Deacons partner speaks out for first time on 'faded dream'

THE FORMER senior partner of Deacon Goldrein Green has called for a package of urgent reforms to save other firms from insolvency, following the collapse of the high-profile Liverpool legal aid chain.

Andrew Macfarlane, who took charge of Deacons when it was re-formed in 1992, says: “Some of the problems we had are probably festering away out there in other practices.

“DGG the concept is a faded dream but it may be that there are some firms who can learn the lessons and can get the very best out of our systems without inheriting the problems.”

Speaking for the first time since the demise of the firm, Macfarlane has demanded a “block-funding” system for large legal aid practices to help them improve business management. He is also calling for reforms of the prohibitively expensive professional indemnity insurance and predicts firms will soon want to break away from the existing arrangements for insurance cover.

And he adds that the DGG experience has put the status of salaried partners at the top of the agenda. He recommends that in future, salaried partners should seek “something in writing” from creditors regarding their hybrid status.

But the chief concern of Macfarlane, who faces a bankruptcy hearing this month, is that the LAB should do away with its case-by-case approach to funding large legal aid practices. Existing arrangements mean that firms are unable to “regulate” the flow of cash to and from the LAB, he says.

He describes franchising as a “missed opportunity” because it failed to ease administrative burdens on firms.