Dragging the system into the present

July 25, 2006

OK, not the English legal system, but I would like to congratulate New Zealand lawyer Rob Moodie (or should I say ‘Ms Alice’?) for wearing women’s clothing in court to highlight male bias within their justice system. Apparently, he/she appeared at Wellington’s High Court on Monday in a blue women’s suit, stockings and a diamond brooch. He has said that he wants to flag up the domination of the “old boys’ network” in the judiciary and that “the more this goes on and the deeper the cover-up gets, the frocks will get prettier”. He’d be wearing an extremely pretty dress then if he were over here.


HIPs U-Turn

July 19, 2006

I never for one moment believed that Home Information Packs would transform the conveyancing process, as promised. Now I read with amusement that the government is postponing Home Condition Reports, surely the ‘flagship’ element of HIPs. However, in an obvious effort to save face, the government is still apparently determined to implement the scheme next June, rather than abandon it completely. Brilliant.

I heard that one of the reasons for the U-turn is that estate agents were getting worried that their vast income would reduce, due to many people deciding not to sell their properties because of the cost involved. Shame.

A Tedious Tome

July 12, 2006

Required by Lexcel and for a legal aid contract (if you’re crazy enough to want one), the Office Manual has to be one of the most tedious and least-read volumes ever produced. Another example of the ‘modern thinking’ we are all being forced into, it sets out at great length all of the procedures a ‘quality’ law firm is supposed to follow. But if you are ever bored enough to dip into your Office Manual (you do have one, dont you?), you’ll find that most of the procedures it contains are either of the ‘teaching a grandmother to suck eggs’ type (e.g. how to open and close files) or of the political-correctness-gone-mad variety such as stating that the firm does not discriminate against anyone regardless of sexual orientation, disability, hair colour etc etc.

As stated, the primary purpose of an office manual has nothing to do with making the firm run better. Instead, it is a necessary evil on the path towards obtaining some sort of ‘quality mark’, in the hope that that will reduce insurance premiums and persuade the unwary public that you are better than the firm down the road. The fact that that firm may contain lawyers who are actually much better at their job is neither here nor there.

A Patrician for the People

July 10, 2006

In another pathetic attempt by a politician to show he is a ‘man of the people’, David Cameron is urging us to have a greater understanding for young people wearing ‘hoodies’. Quite how the grandson of a baronet, who was educated at Eton and Oxford, himself has any understanding of the plebeians he plans to rule, I don’t know. This is all part of ‘Crime and Justice Day’, when Cameron will also tell the police that he will miraculously rid them of the burden of all their paperwork, so they can actually spend their time catching criminals. Yeah, right, David.


July 5, 2006

Estate Agents. Don’t you love them? Take a couple of photos of the property, add some standard hyperbole description, think of a price that will give them the most commission, place an advert and then wait for the buyer to come to them. Once a buyer is found, pass it to the solicitors and wait for the money to roll in. You’ll only hear from them after that if they start getting anxious that they’re going to have to wait too long for their commission.

Which brings me to my next point. Upon what factors do they base the amount of their commission? Their qualifications? Nope, most estate agents have no (or no meaningful) qualifications. The amount of work they do? Nope, can’t be that, otherwise the commission would be about twenty-five quid. Ah yes, the price! So, the solicitors, who are highly qualified, subjected to rigorous control and do all the work get about a tenth of what the estate agents get. Trouble is, estate agents have our profession by the short and curlies, and they know it, passing matters to their preferred firms or, worse still, some crappy cut-priced conveyancing outfit.

And the scourge of estate agents doesn’t stop there. Apart from various dodgy practices recently unveiled in a BBC documentary, they help push up property prices so that the poor sods at the bottom of the market can’t afford to get on the ‘property ladder’.

IIP my arse

July 4, 2006

Solicitors’ stationary is becoming more and more cluttered with an ever-increasing rash of logos. God knows, soon the letters themselves will have to start on the second page. Amongst all the other crap (which I will no doubt get round to later), I would like to mention Investors in People.

It’s well known that partners in law firms don’t have a clue about how to manage staff, their most valuable asset, with the result that staff at most law firms are extremely dissatisfied. Occasionally, a particularly enlightened partner will realise this and will come up with the bright idea that the problem can be solved by the firm gaining IIP accreditation. Well-meaning I’m sure, but an IIP logo isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. All that bollocks about mission statements, strategies, empowerment and appraisals don’t make the blindest bit of difference.

The simple fact is that if, as at a firm I once worked, the senior partner is a tyrant before IIP, then he will still be a tyrant after IIP, with the result that the staff will be even more pissed off than ever.

It’s the end of the world

July 4, 2006

Well, I’ve just lost all respect for the courts system. I found out that yesterday barristers and High Court judges were given permission to remove their wigs during court proceedings, due to the hot weather. I mean, how can you possibly respect someone if they’re not wearing an old piece of smelly yellowing horsehair on their head?