Monday, July 24, 2006

Standards of the Scottish legal profession revealed to be poor, even from University stage ...

Working on legal and political stories behind the scenes doesn't allow me to keep up with my blog, but rest easy in the knowledge that a few articles appearing in the press will be down to me, even if the journalists who are writing the articles, and the targets of those news articles, don't actually know it.

Anyway, while the Law Society of Scotland wants us to believe that their members - the some 10,000 solicitors in Scotland are among the cream of society, being intelligent, honest, etc ... the obvious fact of the matter, judging by the poor levels of client service and high rate of client complaints is that legal services in Scotland are subject to systemic corrupt and prejudicial practice by members of Scotland's much vaunted legal profession.

The arguement over the years (one I've faced myself, relating to the Andrew Penman complaint), is that when a lawyer has put in the work over the years to obtain their qualitications, all that work shouldn't go to waste just because they have either ripped off a client or ruined their lives ... that is at least, the logic of the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland.

However, the way in which law students gain their law degrees and qualifications has now come to light .. portraying a flawed system, which has obviously allowed many crooks into the legal profession over the years who have come to light by way of stories of ripping off their clients, ruining lives, dodging complaints, etc.

Over the dealings I have had with the Law Society of Scotland, I had given thought to the way in which those who study law actually view the likes of me, or other clients who complain against their lawyers actions .. and to test this out, I got myself into a group of law students for a few discussions on the subject of law and the legal profession.

My observations were quite staggering ... while some of them were professing to be honest, hard working, wanted to do something for the public, some of them wishing to change appallingly discriminatory legislation ..etc .. only one of the group, a female member, who later went on to be a journalist, had any sympathy for clients whose lawyers handled their affairs badly. The rest of the group treated the whole thing as a joke .. some even openly stating that "clients deserved to be ripped off" .. really, quite a worrying attitute for an area of business, which everyone in the land has to use at one point or another in their lives.

What this illustrated to me, was that the Law Society's claim of professinalism and honesty within the legal profession - was null and void - from the very start .. and no wonder lawyers were in a position where they regard it as almost their right to embezzel clients funds or steal from dead clients estates ... because the legal profession breeds this culture from the very start.

One lawyer I had used over the years - David Reid - who went on to rip me off and take a stress leave until the complaint had been fiddled by his buddies at the Law Society, once said to me that I should have been a lawyer myself .. but to be part of a gang of criminals is not something I would have welcomed ... a bit of a stain on my character .. just as being a lawyer in Scotland seems to be these days - and all you Scottish lawyers can thank the likes of Andrew Penman, Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland, and the rest of the gang over in Drumsheigh Gardens for giving that impression to the public.

Read on for the article, oddly enough from "The Scotsman", on Professor Alistair Bonnington's view of the legal profession today .. and all you law students take note ... pracitse honesty .. or we will be watching you ...

Professor attacks quality of law schools

SCOTLAND'S law schools were yesterday charged by a leading lawyer with turning out sub-standard graduates. He also accused universities of putting profits before standards.

Professor Alastair Bonnington claimed legal education was being dumbed down and accused law schools of making the subject an easy option to increase their profits with boosted student numbers.

In a scathing article in the current issue of the Law Society Journal, written to reflect on his retirement after 25 years' teaching, Prof Bonnington said that studying law had become much easier than it was 30 years ago and that law schools hand out 2:1 honours degrees almost as a matter of course.

He also complained there was a paucity of teachers who had actually practised law employed at Scottish law schools.

The article, which the Law Society of Scotland was quick to point out was Prof Bonnington's "personal opinion", provoked outrage at Scotland's university law schools.Professor David Carey-Miller, head of the law school at Aberdeen University, said: "I would vehemently disagree with almost everything Alastair is saying."

He said that in a recent survey five out of the top 20 law schools in the whole of the UK were Scottish. "The fundamental reason for these schools appearing in this list is high standards," said Prof Carey-Miller.

Professor Colin Reid, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Accountancy at Dundee University, said: "It is hardly surprising that many students are achieving good honours results since well-qualified students enter the law schools where more thought is being given to teaching and learning than ever before.

"Moreover Dundee is unique in offering qualifying law degrees for Scotland, England and Wales and Northern Ireland. We are, therefore, very conscious of the differences between the various legal systems."

Prof Bonnington, solicitor to BBC Scotland and a visiting professor at Glasgow Law School, said he had major concerns that students today did not understand Scottish law as "it is taught little and seldom" by academics who lack "necessary practical skills".

And lamenting the lack of intellectual rigour and vocational training, he noted that 2:1 degrees are dished out to "almost everyone", while university administrations milk law schools as "cash cows".

Prof Bonnington said: "Today, Scottish law schools admit almost everyone to study honours and award almost everyone a 2:1 degree. It appears that Scots law is taught little and seldom in some law schools."


mags said...

great article to start my week. well, what do you expect ? they just became crooks overnight ?

I've heard before that law students often joke about finding new ways to fleece the clients so you & Bonnington are correct.

Bad teaching and crooked attitudes within the profession breed more crooks.

Coffee With Kate said...

good article, exposing the rot.....and I commend you on the page lay-out and colour.

Coffee With Kate said...

good article, exposing the rot.....and I commend you on the page lay-out and colour.