A house of ill repute

September 14, 2006

Reading the Gazette again this week (I really ought to get a life), I noticed a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decision where the respondent was found to have compromised or impaired “the good repute of the solicitor or the solicitor’s profession” contrary to rule 1(d) of the Solicitors Practice Rules. I had to laugh. Good repute? Who are they kidding? In another era maybe, but today the profession is held in utter contempt by, amongst others, the government, the Legal Services Commission, the media and, often, clients. Just look at this BBC survey from 2002. Out of 92 ‘professions’ we were the 4th least respected, just ahead of government ministers and estate agents. Prostitutes weren’t mentioned…

Notwithstanding the above decision of the SDT, it seems to me that you would have to do something pretty damn awful to be truly in breach of Practice Rule 1(d).

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Get Carter

September 8, 2006

Who the fuck does Patrick Carter think he is? Reading this week’s Law Society’s Gazette (always a good way to get depressed) I came across this quote from an interview with the author of the ‘Review of Legal Aid Procurement’: “The rates [of pay] on offer are adequate, and if firms make the right efficiency savings, they will be good. If the rates were good for firms as they operate at the moment, I would have failed.” He goes on to say: “Why don’t we all get efficient, and then lawyers will be in a stronger place to argue for what the right money is? All we have said is: lawyers, be a little bit more in the 20th century.”

So, this man who (to my knowledge) has never worked in the legal profession thinks legal aid lawyers are inefficient? Bollocks. Legal aid firms have had to be efficient to still be in business at all after all these years of derisory rates of pay. How dare he comment on the way we run our businesses? Still, he’s clearly indicated how the profession should respond: “If we haven’t got the price right, there will be an advice desert and we will have to pay more.” Vote with your feet, refuse to do legal aid work for a pittance and perhaps the government will get realistic, but don’t bet on it.

On the subject of efficiency, I note that Carter’s review was completed some six months late, and at an incredible cost of one and a half million pounds. Yes, he really knows about efficiency.

[Note: I am not refusing to give Carter his title ‘Lord’ out of disrespect, but because such obsequious titles are surely absurd in a modern society. I’ll respect people (if they deserve it), but why the hell should I kowtow to them? To (mis)quote Carter himself, maybe it’s about time the British Honours system was brought into the 21st century?]