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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tragedies, cuts, injustices and truckers - a blogger's year..

This blog hit two significant landmarks over the weekend. Firstly we reached 200 blog posts since it was started just over a year ago. Secondly we also reached 50,000 hits – so that is about 250 reads per posting, on average.

From looking back over the most popular topics it is clear that certain key topics have dominated the year.

The one with the most reads – with over 1000 reads was the tragic story of the young mum whose bladder cancer was missed and who sadly passed away on Good Friday. This highlighted the injustice, both of legal aid changes and also obsession in the media and government with blaming victims for a mythical compensation culture. But most of all this was real tragedy affecting a normal young family. However much lawyers and politicians might argue about what is right and what is wrong, this is a sobering reminder there are real people caught up in all of this.

The blog with the second highest number of reads at just under 1000 will come as no surprise at all. This was about the dismantling of justice for ordinary people. Back in May 2012 it all seemed a long way away. Since then the picture has become even worse then we all feared. Legal Aid has disappeared for whole areas of law. Advice agencies are closing or making desperate cuts. The changes to CFAs have hit and fees for PI Claims are to be decimated. We all did what we could to oppose all of this but almost all arguments fell on stony ground. But this does not mean that the fight is abandoned. This will continue to be a dominant theme in the months and years ahead.

In a surprising third place with over 700 reads is the posting about Eddie Stobart jumping on the legal bandwagon! This is certainly a sign of things to come. With the arrival of alternative Business Structures we are beginning to see competition for traditional lawyers from well known brands. I have said time and time again that we cannot ignore this development. Indeed, some competition from experienced business is no bad thing and could lead to a better deal for clients. But there are also concerns over quality especially with the well known truckers potentially bidding for Criminal Legal aid work.

In fourth place is the post about APIL’s unsuccessful application for Judicial Review of the government’s cuts in relation to personal injury claims. I can still recall the tension as we all followed twitter waiting for the disappointing if not surprising outcome. This will always be a significant day for anyone doing this type of work. It was the day the game changed. Since that day a number of firms have already closed the door or decided to move away from this work. This is a real shame for victims but I have no doubt that it is exactly what the government and its friends in the insurance industry wanted.

In fifth place, was a blog about the desperate situation for those training to be lawyers. This was a response to the SRA’s abolition of the minimum salary for Trainee solicitors. Some students talked of debts of just under £50,000 by the time they had finished. Training contracts are like gold and many can also now be given jobs on salaries as low as the minimum wage. This could well take us back to the days when the law was indeed a career for the rich. My fear is that best students will simply decide it is not for them and look for a career with a more secure future.

So they have been the dominant themes over the last year. I was originally only planning to do this in the run up to LASPO. But the issues are just far too important. So you are going to have to put up with plenty more over the next year!

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