Legal Choices, the legal regulators' consumer-friendly website, went live [recently] with a variety of polls and quizzes, including one which asked consumers about their favourite crisp flavour.
The suggested answers are: ready salted, cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, carrot and coriander, or, […] bizarrely, 'hedgehog'.
Another quiz, […] tests consumers' knowledge of the jargon they might come across in the legal world.
A question on the phrase 'actus reus' gives, as an example of where people might see it: 'The actus reus of theft is horrible for the victim.' [Another example included use of the Latin term ‘inter se’.]
Another question, on the word 'notwithstanding', suggests consumers may come across it in a conversation about the weather, presumably with their lawyers: 'Notwithstanding the terrible weather, the holiday was great'.
Oh, please. “Notwithstanding” is a regular word in the English language. It’s not a legal term of art. And most
clients consumers of legal services, don’t need to be mollycoddled. They need sound advice, pitched at a suitable level and tailored to their needs. That’s not the same as patronising clients and, as a matter of course, purposefully dumbing-down lawyer-client interactions to the point of absurdity. With the advent and widespread adoption of a little thing called the internet, clients are more knowledgeable and empowered than ever before. They’re also more likely to ask if they’re unsure of anything. Let’s stop treating them like toddlers in a nursery.
The website, www.legalchoices.org.uk, is a collaboration between the SRA, Bar Standards Board, ILEX Professional Standards and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
The SRA said, at the time it was announced last autumn, that its aim was to "signpost people to information and support provided by different legal regulators and aim to help people with the choices and decisions they are faced with before, during, or after using a legal service."
Quite how asking people their favourite flavour of crisp fits in with that, I’ve no idea. No, honestly – I’ve no idea.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves exactly how we’ve ended up in this state? What happened to the days when clients put on their Sunday best to visit their solicitor, who would cordially greet them with a warm handshake across a leather bound desk, in an office that smelt of Turkish tobacco and musty legal volumes?
I’ve not even experienced that, but I still feel like I’ve missed out.
I guess those were the days when clients were clients and not consumers of legal services.