Legal Action Group magazine has an interesting article on Legal Disciplinary Partnerships in which it derides the Law Gazette for playing one-upmanship with the Bar on their relative speed of reform to meet the changing world of legal service provision, and at the same time criticises the bar for being so slow (h/t to Pink Tape).
Every word written there is true, and barristers and solicitors need to read it, and join forces. Currently the debate is driven by sectors of the law where solicitors and barristers still enjoy their monopoly on access to the courts, but practitioners in employment will be aware that the number of people in the system who are either is diminishing. In many tribunal hearings the Respondent is represented by a “consultant” from Peninsula or some similar organisation, and the Claimant is represented by a charity, law centre, another “consultant” from an insurance services provider, or no-one at all. The Employment Judge is the only legally qualified person in the room. This is a vision of the future in other legal areas – just ask a magistrates’ court clerk what she thinks the future holds (I recently did at a party, and got my ear bent).
If solicitors and barristers are tricked, whether by the market or the LSC, into thinking it’s a two-horse race then we’ll both lose. In fact, we face the Prisoner’s Dilemma – we’ll take a hit, but how big a hit will our fear and egos make us take?
As the Law21 blog has long evangelised, solicitors and barristers need to trade on their expertise and image (still relatively high) instead of the exclusivity in what they do (rapidly diminishing). We need to be entrepreneurial. Read author Jordan Furlong’s latest prophecy of doom here – much like climate change we can’t prove 100% that it’s something that will happen and that we can change, but we’d be nuts not to treat it as such.
EDIT – Charon QC did a recent podcast on law firm marketing – find it here.