In a sign that English and Welsh solicitors are coming around to accepting MDPs, 51 per cent believe Chancery Lane should support the development of MDPs. Only 25 per cent of solicitors came out against in a major survey of the profession published by the Law Society last week.
But while 59 per cent of solicitors foresee an increase in MDPs, just 14 per cent expect them to have arrived within the next five years.
Law Society president Phillip Sycamore is open to the idea of MDPs, and has promised to take a lead on the issue during his presidency. A Law Society working party to consider whether the rules should be relaxed is due to report shortly, and these results are sure to affect its thinking.
The survey, the first of planned biannual snapshots of the state of the profession, also reveals that between 1989 and 1997 personal injury work showed the largest increase in fee earning time. Meanwhile, employment law attracted 8,000 more solicitors to its ranks.
However residential conveyancing has plunged over the last eight years. There are now just 15,000 solicitors doing conveyancing - 7,000 less than in 1989.
Research indicates that increased competition and price cutting are behind the dramatic fall.