Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Summer Charity Ball and Relationship Building

Every two years Latimer Hinks organise a charity ball and this year it is to be held at the magnificent Wynyard Hall, Tees Valley on May 16th 2008. It's an absolutely stunning venue and we have sole use - very prestigious!

The ball provides the opportunity to support the local community and for 2008 we have chosen three very worthy charities to support
  • County Durham Foundation - providing a way for individuals, companies and trusts to have their own charitable funds, held in their name, to make grants to projects or individuals of their choosing

  • Great North Air Ambulance - providing emergency medical cover for the North of England using helicopters to transport time critical injured or ill patients

  • Make a Child Smile - supporting local children of Tees Valley, North Yorkshire & County Durham who are either sick or under-privileged

In 2006 we raised nearly £10,000 and intend to dramatically increase the figure for 2008

Hopefully I can call on contacts made throughout the year through networking events in the hope that they will support/sponsor the ball. I can also seek advice from a massive knowledge base.

Yesterday I spoke with Mike Challands of MT Print who I met at a very tasty networking breakfast. Mike is not only going to advise me on banners/displays etc he has also offered to provide the design and print of tickets, program etc in return for a few tickets to the ball!

Mike will benefit from exposure to around 300 high net worth business representatives at the event and will obviously have his quality print work on show and acknowledged AND we can pass the money saved on print to the charities.

This is what relationship building/networking is all about - we don't necessarily need to give business on every occasion but we can provide opportunities to expose new contacts to our networks.

If anyone reading this would be interested in sponsoring/supporting the charity ball, please let me know.

We have yet to book a band, music (we would like string quartet or similar). Donations of champagne etc for a sponsored reception would be gratefully received. We are looking for auction prizes, raffle prizes - the list goes on!

If you or your business would like exposure/ackowledgement at this prestigious black tie event, talk to me (you can use comments) and i will call you to discuss on suggestions further.

Don't forget it's all for good causes!

Press from previous balls 2006, 2004. More Charity Ball photos

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Reality Check call for Parental Leave

Syrian "Man and Baby"
Originally uploaded by damascus leila

At the moment both parents have the right to paternity leave, the father 2 weeks at £108.85. The mother 39 weeks paid at 90% of her average earnings for 6 weeks and then drops to £108.85 for the remainder.

We all know how expensive children can be how difficult it can be to organise your working life and home life around children. We never seem to have enough holidays to cope with those sudden emergencies.

Parental leave can help. You can take up to three months leave (you do need to apply for this through your employer) in the first five years of the child's life.

Although very handy, this leave is unpaid and very few families are unable to make use of it.

Nick Poole, partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors is calling for changes to the current system.

Following are links to further information:

Career Death for Women as Fathers work on

Work and Families - tailored interactive guidance on employment rights

Monday, 21 January 2008

Severe Weather Warning and Social Networking

road in snow and fog
Originally uploaded by brungrrl

There are so many benefits to social networking that I thought i'd post one of the most obvious and current.

Severe Weather Warnings/Problems

At this very moment at Latimer Hinks headquarters in Darlington it's raining and has been doing so quite consistently all day.

On Friday I travelled to London via rail, passing through York. At that point there were floods up to the walls of the residents gardens. I dread to think where the water will be now.

I drive to work from Crook (often referred to as the Gateway to Weardale) in County Durham, we don't do rain, well not today anyway. Today at this very moment it's snowing and has been since 10am.

I have received numerous texts today from friends who have left work (in Crook) early in order to "get home" as the roads are becoming treacherous.

In Tow Law, a village very close to Crook the roads have been closed due to the snow (I might add that Tow Law is the highest village in County Durham at over 1000 feet above seal level).

Is Social Networking hindered by bad weather?

I think not, unless your electicity is out, your computer has a virus or you happen to leave your computer in a room that will become flooded!

If you were networking "in the flesh" you would have the problem of getting to the venue, dodging floods and snow ridden roads. Then there is the problem of time. Would you be late?

New media tools can help us to network in the most difficult of weather situations without the possibility of being late.

I believe that the best of both worlds is the ideal - Social networking during the damp, dank months and networking "in the flesh" for those lovely summer days and evenings.

In the meantime I will be staying tuned to the weather forecast in the hope that on my return home I do not get caught up in floods or snowstorms!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Helpful Roundup for Bloggers

Throughout this experiement the Social Networking Guineapig has come across all manner of information, podcasts, videos and tips from fellow bloggers that I thought it sensible to dedicate this post to the bloggers and their links without which I would most certainly have struggled.

1) Roger Coathup - 21 Thoughts
If I had not attended the excellent presentation on Web 2 by Roger, the Social Networking Guineapig would not have come into being!

2) Judith Middleton - Judith's Divorce Blog
If I did not have the blogging support of Judith, Partner at Latimer Hinks the Social Networking Guineapig would have no relevance

3) LeeLefever - Common Craft
For his most excellent In Plain English Videos. Wiki's and RSS feeds were gobbeldygook to me until I viewed Common Craft's very simple videos

4) The Online Marketing Blog
for the list of submission URLs for web directories which saved a tremendous amount of time

5) Feedburner and Google Analytics
great services to monitor blog traffic (which be warned, can become addictive!). Feedburner also publishes the blog through RSS feeds.

