Much has been said and written about democracy and democratic will recently. In the past two years in the UK, we have had a General Election and an EU Referendum. Both were, in different ways and for different purposes, an expression of ‘the will of the people’. Or were they? Democracy is a strange thing; and a Parliamentary democracy is stranger still.
On 17 March 2016, at the invitation of the President of The Law Society of England & Wales, I delivered the keynote speech to the Society’s annual conference on legal aid. The report of the speech published by the Law Society Gazette (interestingly dated three days before it was actually delivered…) contains significant misrepresentations of both its content and tone.
Not for the first time, messages that I have taken time to consider and articulate carefully have been distorted by a journalist and then published as views that I did not in fact express or intend. I am reminded of the late, great Eric Morecambe describing how he played the piano: “all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”. The Gazette report follows a similar pattern: some (though not all) of the right words, but out of context and not in the right order. Whether such distortions are deliberate or sloppy, I cannot tell; both undermine journalistic integrity.
For those who wish to read the real messages, in context, a full account is available here.
(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.