Look to the future

The speech given by outgoing Law Society secretary general John Hayes on the future of the legal profession neatly encapsulated the problems facing the profession.

Addressing the European Policy Forum last Thursday, Hayes discussed the lack of confidence in the profession's future direction, the search for scapegoats when things go wrong and, most importantly, lawyers' resistance to addressing issues such as client care.

In the next 10 years, he predicts there will be a major reduction in the number of high street firms, and those most likely to go under include practices which do not invest in new technology, those who attempt to compete solely on price and those who do not take client care seriously.

Practitioners should take note of Hayes's warning.There is no point in arguing that lawyers are professionals and not business people; in a society which is increasingly focused on the consumer, such arguments no longer wash and lawyers must be as accountable for the service they provide as other service providers.