6) Networking Sites
for providing the opportunity to chat and share knowledge with people/businesses who have similar interests

7) The Internet/ Web 2.0
for providing the potential to target the largest audience in the world! Social Networking Guineapig has been viewed throughout the world, Peru, Canada, India, Russia - the list goes on.

8) The Podcast Sisters
for their weekly informative social media, social bookmarking etc etc podcasts.

Well, that rounds it up for today. There are many more helpful bloggers out there and once you find remember them:
  • subscribe to their RSS feed
  • bookmark them
  • start a converstation/get to know them

See, I have taken the advice onboard!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Why Blog? - the Advantages

Because, as Nick Holmes of Internet Newsletter for Lawyers says
Blogging is the most successful and relevant Web 2.0 network and that's not going to change anytime soon
Surprisingly, many are unaware of the strength that a blog can provide for a website in support of business. Flexibility is one of it's main strengths and this is often overlooked.

Blogs are commonly referred to as being "just a diary" but blogs have now evloved into something much more - a platform to promote business, an opportunity to educate readers and the potential to reach a massive internet audience.

It's also free, apart from giving your time to blog of course.

Advantages of Blogging
  • Blogs boost online branding, they create and awareness of your product/service
  • Blogs have the potential to develop stronger relationships with it's Clients/customers. They provide an approachable "human face" for the business
  • Blogs provide an excellent way of sharing information/knowledge. The reader/Client is better informed.
  • Blog feeds can be distributed as RSS through services such as Feedburner for further optimisation
  • Blogs allow you to interact with your customer base. Blogs offer you the option of enabling a "comments" field where readers can give you feedback, you will have at your disposal an effective and inexpensive way to get to know your Clients/customers better.
  • Blogs build up the profile of the author. The firm/author will be showcased as having talent/expertise
  • Blogs create an environment where not only the author, but all the participants can share ideas and opinions on a diverse range of subjects and learn from each other.
  • Blogs are search-engine-friendly and since blogs are updated regularly, search engines will "crawl" them more often and add your new posts to their index
  • Blogs provide a great tool for media and PR. The cost benefits of blogging are "peanuts" compared to tv or newspaper campaigns
As you can see the advantages are numerous. Blogs are a great way to communicate and used correctly will be of great benefit to a business.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Who Gets the Cat?

victim of divorce
Originally uploaded by arimoore

An estimated one in three marriages ends in divorce and this week marks the busiest time of year for divorce lawyers

Breaking up is a bleak time for all involved. There can be many victims in the divorce process. Acrimonious breakdowns can have a devastating effect on families, especially children, and should be avoided at all costs

Here, Judith Middleton, partner at Latimer Hinks talks about Collaborative family law - a relatively new process which aims to reduce conflict.

Whilst searching for acrimonious divorce material I came across the following quirky story:

A Romanian pensioner asked for a divorce after only eight months when his wife's cat ate his two pet parrots.
Sandu B, 67, from Focsani, wants to divorce his wife, who is 20 years younger than him, on grounds of incompatability.
He told the court that "the drop that filled his glass of sorrow" was when his wife's Burmese cat devoured his two parrots.

Who gets to keep the cat??!

Monday, 7 January 2008

Work to Live, not Live to Work

Apparently over one third of the UK workforce were at work over at least part of the Christmas period, even though over half of them (52%) lost holiday entitlement as a result.

According to research by Post Office Travel Services, 25% of people surveyed said that they were working because they had too much work to do to take time off.

Now, I do enjoy my job but I thoroughly enjoy my holidays. I work to live, not live to work

Afterall, we're only here once - let's enjoy it!

More from the article originally published by Croner

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Long Term New Year Resolutions

resolutions are failed
Originally uploaded by lenaah

Every New Year's Eve millions of people make New Year's resolutions. It may be to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, spend less or spend more time with loved ones - generally we make these resolutions to make our life better.

Unfortunately, New Year's resolutions tend to be abandoned early in the year.

So, why not consider making resolutions that will have a more permanent, long-lasting effect.

Latimer Hinks has launched a list of New Year Resolutions to help keep your personal affairs up to date - Resolutions which will have a major impact on your life in the long term - well worth considering!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Christmas "Partner" Transport

In my recent blog entry Christmas Party Pitfalls Latimer Hinks advised on how to make sure your office party runs smoothly and ACAS also suggests employers have a duty to consider how their employees get home.

Partner, Nick Poole had the opportunity to "practice what he preaches" at the Latimer Hinks office party.

When a pre-booked taxi had not turned up to collect one of the last attendees of the Christmas Party and with not a penny between them (all food and drink generously supplied by Latimer Hinks) Nick considered it his duty to walk the stranded employee home.

Lawyers - we're a good bunch really!

Oh, and by the way - have a very happy and prosperous new year!