There was once a time when law firms were seen as stable, reliable businesses. ‘You never see a poor lawyer’, was a phrase often used. Of course the media has often gone well beyond this happy image and used the phrase ‘fat cat’, especially to describe those lawyers that they dislike!
Anybody who inhabits the real world knows that this is pure fantasy, and it is not going to get any better. Already this year we have seen the demise of some major names including Cobbetts and Blakemores. In view of the imminent changes to the legal costs recoverable for victims of accidents they will not be the last –
I was at a Conference in London last Friday at which the Executive Director of the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) told us that Financial Stability is now at the top of their agenda. A few years it was not even on the agenda at all.
According to one poll in the North West, 20% of firms are thinking of closing the door –
And it is not just law firms; many advice agencies will also have to close because of the abolition of legal aid for many areas of social welfare law.
It is as if there has been a deliberate decision by the government to wipe out whole swathes of the legal profession. We know that politicians often dislike the courts or lawyers but this seems to be taking matters to the extreme! It is hard to avoid thinking that they are out to get us.
But lawyers are too resourceful to allow this to happen.
The next few months will be difficult. Some firms may fall by the way. But there will also be many forward thinking firms who are prepared to review the way they work. If anything there is a determination to make sure that the insurance industry and their political friends do not get their own way. There may be fewer fat cats. But lawyers will continue to fight for their clients.
There will still be victims and lawyers will still be there to represent them. The legal profession will probably look very different in five years’ time. But in the words of that great cultural giant P Diddy – ‘We ain't going nowhere..’