There has been a lot of comment on Social Media about Michael Turner QC’s remarks about the Law Society response to the MoJ last week.
The problem with Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook, is the limited space to spell out an argument.
The ethos of this Blog, and our Twitter account, is expressed above. “A Place For The Voice of The Criminal Bar to be Heard.”
Well let’s extend that to Solicitors as well.
We have reprinted MTQC’s post below.
We invite constructive comments. If we know what you are thinking, hopefully we can put your ideas to good use.
But please remember. Unity is all, so #PlayNicely!
Following Mr Grayling’s appearance at the Justice Select Committee hearing, there has been a good deal of disquiet about the meeting he had with the Law Society in advance of giving evidence.
I would like to set out what happened at the Joint Practitioners meeting and how the proposals came about.
The President of the Law Society had arranged to meet with Mr Grayling initially after his evidence session before the Committee. Mr Grayling however sought to bring the meeting forward. The CBA together with the CLSA and the LCCSA advised that no meeting should take place until after Mr Grayling had given evidence, fearing that he would use such a meeting to try and break the current unity. The President insisted that she attend the re-scheduled appointment. Preferring that the President had an alternative proposal as to structure alone, the meeting sought to provide such a document. The scheme only dealt with the solicitor profession and said nothing in relation to the Bar. The proposal was a collaborative effort but there was no means unanimity as to the entirety of it.
The proposed scheme seeks to deal with two particular issues a) the spectre of the ghost solicitor and b) over supply in the market place.
No one can sensibly argue that the practice of selling duty solicitor slots should not be banished forever. What has caused alarm is the proposals for change coupled with the spin put upon them by Mr Grayling.
Far from seeking to crush small firms these proposals seek to protect them. Small firms will be allowed to maintain their size for a year, after which the Law Society may instruct them to take on further staff if wishing to remain in the market place. This could be as little as one extra duty solicitor. The firms will then have a year to comply. Additionally the Law Society is seeking to introduce a scheme whereby two one-man firms may come together under an umbrella management structure whilst maintaining their identity.
Whilst the CBA stood back from structuring this scheme, it appears it has a lot of merit to it. The BFG had wanted minimum contract sizes, which would have decimated the small firms. This proposal is nowhere near that. It allows the small firms to upsize slowly and proportionately.
There is absolutely no mention in the proposals of a cut in fees nor a concession from the Law Society that one is required.
Mr Grayling has failed to understand his own scheme. PCT is dead with client choice restored. You can not tender for a contract if you do not know what slice of the market place it gives you.
Mr Grayling’s reliance on this meeting gave the impression it was more than it was. He used it to try and drive a wedge between the Bar and solicitors profession. This attempt has sadly been assisted by others within the professions who should frankly know better.
All of us have pledged to fight cuts and PCT to the bitter end. We have joined side by side to do just that. Do not allow ignorance and spin to pull us apart.
Whilst there was no agreement as to the tactic of meeting Mr Grayling in advance of the Judicial Select Committee, the Law Society has not sought to sell either its own profession or ours short.
Richard Atkinson who has worked as hard as anyone to keep us all together explains the proposals HERE.
The only thing politicians are really good at is sowing the seeds of doubt in others. There is not a leader at the Bar or within the solicitors’ profession who is in favour of making cuts and indeed there is simply no moral or practical case for them. Indeed the opposite is true.