News

Survey: “conveyancer numbers fall while caseloads and efficiency grow”

for sale sign

More property transactions and fewer people doing the work have increased conveyancers’ caseloads, but amid mounting pressure their productivity has grown by 70% since 2012, according to a survey. Among other things, it found that in 2016 conveyancers were spending a day and a half less per case and doing one case a week more than four years earlier.

July 26th, 2017

Cybercrime against law firms higher than ever, SRA says

SRA logo on brick wall

Reports of cybercrime from law firms reached record levels in the first quarter of this year, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has said. The figures are contained in the regulator’s latest Risk Outlook, which for the first time includes questionable investment schemes involving solicitors.

July 26th, 2017

Legal tech firm to open source AI-based document tool

Daniel Katz

A legal tech firm is open source its AI-based document analysis tool next month, in one of the first moves of its kind for the sector. Its co-founder said he believed that the smallest legal tech start-ups could be based on the tool and then “1,000 flowers can bloom”.

July 26th, 2017

Exclusive: Bar disciplinary tribunal panel recuses itself after barrister complains of bias

BSB 1

The panel of a Bar disciplinary tribunal has taken the highly unusual step of recusing itself after an allegation that it had shown actual or apparent bias against the defendant barrister, Legal Futures can reveal. The decision is the latest twist in a long-running saga involving a barrister who has twice been cleared of other allegations in the past three years.

July 25th, 2017

Senior judge berates government lawyers over handling of MoJ negligence claim

Ministry of Justice sign

A lady justice of appeal has berated the Government Legal Department over its defence of a negligence claim brought by a prison officer against the Ministry of Justice, saying its “lack of focus” led to a “huge workload which was wholly disproportionate to the real issues”.

July 25th, 2017

Access to justice charity calls for profession to certify quality of public legal education

Lisa Wintersteiger

The profession should play an active role in certifying the quality of public legal information so as to help people identify whether they have legal problems, according to the head of an access to justice charity. The call came as the Solicitor General launched a new panel to drive forward legal education initiatives.

July 25th, 2017

Firms turning to cyber insurance as scammer attacks continue to rise, Law Society survey finds

Concept of internet security

The proportion of law firms targeted by scammers has risen sharply over the last year, especially among larger firms, as has the number of practices taking out cyber-insurance, according to new research from the Law Society. The survey on indemnity insurance also showed that a significant minority of brokers continue not to disclose their commission.

July 24th, 2017

City firm throws weight behind legal app that propels start-up investments

Tim Bird Fieldfisher

City law firm Fieldfisher has invested in “game changer” technology that helps investors and start-ups conclude deals quickly online. SeedLegals describes itself as “the world’s first automated legal service for start-up funding rounds”.

July 24th, 2017

Chief Legal Ombudsman to follow organisation’s chief executive out of the door

Kathryn Stone LeO 3

The Chief Legal Ombudsman is to leave her post, it has been announced – just days after the government praised the work she has done to revive the standing of her organisation and a few weeks after the service’s chief executive said he was leaving too.

July 24th, 2017

Judges “left uneasy” by professionals challenging regulators as litigants in person

Iain Miller

Judges are “left uneasy” by professionals presenting their own challenges to regulators as litigants in person and ignoring the “best points” available to them, the High Court has heard. Mr Justice Green said that it was an “unfortunate feature” of regulatory proceedings that while the regulator was represented, the appellant, who did not qualify for legal aid, “frequently was not”.

July 21st, 2017

Solicitor who used office account “as personal account” is struck off

police station

A sole practitioner who did not have a client account and admitted using his office account “at times as a personal account” has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The tribunal heard that Michael Healey, based in Liverpool, misappropriated over £31,000 of client money before going bankrupt.

July 21st, 2017

CMCs rake in over £6bn in past 10 years of regulation

Kevin Rousell

Claims management companies have earned over £6bn in the past decade, new figures from the Claims Management Regulator have shown. In a special anniversary report to mark 10 years of regulation, the CMR said that the number of CMCs had shrunk from a peak in 2011 of 3,213 to 1,388 in 2017.

July 20th, 2017

Vexatious ex-solicitor’s “hyperbole” leaves High Court judge speechless

Royal Courts of Justice

A High Court judge has extended a general civil restraint order against a struck-off solicitor for a further two years after her “hyperbolic” claims rendered him almost speechless. The ex-solicitor contended that her case involved “the most important question ever asked in the history of civilisation since the birth of time”.

July 20th, 2017

Government rules out complete separation of regulators from representative bodies

Ministry of Justice sign

The government indicated today that it will not go ahead with plans to completely separate legal regulators from their linked professional bodies, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Law Society. It came in a review of the Legal Services Board and Office for Legal Complaints that found both “generally operating efficiently and effectively”.

July 19th, 2017

Record-breaking fine for White & Case over conflict and confidentiality breaches

SRA logo on brick wall

US law firm White & Case has been fined £250,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal – five times the previous highest for a firm – over client conflict and confidentiality rule breaches. The tribunal yesterday approved an outcome agreed by the firm and the Solicitors Regulation Authority that in addition a partner should be fined £50,000.

July 19th, 2017

Legal Futures Blog

Do smaller law firms need artificial intelligence?

Peter Wallqvist

It’s hard to miss the recent buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), especially in legal tech, with many of the top 200 firms utilising the technology in some manner. But what about the smaller firms? Do they need AI? Can their infrastructure cope with AI? There are misconceptions that AI is only suitable for larger firms – firms with huge budgets and millions of documents – and therefore unsuitable for smaller firms. But many smaller firms could be missing out on the truly transformative benefits.

July 26th, 2017