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Ex-SRA exec slams ‘irrelevant’ Law Society

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Organisation representing solicitors is doing a terrible job of it, former policy guru Crispin Passmore says

Crispin Passmore

An influential legal policy guru has launched a scathing attack on the “protectionist” Law Society, accusing the venerable institution of going against the interests of its members in campaigning to protect traditional law firms.

Crispin Passmore, a former director of policy at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), says that the Law Society had been “captured” by “backward-looking” small time solicitors who are “contemptuous of ‘big law’, of innovative law firms and of change”.

In a blog post published by Legal Futures, Passmore blasts the society as a “protectionist trade association” that needs to reform or die.

The post cites the Law Society’s opposition to solicitors operating outside a traditional law firm setting as an example of its backward ways. Adding insult to injury, Passmore argues, “solicitors in those businesses, solicitors in separate business and those in unregulated business are paying 30% of their practice fees to an organisation that uses the cash to campaign against them competing against traditional law firms. It really is a model that cannot last much longer”.

Passmore reports the feeling of “many solicitors” that their representative body is “irrelevant, though expensive”. The ex-SRA bigwig says that the Law Society should focus on representing individual solicitors rather than the interests of firms.

Calling for Chancery Lane to ring the changes, Passmore writes:

“To deliver this sort of Law Society focused on members, we need to see significant governance changes, starting with the Council, currently compromising of 100 solicitors, to make it fit for purpose and flexible. An immediate decision to not take 30% of regulated firm’s practising certificate fee would signal intent that it is focused on representing individual solicitors and does not favour one business model over another.”

The criticism of the 100-member governing council echoes that of former Law Society chief exec Catherine Dixon, who dramatically resigned in 2017 after her frustration with the “bureaucratic” set-up boiled over.

Sticking to “protectionism”, Passmore concludes, will leave the Law Society heading to “irrelevance and then extinction”.

Passmore, who recently set up as a consultant, has not been shy with his opinions since leaving the SRA. Over the weekend he defended the role of unregulated McKenzie Friends, arguing that a clampdown — likely to be popular with lawyers — would be “disastrous for the poor”.

The Law Society has been appraoched for comment.

21 Comments

Anonymous

Whatever else he might be right about, Mr Passmore is surely wrong about McKenzie friends, certainly paid ones. A LiP is better off on his or her own: judges are generally helpful and understanding.

I can see no good argument for McKenzie friends – in the more recent sense of third party advisors, rather than genuine friends who attend just for moral support and note taking – at all.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

I think we can all agree that the Law Society does essentially nothing. It would probably be a better use of money to take away its 30m per year and just spend it on increasing access to the profession for people from poor backgrounds.

Mind you, agree about McKenzie friends with 9:28AM. What really hurts poor people is having terrible representation from frauds and unsupervised students in lieu of proper legal aid.

(16)(3)

Anonymous

Putting that £30M towards a good pro-bono provider – outside of London – would be a good use and would actually go quite far. Would probably assist in increasing diversity in the long-term and deliver a positive impact.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Brothers! Sisters!

Change is coming!

John McDonnell as Chancellor will implement a five year plan to bring the City under democratic control, expand the economic theories the Treasury uses, and raise taxes on greed to pay for legal aid!

75% tax rates on all salaries more than £50k!!

VOTE LABOUR

FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW!!

(1)(36)

Anonymous

Honestly, what’s wrong with you?

(25)(0)

Anonymous

I know this one – he’s a boring, issue-obsessed cnut with a delusional belief in his own wit.

(0)(0)

Every City Solicitor

Above £50k..that catches everyone in london

(11)(1)

T. May

You can’t tax people earning over £50k if no one is earning that much! Haha!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed brother

Jeremy Corbyn will be the best Prime Minister ever

3 million more immigrants within six months

A re-education programme for civil servants

Property taxes on all houses worth more than £750,000

(5)(9)

Anonymous

What, Chris Grayling did nothing to improve during his tenure?
The sooner this sham of a Government are ousted the better.
McKenzie Friends – This should be assessed independently as to the merits – i rather think those most in need of such an offering have no idea what the concept is, also how readily this information is offered up should also be assessed.

(4)(0)

Anon

What everyone has missed is that, in his role at the SRA, Mr Passmore presided over a huge reduction in client protection, the benefits of his policies being arguable at best. Having done his worst there he then leaves and sets up a company (no personal liability for him) to make money out of his regulatory reforms. Self interest? Pot calling kettle black!

