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Archive for November 7th, 2009

Dear Reader,

You may well find that drinking a glass of Argentine Malbec on a Saturday afternoon at 4.00 pm with a slice of lemon cake a strange thing to do and, more often than not, I would agree with you. But today, I made a bacon, egg, mushroom and onion pie (some people prefer the French word quiche) and a lemon sponge cake. At 4.00 this afternoon I was rather bored.  By 4.15, a glass of Malbec and a slice of lemon pie consumed, I was in excellent spirits. I may do this again.

I am grateful to Mark Pack (Via Matt Wardman) for noting this wonderful gem from Hansard

It’s February 1940. The country is at war. The question of the moment: inter-species enmity.

Sir Arthur Heneage: Is it not a fact that foxes are the greatest enemy of rats and mice?

John Morgan: Cats.

I followed up on a few more Hansard gems from related posts on Mark’s page… I did enjoy this one…

In (partial) fairness to the government department concerned, this is from May 1994:

Mr Newton The Privy Council has no plans to use the internet.

The irony of the new MP Salary Czar being paid £100,000 (not a bad little earner to shuffle a few economic indices about and rather more than MPs earn as a basic) has been compounded by The Telegraph revelation that Professor Sir Ian Kennedy (late of Kings’ Colege, London – a fine lawyer) is a close friend of Alastair Campbell, spin-meister in chief to the Blair administration. So close in fact…. “that (Kennedy) helped advise him on his appearance before the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly, the government scientist.He also holidayed with Mr Campbell, was even the spin doctor’s “phone a friend” on a celebrity episode of the television quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”  (Kennedy got that one wrong and, as a result, Campbell lost £7000.  An omen for MPs?

SuperPlod has been at it again.. and by the term SuperPlod…I am referring to the successors to the Special Patrol group a group of police Rambos who caused a lot of trouble in the old days and who had to change their behaviour and change their name to the territorial support group (TSG).

The Guardian has the story… and, sadly, it speaks for itself…. I accept that Police officers face mindless violence every day and particularly, on a Friday and Saturday night from drunken yobbos and Yobettes – and most people applaud them for their courage and humour when doing it…. but there were problems with a few officers at the G20 and … but surely this can’t be right?

Scotland Yard faced calls for an “ethical audit” of all officers in its controversial riot squad tonight after figures revealed that they had received more than 5,000 complaint allegations, mostly for “oppressive behaviour”.

Details of all allegations lodged against the Metropolitan police territorial support group (TSG) over the last four years reveal that only nine – less than 0.18% – were “substantiated” after an investigation by the force’s complaints department.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, were described as evidence of a “culture of impunity” that makes it almost impossible for members of the public to lodge successful complaints against the Met’s 730 TSG officers.

I did enjoy this…

SWANSEA, Wales, Nov. 6 (UPI) — An alleged burglar wanted by Welsh authorities sent a newspaper a picture of himself because he didn’t like the mug shot it published…… he sent a picture in, posing beside a Police van.

Police said Maynard’s stunt is likely to backfire as the newspaper printed the photo on its front page. “He is a berk. He thinks he is being clever by showing off like this, but we’ll have him in soon now,” one officer said. UPI

BUT… it isn’t just the criminals in Wales who are possibly a bit daft.  This classic from The Guardian reveals theat the Welsh Police or Heddlu may be a bit daft as well…

Psychic ‘leads’ prompt murder inquiry

Welsh police investigate information that mediums claim to have received from dead man’s ghost….

A police force has defended spending £20,000 investigating a man’s death after his ghost was said to have told psychics that gangsters had forced him to drink petrol and bleach.

Guardian

Well… another week goes by…. not long to Christmas and as I said on Twitter while mildly over refreshed the other night…. “Tomorrow I shall buy a Christmas tree, some hideous decorations and set fire to them…. why wait until Christmas to be a GRINCH.

Best, as always

Charon

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The Law business and the business of law…

Will law firms be able to attract third party investors in the brave new world or will existing financial services business develop their own businesses by providing legal services or provide law services from scratch under their brands?

Well… to be perfectly honest, if I knew the full answer to that now,  I would probably be sitting in a lavishly appointed hotel (I would not waste money on my own lavish offices, of course) revealing my thoughts on the matter to eager and greedy lawyers for a ‘fee’ rather than sitting here on a Saturday afternoon, a glass of Rioja to my right,  and nipping off every so often to do 100 press ups or 30 curls with weights while I smoke on my balcony.

The difficulty with the present model of partner owned law firm is that Professor Stephen Mayson has a point (infra). Neil Rose argues in The Law Society Gazette that ‘Law firm partners are paid too much and their business will struggle to attract external investment because they are not worth as much as partners believe. Stephen Mayson, director of The College of Law’s think tank says that partners have to re-think how much they pay themselves.

Cutting to the chase – in the partnership model the profit goes to the partners, so there isn’t anything left for external investors.  To attract external investors there will have to be an attractive return on capital invested.  This means that the model will have to change.  Partners will have to convert drawings to a much smaller salary and share, as shareholders, along with external investors. Have they the appetite for this?  Of course, it is quite possible for law firms to come up with wonderful fudges by packaging off parts of their ‘business’ to external investors… but that, I shall  leave  for another time…and, who knows, possibly for that meeting at a lavishly appointed hotel with greedy lawyers?

The law firms will also have to build up a real brand, recognised not only in this country but worldwide.  Law firms are not very good at marketing themselves to the wider market, it would seem. Rachel Rothwell, writing in the The Law Society Gazette states that ‘More than 60 of the public cannot name a single law firm’.

While the top City firms are obviously well known to their specialist clientele – and they are not all interested in the wider market – this lack of brand recognition of law firm providers of legal services does not augur well for the future.

I would hazard a guess that most people would be able to name an Insurance company – Norwich Union, Churchill… come to mind immediately, for example.  Most people would be able to name a leading supermarket…. of course… Tesco et al comes to mind. There are many other large corporations out there with well known and trusted brands who are quite capable of providing high quality legal services.

The question is – will they invest in law firms with their antiquated business model structures and complex and possibly inefficient management and delivery infra-structures,  or will they start from scratch, paying good money to attract expertise?  I suspect it may be the latter model – for in business,  the brand and scaleability and liquidity of investment on a stock market is the real key.

When a solicitor or barrister, for that matter, decides to retire.  That’s it.  No further earnings or drawings and NO EQUITY… for there is nothing to sell.

I have a feeling if a law firm went into the Dragons in Dragon’s Den seeking investment… there would be five people saying “I’m OUT”.

It is wonderfully ironic that while law firms can’t build a brand within an investable model (yet)…. providers of legal education can and did.  BPP Law School, as part of BPP Holdings PLC, was sold to the yanks for a very large sum of money…..

***

PS – this may interest you – a tweet from a fellow tweeter…

filemot There is one #IPlaw firm already quoted on the London Stock Exchange http://www.murgitroyd.com/i…

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