Readers will know now where I am coming from: reasoned debate in the firm hope belief that over the top militancy will be counter-productive, especially with QASA. However one very important development has been the nationwide successful attempts to seek common cause with solicitors in the light of the unprecedented threat to their very existence. It is very heartening and of course I support it.
The question is how it may be channelled effectively.
One step is to try to predict what would be the position if ALL the reforms go through and another to anticipate a modified change in which some competition is introduced, but falling short of Tescos Law. It makes sense to consider both.
The extreme reduction unquestionably will disfigure the legal landscape and the loss of choice ultimately increases the possibility of injustice. I have not yet seen the projected loss of employment, but it must be catastrophic. Gone will be generations of high street experience and the sense of identification of long established clients with solicitors that they have always trusted. That is a major political and social question.
Now, set against that the political decision to achieve the projected cuts in the present dire economic climate. Is there a way to square the circle?
There is, but it will require a sea change in our collective organisations.
Assume for the purposes of argument that the joint representations have some limited effect.
I mean by that that new entities will enter the market place, which for convenience sake we will continue to call Tescos law. Assume also that there remain a diminished number of high street practitioners who have been partners in the fight, making working partnerships in the common cause, which a short time ago had not even been discussed
Is there a working model of future unity, short of fusion, capable of practical cooperation?
I firmly believe that would be entirely possible.
So if that vision is correct, looking ahead two or three years could see more than one competitive legal entity. First, Chambers with solicitor members in house. Second, as now, Solicitors firms with barristers in house. Third, working local arrangements which could promote an easy transfer of skills and facilities. Fourth, Tescos Law out there making their own local arrangements with the above three.
This is where we need to get back to hard politics.
This fight so far has been largely internal. Now at last we are putting our public relations on a far higher level. I have argued that for sometime, because you cannot expect a Minister obliged to cut to carry out a volte face without huge public pressure of the kind that arises when eg a specific Health facility is under threat.
That is a long way of saying that we need the public on side.
In passing, I am absolutely sure that reason must be our chosen weapon because that is what we live by and that is the only way we can win. So I absolutely reject any militancy which will destroy our case and I shall continue to argue that position.
But yes to a common cause. The next step may be common representations. Why not?