Vulnerable defendants not helped in understanding court proceedings

first_imgDefendants with learning disabilities are routinely deprived of help with understanding criminal court proceedings, a report from the Prison Reform Trust has revealed. The report, published this week, found there was no systematic procedure for identifying adults with learning disabilities. Some defendants did not know why they were in court or what they had done wrong, the report claimed. A third of 154 respondents with learning difficulties who were interviewed said using simpler language would help, and one in 10 said they had difficulties expressing themselves and felt rushed. The report called for more support for vulnerable defendants, training to help the judiciary recognise mental impairments and full compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Malcolm Fowler, a criminal defence lawyer at Birmingham firm Jonas Roy Bloom, said: ‘This report is disgracefully overdue. In my 42 years as a solicitor, there has been a constant stream of clarion calls and alarm bells on this very issue, but the government remains in denial.’ Law Society council member for criminal defence Joy Merriam said: ‘A defendant’s condition is often picked up in a Crown court trial, where the defence can call for psychiatric reports, but this is less practical in magistrates’ courts.’ She added that the government’s enthusiasm for virtual courts, whereby the defendant appears via videolink, could mean many more vulnerable adults go unrepresented. ‘There is [sometimes] no direct contact between defendant and lawyer with virtual courts, and so it’s less likely the condition will be spotted.’last_img read more

Indian LPO Pangea3 opens in UK in European expansion drive

first_imgIndian legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider Pangea3 has opened an office in London as part of a concerted expansion drive in Europe. Brian Allan, vice-president of legal services in Europe, will head the office on London’s South Bank. He said the decision was taken because the LPO market in Europe has become increasingly buoyant over the last year. Around 80% of Pangea3’s clients are general counsel and 20% are law firms. The LPO provider operates facilities in Delhi and Mumbai, with headquarters in New York. Co-chief executive David Perla claimed that the company’s expansion in Europe will allow it to increase revenues by 15% over the coming year. Perla said that Pangea3 will recruit ‘at least’ 100 more lawyers in Delhi and Mumbai by the end of 2010, adding to its existing 450-strong workforce. Allan said that over the last two and a half months, the company has already recruited 100 operational staff in India. Allan added: ‘We have been in the US for more than five years and managing our European clients from there. But our European clients are demanding more services and attention.’ Pangea3 operates one other European office, in Malta. Indian research company Value Notes ranks Pangea3, CPA Global and Integreon and as the three ‘pacesetters’ in the global LPO market. CPA and Integreon already have London offices. Pangea3 names multinationals General Electric, Sony and American Express among its LPO clients.last_img read more

Is the legal profession being unwittingly manoeuvred into establishing a de facto safety net?

first_imgSolicitors deserve to be congratulated for their role in the success of an initiative to boost the number of law schools offering free advice. It is testament to their commitment to access to justice for the poor. So why does one feel slightly discomfited by the news? Perhaps we can answer that question by asking another. Pro bono, we are told in the official protocol on the subject, is an ‘adjunct to, not a substitute for, legal aid’. But with the government planning savage cuts to public funding, is the profession being unwittingly manoeuvred into establishing a de facto safety net that will catch at least some (if not all) of the hundreds of thousands of people soon to be disqualified from taxpayer-funded access to justice? We hear that question being asked with increasing frequency. Indeed, one speaker at last week’s Minority Lawyers Conference went so far as to envisage an environment in which legal aid practitioners have quit this area of paid work altogether – leaving it to be done pro bono by default. At the local level, persuading lawyers (and students) to fill the vacuum gratis would mean ‘devolving power… so that neighbourhoods take control of their destiny… putting trust in professionals… and encouraging volunteering and social action so people contribute to their community’. Noble goals in the abstract, of course – and the precise terms in which David Cameron recently relaunched his ‘Big Society’ initiative.last_img read more

