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English Lawyers between Market and StateThe Politics of Professionalism$

Richard L Abel

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198260349

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260349.001.0001

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Controlling Competition

Controlling Competition

(p.202) 6 Controlling Competition
English Lawyers between Market and State


Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Although conveyancing does not define solicitors in the same way as advocacy does the Bar, it did produce about half of a solicitor's income for much of the twentieth century. Solicitors became conveyancers almost by accident. After successfully challenging the Scriveners' Company's monopoly in the City of London in 1760, solicitors still shared the market with them, licensed conveyancers, barristers, and laypeople. When Prime Minister Pitt sought to raise the stamp duty on practising certificates and articles in 1804 to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, solicitors demanded and readily obtained a monopoly over conveyancing. To preserve its members' role in conveyancing, the Society delayed land registration for many years, with the result that little more than a third of homes were registered as late as 1984. The 1979 Royal Commission unconditionally endorsed the monopoly, urging that the newly appointed provincial notaries lose the power to convey and penalties for unauthorized practice be increased.

Keywords:   conveyancing, solicitors, Bar, Scriveners' Company, Napoleonic Wars

[H]aving got them into the office [solicitors] may either recommend their own property selling service or a pet estate agent, perhaps not you. [National Association of Estate Agents]

Either we do it; or the estate agents do it. … Clients are stitched up by agents time after time and solicitors are powerless to do anything about it because they are under the agents' thumb. [Robert Sayer, LS Vice President] ased.

[Buyers should start house hunting with a solicitor, who] will be able to negotiate lower selling fees with estate agents. Let's see how estate agents like having their fees dictated by others! [John Edge, solicitor champion]

Panels are not primarily about increasing the amount of work done by the profession as a whole [but about] taking the work away from some of those who do it now (the generalists) and giving it to others (the specialists). [Peter Watson-Lee, LS Council member]

[At a time of] greater focus on quality by consumers [the Law Society] should be jumping on the bandwagon with more specialist panels. [Its capitulation to] pressure from some quarters to spread the work around [was] yet another instance where the Society's duty to the public and its trade union role work against each other. [National Consumer Council]

Although conveyancing does not define solicitors as advocacy does the Bar, it did produce about half their income for much of the twentieth century.1 Solicitors became conveyancers almost by accident. After successfully challenging the Scriveners' Company's monopoly in the City of London in 1760, solicitors still shared the market with them, licensed conveyancers, barristers, and laypeople. When Prime Minister Pitt sought to raise the stamp duty on practising certificates and articles in 1804 to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, solicitors demanded and readily obtained a monopoly over conveyancing (though the Bar Council did not unambiguously concede for another 100 years). The Society repelled a Bar Council foray on behalf of employed barristers in 1949. Solicitors also contained efforts by the National House Owners' Service to encourage DIY conveyancing. To preserve its members' role in conveyancing, the Society delayed land registration for many years, with the result that little more than a third of homes were registered as late as 1984. That Michael Joseph sold 44,000 copies of his virulent attack on conveyancing (self-published in 1976) indicates the level of public dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, the 1979 Royal Commission unconditionally endorsed the monopoly, urging that the newly appointed provincial notaries lose the power to convey and penalties for unauthorized practice be increpsed.

(p.203) The Government's 1983 response was uncharacteristically non-committal, perha because Austin Mitchell, a new Labour MP, had won the lottery and introduced a private member's bill in July to abolish the monopoly.2 In November the DGFT urged reducing house-buying costs by combining the functions of several occupations. Two weeks later the Government eliminated the opticians' monopoly over the sale of spectacles. Although Mitchell's bill won a 96–76 vote on the Second Reading, he knew it could not pass without Conservative support and withdrew it in February 1984 on the Government's promise to introduce its own. Solicitors and their potential competitors fought in the media for the next two years. Each side commissioned survey research: the Society's showed that the public wanted privately practising solicitors to convey their houses but was dissatisfied about cost and speed; the Halifax Building Society's showed borrowers wanted it to be able to convey.

A few estate agents tried to enter this market (partly responding to solicitors' threats to theirs), offering free conveyancing to vendors listing with them and cut-price conveyancing to purchasers. The Society backed legal proceedings against the estate agents and considered disciplining their solicitors. Woolworths and Debenhams put estate agents in their stores, offering fixed price conveyancing, though Woolworths abandoned the experiment after a few months. In the late 1980s large insurers rapidly acquired estate agencies, some of which responded by expanding their own chains.3 An insurance broker proposed to offer conveyancing. Chartered surveyors asserted their right to enter partnerships with or employ solicitors to do conveyancing. And the Administration of Justice Act 1985 revived the occupation of licensed conveyancers (although these could not offer other services in land transactions).

Although solicitors insisted that conveyancing required legal training, most firms relied heavily on legal executives and other unadmitted staff; and the forty Halifax employees checking conveyances by independent solicitors found frequent errors. The Society warned against the anti-competitive threat of highly concentrated mortgage lenders (five owned 55 per cent of all assets, sixteen owned 84 per cent). But solicitors refrained from price competition, declined to offer advance estimates, and charged widely divergent fees. Solicitors pointed to the potential conflict of interest between eager lenders and purchasers needing independent advice. But most first buyers obtained mortgages before consulting solicitors, who had their own conflict in the interest they earned on trust accounts (the purchaser's 10 per cent deposit) as well as conveyancing profits.

Solicitors acted as well as argued. They proposed forming their own building society but failed to raise the capital. Emulating Scots solicitors, they established property centres (SPyCs), in Berwick-on-Tweed in 1984 and then in four other towns. Although estate agents responded by (p.204) boycotting participating solicitors, the National Association of Solicitors Property Centres (NASPyC) claimed to have captured 25–40 per cent of those markets, and most local law societies endorsed the idea. But though more than 1,000 firms quickly joined NASPyC, membership dropped to 270 within three years, only half of which actually offered property (few very successfully). The Society challenged individual solicitors seeking to offer one-stop services at the same time that its own Remuneration and Practice Development Committee embraced this idea.4 Firms also collaborated to advertise their services at fixed competitive prices, allocating members exclusive territorial jurisdiction. As early as 1984 solicitors began advertising low fixed fees for conveyancing. Although the Law Society took comfort in the fact that the Government substitute for Mitchell's Bill, the Building Societies Act 1986, allowed lenders to convey only for non-borrowers (an empty concession), a local law society urged members to boycott lenders that did any conveyances.

The licensed conveyancers created by the 1985 Act posed no threat; by the end of 1987 fewer than 200 had qualified (mostly solicitors or their employees). Nevertheless, two studies found that limited advertising (discussed below) and fear of corporate conveyancing cut prices about 25 per cent from 1983 to 1985 (strong evidence of the efficacy of restrictive practices). Solicitors complained that ‘competition in this field is suicidal’ and ‘people are quoting daft prices’. But the effects remained local: quotations for the identical transaction varied two- or three-fold around the country. And Michael Joseph still claimed firms billed £200 an hour for unqualified employees. Nevertheless, the Marre Committee also opposed corporate conveyancing.5

The Society vigorously patrolled its other jurisdictional boundaries, which were less well defined and harder to defend than the Bar's. It brought prosecutions for unauthorized practice against law stationers preparing probate documents, laypeople drafting contracts, collection agencies assisting creditors, patent agents, even laypeople acting gratis for the poor. To control the use of unadmitted personnel it required solicitors to practise in the same office as their clerks. The Government rejected the Royal Commission recommendation that trust companies probate wills. The Attorney-General appeared to disagree in 1985, but the Administration of Justice Act that year preserved the monopoly, and Austin Mitchell's Freedom of Probate Bill died for lack of government support. The Royal Commission recommended that estate agents' agreement not to draft sales contracts become law. But the Society failed to prevent trade unions from negotiating injury claims for members in industrial tribunals or courts.

Solicitors sought to dampen internal competition as well. The OFT recommended repeal of the ban on MDPs, but the national and local societies were strongly opposed. Although nineteenth-century solicitors openly advertised for business, the Society now prohibited ‘touting’ (which included (p.205) undercutting fees), fee-paying work for clients given free advice, employed solicitors privately serving their employers' clients, and trade unions recommending their solicitors to members for personal matters. Although the Society opposed proposals by the MMC and Royal Commission to allow some advertising, it abruptly reversed course in response to the threat to the conveyancing monopoly. At first it strongly favoured collective promotion. Opposition to individual advertising by smaller firms (led by the BLA) forced the Society to submit the issue to a postal ballot in 1984, which narrowly approved limited liberalization but rejected major reform by more than three to one.

