Hedge your bets

Further to last weeks post about the rejection of the NYAS legal aid tender by the LSC, along with another 70 or so applications: the LSC, no doubt wary of further searingly insightful and devastatingly critical pieces on this blog (or possibly of yet more potential litigation), appear to have backed down and given organisations a second bash. Significantly there is no acknowledgement by the LSC that it may have been responsible for the loss of information, and no indication of any fixes to the system, so it will be interesting to see how many of the 70 reapply and are successful. I’m going to start a book on that one (although my track record so far isn’t so great, I was taking bets on the launch of a JR before Valentine’s Day on the first round).

I went to a local Resolution dinner recently. It went as these things usually do: the waitresses played “spot the judge”, the solicitors gossiped, the bar tried to market themselves whilst pretending not to, and I was too sober to be anything other than my clonky self. Whilst it was fun, the conversation was punctuated with ponderous musings on the changes that have happened in family law, legal aid, and the marketplace generally – relationships between the bar and solicitors, patterns of instructing, coverage of services have all changed and all remain in flux. Nobody knows what the future holds be they solicitor, barrister or judge – except that it is certain to be uncertain. I talked to one female solicitor about how she and her colleagues had created fantasy alternative careers. They are not alone. Whether it is midwife, small business owner or yoga master I think there are many of us who often ponder what other life there could be. Some other idyl, that we tell ourselves we could choose one day when the corrosive effect of never ending family breakdown gets too much. Something with more job satisfaction, shorter hours and more reliable income. I fancy running a chic B&B, making handmade craft items (something for which I have no talent at all) or novelist. But this is pie in the sky, temporary antidote not reality. I can’t do much apart from family law.

In fact, life at the legal aid bar is so unstable that I’ve decided I will begin a sort of legal sector tote, a little hedge against the risky and volatile market in which I find myself. Currently I am conducting user polls to assess the odds of a given item getting past court security or not, with successful items including a jar of honey, and a pointy key, with bicycle repair kits, hair straighteners and forks all suffering from overregulation. I am also conducting research into levels of zipper fatigue at different times of day (zipper fatigue is the behaviour that is observed in security staff whereby the numbers of handbag zippers that are opened reduces as the time since last coffee break increases – if I can model an algorithm to predict this I can create a whole new betting market).

I’m looking for a booky who will take a bet against the LSC paying me the substantial sums they owe me before the end of 2012. That has to be win win, right? Don’t suppose I will get great odds though.

Other predictions also worth a punt:

  • the Government’s mediation as alternative to court hypothesis to be proved wrong within a five year period
  • court delays to increase, numbers of appeals to rise, within a 2 year period
  • recruitment of family trainees and pupils plummeting
I think I may have some business planning to do. Maybe I should stick to the craft making….

9 thoughts on “Hedge your bets

  1. Yes, I managed to get out of practising family law. Now all I’ve got to do is get out of writing about it…

  2. When we did our big State of the Nation seminar locally, we found two and only two areas of services for children which were having their budgets increased by central government, as opposed to the devastating cuts elsewhere.

    It’s worth trying to see if people can guess them….

    secure accommodation

    and Serious Case reviews into child deaths.

    Now, you’d be cynical and mean-spirited to think that someone at Central Government actually anticipated that the consequences of their other financial cuts might be that we have to lock up more disturbed children and conduct more enquiries into children dying potentially preventable deaths; AND then went ahead with the cuts anyway, just earmarking some more money for those horrible consequences; but it is pretty grim even if it is pure fluke.

  3. Probably on mark with the prediction about mediation – it won’t work unless the respondent is compelled to attend a MIAM earlier on in the process, NOT once they are already in the court system. No hint of any of this in the upcoming response to the FJR.

    • MIAMs already are a necessary precursor to proceedings, but I agree they should be available to any separated couple right from the point of separation. The problem is though, how do you compel MIAMs except by making them a compulsory gateway?

  4. Perhaps this blog reveals how important Legal Aid is to lawyers.

    The initial hand-wringing by many about the effect on LIPs is now turning to the reality of how it affects many lawyers bottom line.

    • We’ve had this conversation before. It’s very repetitive.

      Lawyers work with people in difficult circumstances. They wish to be paid for the work they do. If they aren’t they will have to earn a living doing something else. This much they have in common with any other public service profession I can think of : doctors, nurses, surgeons, social workers, policemen, teachers. What’s your point? None of these other groups is met with the argument that the fact they don’t work for free renders them incapable of having any genuine concern for their clients / patients / customers. Of course it affects our bottom line. It has been affecting our bottom line for years, and as of today we’re having another 10% pay cut. If I didn’t give a s*** I’d have left long ago. But I do.

  5. I have always considered the cuts from the LSC to have been placed on the nature of the cases. Any parent would go without to protect their children, and thus parents will pay for their children and the legal costs involved.

    I also noticed propsed cuts in appeals and filing appeals etc. This is the fundementals f our Law system and justice for all does not seem to cut the mustard.

    Family law is so drawn out, overly complicated and costly, A case were there was allergations of drug use cost over £1200 and involved 3 hearings, which were pointless.
    It is more so in order to save the public purse to put up the requirement of threasholds where it is prudent that costs and time, are balanced with the levels of allergations and evidence prior to spending.
    Withstanding that flase allergations cases take longer and put people and the children at a disadvantage, (CRA1989 S2 I believe)

  6. Well Hello from the one that escaped family law to become a midwife! I love love love it, and perhaps not surprisingly cannot say I miss the land of legal aid. All the best to you, I shall be interested to see the outcome of your getting funny items through court security. I once had a garlic roaster confiscated!

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