Last week’s Gazette ran a headline article entitled “Straw’s pay warning to legal aid lawyers” , together with an opinion response here.
The fallout in correspondence can be found here.
The issue revolves around Lord Chancellor Jack Straw’s comments which were reported as follows;
“Jack Straw said last week that while it is ‘entirely proper’ that lawyers are paid decent rates, running ‘successful legal businesses… is not the purpose of law’.
Compare that to Richard Susskind’s warning very early on in his book “The end of lawyers?” when he writes on page 2;
“…The law is not there to provide a livelihood for lawyers any more than illness prevails in order to offer a living for doctors. Successful legal businesses may be a by-product of law in society; but it is not the purpose of law.”
Remarkably similar, no?
The current outrage against the Lord Chancellor’s comments should not detract from the broader debate. The whole profession is facing massive challenges. It is feasible that a new legal marketplace will evolve very rapidly and the old methods of monetisation, value and reward are unlikely to apply.
The current downturn presents something of a swerve for many law firms.
Slow down (greatly in some cases) position yourself as you approach the bend and pass through, accelerating as you come out.
That is the conventional response to downturns in the market, as indicated by President of the Law Society Paul Marsh in this article.
“This is not the first downturn that I have experienced in my professional life. It is the third. Following the last two big recessions, my experience was that the profession more or less resumed business as usual.”
But this time, as Marsh writes, no sooner will we have passed through this current bend then we will be facing the then imminent implementation of the Legal Services Act, and the whole Susskind debate.
Many firms will be concentrating purely on survival – trim numbers, get lean, get tough on costs recovery. Others will be keeping their heads up, anticipating not only this sharp bend, but the ones that are coming ahead.
By doing so they can ensure that will emerge from the current situation positioned ready for the next one.
Those firms and practitioners who remain in denial of the changes coming (and we have touched upon a few of them within this blog) will be content to survive for now. They will be looking forward to markets returning to the normal conditions and accelerate into what they anticipate will be a long straight. It could get ugly.
The alternative is that firms, or individual lawyers, look at redundancy or over-capacity within their organisations. What systems could they implement now to fill that redundancy with research, product creation, systemisation and the like?
Time to buy some tech!
Would you buy a computer from these people?
For reasons that I look forward to sharing over the coming weeks, I need to buy a laptop or notebook/tablet.
I am encouraged by the wealth of hosted web apps online from Google Docs to @thobu’s lovely, simply lovely Mindmeister.
The question is this – Will a tablet suffice in this day and age or do I still need a laptop with obscene amounts of hard drive and memory? Your thoughts?
I can’t help feeling as I look through the unhelpful ads and tech spec that the whole race for bigger better faster is simply an extension of the Spectrum vs Commodore 64 spats I used to indulge in as a 12 year old in the school playground.
With the remarkable success of Nintendo’s Wii, and the inverted influence of the Asus and the one Laptop Per Child is the future in low spec and tablet form?
What would you buy for writing, blogging, online access on the move and presentations including, cue some unnecessary jargon I learnt, “Enriched” media?
Two closing points.
- Cost is a consideration – As a starting point, why would I spend more than this? You tell me… and
- Clearly the Commodore 64 was a far superior machine. Whoops, that’s done it.
There has been a flurry of activity recently on social networking and employment repercussions.
There was the girl who was sacked for saying her job was boring and today, as I read through Twitter on my bus ride into work, I followed a link through to this article, repeating warnings about online visibility and how employers can access more information than ever before.
Although the topic is not new there are some interesting angles regarding privacy and discrimination.
Two thoughts occured to me. Firstly how laws become obsolete, or at the very least, incomplete. Will there be new legislation to deal with rights to post as we see fit online and preserve a right to privacy.
Surely, if someone discloses details online in a public, open environment, they forego privacy? Any thoughts? To what extent can it be possible to attain privacy between social and professional spheres in the emerging environment?
But the second point that occured to me was how long will it be before we have recruiting services who will compile a dossier, for an agreed fee, about a potential candidate colalting their online details and activities?
Perhaps it is already being done.
Thanks to @steveimparl on Twitter for flagging up the article.