Solicitors early succeeded in suppressing price competition. By the eighteenth century courts set fees for most contentious matters; toward the end of the nineteenth the Society made conveyancing fees a function of property values rather than document length, instantly multiplying profits from large transactions two- or three-fold. (Numerous empirical studies showed that time expenditure did not vary linearly with property value.) Solicitors managed to raise fees another 50 per cent by 1944. Although scale fees initially were justified as maxima protecting clients from unscrupulous solicitors, by 1936 the Council prohibited conveyances for less than the scale fees set by local law societies (which policed them and, by 1964, had made maxima minima). Under pressure, the Society abolished scale fees in 1972 but substituted eight criteria, ensuring similar results. In 1953 the Society also replaced its schedule for other non-contentious work with a set of seven factors (though in 1959 it recommended proportioning probate fees to estate value).

A. Conveyancing

Repelling Boarders

When the Green Paper proposed corporate conveyancing, solicitors confronted the disadvantage that buyers found a property (through estate agents), sought financial and insurance advice (primarily from lenders and financial advisers), and shopped for a mortgage (from lenders) before consulting a solicitor. They either had to block the reform or leapfrog their competitors. The 345 firms in the Solicitors Property Group (SPyG, successor to NASPyC), whose membership was up 20 per cent from the previous year, threatened to withdraw all deposits from lenders engaging in conveyancing. Members were ‘competing for professional work as now but not advertising against each other—only advertising en bloc against estate agents en bloc’. Efforts to engage in lending failed again. The 500 firms that joined Solicitors Financial and Property Services Co., launched and guaranteed by the Law Society in 1988, soon fell to 300, and by 1991 the Society was left with a debt of almost £300,000.6

(p.206) Solicitors also assailed estate agents (two-thirds now owned by lenders) for steering buyers to insurance companies offering ‘substantial hidden commissions’. The Consumers' Association reported agents persuading sellers to accept low offers in order to sell insurance to buyers and promoting excessive mortgages and unnecessary insurance. The (competing) Institute of Insurance Brokers claimed that buyers were wasting £680 million a year by trading in existing policies. The Halifax Building Society retorted that nearly 30 per cent of buyers complained about their solicitors; the CA replied that half were dissatisfied with their estate agents. The DGFT proposed regulating financial advice given by estate agents, but the Law Society demanded a total ban. The Government rejected a recommendation by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that agents be required to pass a test because it ‘provides a barrier against entry’; instead, the Government promulgated rules against fraud and overreaching. Condemning the DTI consultation on tying-in as ‘half-hearted’, the Law Society accused the Government of having ‘shamefully abandoned the interests of consumers and given in to pressures from commercial lending institutions’.7

Launching its new conveyancing protocol in 1990, the Society boasted that TransAction would allow solicitors to ‘see off’ the competition and, within a decade, routinely offer estate agency and financial services. NAEA responded by urging members to conduct title searches for sellers, accusing solicitors of promoting vendor searches as an ‘excuse for getting the intending seller to go to the solicitor first’.

The effect will be more sinister—having got them into the office they may either recommend their own property selling service or a pet estate agent, perhaps not you. If they succeed in brainwashing intending sellers to go to them before us they may also see the advantage of opening their own property sales department. …

Indeed, the SPyG did urge members to encourage clients to list properties through solicitor estate agents and sought authority to advise purchasers about mortgages (like estate agents), act for both parties (like licensed conveyancers), and offer discount packages of estate agency and conveyancing services. Its chair, Leslie Dubow, denounced the NAEA response as ‘very much against the public interest’. A few weeks later the NAEA president bragged that he had ‘not seen sight nor sound’ of TransAction. The Law Society spent £60,000 for a cinema commercial featuring ‘Brookside’ television soap opera stars urging viewers to ‘Make the right move—see a solicitor first’. In Scotland, whose solicitors had captured 37 per cent of the house-selling market by 1996 (more than 70 per cent in major cities), NAEA persuaded the DGFT to refer to the MMC its complaint that solicitors property centres refused to accept estate agent listings, some even excluding solicitors who listed properties jointly with estate agents. The (p.207) MMC found a monopoly but declined to declare it against the public interest.

English solicitors, however, were unable to replicate the Scots success. Dubow complained that half the solicitors in two towns ‘went off to estate agents, made themselves out to be good guys and got all the instructions’. Five of the six centres failed, partly because the Society prohibited solicitors from offering conveyancing or financial services to buyers to ensure that ‘the buyer receives independent financial advice from his own solicitor or elsewhere’. Yet an NCC survey found that only 16 per cent of clients asked solicitors for such advice. As the recession eased, LS President Tony Girling hoped buyers ‘will have less strong ties of loyalty with estate agents, so the opportunity to seek to be the first point of call for the house-buying public is there’.8

Solicitors continued to resist corporate conveyancing. The Solicitors Journal criticized the LCD for failing ‘to prevent financial institutions using conveyancing as a loss leader’. LS Council member Tony Girling warned against ‘free’ conveyancing tied to endowment mortgages; the latter had increased from 54 per cent of conveyances in 1983 to 90 per cent in 1991, generating commissions accounting for 20–30 per cent of lenders' pre-tax profits. The Solicitors Journal also complained that the 1990 Act's requirement of a solicitor interview (which obstructed corporate conveyancing) ‘has been watered down and the client faced with paying an extra charge may dispense with the interview and the advice he needs’. The Leeds Permanent Building Society, by contrast, resented that ‘plans to do conveyancing have been tripped up because [lenders] are unable to offer a centralised service’.9

But it was the recession, not legal obstacles, that discouraged corporate conveyancing. Freehold residential sales fell by half between 1988 and 1992. In February that year the Nationwide, Leeds Permanent, Halifax, and Alliance and Leicester Building Societies all denied any interest. The Authorised Conveyancing Practitioners Board called this ‘the worst possible time to expect building societies to sign up for something like this’. Lord Mackay claimed to have encountered insuperable ‘difficulty in fixing a reasonably workable clause that would produce any kind of parity across the different enterprises involved’. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) was ‘disappointed’ that ‘the Lord Chancellor has decided not to implement what is clearly the will of Parliament’. Mitchell accused Mackay of using a ‘crude political trick’ to give ‘solicitors the chance to increase conveyancing charges without a threat from the institutions because he can't get the cash from cabinet for legal aid’. The Solicitors Journal thought the Society ‘wise’ to take ‘a low profile in welcoming this major victory for its lobbying efforts’.10

Because neither was able to go it alone, lenders and solicitors vied for control. The Bradford & Bingley (the eighth largest building society) (p.208) required solicitors to offer agreed prices, twenty-four-hour response, and three meetings with clients. It was ‘not interested in having any one-man bands on the panel’. Although the Law Society acquiesced, sole practitioner Arnold Rosen assailed both lender discrimination and the Society's acceptance, which ‘engendered the feeling that it sees the sole practitioner as expendable’. Some forty firms formed the National Conveyancing Network to negotiate collectively with the twenty largest lenders, only two of which demanded exclusivity. Soon more than 1,000 firms had joined. Conquest Legal Marketing launched a competitor, starting with thirty firms. The SPyG, whose membership had fallen to 250 because of the recession, also negotiated with financial institutions for referrals.11

The Sole Practitioners Group (SPG) asked the Law Society to stop banking with Barclays while it continued ‘to discriminate against one-man bands’. Noting that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission had investigated building society discrimination against solo chartered surveyers, the Society asked the OFT to review the ‘restriction on the choice of a solicitor’. The Skip ton (the fourteenth largest building society) stopped instructing all but forty sole practitioners personally recommended by local managers. It had ‘increasingly suffered as a result of both fraud and negligence by solicitors, in particular sole practitioners’ and condemned the Society for ‘trying to minimise the payments from the compensation fund’. SPG members were ‘hurt and angry’, but the Skipton dismissed them as ‘emotive and hysterical’, claiming the twenty largest lenders all were ‘considering their stance regarding sole practitioners’ and already imposed limitations. The CML declared the end of open panels. In 1999 the fourth largest chain of estate agents cut its conveyancing panel from 1,000 firms to fewer than ten, which would work to ‘common standards’, possibly at fixed prices.12

Nearly eight years after the Green Papers, Hambro Countrywide PLC, the largest estate agency, selling nearly 7 per cent of residential property, contracted to offer licensed conveyancers to buyer or seller. The SPyG feared this would ‘put the livelihood of solicitors undertaking residential conveyancing at risk’. Dubow accused the Law Society's ‘very restrictive’ practice rules of putting solicitors at ‘a very considerable disadvantage’. ‘Whilst [the Society] worry about the high moral ground conveyancers are worried about whether they will have a crust to eat next year’. The Solicitors Journal agreed it was ‘time for the Law Society to encourage solicitors to become involved in the property selling process … if the estate agents, mortgage brokers and licensed conveyancers are not to take away altogether the solicitors' role as conveyancer for residential property’.

