise on legal practice and procedure.
We provide advice on a variety of practice areas including:
- anti-money laundering
- private client
- data protection
- compliance and costs
2.Tell us about your role?
I am one of the PAS solicitors, and this year I’m leading on the areas of Lawyerline and Private Client. Lawyerline is our helpline for queries from members about client care and complaints handling.
3. What kind of queries do you deal with on a regular basis?
Where do I begin? Very many queries come in about who owns the file, including which parts belong to the client and which to the solicitor. Then there are numerous questions about AML and conveyancing. This is because most transactions each day are about transfers of property.
We also get queries about subject-access requests pursuant to the Data Protection Act and GDPR, and much more besides.
4. What are you most asked in relation to anti-money-laundering?
Customer due diligence is a high priority, and how to satisfy the regulations about identification of the client and scrutiny of the source of funds. Topical at the moment also is the question of how to do risk assessments.
5. Are most of your calls from junior lawyers or do you deal with queries from senior solicitors too?
A wide variety of calls from all types of solicitors come in. There is no noticeable concentration by age.
6. What topics are you expecting to be a worry for City solicitors over the next few months?
The new SRA Standards and Regulations pose a significant concern for all types of solicitors, including those in the City, as they embody a new philosophy that puts more emphasis on the individual professional.
Many solicitors have been used to relying on their firm to take care of, for instance, supervision or publicity, whereas they are now required to take more personal responsibility for these obligations. Other areas of the rules appear to have been relaxed, such as holding client money.
The reduced clarity is not necessarily welcome to solicitors used to handling large sums in accordance with well-tested procedures designed to protect the client.
7. What’s the best thing about working in the Practice Advice Service at the Law Society?
The satisfaction that we get by helping members to resolve the tricky issues that they face in various transactions. We offer members a sounding board, give them a plan to deal with a problem, and we enjoy collaborating with one another on finding solutions for our members.