An interview with Gill – how in-house learning events can help you and your firm

Case Study

– what happened when this Yorkshire based firm engaged Gill Steel for an in-house event

Swift resolution of outstanding issues at HMRC illustrates the additional benefits to be gained from a facilitated in-house training day with Gill Steel of LawSkills Ltd.

A chance discussion at a facilitated in-house training session led to the early resolution of a list of outstanding issues on various matters (particularly on IHT 421 forms and clearance) with HMRC. This in turn led to the establishment of a mutually beneficial rapport between the two organisations.


Pearsons & Ward and Ware & Key Solicitors, based in Malton, York and Wetherby, offer a comprehensive range of legal services to both private individuals and businesses. Following the merger of the two firms in 2015, a team of Private Client practitioners continued to operate independently of each other in three separate locations. In order for these three teams to share best practice and to centralise their systems, Emma Elwess, Law BA (Hons), a Partner in the Wills & Probate team based in Malton, realised that she needed some help to bring them together to act as one firm.

She approached the Board with a proposal, suggesting a facilitated in-house training day. The objectives Emma set included an opportunity for the three teams to bond, whilst receiving training on two topics high on their priority list – Residential Nil Rate Band (RNRB) and Agricultural & Business Property Relief (APR/BPR). Part of the day would then be spent reviewing their precedents for anomalies and discussing some particularly complex customer cases they were handling. Emma was especially keen for individuals to open up with each other thereby developing an atmosphere of trust and support, whilst receiving some valuable legal and business guidance from an experienced facilitator.


Emma immediately thought of Gill Steel, the owner and director of LawSkills, whom she had seen in action at various CPD sessions over the years.  Emma Elwess says: “Having met Gill, she made an early impression on me and is well known to other Private Client practitioners in the area. I knew she was ideal for the job. With her broad legal knowledge and business experience, she not only has a dynamic and authoritative manner of communicating what can after all be quite a dry topic, but she maintains a firm grasp on the attention of her audience.”

Following the Board’s approval, Emma approached Gill and the agenda was built.

“We decided to plan the day around our fee earners,” continues Emma. “There were 8 of us with different levels of experience ranging from recently qualified solicitors to those of us with over 30 years in the profession. As the day was purely for us, we were able to tailor it to suit everyone’s needs and even spent time discussing pressing topics with Gill during the breaks.”

It was during one of these discussions that an ongoing problem was mentioned which Emma was having with HMRC. Gill provided Emma with the contact details for the Head of Complaints and subsequently Emma resolved the majority of those issues quickly. Emma went on to receive a follow up call from the Deputy Director in Customer Services and they have agreed to stay in touch to discuss ways for preventing future backlogs and delays.

Gill Steel says: “I think the example illustrates the benefits of having a broad discussion about issues of concern to a particular team through an in-house gathering – this highlighted their HMRC problem to which there was a simple solution, which not only proved to be effective, but also got an interview for them with the Deputy Director of Customer Service at HMRC.”


When asked if they had achieved their objectives for the day, Emma went on to say: “Yes, without a doubt. For us, our Private Client department operates more as one firm rather than three individual offices and we’re sharing our knowledge through monthly department meetings and lunch and learn sessions. We encourage individuals who may previously have been daunted at the thought of asking questions at a public seminar to discuss issues within the firm. We’ve tweaked our precedents and found better ways of working following Gill’s good advice, as well as having a clearer understanding of some tricky cases and issues. One of the senior members of the team actually admitted to being sceptical before the event but came out pleasantly surprised. Overall I think we did very well out of the day; we had eight people trained for a full day in-house, had a private consultancy session resulting in improved ways of working plus we resolved a substantial value of outstanding issues with HMRC. We look forward to doing it again and I’m already planning who’ll be involved and what we will cover.”

Pearsons & Ward and Ware & Kay are trade names of Ware & Kay Solicitors Ltd, a limited company registered in England & and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

LawSkills is a specialist training and consultancy business, founded in 2000, designed to help practitioners in the areas of Wills, Probate, Elderly & Vulnerable Client, Trusts and Tax. LawSkills is owned and managed by Gill Steel, one of the country’s most respected and compelling training and conference speakers on Private Client matters and a solicitor of high standing in the legal community.

To find out what LawSkills can do for your firm, contact us.  You can engage Gill for one-off projects, face to face learning and discussion or for on-going training support. 

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