On the 15th December, the long-awaited Report of the Review of the Regulatory Framework for Legal Services in England and Wales was published by Sir David Clementi. It’s a serious and large-scale review of how legal services are carried out in the UK, and it’s been viewed with increasing trepidation by bits of the legal industry. Fortunately, the Legal Services Review team who did it appear to have their heads screwed on right, much as does Sir David himself. The report is published in HTML as well as PDF, and that HTML is pretty accessible (it’s table-based, but hey). Sir David himself seems to have taken a cold and clear-eyed look at legal provision in the UK, and there are a couple of superb bits in the report. It was clear in advance of the report that it would support LDPs, organisations employing both solicitors and barristers (this isn’t the norm), and the idea that such LDPs might be owned by a larger commercial organisation. The Bar Council and others were resisting this, claiming that being owned by a commercial concern might corrupt the poor innocent lawyers and conflict with their ethical mores. Clementi, in response to this concern, unleashes this mighty zinger:
It should not be permissible for the owner, under the terms of the LDP’s regulatory conditions, to interfere in any client case or to have access to any individual client files or client information. What the owner does have a right to seek, from the money he invests in the business, is a proper profit. But then lawyers are not uninterested in such matters either. The notion that for lawyers, unlike businessmen, making money is merely a happy by-product of doing their professional duty has limited resonance with the public. F/54
Nice one, Sir David. We like you, yes we do.