I must confess I had no idea the 'independent' complaints body I helped create to investigate complaints against lawyers would end up turning regulation of the legal profession into an industry with its appointments & salaries scales.
As I note from Scottish Law Reporter, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are seeking to fill the post of "Head of Investigations", which I assume will mirror the role of Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland's "Director of Regulation" who has headed the infamous Client Relations Office for decades.
The post of Head of Investigations has a salary band up to £1400, 00 per week ! so as you can see the legal profession, and very strangely, their allies in the current Scottish Government, are being very very kind to themselves ...
Given the fact that complaints against solicitors in Scotland rose to around eight thousand a year at one stage (with the Law Society 'seasonally adjusting' the figures down to five thousand) ... most clients and solicitors alike don't think Mr Yelland did or does a particularly good job of things ... and of course with the Law Society's outgoing Chief Executive Douglas Mill choosing to personally interfere in many cases of complaint against legal colleagues ... many client complaints were simply binned or prolonged for years with no action at the end of it.
In short, the Law Society of Scotland, laundered complaints against solicitors, as drug dealers launder their profits from sales of their nefarious wares.
Now of course, all that is supposedly to end, with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission coming along to 'independently' regulate complaints against solicitors, and we supposedly will have a 'new dawn' of honesty & accountability.
Hold on a minute though, that might not happen because many of the same people who worked in the Client Relations Office under the administration of Philip Yelland, are going to or are now working for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.
So, did you make a serious complaint against a solicitor in the past few years, where maybe your assets had been embezzled, or you had lost a property or legal case due to the negligence or incompetence of your solicitor, and got nowhere when the Law Society studied that complaint ?
Well ... chances are, the same person who 'handled' your complaint into the dustbin, will now be working for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission !
What are the chances these same people are going to have a great leap of honesty and do any different from what they have been trained for so long to do all these years ... which is ensuring that complaints against lawyers go nowhere ?
Picture this for a minute - a client of a solicitor who lost a legal action which ultimately cost them their home, business & livelihood, made a complaint to the Law Society in 2003.
The complaint was then investigated, and despite an overwhelming amount of evidence to show the solicitor acted with negligence, and even embezzled around £52,000, into one of his personal bank accounts, the Law Society despite all the evidence, whitewashed the solicitor and let him off the hook, so the client who was ruined, gets nothing, and the solicitor concerned went onto do the same to further clients in 2004, 2006, and 2007.
The staff member at the Law Society of Scotland who dealt with the initial complaint against that solicitor in 2003, was then found to have dealt with the three further complaints against the same solicitor involving the same kinds of actions, including embezzlement against three further clients who were also financially ruined and had their complaints against the same solicitor binned, while the solicitor is allowed to carry on in practice !
That same Law Society staff member then transfers to the new 'independent' Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to carry on the same work they were doing at the Law Society of Scotland's Client Relations Office which has let 'crooked lawyers' off the hook on so many occasions previously.
Does anyone honestly think that such person should be working at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission or indeed have anything to do with regulation against the legal profession ?
I have reported on previous issues regarding the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and particularly a set of rather sleazy appointments, which are currently being investigated.
You can read those earlier articles here :
I have to wonder if this new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission will be any different from the Law Society's Client Relations Office of old ... and whether the will exists at the Justice Department to ensure the SLCC performs its duty properly ... given the current Justice Secretary seems to be 'out to lunch' on issues concerning the legal profession ...
Just for good measure, here is the job advertisement from the SLCC .. don't worry, I won't be applying for it myself !. Perhaps another Law Society stooge can be found to fill the position .... although I certainly hope not !
At times, we all have to put our trust in the legal profession. If we're disappointed with the results, confidence in the whole justice system suffers.
That's why with the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act (2007), The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has been established. The Commission will replace all functions of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman as well as some complaints areas of the Law Society of Scotland. The Commission has been created to receive, investigate and resolve complaints made against legal practitioners and brings together the powerful combination of Commissioners from both the legal profession and the general public. The Commission will deliver an independent resolution of complaints without delay and effectively.
The Commission will be based in Edinburgh, will commence in October 2008 and will employ around 45 staff. Before we start work we need to build our management team. We need people with the vision, determination and drive to lead our people, achieve objectives and play a central role in making a real impact for the people of Scotland.
Head of Investigations (HoI) Salary Band £58,599 to £72,717 pa
This is a crucial role in the Commission and requires to be filled by a candiate of the highest calibre to work within the Senior Management Team.
The principal function of the HoI will be the efficient management of the Investigations Operations Team numbering around 30 employees and ensuring that policy and processes are delivered in line with stated objectives and that caseload key performance indicators are met and exceeded. The HoI will be come involved in specific cases that are atypical because they are unususal or precedential. As HoI you will line manage the team of Investigation Team Managers who in turn manage Complaints Investigators and Support Officers. The role requires that you ensure that systems are robust and respond to process change requirements where necessary and to advise the Chief Executive Officer accordingly. The HoI will also manage our Mediation and Gateway Teams.
You will have experience in complaints handling and be professional qualified. The role demands an individual with excellent organisational skills, a skilful communicator at Board and team level and a sharp analytical mind to exercise sound judgement. The ability to handle complex and sensitive issues and to produce reports and the interpretation of data is essential. You will have a track record of significant achievement.
You will be highly motivated and enjoy the challenge of working in an environment that requires adherence to process, the speedy yet consistent turnaround of legal complaints whilst continuing to develop systems to suit the ongoing needs of the Commission.
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is an Equal Opportunities Employer and welcome applications from all sectors of the community.
To download an application form and job description and find out more about the SLCC visit our website at : http://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.com/
Application forms can also be obtained by telephoning Julie Muir on 0131 224 8242.
To apply for this role please send your CV, application form and covering letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org or apply in writing to: Julie Muir, SLCC Project Team, 2nd Floor West, St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG.
Closing date for applications: Friday 6 June 2008