Justice Secretary MacAskill’s failed project to bring legal business to Scotland now gets Law Society backing & more taxpayer funding. AS PROFITS continue to SLIDE at Scots law firms, amid the double dip recession and clients lack of money or willingness to become entangled in lengthy legal disputes not easily resolved in Scotland’s antiquated “Victorian” justice system, the Law Society of Scotland today announced backing for another taxpayer funded initiative by the Scottish Government aiming to promote the legal profession & Scotland as an international hub for legal process outsourcing operations, legal business & litigation.
The latest attempt to shore up Scotland’s increasingly isolated legal system, where civil disputes can drag on for decades and often cost both sides millions of pounds of unrecoverable fees, comes after an earlier project undertaken by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to attract foreign law firms & litigants to Scotland’s almost bizarre courts, fell flat on its face, in spite of a megaspend of public money on the now all but forgotten policy which failed to attract one single case to Scotland’s courts.
Sex for justice scandal and Scots law make unattractive headlines for those trying to encourage litigation to Scotland. The Law Society intends to promote the latest attempt to generate money for Scots law firms by holding an event promoting LPOs and other sectors of the Scottish legal services market in conjunction with the SDI, Scottish Government, and the Scottish Arbitration Centre at this year's International Bar Association Conference in Dublin in October.
Those interested in the Law Society’s latest try at bringing in business may also be interested to know the Scottish Arbitration Centre has featured in reports relating to a gay sex for justice favours scandal, dubbed the Magic Circle affair which brought down several Scottish judges, and has stained the reputation of judges & Scots courts to this day.
The Law Society of Scotland said in a Press Release it had been in discussions with Scottish Development International and Scottish law firms on the potential to attract and secure legal process outsourcing operations (LPOs) as part of the drive to position Scotland as an international centre for conducting legal business.
SDI, the Scottish Government international economic development agency, is encouraging legal process outsourcing providers to locate in Scotland citing the high quality of legal education and the capability to do more complex outsourcing work. Law firms and other companies which decide to open support service operations in Scotland would also be able to apply for funding and development grants.
Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Scottish solicitors are highly regarded internationally [haha, like our Bankers – Ed] and we have welcomed SDI's recognition of the importance of Scotland's legal sector to our economy and its plans to attract more legal work to Scotland from around the globe.
"The legal sector is a major employer in Scotland, providing around 20,000 jobs, including our 10,400 solicitor members, and contributing £1.2 billion to the Scottish economy and I would hope that encouraging organisations to outsource their legal process work here will boost that further.
"In addition to promoting our expertise to elsewhere in the UK and overseas, many of our larger law firms already outsource legal processing work to third party providers. This would give them increased choice and the opportunity to keep the work in Scotland in addition to generating job opportunities, both for qualified solicitors and for law graduates who aim to qualify as solicitors. The legal services market is currently undergoing huge change and it's important to make sure that our members can benefit from new opportunities and that we promote what Scotland has to offer to the legal and business communities both at home and further afield."
Commenting on the Law Society’s announcement today, a legal insider claimed legal process outsourcing operations may do much better south of the border or in the EU countries where the costs of litigation and legal operations are far less than in Scotland. He went onto accuse the Scots legal market of being internationally famed for its inefficiencies, poor regulation & being one of the most difficult in which to operate.
The figures quoted by Ms Jack in the Law Society’s press release over how much the legal profession “contribute to the Scottish economy” are also thought to be highly inaccurate, bearing little relation to current business in the Scots legal sector which have seen a number of firms forced to merge, even some who ‘employed’ Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond to travel abroad on their behalf and beg for business.
One Law Society critic questioned why the Law Society needs the use of public money to promote the legal profession if its membership are so wealthy. He said : “Why is MacAskill trying to give the legal profession a multi million pound leg over while the SNP cut public sector jobs in hospitals & other parts of the justice system?”
In response to queries, the Scottish Government have refused to give any figures of how much public money has been budgeted for the project, however legal sources indicated the costs may run into millions of pounds, at a time of public service cuts and extreme pressure on public spending in Scotland.