More than one in five law firms have been targeted by scammers in the past year, Law Society research has revealed. Money was successfully stolen from client account in 8% of these cases. However the society’s annual indemnity survey found that average premiums paid by firms with up to 25 partners were down by 8%.
Alternative business structures (ABS) make up just 4% of all solicitors’ firms but contributed 11% of the profession’s turnover, research has revealed. The Law Society’s annual statistical report, found ABSs were spread broadly across the different turnover bands, with around 50 of them having income in excess of £10m.
The Law Society has apologised to its freedom of information adjudicator after failing to provide him with an “additional and substantial” body of information relating to ‘Harry Potter solicitor’ Alan Blacker, also known as Lord Harley. Adam Sowerbutts described the incident as “troubling”.
Helping to enhance public understanding of the law will “unlock demand for legal services”, solicitors have been advised as part of a new push to promote public legal education (PLE). It came as a high-powered non-partisan group of MPs and peers was formed to promote PLE.
The London Litigation Solicitors Association and the Law Society are pushing for a lower £10,000 limit for cases in the Online Court. In his interim report, Lord Justice Briggs proposed a limit of £25,000. The LSLA said that there should be fixed or capped costs for litigation between £10,000 and £25,000.
The Ministry of Justice has given its strongest indication yet that, once the legal regulators become independent, lawyers will no longer be compelled to make a financial contribution to their representative bodies.
Plans by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to introduce a centrally assessed Solicitors Qualifying Examination could create an “even greater diversity problem” for the profession, the Law Society has warned. The society said it could be a “huge issue for those without financial support”.
The Legal Services Board has set out plans allowing it to study in more detail spending by approved regulators, such as the Law Society and Bar Council, before it approves their practising fees. The LSB warned in November of a “potentially high-profile and contentious” dispute with Chancery Lane over the use of fees.
Law firms are “in good shape financially”, with median income increasing by 5.4% last year, according to Law Society research. The survey found the median fee income for a partner had reached almost £620,000 and a solicitor almost £118,000 – but more partners than last year are drawing too much.
A judge who wrongly questioned the status of a solicitor after doing his own research on the Law Society’s website, has been criticised by the Court of Appeal. The judge at Central London County Court complained that he had prosecuted “too many swindlers” as a barrister, and was “naturally suspicious of everybody, particularly in this court”.