Compressed Gas Association to celebrate centennial

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Suretank wins hearts with offshore containers for Brazil

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Abydee Butler Moore named Butler Gas President

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Ranch Cryogenics crew battles the clock

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Technology does not mean the dumbing down of professional services

first_imgI occasionally hear lawyers bemoan the dumbing down of professional services, particularly where commoditisation is concerned. This has, in some quarters, become the equivalent of the well-worn knee-jerk term ‘political correctness gone mad’, a riposte to a changing world where old values are challenged and sometimes turned upside down. In like-minded company these phrases are met with sage head-nodding and much tut-tutting. Now, I do not suggest that such reactions are always inappropriate, but I do object to the use of such labels without thought or perhaps by way of protectionism. No one likes to think that the work they have undertaken, or the way that it is performed, can now be done just as well, if not better, by a computer, but to deny this where it is patently true is not clever. Failure to recognise the benefits of technology in the delivery of quality services by hanging on to bespoke working practices where they are not warranted will have uncomfortable consequences. Either clients will not pay for handcrafted work that they know only too well could have been commoditised, or the lawyer will have to restrict the charge for such work to the price it commands on a commoditised basis. A residential conveyancing solicitor told me not long ago that he abhorred the use of case management systems in conveyancing and that his clients could spot a system-produced letter a mile off. His clients wanted only bespoke communications and they appreciated that he was providing such a service. This service was being delivered at a price more appropriate to a technology-backed service, so I asked him what level of profit he was achieving. A pause for thought was followed by the answer: ‘Probably none.’ A well-designed case management system should not produce impersonal and unspecific correspondence and documents, but that is beside the point. I suggest that eschewing the benefits of technology in favour of a craftsman approach where it is not warranted (and the emphasis is important) amounts to ‘dumbing up’ and perhaps that has become the new “dumbing down”.last_img read more

Will weather or politics dictate the path for sustainability?

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

The Lib Dems are divided on housing

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

Lifeskills help girls take the safe line

first_imgHAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMANAfter a week-long lifeskillls programme, 40 girls from Protea Primary School in Bonteheuwel, presented their new skills in a fun way to the rest of the school.The programme was hosted by Safeline Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Centre, which is based in Thornton Road, Athlone. Some of the topics covered included peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, decision-making and teamwork. The programme was aimed at girls in Grades 5, 6 and 7.On Friday March 18, the girls hosted a “fashion show”, where they donned outfits made from recycled goods. Their message to their peers, was that there is beauty even in what others might consider “rubbish”.Safeline’s social work supervisor, Blanche Olivier said the organisation has done a “risky behaviour” programme with the pupils of Protea Primary before, and because of their interaction then, it was decided to do the lifeskills programme. She added that a few of their clients are pupils at this school.“There is a great need at the school for programmes like this. We negotiated with the school to do the lifeskills programme after we hosted the risky behaviour programme. It’s good that we now have a partnership with the school, so that we can address other needs at the school,” Ms Olivier said.When asked why only girls were chosen for the lifeskills programme, Ms Olivier said: “We planned to have a camp, that’s why we only worked with the girls. However, due to a lack of funding, we are not able to have it. We will have another programme and will definitely include the boys when we come back.”Principal Mabel Valentine said programmes like this are desperately needed at her school.“Some of our children come from very challenging backgrounds. As a result of the difficulties the children face, some of them have anger problems. This ultimately affects their schoolwork, and that’s why they struggle academically. They can’t perform as they should, because the social problems get them down. Sometimes, it’s the parents, relatives or friends of relatives that’s the problem,” Ms Valentine said.She added that partnerships with NGOs are vital.“We need more social workers. I feel every school needs to have its own social worker, but the reality is that one social worker is assigned to a lot of schools. The same goes for psychologists. Because of this, the lack of counselling is the most concerning part for me. As a teacher, one feels that your hands are tied. That’s why we need the assistance of NGOs.” 1 of 4last_img read more

Solicitor-advocates come under judicial fire in Scotland

first_imgThe appointment of solicitor-advocates can create a conflict of interest and leave defendants who are facing serious crimes lacking the appropriate level of representation, an appeal court judge in Scotland has warned.Judge Lady Dorrian made her comments in an appeal against a murder conviction. Appellant Ahmad Yazdanparast claimed that his representation by a solicitor-advocate was defective and that he was not able to select appropriate representation.Dorrian dismissed his appeal on all points, but said she had ‘real concerns’ that obligations to give the accused a free and informed choice of representation were not properly met.This applied particularly as the solicitor-advocate instructed to defend Yazdanparast was a senior member at Belmonte & Co, where the instructing solicitor was employed.Dorrian said that concerns that solicitors may find it difficult to give wholly objective advice when choosing a defender when a partner at their firm is a solicitor-advocate are ‘live ones in this case’.‘The difficulties which might be faced by someone in such a position “instructing” his senior partners are obvious,’ she said.‘It is nowhere indicated that robust procedures are in place to enable the instructing solicitor to carry out his job entirely independently without being subjected to indirect influence which may arise from the nature of the relationship between then.’She added that the current rules on the conduct for solicitor-advocates ‘do nothing to safeguard an accused from being defended by one whose reach exceeds his grasp’.Rules need to be amended, she said, so as to ensure that those facing the most serious charges are given representation with the commensurate level of experience.Dorrian also criticised both the instructing solicitor and a solicitor-advocate assisting on the case for using incorrect terminology, which she said causes ‘considerable concern’.These included confusing the terms ‘counsel’ and ‘solicitor-advocate’, and the use of the term ‘senior solicitor-advocate’ which she said had no meaning beyond the fee provisions of the Scottish Legal Aid Board.‘If the instructing solicitor is himself confused as to the nature and status of these respective roles, how much greater scope for confusion is there on the part of an accused person?’ she asked.last_img read more

SRA refuses to budge over private board meetings

first_imgPaul PhilipChief executive, SRAInstead the regulator promises to invite selected journalists to a post-meeting briefing and to make board papers available in advance, under embargo. During today’s briefing, which followed this month’s board meeting in London, Rowlands insisted that members of the public were not attending previous meetings.‘We know it’s really important to talk to you and that’s why we are here answering your questions,’ she said.Despite the promises to send journalists material in advance of the press briefing one of the key documents discussed during the meeting, a document for consultation on the regulations needed to bring into force the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, was handed to journalists only when they arrived at the meeting.Chief executive Paul Philip said the regulator had a right to hold discussions in private, just as it did under the old system when there was a public and private session.‘A board has a right to discuss things in private but we are not hiding anything away that’s why we are here letting you ask questions. We had previous meetings where nobody came so it was clear the public model wasn’t working.’‘We are not going back on our decision,’ he added.The SRA public ban means no regulator of solicitors holds open board meetings, with the Legal Services Board also choosing not to admit the public.The bar’s regulator the Bar Standards Board has told the Gazette it had no plans to restrict the public from its meetings, though it does also hold a private session. The Gazette attended its most recent board meeting last week.SRA leaders say they will better engage with the public through holding meetings in different parts of the country; focus groups with the public; visits to local law schools; and seminars. The Solicitors Regulation Authority says it has no plans to go back on its controversial decision to close its board meetings to the public.Speaking to the press today SRA chief executive Paul Philip and chair of the board Enid Rowlands were unrepentant on holding its monthly board meetings, previously free to attend, in private. last_img read more