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Legal Profession

While Clyde and Co's accounts were being examined in relation to allegations of failings under the money laundering regulations (see here), it was found a significant number of accounts where balances were held on the client's account but no action had taken place for a long time. The firm set out to remedy it. The partner responsible did it improperly.

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A report in The Law Society's Gazette about a male Judge's comments to a women's group meeting has raised the hackles of working men in the solicitor's branch in England and Wales. So who is to blame? The judge for making the comments that can be rightly regarded as sexist or the Law Society which after decades of being "right on" or whatever the current phrase may have finally gone too far in its apparent approval of the Judge's comments? Or perhaps both.,

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The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (which, trendily, omits the apostrophe when it writes its own name) has levied its largest fine ever. Like the previous largest, it's against the London office of a US law firm.

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Simon Spence wants to be the next Vice Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales. Not only does he stand on a platform of disparaging solicitors, he does it in such a way that he felt the need to clarify his comments. Surely an accomplished advocate should be expected to be clear the first time, to say what he means and to mean what he says? Then the next question is how can someone who fails those basic tests, with a failure he himself demonstrates by his attempts at correction, can be trusted in a position of high-office within a major professional body?

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There are two questions to ask about the Solicitors' Regulatory Authority's action in relation to solicitors company Asons: the first is whether it was a "South Korea" moment - where there were so many questions, that they had no choice and secondly, if those questions had merit, how has it taken so long? The bottom line is that suspicious activity and behaviour was utterly rife: why do regulators adopt a lower standard in this area than they expect those they supervise to adopt in relation to money laundering?

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A firm of solicitors which came to prominence because of its owner's predilection for fast cars, big tax demands, grand expansion plans and a secretive grant from taxpayer's funds (see story) is back in the news, this time for "falsely and systematically" overcharging claims for costs in personal injury (PI) cases.

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The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has published its November 2016 order that MOHAMMED ZAHIR UDDIN, sole director of Your Right Solicitors Limited, be struck off. His failings are legion and, even, disturbing.

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A note of personal sadness: long, long ago, this writer was considering his future. At the top of the list of highly professional firms that attracted him was Mallesons in Hong Kong. But a family discussion resulted in staying in London and taking a radically different approach. The hankering remained but the shine is wearing off as the now global association of practices is heavily in debt, shedding staff and trying to hive off offices and teams.

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In the UK, there is an epidemic of advertising and other forms of marketing by companies who then pass leads to firms ( which, these days, are often companies not firms) of solicitors. Their advertising is annoying and sometimes misleading; but there are practices that are downright unethical and borderline (or perhaps over the border) illegal. Can the practice be prevented? Perhaps it's time to wind back the clock on fee sharing.

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...Continued from yesterday

A McKenzie Friend cannot be the representative of record that is he cannot provide a "firm" or an address for service. He cannot be the agent of a litigant in person and so he cannot e.g. issue proceedings on his behalf. He does not have a right of audience, that means he cannot address the court directly, unless, in exceptional cases, the court might grant, on a one-off basis, a right to address the court and to examine witnesses. However, more McKenzie Friends are making applications for rights of audience and are being granted.

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It's not so long ago that advocates in any court had to be legally qualified. There was a fall-back position for those who were unable to afford their own solicitor or barrister and were, for one reason or another, going to find it difficult to present their own case. The reasons were, for example, that they were not sufficiently literate, or that they were disadvantaged by poor, or no, English or that they were of an exceptionally nervous disposition. But things have gone badly wrong.

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It used to be that the solicitors branch of the legal profession in England and Wales was compelled to purchase its professional indemnity insurance (PII) from a single, approved, insurer and the cost was very high. Rightly, the profession voted to widen the scheme to permit approved PII to be purchased from third party insurers on a competitive level. But things have not gone according to plan and the latest crisis threatens the future of several firms.

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There are those who misguidedly think that the world would be better off without lawyers. The UK legal profession's problem is that it has for so long abandoned its long-standing principles that it's become utterly rotten from within. Add in the deliberate destruction of the profession by successive governments and it's no surprise that there is a crisis from which few will emerge unscathed.

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A decision in an English court in the case of JG v the Legal Services Commission says that a party who is in receipt of legal aid (state funding) will not generally be authorised to obtain an expert witnesses report with full funding. But it's not that simple.

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Judge Jane Richards Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is an example of how a humble first job is no bar to professional success.

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