This is a conference* about ‘trust in the market’ and building confidence within the sphere of legal services regulation. I shall therefore open with the observation (or reminder) that regulation is a public intervention in otherwise private transactions and free markets. It must therefore stem from a political judgement that we should not have complete trust and confidence, and must instead rely on the intervention in the market. issue of how confidence in regulation develops and is then sustained is a fascinating one. It begs preliminary questions of what we mean by ‘confidence’, and from whose standpoint we are assessing it.
(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.
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