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RENOWNED solicitor Tony Gold has used his retirement speech to launch a scathing attack on City lawyers, who, he says, are behaving increasingly like ruthless businessmen obsessed by profits.
Gold, founding partner of London firm Anthony Gold Lerman & Muirhead, says he is dismayed at the stratospheric salaries earned by commercial solicitors.
He says the very best should earn no more than £250,000 a year, while most partners should earn about £100,000 - a sum, he says, which is similar to NHS consultants.
Gold, who has been practising for more than 40 years, fired his broadside at a party held in honour of his retirement.
Those present included Lord Falconer, who is now the Government minister responsible for the Millennium Dome, and three Court of Appeal judges - Lord Justices Balcombe, Brooke and Potter.
Gold, 65, says: "Of course professional firms must run their practices efficiently but the emphasis given by the leaders of the profession to profitability and the bottom line has tended to overwhelm our prior responsibilities to the community as a whole and... to the advancement of justice.
"I fear we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. The idealism that brought so many into the law is much rarer today."