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Legal Profession

The Legal Services Board is supposed to be the regulator of regulators for the legal profession in England and Wales. Its leader is not a lawyer and has, therefore, never been in practice. When the Legal Services Board wanted a review of "The Cab Rank Rule," they turned to a couple of academics and told them to read about it and write about what they found. They were both eminently qualified (not), having written a lot of stuff, read a lot more (quoting a lot of it in the stuff they wrote). Oh, and neither of them had ever held a responsible post in law or, for that matter, outside academia. And it's been a pointless exercise in proving the obvious, says retired solicitor Nigel Morris-Cotterill

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It's not a Trojan Horse, it's not a dolphin with a limpet mine attached to its back and it's not a rat with a lighted stick of dynamite taped onto its back running into its own oblivion. No, it's cat, coolly walking into a prison, through the main gate, with hacksaw blades, a mobile phone and other contraband held on with clear sticky tape. A break-out Kit-e-Kat (say that in mock Portuspanish and it kind of works)

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission "has compulsory information gathering powers to require disclosure of information. This power may be exercised in respect of our regulatory work. However, information that attracts a valid claim of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) does not have to be provided." ASIC has released an information sheet explaining the position.

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The English High Court has named four solicitors who have fallen foul of the Court's requirements when issuing immigration appeals.

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It's all becoming a little too Orwellian. When the previous, Labour government created the "Ministry of Justice" it sounded more 1984 than we were comfortable with. After all, the whole point of the various ministries in the book is to deliver the opposite of what their name promised. Recent changes to costs are removing access to justice except for those that can pay.

And it's all building up to look like a raid on solicitors' firms.

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An administrative Court in the UK has issued a warning to solicitors that it will require the attendance before it of the solicitor having conduct of a case plus the senior partner of the firm to give an explanation as to why applications are made late, are incomplete or have no merit - and, if it is not satisfied with the explanation - to publicly name them.

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The biggest revolution in the English legal profession is under way. Not only does it appear that the Bar is carefully managing to take back its previous control of advocacy in the higher courts, new schemes to register approved advocates in some lower courts are dividing the solicitors branch. But these pale alongside the chances that have allowed solicitors practices to incorporate under a Limited Liability Partnership structure and to take in private equity.

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The Legal Services Board, an industry body representing and - after a fashion - regulating lawyers in England and Wales, is to propose to The Lord Chancellor that will-writing and post-mortem legal services should be "reserved" - that means only those falling within the scope of the LSB's supervision should be allowed to do them. That's going to cause a near riot. And it may be another nail in the coffin of small firms.

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New York law firm FARUQI & FARUQI, LLP specialises in class actions, especially those where it alleges misconduct in relation to securities which, it usually claims, leads to a significant fall in share prices, thereby causing losses to shareholders. It's frequent press releases call upon those who held shares in companies at relevant times to join in the action they hope to mount and to get paid on a contingency basis. But all is not rosy.

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Mexican company Grupo Mexico S.A.B. de C.V. is more than a little peeved. Its US subsidiary Americas Mining Corporation applied to the Delaware Supreme Court for "re-argument" as to legal fees in the case of Americas Mining Corporation, et al., v. Michael Theraiult, as Trustee for the Theriault Trust, No. 29, 2012. The court said "no" and in doing so has demonstrated the conflict of interest inherent in contingency fee ("no win, no fee") arrangements.

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The Law Society of England and Wales long ago began a system of registering those that wanted to demonstrate they met certain criteria. It was a voluntary quality assurance scheme. It was, at the time, seen as a bit of a waste of time by professionals who had extensive experience and new what they were doing, a way for the second rank to gain credibility that they did not, fully, deserve on merit. Gradually, the idea mutated away from a marketing tool to part of regulation and it is now a compulsory registration of specialists in certain areas. The latest to fall under the compulsory requirement is Solicitor-Advocates. And disturbingly, many have not signed up with only days to go.

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It's probably not a great idea for me, an English solicitor (retired) to be publicly harsh about my professional body. But, seriously, is the Law Society of England and Wales contrary or comatose? It really just does not "get" money laundering risks and its latest attempt to update its guidance demonstrates that its attitude is, simply, retarded.

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A US Judicial Conference Committee has updated the model set of jury instructions federal judges use to deter jurors from using social media to research or communicate about cases on which they serve. The new guidelines provide detailed explanations of the consequences of social media use during a trial, along with recommendations for repeated reminders of the ban on social media usage.

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which regulates solicitors in England and Wales, is to cease development of a database of retired solicitors who wish to remain on the Roll. Apparently, the Roll a costa lot.

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The bribery was the least of the worries of California lawyer Alfred Nash Villalobos, 46. It was the reason he was paid USD50,000 that really annoyed prosecutors and the Judge.

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