(21)(1)

Anonymous

If I was one of the firms prosecuting for the SDT then I would LOOOOOOOVE the Law Society. Kerching!!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

SDT should also not use external firms, it should rely solely on an in-house team and use external counsel only occasionally. It is our money that is being squandered remember, and let’s face it, the chances of those huge costs awards actually being paid is minimal.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Under him the sra reduced protection for the public and now thinking of having one off solicitors or solicitors in non regulated practices, is a recipe for disaster. Now he’s become a consultant. So he’s just another hack and attack job like foreign investors who destroy then downsize and sell everything off. Sra are just pathetic and desperately trying to justify their existence.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

We have experienced first hand that the regulating bodies of the legal profession eg. Legal Ombudsman and SRA are not fit for the purposes they were created. If solicitors are experiencing discrimination/injustice at the hands of their own elite community what do you think us/general public have been going through for years!

We have been stitched up by solicitors who should be struck off but who because of their connections and high profile legal firm are still practicing to rip off more people who innocently pour out their lives for help and are forced to pay heavily – financially, emotionally.

The law firms have to claw back the 30% protection fee so where do you think they are extracting their money from? Yes, us the general public and when we report the solicitors illegal practices to the regulating bodies we are again ripped off with standards lines of excuses why the solicitors/law firm are above the law. They don’t even bother to read our complaints because as been reported these firm have paid their protection money.

These self regulating bodies should be abolished and their money given to legal aid for everyone and also to support the fast disappearing Citizens Advise Service which is poorly funded with volunteers that are sometimes not fully equipped/qualified to help many of their poor clientale complex problems.

We can see the problems but many in appointed positions who can bring about a change have chosen to ignore them because they are after all supporting a system which benefits the few elite and powerful and who wouldn’t want to be seen/sit along side these elite so called powerful people for their own selfish reasons?

I admire those solicitors who are trying to make it on their own and have tried to withstand the pull to join in with the elite cult of the legal profession which might only be accessible to them if they are prepared to sell their souls.

Let face it, there is no justice for the common man; we have gone full circle back to the dark ages where righteousness, truth and justice does not exist and the little Red Law Book has been overtaken by dark forces in our legal system.

May God help us all as he sees everything and he will judge us accordingly.

(5)(4)

Wut

This isn’t Harry Potter…

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Sorry, I missed this … what colour did the pot call the kettle?

(1)(0)

Gabor

I’ve become an accidental McKenzie Friend, helping women who have been fleeced and left broke, and in one case bankrupt, by solicitors. No, not all judges, particularly in the Family Courts (commonly referred to in close proximity with the adjective “secretive”) are sympathetic to LIPs, I’ve been an LIP myself. I became an accidental McKenzie friend because I did better as an LIP than I did with my ridiculously expensive solicitors, and was asked by an acquaintance to help her. One woman I am helping has been fleeced to the tune of £100k, at 28% interest, without even approaching a final hearing…. Legal fees relating to divorce have more than doubled since 2014, no coincidence, surely, that at the same time barely regulated finance firms have been working hand in glove with solicitors to exploit their Professional Exemption and sell loans to situationally vulnerable divorcing clients bypassing the more onerous regulation IFAs are subject to. One of the big players in this predatory lending market has partnership agreements with over 800 family law firms. The result of solicitors allowing, welcoming infact, these extortionate lenders is that clients will look for other routes. I have never wanted to be involved in the law, but, frankly, I could not do worse than the damaging failures of some members of the Profession relating to the people I am helping, and the deeply exploitative means to guaranteeing their fees, and locking in clients these loans provide them. Get your house in order.

(1)(1)

Gabor

I didn’t initially, now I do because it’s taking up so much of my time and taking me away from the work I want to do, £250 a day. Do you charge the people you help? If so how much….? I do know of one male McKenzie friend who is never out of court, apparently he does it out of the goodness of his heart, although some of his “clients” tell me he actually does charge, in the region of £5k a day…..

(0)(0)

Gabor

But let’s talk about you, do you charge the people you help?

(0)(0)

Gabor

But how fascinating, in response to the predatory lending at extortionate interest rates, and endless fees for the solicitors efforts which all came to nothing, the doubling of the legal costs relating to divorce since these loans were welcomed so enthusiastically by solicitors firms, and which has left one of these solicitors’ clients bankrupt, and another with debts of (last time I looked) £108k, your only question is whether I charge…. No concern for the clients? Why is that? It’s not the first question I would ask…

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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