Richard Hegarty, chair of the Society's Property and Commercial Services (PACS) committee, said Hambro had promised not to act for both sides, which the Standard Mortgage Instructions (SMI) agreed between the Society and major lenders also prohibited. But Hambro negotiated exclusive referrals of the other party to three large regional firms (Shoosmiths & (p.209) Harrison, Eversheds, and EDC Lord & Co), which would requalify their solicitors as conveyancers, locate them in Hambro offices in Northamptonshire, Manchester, Bristol, Surrey, and Essex, open twelve hours a day seven days a week, and charge £350. Declaring that ‘the volumes of work are dictated not by how many people come through the door but by how many transactions we can process’, it quickly opened in Northampton, bought Lord's Surrey and Essex offices, and added offices in Cardiff and Manchester; in 1998 it conveyed 22,000 freehold properties and was contemplating offices in Southampton and Bristol.

Hegarty bravely maintained that this was ‘something solicitors have been allowed to do for years’, but the Gazette discerned ‘a significant shift in the market in favour of the big, customer-friendly supplier’. Complaining that the Society had rejected his similar proposal seven years earlier, Dubow warned that ‘once one estate agency group provides a conveyancing service, others are bound to follow’. His SPyG urged the Society to amend Rule 6 to allow solicitors to act for both sides and offer buyers financial services. The Society's 1997 conference heard that the Halifax, Woolwich, and Barclays were considering following Hambro. The Woolwich had already created HomeSmart to end gazumping by buying and selling homes as a principal. The Halifax (the largest building society) joined with First American Title Insurance and Marsons (a solicitors' firm handling 3,000 conveyances a month), intially offering title insurance in Kent but hoping to expand nationwide and add conveyancing. A Somerset firm also used First American's software to expedite conveyancing.

When corporate conveyancing first threatened in 1990, the Society contemplated an outright ban on solicitors acting for both parties in order to oppose licensed conveyancers doing so without displaying ‘naked selfinterest’. But the change was blocked by local law societies, whose members feared losing half the transaction and an ongoing client. Six years later, when corporate conveyancing seemed imminent, the Society obtained the Master of the Rolls' permission to allow solicitors to convey for sellers served by a hived-off estate agency and buyers to whom they had given financial advice. Two-thirds of the 800 responding to the Society's consultation agreed. Warning that solicitors' share of the conveyancing market might drop from 96 per cent to 10–15, Hegarty said ‘anything that reduces regulation in this area must be good’. Dubow called it ‘a window of opportunity’. Robert Sayer declared:

Either we do it; or the estate agents do it. We should trust solicitors to be honest; they are, by and large. Clients are stitched up by agents time after time and solicitors are powerless to do anything about it because they are under the agents' thumb.

Conflict of interest concerns were ‘complete nonsense’. Council member Anthony Bogan hoped estate agents would be ‘worried’ by this ‘truly watershed decision’.

(p.210) Instead, the Society launched another consultation. Calling for an end to such ‘pusillanimous dithering’, the New Law Journal urged that ‘what the profession should do to repel boarders should be discussed openly’. Dubow warned that ‘if other financial institutions follow the lead of Hambro Countrywide there will be precious little conveyancing left for our profession … what is at stake is the very existence of high street practice’. The Council ultimately modified Rule 6 to allow Solicitors Estate Agencies Ltd (Seals), formed by at least four firms and operating from separate premises, to convey and offer financial and mortgage advice to both sides.

This revived interest in property centres. The SPyG boldly proposed opening one in Woking, Hambro's first site. At a February 1997 meeting of Surrey solicitors organized by solicitor-estate agent Michael Garson, Sayer pronounced: ‘Either we do this or we give up conveyancing’. Bogan, the local Council member, distributed plans to the 100 participants and subsequently offered shares in the scheme to the 12,700 solicitors who had supported John Edge's 1996 conveyancing fee initiative (see below), hoping to raise £200,000. The next month the Surrey Law Society and SPyG proposed to establish a company for this purpose, directed by Sayer, Bogan, Dubow, Garson, and Edge. A month after that Conquest Legal Marketing launched Solicitors Property Centres Ltd (SPyCL), boasting it would open twelve within a year and up to 150 in two. Its survey of 250 firms found that 92 per cent believed SPyCs were necessary for ‘gaining market control at source’ and ‘obtaining new conveyancing referrals’. Although Conquest's president, Richard Berenson, offered to liaise with the SPyG, since ‘it would be foolish to present two national networks to the profession at the same time’, Bogan refused because his group was non-profit and owned exclusively by solicitors. Dubow accused Berenson of ‘trying to muscle in on something we've been doing for the past twelve years’. ‘He's talking about working with estate agents, while we see ourselves as operating entirely for the benefit of solicitors. …’ PACS supported the SPyG initiative, and Hegarty said Conquest's plan violated Society rules. But when past LS president Rodger Pannone became SPCL chair, Bogan agreed to merge the SPyG initiative with it. One of three government ministers reviewing house selling told Pannone he was ‘clearly in favour of the one-stop operation’. So was the CA. The Society's own survey found that consumer focus groups had ‘overwhelmingly negative’ views of the house transfer process. The Adam Smith Institute warned that ‘this Government may be more inclined to … take lawyers by the scruff of the neck and say you will have to change your ways’.

Within four months SPyCL had convinced 500 firms to pay a £750 enrolment fee, and twenty were inquiring daily. Berenson repeatedly missed his targets but just set new ones: twelve within a year became just one, but ‘then there will be a great wave of centres forming throughout (p.211) next year’—five by January 1998 and 1,700 firms enrolled by the middle of that year. In February Bogan admitted the first five would not open until at least June but claimed that enough solicitors had registered to warrant another forty centres, which ‘will follow much quicker than they would have done had we launched in January’. The first centre, in Shepherd's Bush, did not open until March 1999. The next, planned in Preston, was aborted when the fifteen firms withdrew and threatened to create their own rival, attacking SPyCL's contract with Berenson's for-profit business and the £750 enrolment fee. Solicitors in Swansea, the third site, threatened to follow suit, persuading SPyCL to sever its ties with Berenson (who kept £500,000 in enrolment fees). Dubow's SPyG then launched a competitor under Garson: ‘solicitors' group practices rather than estate agencies owned by solicitors’.

The Law Society became the third player when it allocated £80,000 to design a model SPyC under the aegis of one of its officers, Bogan, and Hegarty. In August 1997 it boldly announced a chain of 200 SPyCs—one in every high street—employing independent financial advisers to arrange mortgages. NAEA objected that ‘the playing field is not level and our members will obviously not welcome this’. But a year later a Society-commissioned study found insufficient solicitor interest to capture even a small part of the house-selling market.

Finally, Scottish solicitors sought to replicate their success south of the border. The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPyC) conceded that ‘market forces’ had convinced the public that conveyancing was ‘something that anybody can do, with no particular skills needed’. Acknowledging that the profession would never ‘again be able to persuade people that conveyancing is a function that they should be prepared to pay even a reasonable fee for’, it viewed property selling as ‘a way of introducing new clients to the firm, and then cross-selling other services to them, particularly in the financial services field’. With the caution of experience (and perhaps culture) it proposed to open a London centre if 350 firms signed up. The Gazette called this ‘a chance too good to squander’. But the failure to reach that target led ESPyC to refocus on the north-east, where it told a meeting of 170 firms it would open if 100 enrolled. When sixty did so, it launched the Newcastle Solicitors Property Shop in January 1999 with twenty-nine firms. Although local estate agents withdrew their boycott threat when warned it was anti-competitive, a Newcastle solicitor observed that such ‘instructions have dried up’. One estate agent wrote to every home displaying a NSPyS sign saying that solicitors could not sell property. Still, NSPyS sold £3.5 million worth of property in its first two months and £12 million in ten. It was talking with solicitors in Liverpool, Leeds, the Lake District, Manchester, Bradford, and York and was willing to co-operate with the SpyCL and the Preston dissidents.13

(p.212) Disciplining the Crew

If external threats tended to unite solicitors, internal competition divided them. As Law Society President in 1990, Tony Holland declared ‘little or no respect for those solicitors who insist on offering cut-price conveyancing of a mediocre quality’, ‘secretarial conveyancing’ under ‘the trademark, if you like, of solicitors’. Three years later he launched a ‘crusade’ against them. The Society should warn the public ‘it is unlikely that a solicitor can carry out this work adequately at a fee for less than’ £200. But the chair of the Society's cost of default working party noted that the OFT ‘just wouldn't let us’ set a minimum fee. He even questioned the warning: ‘a sole practitioner doing it on the kitchen table could possibly do it’. The Council rejected Holland's proposal to deny or reduce lenders' compensation claims against firms charging inadequate fees.