Comparisons between doctors and lawyers are outdated

first_imgJonathan Goldsmith drew an analogy between lawyers and doctors in his optimistic piece ‘Solicitors pass medical’. However, I believe the comparison is problematic and the effects of that admittedly common assumption have been responsible for much of the disarray in the legal education market. Consider this statistic from the Law Society’s annual statistical report: ‘In 2010 the 1.7% of firms with 26 or more partners employed 41.6% of all solicitors in private practice.’ That 1.7% almost without exception comprises commercial firms – large commercial firms that can, unlike many smaller firms, budget for the cost of trainees. These trainees are more likely to qualify into career streams that have far more in common with those found at professional services firms, not those of doctors. The commoditisation of many of the other streams of work undertaken by solicitors only reinforces this progression. Comparing law with professional services, we can find one crucial distinction. In the latter, the aspirant gets the job and then takes up the training. In law, in most cases, the aspirant takes up the training on the promise of the job. A large proportion of these jobs have already been earmarked for those fortunate or talented enough to sidestep the terrifying drop from LPC into unemployment. The few remaining places are fought out for by the massive back-stock of those who have completed the LPC and, of course, by those who complete it each year. None of this is particularly new. But these trends propel us naturally towards a fundamental split in the profession. City solicitors and those undertaking commercial work have very little common interest with those undertaking, for example, human rights work. It will similarly become natural and appropriate that different regulators represent different interests. The law schools understand this. There are around 45 law schools in England, many of which are already or are fast becoming well-run, efficient and highly commercial businesses; businesses that understand that they are increasingly providing a form of training in professional services. It is no coincidence that Kaplan and BPP both have a background in finance education. Law schools are often lambasted unfairly for not being more restrictive in their approach – for not stemming the flow of those completing the LPC. But they understand that the pairing of law and medicine in so many minds is no longer appropriate and have adapted to this by offering increasingly separate paths for those wishing to work in increasingly discrete areas. On joining council I believed that education was the solution to the ‘oversupply’ and that informing students of their chances of success was the most reasonable way to proceed. Now I am less sure. I think it is the deep-seated assumption of the equivalence of the legal and medical professions that has led to this imbalance. Moreover, this assumption is so entrenched it would take a huge change – most likely a massive regulatory overhaul of qualification – to challenge it. While work-based learning is an admirable attempt to establish a new career path, introducing it while preserving the training contract has caused justified fears of a two-tier profession. In light of all this, I welcome the review of legal education. But whatever its conclusions, those making policy will have to take into account the commercial argument that oversupply leads to competition, competition leads to higher quality and quality benefits the consumer; and then balance this against the interests of aspiring solicitors. The situation is far from a catastrophe – as Mr Goldsmith points out, one need only look at the strength of UK law firms abroad to find evidence of a system that is clearly working on some level. Yet it is clear that the balance between commerce and education has not quite been achieved yet, and propagating the comparison between solicitors and doctors only helps to keep the discussion fixed in the past. Beth Wanono is the outgoing Law Society Council member for students and traineeslast_img read more

Law firms plan for Olympics delays

first_imgCity firms have already begun putting action plans in place to deal with the disruption caused by the London 2012 Olympics, the Gazette has learned. London 2012 organisers have written to all firms in the capital warning that capacity on rail and underground services will be stretched unless they take action, with passengers facing delays of up to an hour just to use certain key stations. Law firms including Linklaters, Simmons & Simmons and Hogan Lovells are putting together action plans more than a year before the Olympics begin on 27 July, including working from home and staggered start and finish times. One partner at another major City firm told the Gazette that it was expecting productivity to be half that of a normal month, due to transport problems, staff absence and the annual August slowdown. ‘You’re going to have to expect a major hit for the length of the Olympics and Paralympics,’ he said. ‘All firms are having to integrate it into their financial planning as you’ll be looking just to cover your costs during August.’last_img read more

This really works …

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletterslast_img read more

The lawyers’ playground

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

A lesson from history: realise the pain early when recession looms

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

Are plunging rents a prelude to a mass buy-to-let sell off?

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

Webmasters glossary: Mashup

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more