Solicitors’ leader smarms up to new Attorney General and Solicitor General despite no other lawyer having heard of them

Avatar photo

By Judge John Hack on

While the rest of the legal profession scratches its head in bafflement at the elevation of Jeremy Wright and Robert Buckland, the Law Society President tweets fawning congratulations


In the arse-licking game it doesn’t get much more craven than this.

Nobody else in the legal profession may be taking notice of the one non-entity and the other controversial recently-promoted government legal officers, but the new leader of the solicitors’ profession has engaged social media (fairly newsworthy in itself) to offer oily congratulations on their move up the Westminster greasy pole.

Andrew Caplen, who took over the Law Society presidency a few days ago, alerted the world via Twitter this morning that he had just attended the swearing in of the new attorney and solicitor general, Jeremy Wright and Robert Buckland, respectively.

The society has taken a lot of heat from its members — especially those struggling on the high street — for its allegedly insipid opposition to Ministry of Justice cuts to civil and criminal legal aid budgets and eligibility.

Theories abound that Chancery Lane is running scared of irritating the government, fearing that ministers could turn a harsh eye on its own funding arrangements, which currently involve taking about a 30% slice of the practising certificate fee whether solicitors like it or not.

So arguably, it doesn’t do any harm, some might suggest, for Caplen to proffer public bouquets. Others have not been so impressed with the elevation of the two barristers.

Legal Cheek has already reported on social media commentators complaining that Wright has not had the type of career at Birmingham’s No5 Chambers that would merit promotion to the slot of top government legal officer. And opposition politicians and others have lambasted Buckland for having been censured three years ago for breaching the bar’s code of conduct.

Indeed, the Law Gazette, which is published by Chancery Lane but attempts to maintain independence from its council and bureaucrats, ran a piece only two days ago quoting an exclusive interview with Labour’s shadow AG, Emily Thornberry, in which she said Buckland’s appointment was “an insult to lawyers”.

Caplen’s tweet didn’t touch on those issues. But one Twitter commentator suggested the Law Society tweet might have been a dose of sarcasm in any event.

The new society president has also been trying to cosy up to City solicitors since his recent appointment — the Square Mile being another constituency highly suspicious of the Chancery Lane’s value.

In a statement two days ago, Caplen — a consultant at six-lawyer Hampshire general practice, Heppenstalls — made a bid to impress with his knowledge of cut-throat City and international practice.

“Recent strong financial performances of magic circle firms reflect high growth in mergers and acquisitions,” he intoned, before warning: “But growth in corporate and commercial and banking and finance deals slowed in the first half of this year. Given the legal services sector’s wider economic links to the rest of the UK, a slowdown in the City Legal Index is a sobering reminder that the economy is not completely out of the woods yet.”

Caplen and the Law Society will be hoping that friendly tweets at ministers and the odd reference to City solicitors will keep them out of the woods for a little while at least.

Further reading:

Just who is Jeremy Wright? Lawyers have never heard of new attorney general [Legal Cheek]