An exchange between a crooked lawyer & a client who has been brave enough to question their poor service, making a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, usually goes something like the following ...
I (crooked lawyer) ruined your life, ruined your health, ruined your business, embezzled your money, stole your house from under you & left you homeless - and we got away with it - so too bad, there's nothing you can do about it, and if you try, we, as a profession, will ground you into the dirt and make you regret the day you ever used a lawyer ...
A common enough experience which thousands of 'disgruntled clients' have faced over the years when making a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland against their oh-so-nice lawyer who then turned out to be nothing less than a big rogue out to milk them for every penny .. and then, of course, the Law Society turned their vast resources against the client too ... making their lives a living hell.
Well, there are some in the legal profession who want to patch that up, by saying "Sorry" before they say the rest of the line ... without of course, any thoughts of proper and just compensation for their actions in the first place.
Simply, the legal profession wants to be able to say sorry, and then just get away with what they did to their clients without punishment. Great stuff, isn't it ... almost one could say, the lawyers equivalent of the confessional, but without penance or repentance.
Many clients of crooked lawyers I know who have made complaints to the Law Society of Scotland over some of the most heinous conduct by their solicitors towards them, would want a lot more than a "sorry" or an expression of regret, as John Sturrock puts forward in the Scotsman earlier this week.
Some people over the years have asked me if I would have accepted an apology from Scotland's most famous crooked lawyer - Andrew Penman. No I would not such an apology - because I know he wouldn't mean it, and he would go on to do the same to others, just as he has actually done - and got away with that too.
Andrew Penman, of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso knew full well what he was doing, and deliberately embarked on a scheme to ruin my family, along with notorious Scottish Borders accountant Norman J Howitt, of Welch & Co, Accountants. Hawick & Galashiels
We are talking about people who delighted at my mothers death, and hoped for mine too .. people who also falsified reports to the Police to cover up their own vast frauds & fiddles, people who deliberately set out to deceive Banks, financial institutions, and even the Inland Revenue, in a well planned scheme to ruin my family and take what was there for themselves.
So, would anyone really accept an apology from such people ? I doubt it - and the same has happened to countless clients of crooked lawyers & other crooked professionals over the years, so Mr Sturrock, and your friends in the Law Society of Scotland - "Sorry" will simply not do.
Rather, a full review of the prejudice, discrimination, corruption & twisted practices which the Law Society of Scotland have mounted against clients who dared make complaints against their corrupt legal representatives, needs to be put into motion by the Scottish Executive & Scottish Parliament - and proper & just compensation paid out to all those victims of crooked lawyers dirty tricks, frauds, embezzlement & other dirty money grabbing schemes which have been implemented against clients wholesale over the years while the Law Society of Scotland have proudly & corruptly self regulated Scotland's legal profession - making sure the cream of the crooked get off at every turn.
Save your "Sorry" for after all of that, Mr Lawyer ...
A reminder to you all ... If you have experienced poor treatment from the Law Society of Scotland in a complaint or lost money to a crooked lawyer and nothing was done about it, Please sign Petition PE1033 and begin the campaign for redress and resolution to the way clients have been discriminated against by crooked lawyers & the Law Society of Scotland under their decades old prejudiced self regulatory complaints system ..
Earlier articles covering the aims of Petition PE1033 can be found here :
Article to follow, with link, from the Scotsman :
Mon 23 Apr 2007
'Sorry' can be worth its weight in gold...
"I NOW understand the human side and the hurt you felt. It's a people business and we need to work together... I am truly sorry that this happened."
These were the words of the senior partner of a professional services firm to a client. In a face-to-face meeting, he had listened to the strong concerns expressed by the client about a transaction that had not worked out as the client had expected.
The client blamed his advisers. The firm did not accept that they were at fault. Nevertheless, by addressing the sense of frustration directly, the senior partner brought to an end what would have become a long-running and expensive dispute - both monetarily and in reputation.
We hear a lot these days about the giving of apologies at national and international level for events that have occurred generations ago.
As a mediator, however, my interest is in the frequency of occasions in which apologies can play a vital role in commercial disputes. Often, people say "It's only about the money" or "Let's cut through this and get straight to the figures".
Nearly always, even in an apparently hard-nosed commercial transaction, there is a further dimension. At a human level, someone feels slighted, offended, angry, deceived or hurt by what someone else on the other side has said or done.
If this is not addressed, the prospects of achieving a sensible negotiation and a satisfactory resolution can be greatly diminished, because the sense of being hard done by will resurface and plague discussions about the commercial aspects.