At the 1993 AGM solicitors called for a return to scale fees or the denial of indemnity cover to those charging less. While conceding the inevitability of ‘loss leaders’, the PACS chair warned that the ‘crisis’ of cut-price conveyancing would cause a ‘slow slide into bankruptcy’. Yet a study found no relationship between prices and SCB complaints or SIF claims. And the OFT threatened to ‘examine carefully the impact of any minimum conveyancing fee or any recommended fee scale’. Its Director General, Sir Bryan Carsberg, cautioned the Society's annual conference against ‘pricing cartels’. He told North Devon solicitors that openly circulating an agreed scale was ‘not an acceptable remedy’. He accepted their ‘voluntary assurance’ of discontinuance but warned that ‘this may not be the case with any future attempts to fix fees’. The Society responded by issuing ‘guidelines’ and urging solicitors to report suspect pricing practices. The Gazette retailed horror stories of ‘cutting corners, secretarial conveyancing’, insisting that professional advice was ‘a genuine hand-holding exercise’. But the Solicitors Journal conceded that much conveyancing ‘now relies on knowing which form to fill in’. Indeed, the Society told members ‘there are many parts of a conveyancing transaction which can properly be delegated to fully trained and supervised non-solicitor staff’. Nor did solicitor control guarantee quality: the Land Registry was ‘pointing out errors or deficiencies in solicitors' applications’.14

In March 1994 a Society working party reluctantly concluded that ‘compulsory and recommended fee scales would be unworkable and ineffective’. Instead it proposed separate solicitors for buyer and lender (in response to lender conveyancing) and a kite mark to fight price cutting, ‘which put the quality of service at risk’. But it inconsistently urged solicitors to see conveyancing as an ‘opportunity for cross-selling other services, including will-making and financial advice’. Describing the loan market as ‘a vicious, highly competitive, plundering jungle’, in which ‘the borrower is the prey’, (p.213) the Solicitors Journal lauded the report as ‘the single most important document that has come out of Chancery Lane on an issue so fundamental to the survival of the majority of the profession’. It ‘inevitably … will mean more paid work for the profession’. (Conveyancing had declined from 50 per cent of solicitors' gross income in 1965–6 to 21 in 1989 and 10 in 1993, only 34–36 per cent even in firms with fewer than five partners.)

The Society's director of legal practice claimed the proposal responded to ‘an inherent conflict of interest’ in joint representation. But the CML dismissed this as merely ‘theoretical’ and feared increased cost and delay. Echoing the Solicitors Journal, the Halifax called the proposal ‘just an attempt … to generate more work’. Even the SPyG had ‘grave reservations’, preferring a ‘recommended’ fee scale and discipline of those who ‘woefully undercut it’. It wanted lenders to maintain open panels and pay a separate fee for conveyancing while limiting solicitors' liability to a guarantee of good title. Displaying unwarranted bravado, it was eager to ‘take the institutions on—head on if necessary’. But the LS working party chair saw ‘absolutely no prospect’ of this alternative. Lenders were ‘thoroughly fed up with the cavalier way in which they see the profession is treating them’ and would set their own standards.

In Birmingham, 100 conveyancing solicitors opposed the Society's plan, preferring to expose those who took short cuts. Finding it ‘very difficult to recall any actual conflicts of interest’ between lenders and borrowers, Bristol solicitors declared that the proposal's ‘underlying reason’ was ‘the desire to increase the fees’. The Society's consultation found that 72 per cent of firms and 75 per cent of local law societies opposed separate representation, as did most lenders, the CA and NCC, and the DGFT. Solicitors feared lenders would retaliate by eliminating more from conveyancing panels, eventually bringing such work in house, and exhorting buyers to do their own conveyancing. Robert Sayer (a new Council member) warned it would ‘put the final nail in our coffins’. A majority of firms favoured a quality mark, however, and 80 per cent of the sixty lenders responding (out of 152) would consider limiting panels to those certified. The National Conveyancing Network and Conquest were enthusiastic, and Network 2000 said ‘firms like our [fifty] members, who set themselves high standards, are tired of footing the compensation fund bill which has been caused by those who pay little or no regard to standards of probity, service and quality’.

When the Society disregarded both internal opposition and external criticism by proceeding with separate representation, the OFT threatened a referral to the MMC. Assailing this ‘public relations disaster’, the Solicitors Journal pronounced that ‘asking clients to pay twice as much for a conveyance was a no-hoper’. The SPyG called the decision ‘quite incomprehensible’, ‘highly divisive’, and certain to ‘attract a lot of damaging and adverse publicity’. ‘I can see the headlines now: “Solicitors rip off the public”.’ (p.214) Sayer predicted that solicitors would ‘be forced to do more work for no extra money’. The Society should ‘adopt a modern, commercial attitude and put our interests first and stop imposing unnecessary restraints on the way we conduct our business’.

After nearly five hours of debate the Council decided on further consultation but declared that ‘unrestricted joint representation of borrower and lender may in some circumstances no longer be an option’. Within weeks the CML rejected the proposed compromise that solicitors limit unpaid services to lenders. It was ‘objectionable in principle’ to treat the lender as ‘a second class citizen’ and would bring in separate representation ‘through the back door’. The working party chair retorted: ‘we are undertaking for nothing the work that other people should be doing’. But the Society abandoned separate representation in favour of a limited retainer for lenders, who threatened to instruct their own solicitors if it proved unsatisfactory.15

The Society renewed the battle a year later. After long, difficult negotiations it tentatively agreed with the CML on standard mortgage instructions requiring that lenders exhort borrowers to pay solicitors for mortgage work at an ‘indicative range of fees’. The OFT insisted these be negotiated in each instance. The LS Council then narrowly voted to revise Rule 6 to allow solicitors to limit lender representation to title issues. Nearly four-fifths of the more than 2,000 responses to its consultation favoured the change. PACS, however, supported it by just one vote; the standards and guidance committee was concerned; and both SIF and SCF worried about increased fraud, negligence, and conflict of interest. Tony Girling, immediate past LS president, objected: ‘I thought we had shed the nanny's clothes’. ‘Let's not put the nanny's uniform on again.’ The CML responded by approaching the government about activating the dormant authorized conveyancing practitioners' scheme, adopting SMI unilaterally, and contracting with firms doing bulk conveyancing. In 1999 the Society and CML finally agreed on a revised Rule 6, lender's handbook, and SMI.16

More than half those responding to the second consultation opposed even the kite mark. Mark Sheldon thought standards superfluous for ‘such a basic activity’. Another Council member feared they would shave ‘already wafer thin’ profit margins. When the Council made the kite mark optional, the SPyG chair accused it of treating solicitors like ‘silly little children to be told by “Mummy Law Society” what is best for them’. The Solicitors Journalist the controversy reflected ‘the amount of heat rather than light surrounding the profession just now’. At the same time, Conquest and Network 2000 announced a proprietary conveyancing standard.17

Many solicitors were unreconciled to price competition. Tony Holland complained that buyers at firms charging £99 plus VAT were ‘given too little advice’ and saw a solicitor ‘rarely, if ever’. Fees for conveying more (p.215) expensive properties fell by 10 per cent in 1993; in the first six months of 1994 70 per cent of buyers paid less than £300 plus VAT. The Council responded by amending Rule 13 to require that every office be supervised by a solicitor with three years' experience, who had completed further training. Sayer blamed the fact ‘that we currently have the lowest charges in the western world’ on ‘an appalling error of judgment in the mid-1980s when we were first allowed to advertise’, which ‘condemned us all to an unnecessary price war’. His firm resisted by charging hourly rates. Many of the 500 responses he received in the following two weeks ‘expressed a deep bitterness towards those firms which are charging fees so low as not even to pretend to cover true costs’. This ‘groundswell of anger … if properly focused could be the salvation of all’.

