LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Smith & Williamson

Could the end of the High Street Solicitor be…. around the corner ?

leave a comment »


No Solicitors!!!

No Solicitors!!! (Photo credit: age3.141592)

I’ve just had the opportunity to glance through the ‘Survey of Irish law firms 2012/13 which landed on my desk today.  The authors of the Survey, Smith & Williamson claim that 93 law firms took part in the Survey: 5 of the top 10; 14 mid-tier and 74 small firms. I must be included in the latter category having completed the Survey. I actually had a few minutes one day and decided to do my duty.  That said, sadly none of my illuminating comments were reported although they claim that ‘a sample of participants’ comments have been included…’

By and large, in my opinion, the Survey is completely unrepresentative of the views of the majority of the profession. The views expressed are clearly of the Elites in the profession who have absolutely nothing in common with the High Street solicitor who the working man/woman has contact with. It’s interesting to read under the heading Impact of the Legal Services Regulation Bill  ‘The Bill proposes the establishment of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority  thereby removing the existing self-regulation system by the Law Society and Bar Council…..In spite of concerns regarding Government influence, the Law Society fundamentally altered its stance in April 2012 when it informed members of its formal support for the Authority proposal and stated it would be in the best interest of the public and the profession.’  This is yet another case where the interests of the Elites are indeed served while the independence offered by the High Street Solicitor representing an independent Legal Profession have been dismissed. In future then, the State will control the legal profession with the full support of the Law Society. It’s at times like this that I wonder what my membership of the Law Society is all about. They hold themselves out as representing the interests of the profession. They do not. It is a long time since they have represented my interests or the interests of my colleagues, bar those that serve Government and Multinational Enterprises including the Banks and Insurance Companies. To be fair to the authors of the Survey they do state ‘However, this stance does not appear to currently have the full support of the profession…’

I won’t bore you with further references to the Survey except to say that it is of little or no assistance to the average solicitor who must continue to work hard to etch out a living. Gone are the days of some 50 years ago when the fact of qualifying was enough to guarantee you a certain standard of living. Today the legal professions are not restricted to the sons and daughters of solicitors and those preferred members of society. They are made up of the sons and daughters of the working man who worked hard, night and day, to give their children a chance to pursue a career. The ability to study law was once the preserve of the chosen few. Today lawyers work hard to pursue the rights of their clients regardless of ability to pay and suchlike. That was not always the case. I should, in balance, say that there was always some good people in the profession who acted in such a manner but I believe that they were few and far between.

Over the past couple of years I’d had many a chat with fellow lawyers concerning the future of our profession. Many are close to closing shop. Some time ago, many said, they had purchased the building they worked from with hefty mortgages and now find the cost of repayments are putting an undue strain on their practices. The thought behind this action was to reduce the ever-increasing cost of renting rooms and also to provide for a pension for themselves when they retired. This scenario is not uncommon. It would appear that it is only time for many, before they must cease to practice. The inability to access funds from the Banks among other things has had catastrophic results for them. At a time when they need guidance and assistance from their professional body, they feel ostracised and alone in their fight for survival. Even the need to attend seminars to gain CPD points, while not cheap in itself,  has them away from their practices when there are few enough hours in the working week as it is, to complete their legal work for their clients. It is sad the number of good lawyers, both solicitors and barristers who have had to cease practice over the last few years. Not only is it sad, it’s an absolute disgrace. The loss of these good people is being felt by those of us left to continue in practice. Little or no concern has been expressed by the Professional Bodies and one must wonder whether a return to the elitist ‘closed door’ profession of the past, is the prefered way forward for them.

LegalEagleStar , Monday , 10th December , 2012 .

Note: The No Solicitors Graphic used above is done so with a sense of humour as it is American and has a non-lawyer meaning.

%d bloggers like this: