The Law Business: 29th April to 5th May

Welcome to the year's 17th edition of the weekly 'Law Business' column brought to you by the SundayLawReview team. 

Legal Aid lawyers' favourite headline of the week and perhaps the most retweeted of all our tweets was Oliver Wright's piece from The Independent, 'It doesn’t take a lawyer to realise this attack on legal aid will have a deleterious effect on justice'. In his piece Wright lays into a stringent attack on the Conservative-led coalition government's plan to reform the justice system. The 800 hundred year old tradition of fair and open access to justice is at stake in these reforms. The proposed savings of £200 million from the Legal Aid budget is likely to exacerbate the challenging times that the legal profession is already experiencing. The game at play is rather a dangerous one for all public defendants as the unjustified blanket image of the 'blood-sucking lawyer' as portrayed by the right wing media makes it very difficult for the profession to earn public sympathy and count on the likes of anti-polltax mass protests of yesteryears.  

One is left to wonder if this is clever politics or a genuine attempt to balance the budget. Since Legal Aid work often involves representing those with little or no means to file an effective defence or bring a case to the courts, it is inconceivable to imagine any so called 'blood-sucking lawyer' working in this field should they be only interested in financial gains. The plan to slash nearly £2 billion from the Justice budget include possible changes to legal aid in criminal law, fee cuts of up to 17.5%, price-competitive tendering for Legal Aid contracts and clients no longer being able to choose their own defence lawyer. Lawyers in Wales have decided upon strike action in protest. 

Last week, the Guardian highlighted issues relating to further cuts in the legal aid budget aimed at prisoners wishing to complain. Earlier in April, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling had announced that prisoners should not be entitled to state funding on unnecessary complaints about the prison system. In defence of his boss, Justice Minister Tom McNally responded in a letter to the Guardian citing that the original article was confused about the nature of these proposed cuts, and that 'the prison discipline procedures and probation complaints system were also available for issues to be resolved efficiently and effectively'. The very cogent response to this letter came from representatives of the Prisoners Advice Service, Association of Prison Lawyers & Howard League for Penal Reform amongst others, arguing that 'the recent government announcements seek to remove is any effective funding for the majority of legal issues faced by prisoners, such as all internal disciplinary measures like governor adjudications and segregation, the separation of mothers and babies in the specialist mother and baby units, and any resettlement issues'. 

There had been a number of interesting debates during the week on prisons, prisoners and probation ranging from how can prisoners 'work harder' when they've got nothing to do, cutting prisoners' privileges will add to the pressures in jail, when the people running the prisons make a profit from the prisoners, prison populations do not go down, why prison uniforms are a bad idea based on evidence that they are a serious threat to attempts at rehabilitation and that the only effective solution to cutting the number of youth offenders is state-funded young offenders' institutions offering more education. These debates are not going to go away any time soon.

Four Minutes and two seconds is a long dream but it would appear that a recent survey by the hotel chain Travelodge suggests that lawyers are among the nation's biggest day dreamers with 8 in 10 claiming that such dreams about potential success help them edge ever closer to the brink of Rumpolesque legal victory. Such dreams are always a pleasant break away from the harsh reality of cuts, ABS challengers and Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates, and should they lead to broadening the client base as Swiss lawyer Antoine Goetschel has pulled off, daydreams are a welcoming antidote to the dreary winter that we have at long last left behind.      

The purpose of this column is to take a serious look at what happened in the business of law within UK as reported by online legal publications throughout last week.

The most interesting articles on developments, compliance, business of law within UK or as well as international developments of interest to UK law firms and legal practioners: 

Interesting articles on the study of law, legal training, pupillage and legal academia: 

Articles of the week:

The UK and international articles of the week are pieces selected by @TheLawMap tweeting team based on recommendations from friends and followers of daily law news blog.

  • English Pen: we've got a defamation bill but it's how we act that matters | Jo Glanville - Guardian Media Blog  
  • Would a new law narrow the gap between rich and poor? | David Cornock - BBC Wales   
  • Copyright law: Five ways to protect authorship | Alastair Reid - 
  • Casteism equal to racism? UK law holds key | Subodh Ghildiyal - Times of India 
  • Should parliament give itself more powers? Privilege such as free speech is surprisingly limited | Joshua Rozenberg | Guardian Law 
  • Fifth of Brits don’t familiarise themselves with foreign laws | Staff Reporter - 
  • Clothed in Misery: Latest deady chapter in the story of miserable labor conditions in the global garment industry | M T Anderson - The New York Times  
  • Discrimination: Ageism factor faces critical legal test in the UK | Gill Plimmer - Financial Times 

News from the Law Firms, Chambers & ABS: 

Friday 3rd May
Thursday 2nd May
Wednesday 1st May
Tuesday 30th April
Monday 29th April


We would like to thank all the publications cited in this week's column. Please notify via @TheLawMap Twitter handle of any errors or omissions.


TheLawMap Publications at a glance: - Daily Law News Archive - Weekly Law Business News Blog
Law Specials - A compendium of articles and interviews on Justice & Society
Wig - Daily Newspaper Focusing on Law & Society
MetaLawIndex - Informal Blog chronicling life behind the scene at LawNewsIndex & Twitter