The Times | Edward Fennell
With government cuts to legal advice services, financial help from prosperous law firms is more important than ever.
NO BREAK IN TRADITION
Newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders was said to be sampling the Crown Prosecution Service in Blackfriars Crown Court last Thursday. By all accounts it was the usual CPS shambles, with frustration and irritation all round. Nice to see a new regime with age- old standards: Saunders, no doubt, will be hoping to put things right.
Graham Huntley and his fellow directors at the London Legal Support Trust had the tough task on Monday of allocating £700,000 raised by events such as the London Legal Walk. With cuts in Government support, such help is all the more needed. But genuine corporate social responsibility is a question of character, not a PR tack-on, Huntley insists. He’s set up his own firm, Signature Litigation, with cofounder Helen Brannigan. It operates a generous profits-share route for the whole team. “Everyone,” he boasts, “from the cleaners to the partners, is now earning more than they did with their previous employers.”
Lord Judge’s speech in response to an outpouring of tributes and standing ovation at his formal farewell this week was brief, other than to say he was “frankly overwhelmed” and to thank people for their “support, loyalty and kindness” since he took office. One reason? His tonsillitis. The next day his voice was all but gone and Lord Dyson had to hand down what would have been one of Judge’s last judgments, on assisted suicide.
The debate sparked off in this column last week as to whether PR firms working in the law deliver value for money led to steamy exchanges. Gus Sellitto of the agency Byfield referenced the way that Mishcon de Reya had recruited Elliot Moss, former Leo Burnett advertising executive, in 2009 as director of business development. The firm’s recent progress illustrates the benefits of having a PR-savvy boss.
Of course, Mishcon’s latest high-profile publicity has been for its use of RISC Management Ltd, the private detective agency facing investigation over alleged payments to police officers.
The firm previously used Carratu, an agency found to have acted unlawfully. Are these detective agencies delivering value for money? That’s a private investigation really worth doing.
A BUSTED MODEL
Accountant Eric Golding of Stanley Davis Practice Support Services, gives a graphic description of the problems of small firms: “Debts of about £100,000, no increase in drawings for about four years and the amount being drawn was in the region of £50,000 p.a. Meanwhile professional indemnity insurance premium of about £40,000 p.a. means that to close the firm would entail insurance costs of £100,000.” Let’s face it — this business model’s bust.