At a Law Society meeting in Oxfordshire two months later a solicitor claimed that the OFT had condoned the Royal Institute of British Architects' indicative fee scale. But the Society noted that the DGFT had found ‘that fee competition in the [architecture] market is strong and that publication of the scales is unlikely to have a significant effect’. Still, the 200 participants called for a return to scale fees, discipline of those working at a loss, and denial of indemnity cover for work charged below an hourly rate. The Society floated the possibility of recommending minimum fees.18

Celebrating the upset victory of Martin Mears and Robert Sayer as 1995–6 LS President and Vice-President, dissident John Edge hoped they would

remind committee [vide Council] members that they exist to preserve, protect and promote the interests of individual solicitors and the profession as a whole. If the Law Society is not prepared to carry out this function then I would like to see all conveyancing solicitors resign en masse from the Society with a view to forming our own ‘trade union’ to fight for and protect our interests.

Claiming that 2,200 solicitors supported him (and 200 were enlisting daily), Edge proposed a fee schedule and ‘demand[ed] that the society finds some way of enforcing it. I am sick and tired of being told that it cannot be done.’ The Society should persuade buyers to start house-hunting with a solicitor, who ‘will be able to negotiate lower selling fees with estate agents. Let's see how estate agents like having their fees dictated by others!’ ‘I personally find it offensive, depressing, and degrading that 25 years hard work as a solicitor should result in meagre financial reward.’ When Edge and Bogan submitted 7,000 letters of support, Sayer declared that ‘bringing conveyancing income back to a fairer level is one of my main objectives’. Mears ‘applaud[ed] Mr Edge's energy and initiative’ and pledged to give him ‘all the support I can’.

Although ‘suspending solicitors for breaching price guidelines’ struck the New Law Journal as ‘a bit harsh’, it was ‘worth exploring’. The OFT (p.216) might not ‘automatically’ veto a proposal to fine solicitors ‘the difference between the price charged and the guideline price’. There was

an argument for saying that ensuring a reasonable return for conveyancing work through guideline fees would be in the public interest if it reduced the temptation for solicitors to cut corners and produced a consequent fall in the incidence of solicitor negligence and dishonesty.

But the Solicitors Journal warned that minimum fees ‘will stimulate competition from licensed conveyancers’. A high street solicitor ridiculed those who denied any ‘link between cheap conveyancing and negligent conveyancing. The same was said for many years about smoking and lung cancer.’ Bogan argued that the fact that solicitors' ‘regulatory structure distorts the market’ justified other restrictive practices. In any case, ‘could 8,500 solicitors all be wrong?’ The SPG urged members to support Edge's initiative, emulating estate agents who ‘have restored their commission charges to a sensible level’ and chartered surveyors who ‘have recommended fees for various types of house surveys’.19

Retreating from his own bluster, Edge urged SIF to exclude solicitors charging less than specified fees. Sayer concurred, maintaining that two firms were going bankrupt a week. The Gazette reported its postbag ‘bulging with anguished correspondence’ but worried about the profession's image. ‘A public with a sour taste in its mouth will not be receptive to approaches from those solicitors who hope to break into the important field of financial advice.’ Although ‘the campaign has only just begun, they have been cast as moneygrabbing protectionists’. Indeed, The Times dismissed the equation of cheapness with shoddiness as ‘specious, protectionist and ill-judged’.

When 10,000 had endorsed his proposal, Edge urged the Society to agree scale fees for lenders with the CML. The grassroots response was ‘a true “snap shot” of the way the profession is feeling, not only about the conveyancing issue but about its attitude to the Law Society Council members and the professional body generally’. Edge and Bogan obtained a solicitor's opinion that scale fees enforced by either a practice rule or the denial of indemnity would not be illegal per se. A reference to the MMC would at least win two years, during which time the property market might recover. At the Society's annual conference a few weeks later the Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society legal controller warned that panels might exclude smaller firms and lenders move conveyancing in-house. But Sayer supported the proposal as ‘a way of bringing the matter to a head with lenders’. And Edge was ‘not impressed by the bullying threats’; it was ‘both absurd and obscene that lenders cynically expect solicitors to collect the lenders' legal fees from buyers, knowing full well that the present market will not support such fees’. Indeed, estate agents were conditioning referrals to solicitors on low conveyancing fees or illegal kickbacks.20

(p.217) Sayer claimed to have demonstrated the ‘obvious and direct’ relationship between price competition and SIF exposure: £4.9 million in claims between 1989 and 1995 against forty cut-price firms compared with £430,000 against a ‘control group’ of twenty-five ‘ordinary’ firms. (He ignored the wide variation in claims incidence within both groups and did not test statistical significance.) ‘It cost £1 million more to insure the cut-price firms than the amount of premiums they contributed. If every firm had the same claims record as these cut-price firms, the SIF would no longer exist.’ The PACS committee chair had ‘been desperately trying to find a link’ and ‘thought there was one’, but SIF data offered ‘very weak’ evidence. SIF chair and Council member Andrew Kennedy was unconvinced. Conveyancing claims were the same (absolutely and proportionally) as they had been three years earlier, in the depths of the recession. The ‘conveyancing fee issue is not an indemnity matter’. Edge's proposals ‘hit the innocent as well as those who may not be innocent’. When SIF objected that ‘the sample was not big enough to prove a pattern’, Sayer asked ‘why did they not increase its size?’ Mears maintained he and the Council were ‘doing everything possible to restore an enforceable fee scale’ and seeking the Master of the Rolls' consent.

Bogan decried ‘the appalling picture in our high streets today: the loss of nearly 4000 firms since 1989 with an average voluntary closure of about four each week. It is estimated that more than 1000 solicitors are the subject of IVAs and each week another is made bankrupt.’ (The number of firms actually declined only 1,200 during this period, mostly through concentration: 2,700 fewer sole practitioners but 300 more firms with two to four partners and 600 more with five to ten.) Noting that 12,700 solicitors now supported Edge's proposal and dismissing the ‘minority’ who advocated ‘unfettered competition’, Bogan invoked (anachronistic) precedents: a 1968 decision pronouncing that ‘the professional man must submit to some restraints of trade’ and refuse ‘by undercutting or otherwise to snatch work from another practitioner’; a 1973 MMC report accepting price regulation if ‘it were shown that the profession would otherwise be exposed to exceptional danger of a fall in incomes and that this would result in a serious deterioration of the quality or quantity of service offered’; and Lord Diplock's assertion that ‘on any long term view it was unlikely that the interests of solicitors would conflict with those of the public’. ‘Perhaps on this occasion’, said Bogan, the Society ‘needs to behave as a trade union and protect its members’. The Croydon and Shropshire law societies voted overwhelmingly for scale fees.21

In December 1995 Sayer urged the Council to condition SIF coverage on a fee of £250 plus 0.5 per cent of the sale price. Mears called this ‘one of the most important motions ever’, capable of transforming ‘the financial health and morale of high street solicitors’. But though the relationship (p.218) between price, quality, and indemnity claims was ‘inherently probable’, critics' ‘contributions to the debate have been entirely destructive and negative’ and ‘reactionary elements on the Council and in the bureaucracy’ were ‘doing their utmost to dispute the means’. The Council voted by 39 to 25 to discuss the issue (although some had not seen the Master of the Rolls' cautionary note). Sayer denounced firms that ‘are getting business by not doing work properly’. Some secretaries learned conveyancing in just fifteen hours. Sayer insisted on the ‘very strong link’ between prices and claims, attributing SIF scepticism and opposition to fear that the proposal was ‘the thin edge of the wedge’ and could lead to ‘splitting up the SIF’ (see Chapter 9). Nevertheless, he accepted a compromise incorporating quality standards.

Henry Hodge supported the compromise but tabled an amendment against ‘forcing up conveyancing fees’. ‘We can't change the world and recreate scale fees … it's cynical and cruel raising the hopes of the profession. …’ Also opposing a ‘quick fix’, Eileen Pembridge exhorted: ‘Conveyancers, improve your standards’. The head of the Serious Fraud Office warned of ‘the liability of Council members if we are inducing solicitors to enter into an unlawful contract’.

