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

Beyond the Legal Services Act

At his appearance before the Justice Select Committee on 15 July, the Lord Chancellor indicated that there would be a review of the Legal Services Act 2007 during this Parliament.  It is therefore perhaps timely that, as part of the follow-up to the Ministerial summit called by his predecessor a year earlier, the regulators had already been working together on a number of issues that could improve the lot of both regulator and regulated, and contribute to any such review.

For present purposes, the most relevant of the work done is the exploration of legislative options for reforming the Act.  The Legal Services Board has now published the paper that results from cross-regulator discussions held between January and May, and which it was my privilege to chair.  The paper has already been shared with Ministers, and is intended to frame and inform further debate about reform of the Act.   Continue reading