Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A time for change... it is indeed!

The recent report - A time of change: solicitors' firms in England and Wales - published jointly by The Law Society, Legal Services Board and the Ministry of Justice examines the results of a comprehensive survey conducted with solicitors firms to provide a “benchmark of the profession”.

The report leads us to conclude that in the light of the recession, evolution of technology, changes to funding and legal aid and further challenges brought about by the LASPO Act and associated reforms -  the industry needs to adapt in order to move forward.

The report highlights a market shift where the larger specialist firms will look to grow and thrive in this environment. Yet this could be at the expense of the smaller firms who will not be able to compete without the benefits of economies of scale. In fact the report finds that “smaller and medium-sized firms are significantly more likely to have reported decreases in turnover”. One of the areas the firms will be hardest hit is in legal aid where funding is being cut right back by the government courtesy of the LASPO Act due to become law in April. The report shows that 23% of the firms included are concerned about “adapting to the changes in legal aid” and “31% of firms currently working with legal aid funded cases were considering withdrawing from one or more areas of legal aid in the next three years”.

With increasingly limited choice owing to the market shift and reduced access to justice, consumers too will suffer. Fortunately for those with BTE  legal protection an expert panel of solicitor’s firms has already been assembled by the provider. With a range of firms available according to the dispute, the customer will be well placed to protect their legal rights. At ARAG, we ensure that our panel solicitors not only have specialist subjects but are also spread far and wide across the country and we ensure service standards through our panel.

ARAG are committed to the ATE market and we are considering options for new products in light of LASPOA. Our message is that in the new legal world we will continue to support access to justice, working with panel and non-panel firms on behalf of those with BTE and supporting others along the ATE route in an environment which it appears will be less welcoming to those wishing to protect their legal rights.

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