Legal Market Round-up: June 2012

1 comment, posted on June 8, 2012

The College of Law has joined forces with European law firm CMS Cameron McKenna LLP to launch an international Legal Practice Course (LPC), the first LPC to focus on the global legal services market. The course will be delivered to the firm’s trainees at the College’s Moorgate centre from 2013, subject to validation of the course by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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The government has set out tougher measures in a bid to cut the number of whiplash claims. Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke and transport secretary Justine Greening jointly outlined plans to reform the diagnosis procedure. In a statement the government announced an accreditation system for doctors who assess whiplash claims. There are also likely to be tougher regulations on out-of-court settlements and insurers will be encouraged to challenge claims they believe to be fraudulent.

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New research by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) suggests that non-traditional candidates have more difficulty securing a pupillage than those who are white, male and middle class. The study, which compared the backgrounds of pupillage applicants in 2009 and registered pupils in 2011, revealed a number of trends. Despite black and minority ethnic (BME) students making up 26 per cent of applicants, only 14 per cent of pupils in 2011 were BME.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent of applicants were white and took 86 per cent of pupillage places.

The data also revealed that although women accounted for a larger proportion of applicants than men, men were over-represented in the pupil population.

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is scrapping its trainee solicitor minimum pay in favour of the main rate in the National Minimum Wage.

The partial deregulation was agreed unanimously by the SRA board, where it was confirmed that the change to a minimum of £6.08 per hour will be deferred for two years to reduce the impact on those already completing training contracts.

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Law firms showing signs of growth, says Law Society report. New research from the Law Society’s Law Management Section (LMS) reveals that legal practices are continuing to show signs of growth.

The LMS annual Financial Benchmarking Survey, sponsored by Lloyds TSB Commercial, shows that practice fee income increased by 1 per cent in 2011, as practices continue to climb out of the hit from the recession. In 2009, firms saw a 6.5 per cent drop in fee income.

The survey of LMS member firms also revealed that average net profit per equity partner increased from £112,549 to £114,853, a rise of 2 per cent.

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Kent Legal Services (KLS) – the legal arm of Kent County Council – is planning to launch an alternative business structure (ABS) in conjunction with regional law firm Geldards, it has emerged.  Director of governance and law Geoff Wild told Legal Futures that the aim is to expand the pioneering council’s presence as a provider of legal services in the wider market.

KLS already advises 330 bodies across the public sector, including police, fire, education and health authorities, as well as other councils, but Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) rules on in-house lawyers are a stumbling block.

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Law firms team up to launch fixed-fee collaborative law one-stop shop. A group of 15 law firms in Yorkshire and the north-east have joined forces with a specialist divorce coach and independent financial adviser (IFA) to offer what they say is the first fixed-fee collaborative divorce service.

There are plans to expand Dovetail Divorce Solutions across the country, starting with Manchester.

Dovetail is the brainchild of Leeds-based IFA Robert Cresswell of Gordian Financial Services – one of just 79 IFAs who have undergone training in collaborative law by family lawyers group Resolution – and Wakefield-based coach Clare Walters of Absolute Specialists.

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