Here are some highlights from our work last week.
Influencing on behalf of the profession and promoting the profession
The Law Society’s media profile this week:
The Guardian, Independent & The Times all covered a report by parliament’s joint committee on human rights, chaired by Harriet Harman. Echoing our campaign, it found Legal Aid “deserts” have emerged as lawyers withdraw from services that are no longer financially viable, leaving many people unable to obtain access to justice. I’m quoted saying: “Legal aid is truly a lifeline for the vulnerable. We welcome the fact the committee took our evidence on board regarding the impact that changes to legal aid in 2012 have had on the ability of individuals to access justice, and the detrimental impact of the legal aid cuts on wider society.”
The decision to postpone reform of the personal injury market has been met with unanimous approval - even from the insurers baying for change. We were among the voices welcoming the delay. Report in the Gazette
The judicial review brought by the Law Society on cuts to fees for solicitors doing criminal work was reported in The Guardian, Gazette & The Times. A ruling is due in September. Full report in the Gazette.
Women are still being cross-examined in courts by their abusers because the government has failed to fulfil its pledge to reform the law. Resolution joined the Law Society and Women’s Aid in demanding that ministers ban the practice. Report in The Times, p.2 (subscription required).
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has opened a consultation on replacing the current criminal standard of proof required for proving guilt. A spokesperson for the Law Society of England and Wales said: “To help us prepare for this consultation, we sought our members' views on the standard of proof at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal so that we continue to reflect the views of our membership in our policy position.” Full report in the Gazette plus coverage in Legal Futures
Council’s July meeting was reported in the Gazette.
Don’t forget you can read all Law Society press releases by clicking on this link. For live updates follow us on Twitter.
Consultation responses and parliamentary activity, influencing on behalf of the profession:
The Law Society was cited 10 times in a report by the Public Accounts Committee on the ‘transformation of courts and tribunals’. The report is highly critical of HMCTS.
We were also cited seven times in a report by the Justice Select Committee on failures in disclosure of evidence in criminal cases. The report argues there is a lack of leadership which is driving the failures in disclosure.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights report on ‘attitudes to enforcement of human rights’ and legal aid also made use of our evidence raising concerns on access to justice related issues.
Meanwhile the Law Society was name-checked three times during a Westminster Hall debate on domestic abuse and the family courts.
The government has announced that proposed changes to the small claims limit for personal injury cases have been delayed by a year to April 2020. We have welcomed the delay, and urged the government to reconsider the proposals (see Media above).
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs had a successful second oral evidence session as part of its inquiry on the effects of Brexit on the legal services sector. Three peers attended the session. The Law Society provides the secretariat to the group.
I hosted a women in leadership in law roundtable in the House of Lords. Attendees included the House of Commons Deputy Speaker, Dame Eleanor Laing MP and shadow attorney general, Baroness Chakrabarti.
A social media ‘thunderclap’ took place to promote our early advice campaign and encourage people to write to the lord chancellor using our online tool. 223 people took part in the ‘thunderclap’, sharing our message with their combined 402,018 followers.
I met the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice. I also had an introductory call with the new attorney general.
I met Lucy Fraser MP and Nick Hurd MP to discuss Grenfell.
Vice president Simon Davis and I met the Joint 5 local law society members this week and discussed presidential year plans.
Our influencing work internationally:
On 16 July, Eoin Lavelle, EU policy adviser, attended a roundtable discussion on the UK’s future relationship with the EU organised by the UK Permanent Representation to the EU. Katrina Williams, the UK deputy permanent representative to the EU, was chairing.
On 20 July, Rita Giannini, EU policy adviser spoke at the conference on “Rediscovering the EU Project in the light of the Brexit Referendum” at University of East London.
Supporting members at every stage of their career
Some of our upcoming events are:
Webinar: Government funding for apprenticeships: An update from the University of Law
This webinar gives an overview of the Government 90% funding available for training apprentices in small and medium sized law firms. Presented by the University of Law (formerly College of Law), this one-hour session will explain the reasons why it is an excellent opportunity for firms to utilise government funding to train employees, from support staff through to solicitor.
Are you in a holding pattern with your career?
Is hitting a plateau in your career a cause for complaint or complacency? It could be a reason for celebration..
Supporting practice excellence
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff is crowdfunding to help drive a greater use of tech and tools to help those in most in need of legal advice and support. They’re going to launch a pilot with partner Toynbee Hall supporting immigration issues but they need additional funds - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/the-jeanie-project/
She writes: “Cuts to legal aid mean that fewer people are able to access legal advice or representation, and many people with legal problems don’t know where to turn. But you knew that. We think we have a potential solution, using the ground-breaking technology KIM, but we need your help.”
Private Client Section: elderly and vulnerable client care conference 2018
Designed specifically for private client practitioners dealing with the unique challenges of elderly and vulnerable clients, we have brought together lawyers, health and social care experts, policy makers, academics and charity representatives to share their expertise on this complex area.
Commercial litigation conference 2018
The Small Firms Division is dedicated to meeting the needs of all smaller legal businesses, including sole practitioners. The division's flagship annual conferences will take place in London and Leeds, and will provide practitioners with a half-day of small firms-focused conference sessions, practical tips and networking opportunities.
Law Management Section finance and business forum 2018
Registration is open to book your place at this year's Law Management Section finance and business forum.
As always, please feel free to share this update with your constituents unless otherwise specified.
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