In scenes that were once unimaginable, we have already seen barristers outside the courts over legal aid cuts. Their arguments are that the proposed cuts could reduce their fees by up to 30% and mean that defendants would have reduced access to representation. Here we will look at these proposed cuts and examine their implications.
It’s time to get festive, and so I bring you the alternative Twelve Days of Christmas, designed especially for the lawyer in all of us. It has been a bit affected by the state of the economy, as you will see. Unlike the traditional version, there is no need to sing this one, I doubt it scans very well.
Consumers, it seems, still don’t trust lawyers. In fact, depressingly, while consumer satisfaction with the value for money of legal services has risen over the past year, trust in the profession has actually fallen. The 47% it started at wasn’t exactly remarkable, but it’s now only 43%. That may be more than for some professions, notably journalists, politicians and bankers, but it’s way behind doctors (80%) and teachers (68%).
Thanks to the typical English bank holiday weather over the weekend I barely ventured out of the house and instead found myself working. Sad but inevitable. It’s also a bit sad that as a ‘consumer champion’ it was only in May 2012 that I came across a report on consumer attitudes towards the purchase of legal services published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in February 2011.
The Legal Futures conference yesterday was refreshing in many respects. Hearing from people who are actually making the future of legal services is such a welcome change from the years I have spent talking about liberalisation of the market to, frankly, unreconstructed Luddites. But, and there is always a but, there was one keynote speaker who reminded me we are certainly not all there yet.
I know not all lawyers are bad and I apologise for going on about it. I do realise that most of you do a great job for your clients and, on the whole, the world would be significantly more unjust without you. For a start, I’d be out of a job. But I thought this week I might give you a couple of examples where lawyers have got it spectacularly wrong, just so you know I’m not making it all up. I am not intending to descend into Solicitors from Hell territory, so I won’t be naming any names.
The Law Society was remarkably quiet yesterday following the announcement that the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) will ‘name and shame’ lawyers from April next year. If past indications were anything to go by I would have expected a wailing, gnashing of teeth and most of the toys to be thrown out of the pram.