While the Council dithered, Edge raised £19,000 from 1,000 solicitors in less than a month to pay Michael Beloff QC for an opinion on the scheme's legality. David Pannick QC advised the Society that use of discipline or SIF rules to enforce minimum fees would be illegal, but low-cost conveyancers might be required to purchase insurance on the market if there were sufficient evidence that they generated more claims. David Vaughan QC advised the Society that all the proposals would provoke a referral to the MMC. Indeed, the new DGFT told Mears that ‘setting minimum prices’ was not ‘a suitable way to protect consumers against negligence in the provision of conveyancing’. ‘Any mechanism designed to raise and maintain the level of fees’ would require ‘very good reasons’. He sent a copy to the Master of the Rolls, who would have to approve any rule change.

The insistence by PACS committee chair Richard Hegarty on ‘incontrovertible evidence’ of the alleged relationship between prices and claims infuriated Sayer. He determined to write a separate paper because ‘there are four lines on the advantages of my scheme and half a page on why it's no good’. Based on an opinion from Gerald Barling QC that an adverse MMC ruling was not a ‘foregone conclusion’ because there were ‘likely to be cogent public interest arguments both for and against the changes’, Edge again urged the Council to publish a ‘fair and reasonable’ fee and deny price cutters indemnity coverage. Although SIF's scepticism was seconded by actuaries appointed by the Law Society, specialist brokers chosen by its indemnity working party, and a leading professional indemnity underwriter, Mears was unmoved, insisting that the original sample of sixty-five (p.219) firms was sufficiently large and its results ‘more than confirm what common sense would tell one to expect, i.e., cut-price conveyancing = indemnity claims’.

In March 1996 the Council dropped the idea of barring low-cost conveyancers from SIF because they could not buy private insurance but considered charging premiums by the conveyance. Mears conceded ‘I'm not the dictator of the Law Society’. But Edge dismissed this as ‘only tinkering with the problem’. Making it clear that his real animus was price competition, he complained that ‘some firms will simply fail to charge the indemnity fee at all to retain a market advantage’.22

Dispelling any uncertainty about the government's attitude, the OFT investigated price fixing by Burnley and Pendle solicitors and estate agents and then asked all 125 local law societies if they had a similar ‘arrangement which sets out the minimum costs for conveyancing work’. Twenty societies accused the OFT of ‘going on a fishing expedition’. Mears called its suspicions unsupported (although the B&P Law Society admitted setting guidelines) but also defended agreements as ‘entirely proper’ and was ‘entirely confident that we could put up strong public interest arguments’ were the OFT to make a referral to the MMC. The Gazette thought it would be ‘most unfortunate’ if this ‘crackdown on anti-competitive practices … stopped conveyancers getting together to do what is quite permissible under competition law—to take collective stock of what it costs to do conveyancing’. But when the Law Society analysed more than 800 responses to its consultation paper, Hegarty found no ‘case for publication of guidelines or recommended fees’ because the range ‘is so wide that [averages] cannot easily be used’.

The SPyG continued to seek fee guidelines based on hours per transaction. At its September annual conference Sayer agreed that ‘unless things change radically, I don't think we will see High Street firms survive’. The SPyG chair warned the Society against ‘killing the goose that lays the golden egg or at least paying [sic] for your salaries’. But the Society's former head of corporate and regional affairs denied that ‘we can rig conveyancing prices by some cunning use of [our] statutory powers’, adding candidly: ‘If it were not such political dynamite, the Law Society would by now have devised a strategy to help ease the passing of the small percentage of financially unstable firms for whom euthanasia is the best option’. Eileen Pembridge agreed that ‘the very wise and very dispirited high street practitioner should get out and retrain for something more lucrative’. The Solicitors Journal, traditional champion of such practices, exhorted: ‘Only bycombining their resources and working together can the small high street firms continue to make a profit from conveyancing and compete directly with the bigger commercial firms and other organisations such as Hambros’. But inevitably it was the larger firms that heeded such advice. Eversheds invited nine major regional firms to discuss an association for (p.220) low-cost conveyancing. The twelve lawyers and fifty-eight staff at Shoosmiths were opening more than 3,000 files a month by September 1999. At its annual conference several months earlier, the SPyG condemned ‘solicitors killing their brethren’ and warned that ‘being allowed to remain in business’ was coming to a ‘very abrupt end’. LS President Michael Mathews (a City partner) condemned ‘cut price conveyancing—by which I mean a cut-corner conveyancing’ but offered no solution.23

B. Multinational Partnerships

For City firms, MNPs offered the opportunity to enter and potentially capture new markets, especially in Europe and the Commonwealth, but also the threat of ‘the economic strength and dominance of the large US law firms’, seventy of which had London offices. Partnership with them ‘may create a legitimate fear of excessive dominance of some categories of legal service in the UK which could be contrary to the public interest’. The Society's 1991 consultation paper considered requiring all foreign partners of lawyers practising in the UK to buy UK indemnity coverage. SIF warned that this ‘could be regarded as unfair or even anti-competitive’. Although the Society reduced this to a quarter of the SCF contribution and two-thirds of the practising certificate fee, the chair of the Society's international committee feared this still ‘will be seen particularly by our US colleagues as restrictive’. The Society eliminated the SCF contribution, producing a flood of applicants to register. A seven-partner West End firm became the first MNP by admitting a Danish lawyer. Seven months later the City firm Kennedys admitted a German partner.

Because UK firms were wary of American competitors, the latter hired English lawyers for their London offices. In 1994 the City firm Titmus Sainer & Webb merged with the Philadelphia firm Dechert Price & Rhoads. Other City firms absorbed smaller European partners: Allen & Overy in Italy, Freshfields in Germany. When Clifford Chance declared it would have 500 lawyers in its European offices within two years, Linklaters responded by announcing its Alliance, with almost 1,500 lawyers in six countries. Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn, a French firm which had absorbed Harris Rosenblatt & Kramer of London, merged with Christy & Viener in New York, claiming (inaccurately) to be the first transatlantic firm.

But Clifford Chance captured the spotlight by merging with the American firm Rogers & Wells and the German firm Pünder, Volhard, Weber & Exter, to link 566 partners, 2,700 lawyers, and 58,000 staff in thirty offices grossing more than £1 billion annually. Bragging that ‘Clifford Chance takes over the world’, the Solicitors Journal was ‘proud’ that ‘the traditional pattern of British corporate history was reversed. Here was an English firm absorbing an American rival to create a huge, multi-national (p.221) empire.’ The Evening Standard predicted it would be a ‘major headache’ for competitors; but the Financial Times warned (strangely) that ‘gigantism’ will sit very uneasily with advisory businesses'. Although Linklaters insisted it was not ‘charging off looking for people to marry in North America’, it waited less than a week to expand its Alliance to 2,200 lawyers by adding the second-largest Italian firm, thereby leapfrogging Baker & McKenzie to become the world's second largest firm. Maintaining it was not ‘rushing to follow suit’, Freshfields accelerated its merger with Deringer Tessin Herrman & Sedemund by two years to reach 1,300 lawyers. Three weeks after that Lovell White Durrant merged with Bösebeck Droste to claim more than 1,000 lawyers; and Dibb Lupton Alsop formed associations with firms in Brussels, Barcelona, and Paris. Two weeks later Allen & Overy merged with the third largest Dutch firm (having already acquired firms in Italy, Spain, and Thailand).24

Even without merger American firms riled their rivals by paying £55,000 to fourth-year assistants in 1990, capturing some of the best talent and driving up City salaries. In 1997 American competition may have helped break up the ‘Club of Nine’ City firms, which discussed starting salaries and tended to increase them together. (Overseas branches already flouted the Club's anti-poaching rule.) Two years later an American firm's London office made headlines by offering remuneration ‘to £1 million +’. American firms paid nearly twice as much as English for solicitors with seven years' experience, and a third paid nearly twice as much to start. But if Brits resented Yanks, French firms condemned City branches in Paris for paying twice as much as they did: ‘The only thing that seems to matter to the English is money’.25

C. Multidisciplinary Partnerships

If solicitors were apprehensive about Americans they were terrified by accountants' size, concentration, and aggressiveness. The (then) Big Six earned more than £2.5 billion in 1993, five times as much as the next sixteen. The six largest City firms earned only a third as much, slightly more than the next sixteen. Although 54 per cent of those responding to the Law Society's 1987 consultation favoured MDPs, President David Ward told the 1989 annual conference they were ‘an even more serious danger to the network of small firms of solicitors than conveyancing by institutions’. He rejected market justifications because MDPs were ‘likely to be product based rather than client based so that the driving force would be selling products rather than responding to needs’ and warned that ‘the rule of money would overwhelm the rule of law’. But his successor, Tony Holland, was fatalistic: ‘some solicitors are already with accountants or surveyors, even if they cannot yet be partners’. Two months later the DGFT noted that (p.222) the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 made restrictions on MDPs ‘subject to the competition rules’ and declared the growing consensus ‘that artificial barriers on how solicitors themselves wish to practise are undesirable’. The Society called it ‘unfortunate’ that ‘the competition authorities' terms of reference do not allow them to consider the protection of the public’.26

When Parliament failed to enact new restrictive trade practices legislation, undercutting the OFT threat, the Society rejected a DTI consultation document endorsing MDPs. Law Society Assistant Secretary-General Walter Merricks declared that ‘there can be no prospect of sharing reserved areas of work with other professions’. Deputy Vice-President Mark Sheldon raised ‘ethical objections when legal functions are carried out by organisations concerned to develop commercial profits’ (unlike his own firm, Linklaters & Paines, presumably). ‘The ultimate function of solicitors is to litigate.’ (What does that make those in the City?) But the Young Solicitors Group supported MDPs, which were ‘not so much … the opportunity for the major commercial firms as for the smaller high street practices’.

