Why there are no foreign lawyers in India…

Friday, October 30th, 2015 at 16:37


I’ve put up a new version of my paper on foreign lawyers and law firms in India, which sounds like there are and there aren’t.

It’s on SSRN.


The Law of Legal Services

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 at 15:49

(thanks to pinoycivilservant)

The market for legal services has changed enormously in the last several years. Regulation, organisation, online delivery and more have altered so as to make the English legal market quite different from most others. I’m not tracing the history of these changes in this post as a large part of this blog has already done this.

Whereas students of change like me avidly follow what’s happening through articles, the trade press and conferences and the like, working lawyers are often bemused by the changes taking place around them. For them the regulatory landscape is transformed.

The recent publication of John Gould’s book The Law of Legal Services (Jordan Publishing; 673pp) will be a mixed relief. The size of the book denotes the growing complexity of legal regulation while simultaneously telling the reader that all she will need to know about the subject.

Gould and his contributors are comprehensive. They start with the regulatory framework, using the Legal Services Act 2007 as the starting point which is followed by the regulators and codes and compliance (chapters 1-3).

Following codes is misconduct and its treatments. There are the types of misconduct–unauthorised practice, overcharging, confidentiality, for example. The ways they are dealt with varies by regulator but each is explained. The last chapter in this section discusses tribunals and the range of sanctions available (chapters 4-6).

The next set of chapters (7-10) are focused on the lawyer-client relationship: the contract, fiduciary duties, lawyers’ negligence and compensation. A thorough reading of these ought to prevent any malfeasance by lawyers as there are many examples and cases that indicate both good and bad practice.

The final chapters (11-13) deal with the business of lawyering, which is something lawyers need a good grasp of as regulators are now in the business of monitoring the business aspect since they may have to wind down failing practices.

Lawyers and those working in legal services have a wide range of organisational forms open to them, whether it be partnership or an Alternative Business Structure. For example, we have Gateley’s, a law firm partnership, that is now a publicly floated company, LegalZoom, an online deliverer of legal services which is an ABS, as is Riverview, another law business. (I’ve covered these elsewhere.)

Given this complexity, even though it is not explicitly stated, the consumer of legal services is the centre of the market. It could be a consumer who needs small business advice, property conveyancing, an international takeover, or someone who wants unbundled legal services (i.e. not the whole package but just part). Lawyers’ responsibilities and accountabilities therefore must align themselves with clients’/consumers’ needs.

This is primarily a book for legal practitioners rather than academics (although they will find it useful as a reference text). It is to be supported by a publisher’s website that will upload updates and links to other materials. Practitioners probably should buy a copy or at least know where a library with a copy is located nearby. The law of lawyering now has a reliable and comprehensive repository.


How do you feel about the future of the legal profession?

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 at 12:07


(thanks to globallegalpost)

Following the brouhaha of Jonathan Sumption’s remarks on equality and diversity in the legal profession and especially the higher judiciary–just be patient and wait 50 years–it’s time to find out what people think about their futures. For those of you interested in following up the debate on Sumption, it’s worth reading Steven Vaughan’s astute response.

The Legal Week Turning Points hub for future lawyers has commissioned a survey which you can complete here. It has questions on diversity and more. The more who complete it the better.

I hope this is the beginning of more sustained research along the lines of the Harvard Law School Career Study.


Solicitors from Hell Don’t Go Away….

Friday, September 18th, 2015 at 13:14

Four years ago I came out of the BBC after a heated radio discussion with the former CEO of the Law Society, Des Hudson, about the website Solicitors from Hell. He was furious with the website for defaming lawyers while I said it’s a manifestation of a feeling among the public that you should tackle: don’t shoot the messenger.

Of course they shot him (Kordowski). The court imposed damages, injunctions and closure. But I pointed out to Des, this is the internet. Solicitors from Hell will pop up elsewhere outside the UK jurisdiction and you won’t be able to do anything about it. Mirrors, dear boy, mirrors….

In a judgment by Mr Justice Warby in the Queen’s Bench Division, the boutique law firm, Brett Wilson, sought and obtained summary judgment against Solicitors from Hell (solicitorsfromhelluk.com) in its latest manifestation this September–damages and an injunction.

I’m not going to rehash the case except to say the judge declared the words used had a defamatory tendency. See paragraph 25 of the judgment. But much of what the judge said referred to bringing unknown defendants to court. The problem being that no one could discover who the operators of this website were. No one ever replied to the plaintiffs’ communications.

WHOIS searches revealed the owner to be Anonymous Speech, a proxy registrant, and appeals to them brought no response. There were two physical addresses, one in Tokyo and another in Panama. The claims were brought against “Persons Unknown”. And successfully so.

Yet Solicitors from Hell is still there. And it’s there in more than one manifestation. There are solicitors fromhelluk.com, solicitorsfromhell.com, as well as cowboysolicitors.com.

I’m not sure what Brett Wilson or the courts think they’ve gained by this. Brett Wilson has a moment’s publicity via the Law Society Gazette saying they were defamed, which will be forgotten, in a flash; a claim for damages that will never be enforced; an injunction that is virtually unenforceable; against the continuation of a newly-publicised website far from the reach of the courts.

This is a losing battle for the legal profession. In fact it’s a bit like wars in the Middle East. It doesn’t matter how much you bomb them, they ain’t going away. Constructive engagement is the only way to go.

You Robot! What Does It Mean to Regulate Artificial Intelligence?

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 18:54

(thanks to howstuffworks?)

There’s a huge amount of discussion in the media now about killer robots annihilating hordes, autonomous (driverless) cars running amok and mowing down people, and at the point of singularity Skynet will say no to being switched off and we are in a continuous war of us against them.

There’s also a huge amount of rubbish being spoken too, so it’s time to introduce some clarity and (real) intelligence to the arguments surrounding us.

My colleague, Dr Paresh Kathrani at the University of Westminster, is organising a debate on the question posed in the title of this post. We will hold it on October 8 at the university.

Paresh has put together a great collection of thinkers in the field. We have

Joanna J Bryson of Bath University’ Computer Science Department. Her web page says: “At Bath I do research in both artificial and natural intelligence, with a particular emphasis on cognitive systems.”

Lisa Webley of Westminster Law School who researches the legal profession with special interest in issues of gender and diversity. She is also fascinated by the changes occurring in the profession occasioned by technology.

Paresh Kathrani of Westminster Law School who instigated this as a result of a longstanding discussion held on Twitter (which rages still). He comes at this through a philosophical interrogation of what it means to be a human agent in a technological age.

Alan Whitfield of the University of West of England where his “work at UWE spans Research and Public Engagement. I conduc​​​t research in Swarm Robotics within the Bristol Robotics Lab. I am director of the Science Communication Unit, and undertake public engagement work centred upon robotics. Within that work I have a particular focus on robot ethics.”

Chrissie Lightfoot of Entrepreneurlawyer.co.uk. Chrissie is one of the most notable thinkers on the future of the legal profession and has written a well-received book on this provocatively titled: The Naked Lawyer.

And, me.

We aim to be kicking off around 6pm. There will be more details soon.

If you want to join the debate early, then start following us on twitter @PKathrani, @j2bryson, @alan_winfield, @TheNakedLawyer, @lisawebley, @JohnAFlood.