On the other hand, I have seen notional claims reduce by hundreds of thousands of pounds when a claimant has feelings of anger or hurt acknowledged. We often do not fully appreciate the value of self esteem - and the cost of ignoring it.
Take, for example, a contractor who had invested money, time and effort in a project. He felt that the beneficiaries of this, with whom he had a number of contracts, had deliberately tried to put him out of business. There were claims and counter-claims. In reality, however, until the sense of injustice had been explored and understood, recognised and acknowledged, no progress could be made.
Or take a long-serving and dedicated employee who felt that she had been bullied and harassed by a superior. Internal grievance procedures had found no evidence of wrongdoing but the sense of hurt at the treatment she perceived she had received at the hands of her employer was deep-seated.
She became ill and clinically depressed. She made a large claim against her employer. The matter dragged on for many months. It took a series of face-to-face meetings for the scale of the impact on all concerned to be appreciated.
When her employer expressly recognised her feelings, acknowledged the impact on her family, and apologised for the effect that events had had on her, the lifting of a heavy burden was palpable.
This did not constitute an acceptance by the employer of liability for what had happened but it created an environment for constructive conversations about how to move on.
There are distinctions between apologies, acknowledgements and expressions of regret.
Saying "I am sorry that this happened to you" is different from saying "I am sorry for what we did that day".
Different again is saying "I understand what you have said and appreciate what you have been through".
Each may have its place according to the circumstances.
It is important that whatever is said is expressed thoughtfully, clearly, unequivocally and sincerely - and face-to-face if at all possible. A follow-up letter reinforcing the points made can be helpful, as people often don't absorb everything in the anxiety of the moment. Consistency is critical.
They say that "sorry seems to be the hardest word" but it can be worth its weight in gold.
Not content with giving us the laughable, if pathetic idea of saying "Sorry" to avoid punishment for ruining lives or paying out compensation .. there was also this other interesting article which reports on a legal firm hiring a 'focus group' to tell them what people think of them ... and the final report sounds about as believable as the unemployment figures for the entire UK .. seasonally adjusted of course ... ! oh .. and the article was of course, written, by .. a lawyer !
Further article from the Scotsman, with link :
Focus groups give law firm the power to 'see themselves as others see them'
ROBERT Burns wrote: "O' wad some Power the giftie gie us tae see oursels as ithers see us." Firms in the modern world now have that power. Few large business would consider making decisions without bringing in professionals who can judge what the public think. From governments assessing policy to Cadbury launching a new chocolate bar, it's all done with focus groups and market research to test the public's attitude.
Such research is not normally associated with lawyers - but our law firm decided to find out exactly what clients and non-clients thought of us and what people were looking for in a firm of solicitors.
Like many professional firms having to meet the demands of modern business, we at Maxwell MacLaurin solicitors in Glasgow and Edinburgh are continually assessing where we are in the market and updating our business plan to reflect that assessment. At the end of last year, we decided to break new ground and follow the example of politics and big business in seeking the opinions of individuals who were not clients, as well as the opinions of some of our own clients.
This was to be so much more than just a satisfaction survey, so we employed Scotinform, an Edinburgh-based market research company, to find out how Maxwell MacLaurin is perceived by clients and non-clients alike.
We now have a valuable 14-page document telling us exactly what people think of our firm, all based on direct answers to questions that were given to our clients and non-clients in focus groups held in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
My partners and I are delighted with the report, not only because it includes findings of a very high level of satisfaction with the firm and its people but also because it gives us a very clear indication of what marketing strategy we should undertake in the future. We are now in active discussion with One O'Clock Gun, an Edinburgh-based design company, to implement that strategy.
What the survey has also done is help us to recognise the importance of existing client retention. Sheila Muncie, of Scotinform summed up how some clients feel about Maxwell Maclaurin as follows: "Clients in Glasgow and Edinburgh highlighted the very good personal relationship they have with Maxwell Maclaurin and their property department. They frequently used the work 'caring'.
"In Glasgow, where the company has been established for a long time, loyalty was incredibly high. The clients almost thought of Maxwell Maclaurin as 'part of the family'."
We have a very strong client base and we were aware the majority of our business comes from client referrals. Some of our clients are third or fourth generation and nearly every new client will drop a name of an existing one during their first meeting.
Through One O'Clock Gun, we are now also going to reach out from that strong base to new contacts and clients.
It was just as well Burns himself wasn't in the focus groups, as his views on the legal profession have already been well documented. Mind you, as a client, he would have kept the family law division of Maxwell Maclaurin very busy!
• Peter Duff is the managing partner at Maxwell Maclaurin.