Friday, 25 November 2011

David Greene

Had an almost heated exchange on twitter this week with good friend David Greene of Edwin Coe, formerly president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association.  I had made reference to some strategic work I am doing with some refreshingly forward-looking barristers that are having to respond to seismic change coming at them from all quarters: the withdrawal of Legal Aid hitting publicly funded work; the impending rise of 'volume legal processors' in the post-Legal-Services-Act world, poised to take over the space currently occupied by high street referring solicitors; the rise of in-house solicitor-advocates; the communications revolution; and more.

David responded:  @ClareRodway Do forward-looking barristers become solicitors?
    
'Absolutely not necessarily!' I answered, my strong belief being that the core roles in a legal team will always be required - someone to project manage, someone to manage the client, teamwork on legal arguments, and someone with the skills to put across the arguments in court in the most persuasive way possible (so advocacy).  What's changing with deregulation is the boundaries between these roles - not the roles themselves.  
                  
A rational enough argument to my mind....  Imagine my surprise at David's reply:


@ClareRodway your response may edge into certain sections of private eye,but hey ho it's still barristers wanting to be solicitors;why not?


Certain sections of Private Eye?  The cheek!  Differences to sort over a lunch or beer, clearly...  In conversation with David this week and over the years, I do know that our views are not in fact that far apart.  Indeed he has gone on record to express his views of competition between solicitors and barristers: that there is clearly a need for specialist advocacy services that barristers deliver, and that the vast majority of solicitors simply do not have the capacity nor inclination to provide them.


But he does question the Bar's pre-occupation with Direct Access work, arguing that it threatens to push barristers towards taking on a project management role.  This, he says, is potentially suicide because it places the barrister in direct competition with their main work providers, just at the point where the barrister moves out of their comfort zone.  I can see his point.  There is a clear danger here, although many barristers I speak to are keen to avoid this element and want to target Direct Access work only where the client themselves (eg an in-house lawyer of a sizeable and well-resourced company) is sufficiently skilled and willing to take on that project management role themselves.  A far more productive and mature approach would be for the Bar to strengthen its relationship with solicitors he says, rather than positioning themselves to compete directly with them. 


'I do see that the Bar is between a rock and a hard place,' he concedes.  'It sees solicitors competing for some of its work.  It feels it must respond in kind.  Direct access, alternative business structures and the procureco model (which provides a corporate structure for barristers to bid for work against solicitors) seek to lay down the challenge.'


However at the end of the day, the Bar would be far better off focussing on developing the real skills it has that set it apart from solicitors - rather then trying to develop competing skills, he says.  'The real selling power of the Bar is working with us, not against us - and this is something they shouldn't forget'.

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Did you notice how the Leveson Inquiry sucked the airspace from the Stephen Lawrence trial? Funny that. A point much discussed at Kysen this week. Press freedoms and controls are a central part of our democracy, so important of course.  This must have been the reason the inquiry dwarfed the coverage of the Lawrence trial.  Didn't have anything to do with the fact we are more interested in watching celebrities on our TV screens.  No.  Definitely not.


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Exciting for us was the launch of our new website.  We are all very proud.  The look & feel is quite different from our previous website: bolder, more confident - a good reflection of how we've changed over the last few years.


Refreshing the imagery was just one reason why we decided to revamp the website.  But in particular we wanted to position it more appropriately alongside our social media communications and blogs.  You'll see we now have links to our social media threaded throughout the site.
 


Have a browse and tell us what you think...

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