Without waiting for new rules, Arthur Andersen (AA) established Garrett & Co as an associated law firm in 1993 (as it had done in France and Germany). Senior partner Colin Garrett saw ‘no reason why we should not have a firm of accountants sending a fair proportion of our business to us’. Assuring Sheldon (now LS President) that solicitor independence was ‘of prime importance’, Garrett declared: ‘my job is to ensure that accountants do not practise law’. The firm's advertisement for four solicitors at salaries of up to £120,000 drew 300 enquiries. At the Society's annual conference the new DGFT reaffirmed that there was ‘much to be said for movement towards multidisciplinary partnerships in principle’. The ‘market should determine the best structure of the professions’.

When a 1993 Society survey showed rising opposition to MDPs (49 versus 45 per cent of firms six years earlier, 56 versus 33 per cent of local law societies), the Council chose to do nothing but review the situation annually. A member feared ‘MDPs could well damage lawyers' professional standing and introduce too many conflicts of interest’. Garretts, however, hired eleven local solicitors and established a branch in the same building as AA. This provoked other local commercial lawyers to threaten to end referrals to AA, which denied (unconvincingly) that ‘we—an accountancy firm—are a competitor to Leeds law firms’. Uncowed, Garretts declared its ambition to become ‘one of the first truly national firms’, opening an office in Reading and planning one in Manchester. Solicitors also faced retaliation when they invaded other turf. One who qualified as an insolvency practitioner said ‘a number of accountant practitioners and their firms successively made it clear that if I ever took an appointment I would never receive instructions again’. Only 10 per cent of the approximately 2,000 insolvency practitioners were solicitors.27

(p.223) By 1996 Garretts had sixty lawyers and claimed to be the fastest growing firm in the country. Seeking to imitate AA's success, Price Waterhouse (PW) launched Arnheim, declaring it would have fifty lawyers in four years. The senior partner at Hammond Suddards, from which Chris Arnheim defected, criticized the ‘ambivalence between the need for clients to have solicitors who are independent and the relationship with the sponsoring firm’. The City of London Law Society President pronounced that ‘anyone who wants legal services is better off going to a firm which is completely impartial without commercial tensions which might bring pressure to bear’. A senior partner in Ernst & Young, which planned its own firm, said he would ‘be surprised if at least five of the big six haven't gone down this route in the next two or three years’. Both A A and PW invoked the Treaty of Rome against the Dutch Bar Association's ban on MDPs.

Under pressure from the OFT the Council ordered a ‘fresh review’ in June 1996. A Society survey found (surprisingly) that only 36 per cent of firms had an opinion about MDPs, but 71 per cent of those were favourable. Warning that ‘Labour has made it plain that it would de-regulate in this area’, the Gazette urged the Society to ‘tackle effectively the many testy issues, not least the one of control’. Conceding that MDPs ‘are coming—almost certainly within the next two years’, the Solicitors Journal felt the Society should ‘be taking the initiative … before other professional bodies get there first’.28

It did nothing, however, as change continued to outpace regulation. By 1997 Garretts had more than 150 lawyers and opened another office in Cambridge. 1,000 trainees applied for its seventeen openings that year and 1,500 for twenty the next. After absorbing Scotland's largest practice Garretts claimed to be one of the twenty highest-grossing firms in the country (even though Simmons & Simmons declined to join). Coopers & Lybrand (C&L) lured two partners from Stephenson Harwood to form Tite & Lewis, which then hired most of the thirty C&L in-house lawyers and aspired to have fifty by the end of 1997. Arnheim grew from fifteen to fifty-nine. E&Y hired a Denton Hall partner to plan its firm. A Norton Rose partner said ‘all the major City firms have been approached by the large accountancy firms over the last year or so’ but had been uninterested. When C&L and PW proposed to merge (creating a giant with 8,500 accounting partners, 135,000 staff, 2,500 employed lawyers, and turnover of £8 billion), their associated law firms began talks.

Soon after Labour's 1997 victory the OFT threatened to act unilaterally if the Society continued to temporize. The Society's head of standards and development urged reconsideration of the ban on outside investment in law firms, which would need substantial capital ‘to get our share of legal work in developing markets’. But foreign regulators remained adamant. Spain and the International Bar Association joined the Dutch in opposing (p.224) MDPs. The Brussels Bar disciplined two French avocats practising in association with E&Y. The former bâtonnier of its Dutch-speaking branch declared ‘it would not be far fetched to lodge a criminal complaint … to make a stand … on behalf of all lawyers in Europe’.29

After a closed debate in 1998 the Council proposed six alternatives. DVP Robert Sayer predicted doom.

The big law firms will go in with the big accountants, and unless some extraordinary safeguards are imposed the lawyers will simply get swallowed up. With the small firms, I can just imagine some of them running along to estate agents and proposing MDPs, only to meet exactly the same fate.

But President Michael Mathews (a City partner), the chairs of the Law Society's Commerce & Industry Group and the City of London Law Society, and the Society's IBA representative all conceded that MDPs were inevitable. Bristol and Manchester Law Societies agreed, although Birmingham remained opposed. The EC responded positively. Two-thirds of the 272 responses to the Society's consultation (and more than three-quarters of large firms) favoured relaxing the ban. The Gazette pronounced that ‘MDPs have already arrived. The market has driven the carriage and now all that remains is for professional bodies around the globe to scrutinise the rules of the highway code.’ The New Law Journal accused the Society of ‘dragging its heels on this issue for long enough’.

The IBA considered urging countries to ban MDPs, limit non-lawyer ownership, and subject non-lawyers to lawyer discipline, but ultimately challenged only the combination of legal and auditing services (which the SEC also prohibited). Both the CCBE and the Paris Bar opposed the PwC merger, but the EC approved it. As their associated law firms joined to become Arnheim Tite & Lewis, Wilde Sapte (one of the City's twenty largest firms) voted to merge with Garrett, but this time AA decided to pursue further growth through hiring.30

In 1999 KPMG adopted the brand name Klegal for all its associated law firms, declaring it would be a ‘serious player’ within five years. PwC aspired to be the fifth largest law firm in the world by then, and E&Y to be among the top firms in just three or four years. Arnheim Tite & Lewis expected to grow more than 50 per cent in the next year.

When the CCBE declared its opposition to MDPs, the Law Society was the only one of the six British professional associations to dissent. The CCBE planned to intervene on behalf of the Dutch Bar against AA and PwC in the European Court of Justice. But MDPs continued to grow. AA acquired another German firm, giving it 170 lawyers there; PwC absorbed its sixth firm that year, boasting that its 1,450 lawyers would reach 5,000 in five years, all practising under the brand name Landwell. Arnheim Tite & Lewis's earnings grew 58 per cent in 1999 and were expected to grow (p.225) another 40 per cent in 2000. A survey found that 58 per cent of top US companies and 52 per cent of UK were quite likely to use MDPs.

