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Legal Profession

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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Dewey Ballentine was one of the bluest of blue chip law firms. LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae was an upstart that grew rapidly and gathered large clients like a farmer gathers hay. In 2007, the firms decided to merge creating Dewey & LeBoeuf, one of the largest law firms in the world. Yesterday, it put itself into the hands of receivers under the USA's Chapter 11 provisions.

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A lawyer, formerly with Baker & McKenzie in New York has pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to commit securities fraud while with the firm.

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The Law Society of England and Wales is mounting one of its biggest PR campaigns ever as HSBC, one of the largest residential mortgage lenders in the UK says that all its mortgage work is to be handled by only 43 firms.

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James D Levitt is 66 years old and facing serious jail time. Aside from his latest conviction, he's behind on payments on a prior criminal conviction in respect of which he still owed more than USD400,000.

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Solicitors in England and Wales have been issued with a new Practice Note (a non-binding guidance) relating to the use of social media including sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It reveals a fascinating insight into the ways in which supposedly transient media can trip up the unwary, and not just lawyers.

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An English solicitor has been struck off the Roll following "gross recklessness." He acted in a land-banking scam.

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When Dubai wanted a model for its courts system for the (then) new financial centre, it chose that of the English legal system. Now the British government wants to capitalise on the standing and reputation of the UK Courts and ancillary services, including arbitration, and turn London into the world's leading "law tourism" centre.

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An anonymous posting, purporting to be by a solicitor in private practice, has appeared on the website of The Law Society's Gazette, the organ of the Law Society of England and Wales. If there was ever a reason to question the quality of the profession, this is probably high on the list.

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As the USA's crisis over the failure of Congress to finalise a Federal budget, the US Federal Courts system is one of those on the front line. What will happen if Congress fails to solve the problem tomorrow (8 April).

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A fascinating case in Massachusetts, USA, has defined, in that state but with persuasive force elsewhere, the question of when a person is "practising law." It has widespread implications: struck off or suspended lawyers are effectively banned from earning a living from their accumulated skill and knowledge while lay advisers are free to offer the same services even without the same skills and experience.

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