The Law Society – friend or foe?

Write to: The Editor, The Lawyer, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX, fax 0171 970 4640, e-mail, DX44700 Soho Square.

Are we, as a profession, in a total mess, or is all that seems to be going on a figment of my imagination? Certainly my contacts across our profession seem to indicate that everybody is totally exasperated by the antics of our professional body.

We currently have the joke of SIF. We have a proposed new Rule 6, breach of which practically means that we will end up in prison, and I see this week a new practice Rule 15 is to take effect in September. The deadline for Legal Aid Franchise has had to be extended by the Law Society because too many firms have not yet applied. We have Woolf and discussion on Mixed Disciplinary Practices, which kind of hang there, and nobody quite knows where it is going. We have a society that appears financially out of control with over 140 Committees and a staff level that has grown like topsy.

The new Rule 15 imposes even harsher punishment for non-compliance and is imposed upon us by our own professional body.

The new Rule 15 doesn't make any sense. Existing Rule 15 is already silly enough. No other business s has to introduce itself to its new customer by pointing out what the complaints procedure will be in the event that the new customer is unhappy. Why make it even harder? Quite amusingly I have recently had occasion to instruct two major firms, neither of which bothered to write to me with a client-care letter. It is not just the small firms that will break these technical rules, but the large ones too.

Brian Marson, Marsons Solicitors