To end the year – a meme


Thanks to Lex Scholasticus at Reductio ad Absurdum, I have been tagged with another blog meme thing. In a surprising bout of pre-new year generosity, I will both respond and entirely fail to tag anyone else.

I am called upon to list 8 things I want to happen in 2008. Only 8? I’ll try to keep them vaguely legally related, apart from the first, which is of pressing personal need, and the last, which is too much to hope for.

1. Cure the damn common cold. OK, I understand the nature of fast mutating viruses and why this is difficult. So couldn’t someone just come up with a symptom suppressor that actually worked?

2. Obviously, I want to qualify and get a post, preferably with a decent legal aid firm. Which leads on to…

3. The LSC and the MoJ finally get a clue and come up with workable proposals for legal aid reform.

4. The government actually pays attention to the Law Commission’s proposals on reforming housing law.

5. The great wig issue. Everybody wears them, nobody wears them, some people wear them, but not the judges, except for some judges who do. I’m past caring. Settle the horsehair one way or another – either gently on the the head or back in the tin.

6.  Somebody fixes the Administrative Court. When the judges are reaching for Magna Carta to express their frustration, there is a teeny problem. In fact, the County Courts could do with some help too.

7.  David Cameron shuts up about repealing the Human Rights Act. In fact David Cameron shuts up.

8.  As well as the usual: world peace, a sudden outbreak of tolerance and understanding, that sort of thing, I rather want a new Macbook and/or iMac, thanks.

Happy new year to all. Now where is that Lemsip…

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Various (non-housing) and tagged .

4 Comments

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  2. Many thanks, NL for your generous response. I hope you feel better soon!

    Hear hear to #7! If politicians would just stop playing to the knee-jerk media gallery, I would be a very happy girlie!

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  4. Like Nearly Legal I very much hope that 2008 will be the year in which the Legal Services Commission and the Ministry of Justice come up with some workable proposals for legal aid reform. I am worried that this may be as likely as the common cold being cured. Over the Christmas break I had a look at the core purpose, vision for the future and coporate priorities set out on the Legal Services Commission Web Site.

    These state:

    Our core purpose is to help people in genuine need to get high quality legal advice, assistance and representation.

    We have set out our vision for the future. We want to be:

    resolutely focused on clients
    delivering positive outcomes
    providing value for money.
    Our four corporate priorities will ensure that we achieve our vision:

    ensure our clients have access to quality services which meet their needs
    work with providers we trust to provide quality, value for money and client-focused services
    deliver a sustainable scheme demonstrating real value in cash control, value for money and positive client outcomes
    transform our organisation to deliver these objectives with excellence.
    Presumably nobody could disagree with these fine sentiments. However they reveal a glaring admission that the past 15 years of franchising type reforms have failed and we are still on the starting line. Such priorities as these are only necessary if:

    Clients do not have access to quality services which meet their needs
    The Legal Services Commission does not trust suppliers to provide quality, value for money and client-focused services
    The Legal Services Commission remains unable to deliver a sustainable scheme demonstrating real value in cash control, value for money and positive client outcomes and
    The Legal Services Commission is in need of transformation if these objectives are to be delivered.

    It really is tragic that in setting out priorities such as these the Legal Services Commission should not include an urgent review of the failure of the Legal Services Commission and the Legal Aid Board before it to make adequate progress with the reforms that were supposed to be achieving these goals since 1994. The legal profession have been busy jumping through the many hoops that these two organisations have presented us with since 1994 in the name of reform. It is also tragic that despite this the Legal Services Commission still has to set a priority of being able to work with suppliers they trust. I would have hoped that this might have been achieved not too long after the first round of franchise audits.

    I put all this down to the Legal Services Commission’s preference for big ideas and bold new initiatives rather than attention to detail and perseverance. The tendency towards big bold initiatives is down to their internal policitics. The staff consist of people who are often not lawyers and do not have much experience of the the actual provision of legal services. There is also a very high turnover of staff right up to the top management and the politicians responsible for managing them. This means that those who run the Legal Services Commission do not know about or have time to find out about the details of what they are dealing with and talking about. This leads to a liking for big new ideas which lend themselves well to new politically fashionable cathphrases and impressive MicroSoft PowerPoint presenations and which are too new to give rise to any detailed questions. After two or three years a new Big Idea is launched by the new management, staff and policiticians who have replaced those responsible for the last one. The ultimate example of this phenemenon is New Labour Home Secretary John Reid declaring the Home Offfice unfit for purpose after a decade of so of New Labour Home Secretaries without calling for a review of the failures of his party and his predecessors. The purpose of his claim was to cover his arse and absolve himself for any responsibility for future failure on the basis that he was just clearing up the mess. This seems to be what the present Legal Services Commission management are doing when prioritising the transformation of their organsisation.

    I would sugggest that rather than coming up with half thought out Big Ideas (such as CLACS and CLANS) for transforming the service the Legal Services Commission management should consult the legal profession who have been providing legal services for many years and look at practical steps which could be taken to resolve the problems of how to improve the provision of legal services without having to spend more money which I think is what the coportate vision and priorities boils down to.

    Rather than simply whine and rant about the Legal Services Commission I have decided to try and make a series of constructive suggestions for workable proposals for reform which could be implemented without too much trouble. I will put these on my blog. The first one should be up in a few days.

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