Birmingham Post Legal Column
6 January 2014
BY MARTIN ALLSOPP
As I reflect on the year gone by I have come to understand more of the difficulties of the presidential role representing the profession across the city.
There are many firms, particularly those specialising in property and corporate work, for whom 2013 was not as difficult as anticipated back in January. But for many small firms, particularly those specialising in criminal work or those dependent on legal aid, 2013 was a truly dreadful year.
The recession has certainly caused problems but just as the British people fare when under duress, so has the legal profession continued to meet its challenges head on.
Spiralling overheads, professional indemnity insurance premiums, the cost of practicing certificates and competition for the provision of legal services, not to mention the aforesaid withdrawal or reduction of legal aid for many types of previously state-funded work have driven a number of firms to the wall and, as I write this article, it is estimated that more than 100 firms countrywide could face potential closure from January 14 for failure to obtain compulsory insurance cover.
Those firms undertaking crime, family law and personal injury advice face the most serious challenges for 2014 and it is anticipated that a number of small-medium sized firms specialising in these areas of work may be forced to close.
Indeed, the problems for the profession as a whole have caused pundits to estimate that up to 20 per cent of firms may close in the next two years and that a startling proportion of up to 50 per cent will have either closed or merged within the next five years. These are frightening statistics which are bound to have an impact on the way legal services will be delivered to the public. But for the moment, just like that famous British bulldog, the profession will continue to battle.