There is always a hot debate about legal reform, whether relating to employment law, legal aid, solicitors, the legal market and that’s without even starting to talk about the Human Rights Act, which has created massive controversy.
In terms of the system, in our view there are good and bad facets of the changes which are already happening and those which are coming. What is good is that the internet and the Legal Services Act have opened up the legal market place and there are now some very innovative products out there such as interactive document creation. This is very positive but it does create some confusion. many of the providers of off the shelf documents are unregulated and the public may be unaware that if the documents are not correct legally or not fit for the purpose needed they will not have the same guarantee that they would have if using solicitors, who must all carry compulsory and comprehensive professional indemnity insurance.
many solicitors are frankly still in the dark ages when it comes to understanding their clients, the fact that law is now more of a business than a profession and regarding the need to do marketing properly and invest in it like any other business. This is likely to mean that, just like corner shops, the small local solicitors may disappear or a great many of them, and this is already starting to happen, as there are already far too many qualified solicitors out there. Is this a bad thing and will so-called Tesco Law be the answer and be a better product for customers ?
Well, there is little doubt that big retailers will be efficient and communicate well and regularly with their customers, so it could be a good thing for areas such as conveyancing or wills, but for other matters such as legal help for business and such like, the local relationship, if the solicitors are competent and experienced is a good thing generally. the face to face relationship has many advantages and we all will know the frustrations of the call centre approach.
So really this is all a bit of a mixed bag but the one thing which is crystal clear is that big change has started and this is only just the beginning so interesting times all in all.