As predicted, Law Society of Scotland’s ‘one profession’ conference result : More client rip-offs on the way. ANOTHER DECADE OF LEGAL RIP-OFFS via poor regulation, consistently poor quality legal services, the worst levels of access to justice in the entire UK & the lowest possible form of consumer protection when things go wrong between clients & solicitors, is on the way for unsuspecting & unwary consumers of legal services in Scotland, according to the Law Society of Scotland ‘new strategy’ for the next decade up to 2020, published earlier this week as a result of the society’s annual conference : “Law in Scotland- One Profession”.
According to the Law Society’s Press Release following its annual conference, the society stated its new strategic aim as 'to lead and support a successful and respected Scottish legal profession' in its 'Towards 2020' strategy document and has set out five principal objectives against which it will assess and measure its performance over the coming years.
The latest ‘key objectives’ announced, which remain unachievable even after SIXTY YEARS of the Law Society of Scotland’s existence, are :
Excellent solicitor professionalism and reputation (Ignoring huge levels of fraud & theft involving clients funds, legal aid fraud, involvement in organised crime, tax fraud, criminality, etc is on the rise within the profession)
Law Society of Scotland members are trusted advisers of choice (Trust a member of the Law Society of Scotland, kiss goodbye to your life as you knew it before legal difficulties, home repossession, faltering finances, personal bankruptcy & family break up all set in as a result of clients misplaced trust)
Law Society of Scotland members are economically active and sustainable (Economically active enough to inflate fee notes & play clients along for years, charging for work which in most cases never leads to a solution to the client’s legal problems)
The Law Society of Scotland is the professional body and regulator of choice (Another decade of corrupt regulation of complaints against crooked lawyers where solicitors cover up for their colleagues)
The Law Society of Scotland is a high performing organisation (High performing for solicitors, non performing for clients)
The Law Society of Scotland’s vision for next 10 years - we should expect more multi-million pound crooked lawyers. The now familiar annual claims from the Law Society of Scotland cut little truth in terms of reality, as the levels of frauds committed by crooked lawyers against their clients are significantly on the rise in Scotland, doubtless due to the recession & general downturn in business which has brought about many new creative ways by law firms to rip off clients, including use of Scotland’s Sheriff Courts to pursue clients for alleged fees due for non existent work on court cases which commonly never see a court room or a legal remedy.
Law Society President Cameron Ritchie. Commenting on the Law Society’s desire to remain in charge of exactly who in Scotland it decides should have access to justice, the Society's current president, Cameron Ritchie, said: "The pace of change for the legal profession, like others, has been tremendous in recent years and of course there has been the additional challenge of the economic downturn. It's vital for any successful organisation to take time to step back from the day to day operations and look at where we are headed. We must plan what our key priorities should be and how we can best anticipate future opportunities and challenges in order to properly support the profession, which in turn helps our members better serve their own clients, now and into the future."
The Law Society further stated that a review of its work was initiated by its Council and the final strategy, approved by Council members last month, has had input from groups of members, faculties and firms, as well as senior management and staff at the Society. The Council has considered economic, social and political change which is likely to impact the legal sector and the opportunities these change could bring in addition to any challenges for members.
The statement did not make any mention the Council of the Law Society of Scotland was branded “fundamentally dishonest at its core” by a now former Council Member, John McGovern who, it is claimed “has been critical of the Society's policy on ABS, and has campaigned against the dual functions of representation and regulation being vested in the Society, amongst other issues.”.
Law Society President Cameron Ritchie again : "The outlook for the next few years remains challenging and we know that solicitors will continue to feel the effects of a tough economic climate. Social change will also impact on our members as consumers of legal services become increasingly well informed and will seek the best and most cost effective services available to them. This makes reputation and quality assurance for solicitors and their firms even more important. As a professional body, it will be our role to promote a deeper understanding of the solicitor brand to the public.
Mr Ritchie said the Law Society was now looking to bring in more female solicitors into the profession. he continued : "The legal sector itself is changing and we are seeing a younger profession with the gender balance swinging towards females. There are also pressures on some specific areas of legal practice, such as the criminal bar, and a growing number of 'employed status' solicitors."
Fergus Ewing, Communities Minister in 2010 was made a laughing stock after Law Society forced him to announce major pro-lawyer changes to a wider-consumer-choice-in-legal-services law. The Law Society also praised the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, (a much watered down out version of the UK Legal Services Act 2007) which took the SNP Scottish Government three years longer than Westminster MPs to consider, and was only passed after the Law Society heavily amended its intentions, at one point turning Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing into a shrivelled-up laughing stock after Mr Ewing was forced by the Law Society to withdraw major parts of the reforming legislation which had intended to put consumers in charge of their own access to justice although not to the same degree as consumers in England & Wales enjoy. Such were the amendments ordered by the Law Society to the Scottish Government’s legal services bill, the latest timetable from the Scottish Government has indicated that alternative business structures are unlikely to become a reality until at least summer 2012.
An earlier article reporting on how the Legal Services (Scotland) Act was passed, is here : 'Choice' but not as we know it : Legal Services Bill passed, Scots access to justice remains mostly under Law Society's control and the chequered history of the Legal Services Bill at the Scottish Parliament can be read here : Legal Services Bill for Scotland, giving consumers no access to justice.
Law Society President Cameron Ritchie added: "In addition to this we also have to be aware of the political context in which we work and the changes coming down the track which will affect the profession. Given the cross party support for the Scotland bill we can predict further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament and we know there is strong political will to see reforms proposed by Lord Gill introduced. We await the outcomes of the ongoing reviews by Lord Carloway and Lord McCluskey. Within such a period of change, we want everyone, whether they are a solicitor or member of the public, to be able to understand our organisation's purpose and vision for the next five to 10 years."
The Scots public do not need to wait to understand the Law Society of Scotland’s purpose & vision for the next ten years, as the last two decades of record levels of client fraud & corruption within the Scottish legal profession, held together by the Law Society and its persistent crop of leaders who ensure the legal profession’s vested interests come before consumers, serve as warning from the past the same will continue until fully independent regulation of legal services is a reality, and anti-consumer closed shop institutions such as the Law Society of Scotland are consigned to the dustbin if history.