How much would you like to pay?

On Monday I was presenting a seminar in Leicester in the afternoon. I took the train and then a taxi to the venue.


I got in the first taxi in the queue waiting outside the station. After I told the driver the destination, he said "How much do you want to pay?"


I was a little taken aback, I could see that he had a meter and as a good (read suspicious) lawyer I was wary of him asking this question.

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This week I have been in London and Norfolk delivering courses for CLT. On Monday I was running an Advocacy course which was thoroughly enjoyable, both for me and the delegates who attended. I'm keen to encourage solicitors to do their own advocacy where they feel able to. Its not that I don't instruct barristers but I do feel that having drafted all the papers in a case, actually read and written all the correspondence and spoken to the client on multiple occasions, i'm pretty well placed to present their interests in court.

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Myths, Divorce myths and statistics

You've all heard the one about people getting divorced in January haven't you? You know, the couple had an horrific Christmas, the mother in law bought a terrible present someone made an awful meal, there was a drunk in the house etc? Well, for years it has bothered me. Not because I'm so busy in January but quite the opposite. It is 10th January 2012 as I write this and I haven't issued a petition all year (for shame). I'd like to know who issues the first petition this year in each court just out of curiosity if nothing else. I've never had the pleasure of being a "01"-  the reference number of the first petition issued in any court.

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The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers

Whether a world without lawyers is likely to be good or bad is a matter for speculation for the time being, although after April 2013 we will certainly see a different legal services landscape.

In today's legal market I have noticed that a new world is emerging in which there seem to be far too many "almost lawyers", some of whom haven't quite finished the academic stage of training, others who have completed the bar exam/LPC and in all cases none of whom are answerable to a Regulatory body as they haven't completed the final stage of qualification.

This sudden increase in unqualified people in court lead to me to undertake some research in the area.  There have been two recent articles about this matter, neither of which has touched upon the field of Family Litigation but the principles seem to be broadly the same. Firstly District Judge Hill wrote an article in the Law Society Gazette, which sets out a Civil case in which he refused to hear an unqualified self employed agent. The agent had undertaken a Law degree and had passed the LPC, the Judge determined that the agent didn't have rights of audience and the claim was struck out. The second article in Legalfutures also deals with the same issue of an agency who were conducting reserved work.

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Marriage and divorce statistics

It caught my eye in an article on the BBC website that there seems to be a generally accepted idea that the divorce rate is on the increase, without any in depth consideration of what factors might influence the numbers.

I think it should be noted that on the pure numbers the rates are down about 20,000 from the year 2000. The number of divorces peaked at 165,000 in 1993, standing at 120,000 in 2010. However the marriage rate is also very different. in 1993 there were 300,000 marriages whereas that number is 230,000 for 2009 (the last year that stats are available). 1993 marked a period of recovery after a recession, if this trend is followed then the divorce rate might peak after the current recession is over. In my practice I have noted over the last 2 years that I see an increased number of people who can't afford to get divorced and divide their finances. There being no equity in the couple's property, insufficient income to spend on solicitors fees and a general feeling that "its not the right time" seems to me to be more prevalent than in previous years. These couple's choose to wait and see, rather than take any action.

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Christmas and families

In this period between Christmas and the New Year, I tend to go to the office to catch up on my paperwork. I consider it to be my quiet time to clear those bits of paper from my desk and tidy up a bit.

This is probably in stark contrast to what people think that a family law solicitor does at this time of year. Every year I read articles on the same subject and I sometimes even see a "celebrity" solicitor on T.V pushing the same story year after year about how busy family lawyers are after the Christmas period. Having worked for a number of firms over a number of years, I disagree. Even when I was a legal aid solicitor with a great deal more work, we had very few emergency situations arise during this period.

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