APIL, dumb lawyers & civil justice reforms: seeking efficiency but at what price?

the legal lites - personal injury styleFrom Claims Council.org 18/04/11:

The new president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) today warned of the emergence of a new breed of ‘dumbed-down, legal-lite’ lawyer following the introduction of alternative business structures.

Oh God... that sounds horribly like Mr Bean in a pinstripe suit. Not a pretty sight.

Addressing APIL’s annual conference, David Bott predicted that ‘potentially massive’ new entrants to the personal injury market will be ‘very efficient’, but ‘process-driven’, voicing fears that these ABSs will not prioritise the needs of injured people.

’How much free thought, intellect and empathy will be used by this process-driven lawyer?

Good question. I should imagine that clients want a lawyer who will really cut loose occasionally, undo their top button, loosen their tie, slip on some flip flops and exercise some hardcore lateral thinking – legal style. In all seriousness, though, the personal, professional touch is important in legal services. Claimants don’t want to be kept on hold for twenty minutes listening to Night Fever by the Bee Gees on continuous loop, only for some hopeless moron with a script card in front of him to finally respond to their query with ‘computer says no’ type of answer.

’Ironically, claimants might at first prefer to deal with this new breed of legal-lite adviser, but that happiness may only last until the claimant has a problem, or until their particular, individual injury does not fit into the rigidly defined, immovable process being used by the ABS.

I think this has been a well-established phenomenon. For instance, large ‘wholesale’ businesses handling mass conveyancing services have been slated by many in the past for being cheap and cheerful, but everything can go horribly awry and prove more costly (in time and money) if a curveball is ever thrown their way.  Isn’t this just more of the same?

‘Because these new firms could be like hulking steam trains; fantastic at moving ahead but useless at moving in any other direction.’

Pursuing the analogy, I think the new plans have all the makings of an epic legal train-wreck, and we’re careering towards disaster.

Well, maybe.  Be right back

’The only party to benefit from these proposals is the negligent defendant, or moreover his insurance company, which has collected a premium to pay out in the event of a claim.

‘At the heart of these proposals is a movement of costs away from the negligent defendant and on to the innocent claimant. That is just plain wrong.’

And there end’th the lesson for today, children.

Amen.

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