Birmingham Post legal column
Monday 22 April 2013
BY PRESIDENT MARTIN ALLSOPP
Spring is here at last, bringing the prospect of better times round the corner. I very much hope the same can be said for the legal profession and for other businesses throughout the Birmingham area.
I am Birmingham Law Society’s new President. I am a partner,in a small firm practising on the High Street and am very honoured indeed to have been asked to represent the region’s legal profession.
This year Birmingham Law Society has given me an opportunity to speak for various High Street practices in the Birmingham area. To do so I intend during my presidential year to meet many people across the region and to visit as many of our town centres as possible
The legal profession, as with many professions within our country, is substantially over-regulated. It is an issue I hope to take up with the authorities during my term: if the economy in Birmingham is to improve, it must do so without being fettered by petty restrictions.
Twenty years ago or so, we entered into a computer age. Computers and their like should, in my opinion, be used by the legal profession as a tool to assist and not as a substitute for sound legal advice. You would not, for instance, expect to receive dental treatment online and the same rules apply, in my opinion, to the legal profession. Solicitors should meet with their clients and clients should conversely meet with their solicitors. There are still a few of us left on the High Street and I have to say that in the West Midlands region, the solicitors that I come across on a daily basis are extremely client friendly.
All solicitors have qualifications that they must have attained before they are entitled to obtain a Practising Certificate. Whilst online legal services purport to offer the same services as a solicitor, I find in practise that this is often not always the case. You should choose a solicitor who is trusted by the family or by personal recommendation or if neither, then a solicitor in the area in which you work or live. Why would you want to be referred to a practice to be “handled” by a case manager in an organisation many miles away from where you live or carry on business?
Many of you will have read or heard about the recent Legal Aid cuts that took effect on
1 April. The full effect of the cuts has not yet been felt by the public or profession. Sadly over the coming months there is likely to be an erosion of legal services in specific areas where the public were formerly protected by the Legal Aid safety net.
I regard such protection as absolutely essential and it is the bedrock of the Birmingham Law Society that access to justice should be available to all and not only to those who can afford it. Should you wish to retain the supply of legal services in your area, then pop in and discuss any problem that you may have with your local solicitor. I am confident that you both will be mutually satisfied with the outcome.