CMA market study and the pressure for regulatory change

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) published the final report of its market study into legal services in December 2016.  At 285 pages (and a further 233 pages of appendices), it is not a light read!  Nevertheless, it is worthwhile – though for those with less time or stamina, the executive summary on pages 4-19 will give a flavour of the review’s scope, conclusions and recommendations.  It should also be emphasised that the scope of the study was intentionally limited to the experiences of individual consumers and small businesses, and that criminal legal services were excluded.  The study is not therefore a review of the whole legal services sector.

The headline conclusion from the review is that the legal services sector is not working well for individual consumers and small businesses, largely because those consumers lack the experience and information they need to understand their needs, to make informed choices, and to engage confidently with providers of legal services.  The CMA also concluded that these challenges are likely to increase over time and make the current regulatory framework unsustainable in the long run (especially since, in the CMA’s judgement, that framework also does not meet the principle of targeted regulation).

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Sweet ’16? Cakes, deckchairs and running fast

(An edited version of this post first appeared in The Times‘s The Brief on 8 January 2016)

As 2015 slides inexorably into 2016, we can ponder what differences this might bring to the world of legal services. The sands are definitely shifting, and the foundations of ‘old law’ continue to crumble as ‘new law’ takes greater hold. Let me explore three themes: demand, supply, and independence.

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The Grand Delusion revisited

In 2012, I published a post about the ‘grand delusion’ that all is well in the land of law.  Earlier this week, an experience was shared with me that provided a vivid reminder of it.

Let me relay a story of a lady who wished to engage a firm of lawyers in December 2015.  She was enquiring on behalf of a group of people who wished to invest in freehold property, as well as set up a management company.  The value of the real estate involved would be about £3 million.  For most small and medium-sized law firms, the legal fees involved (and the prospect of continuing work) are probably not to be sniffed at. Continue reading