Breaking ranks with the CCBE and ABA, a Law Society working party endorsed both MDPs with majority solicitor ownership and fee-sharing between linked partnerships of lawyers and non-lawyers. Michael Mathews, immediate past president, called existing restrictions unjustified. Vice-President Kamlesh Bahl conceded: ‘Like it or not, MDPs are on the agenda’. An unpublished ACLEC report acknowledged that ‘the status quo is unlikely to be maintained’. But Anthony Bogan feared that solicitors were ‘in danger of losing our independence … the accountants are leading this debate and are doing so for their own commercial interests’.31

D. Specialization

By intensifying the division of labour that spawned the profession, specialization can increase quality and cut costs, but it also provides a refuge from competition. Required by the Insolvency Act 1985 to license insolvency practitioners, the LS education and training committee recommended a specialization board; but when forty-eight of the sixty-eight local law societies responding to the consultation resisted on behalf of general practitioners, the Council shelved the idea.32 Shortly after the Green Papers the Law Society established a specialization committee, which the Gazette hoped would give ‘solicitors an extra weapon in their armoury to fight off competition in revenue law, planning and employment law’. Secretary-General John Hayes agreed: ‘In a world where others may be given a right to do work hitherto done by lawyers, it would be foolish to hold back measures that help lawyers show that they can do it better’. The committee proposed to supplement existing panels on children, mental health, and insolvency with others on planning, higher court advocacy, personal injury, medical negligence, employment, pensions, revenue, and crime, and was considering panels on consumer and commercial law, intellectual property, immigration, and housing.

While recognizing the difficulty of reconciling ‘the need that solicitors with particular competence in individual fields should be easily identifiable with the need to ensure that the development of specialisation does not imperil general practitioners’, the committee proposed limiting advertising to panel members. The standards and guidance committee retorted that anyone should be able to claim expertise. The joint honorary secretary of the Birmingham Law Society agreed: ‘we are all specialists’. When the Council voted by 39 to 27 for the latter course the NCC condemned this ‘highly retrograde move’, designed to confuse consumers, and LAG called it an ‘abdication of responsibility’, which ‘will lead inexorably to greater external regulation—at least for the state-funded legal aid sector of the (p.226) profession’. The Young Solicitors Group felt ‘only objective criteria can truly determine the real specialist’. Lord Mackay concurred that the public needed ‘to identify official accredited specialist solicitors who they know meet objective standards’. The Law Society expressed ‘surprise’ because ‘the government has for many years pressed us to relax our restrictions on advertising’. When Mackay repeated that ‘a specialist does not … become a specialist just by calling himself or herself a specialist’, the Society called it ‘inappropriate for him to criticise a decision after the event’.33

The Society could not help solicitors confront external competition without disadvantaging generalist solicitors, who forced several concessions. The Council relaxed the specialization committee's criteria for the personal injury panel. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) wanted competence evaluated by file inspection rather than examination. The panel rejected only 10 per cent of the first cohort of applicants (though it deferred 15 per cent). Philip Sycamore, chair of the civil litigation committee, encouraged solicitors to apply so that loss adjusters and claims assessors would ‘not be allowed to get a foothold’. Relaunching the Accident Legal Assistance Scheme in spring 1994, which had benefited 3,700 firms, the Society limited referrals to panelists. By 1996 APIL was drafting an ethical code for its members, regulating case referrals, the buying of victims' names, and cold-calling victims. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners required five years of experience and planned an examination; its membership (which included non-lawyers) grew from 300 to 4,800 in four years. The Law Society helped the British Standards Institution develop BS 5750 to ‘give firms a competitive edge not only over other solicitors, but also over the other professions which are beginning to encroach on lawyers' traditional territory’.34

These divisions resurfaced at the Society's 1995 roadshows, organized to appease members' discontent. A Tunbridge Wells solicitor complained that ‘too many people are excluded, causing resentment, particularly when [panel membership is] linked to [the] accident line’, and a Swindon solicitor worried about ‘a situation in five years' time when you cannot practise in an area if you are not a panel member’. But a Stroud solicitor called the Society ‘too concerned with pleasing the lowest common denominator’ and opposed ‘watering down of standards’. In July, the Council approved the ‘Lexcel’ practice management standard by two to one, over the opposition of President Mears and past presidents Holland and Sheldon. Mears dismissed the proposal as ‘banal’, ‘bureaucratic’, and ‘absurd’. ‘If you want to become efficient, you do it. You don't need kitemarks to stick over your door.’ Another Council member said ‘constant regulation is not wanted by the small firms’. But a year later fifty firms had applied for Lexcel, 380 for the Investment in People standard, and others for BS 5750 (now ISO 9000). Outsiders were eager for more information about quality. The (p.227) Business Superbrands Council included Clifford Chance, Freshfields, and Slaughter and May among 100 enterprises offering consumers ‘significant emotional and/or tangible advantages over [their] competitors’. The Gazette hoped the LAB would grant franchises on the basis of both Lexcel and the specialist certifications (see the next chapter). Indeed, Lord Mackay told the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA) it was ‘extremely important that the taxpayers' money should be used only for services of proper quality, and accreditation is one way of achieving that’.35

Partly in response to judicial and academic criticism of quality, the SFLA and the Law Society family law committee proposed accreditation on the basis of three years' experience, 40 per cent specialization, a questionnaire and interview, and a course. Eight months later the LAPG also considered family law accreditation. The Law Society expressed concern that incompetent solicitors ‘damage the reputation of the entire profession in this field, and there is no easy way for the public to identify which solicitors do a good job’. Although the SFLA reported ‘tremendous pressure’ for the proposal, family law committee member Peter Watson-Lee was opposed. ‘Panels are not primarily about increasing the amount of work done by the profession as a whole’ but about ‘taking the work away from some of those who do it now (the generalists) and giving it to others (the specialists)’. ‘Panels and Kite marks are all a load of bureaucratic nonsense dreamt up by people with nothing better to do.’ The 920 responses supported the consultation paper by two to one, as did the LAPG, AWS, Association of Lawyers for Children, and SFLA; but local law societies split evenly, and the SPG and BLA were hostile.

The Council proceeded to consider specializations in family, criminal, employment, housing, and immigration law (launching housing in August 1998). President Sycamore noted the ‘real expectation amongst practising solicitors that their professional body should try to regain control in setting standards, especially with respect to legal aid’. The LAB declared its willingness to recognize Society accreditation ‘as an equivalent to a franchise’. Declaring that ‘tomorrow belongs to the specialist’, the LCD anticipated ‘integration or overlap’ between franchising and professional accreditation, which also ‘could be developed as a marketing tool’.

Criticizing the Society's delay, SFLA chair Nigel Shepard declared it was ‘not frightened to take the issue on alone if the Law Society fails to act’. When the Society proposed requiring only 300–350 hours of family law work over each of the previous three years, the SFLA dismissed this ‘fudge’, urging 550 hours a year, six years' experience, and an examination. Hilary Siddle, the Society's family law committee chair, acknowledged that its proposal was a compromise, which would not ‘operate unfairly against’ sole practitioners. The committee opposed ‘commercial organisations setting up their own “family panels” … which will have the effect of confusing the public and the profession’.

(p.228) Others resisted exclusivity. The LAPG declared it ‘wrong to set the criteria too high’. Watson-Lee again denounced this ‘major threat’ to high street practices. Panels were a ‘gift’ for ‘those who are part of a large firm with specialist departments, or a niche specialist practice’. ‘A modest fee and a little form-filling generate a decisive marketing advantage over the general practice competitor.’ But Eileen Pembridge thought it ‘a little too late for the generalist to argue that the tide of specialisation should be reversed’ because family law was ‘under more threat than ever from the paralegal activities and from the proposed slashing of legal aid costs’. The NCC agreed that at a time of ‘greater focus on quality by consumers’, the Law Society ‘should be jumping on the bandwagon with more specialist panels’. Its capitulation to ‘pressure from some quarters to spread the work around’ was ‘yet another instance where the Society's duty to the public and its trade union role work against each other’.

In the end, the SFLA (representing 4,000 of an estimated 10,000 family law practitioners) adopted more stringent criteria and published a promotional leaflet warning clients against non-member solicitors, infuriating the latter. The Law Society accepted 82–85 per cent of applicants, deferred 15 per cent, and rejected only 2–3 per cent. By the time the SFLA launched its panel of eighty-seven a few months later, the Law Society had certified 2,160. But when the LCD Advisory Board on Family Law expressed concern about the Society's laxity, the latter retorted it was ‘not prepared to see the Family Law Panel become some kind of exclusive clique of super-specialists’.36

Not content with the personal injury panel, APIL established the College of Personal Injury Law (in collaboration with the Law Society College of Law) as a ‘way of indicating that a lawyer is both competent and committed to continuous education’. All APIL members could become associates by committing themselves to fifteen hours of training over three years; ‘members’ had to have five years' experience and twenty-four hours' training; ‘litigators’ also had to be able to try a case; ‘fellows’ required ten years' experience, fifty hours' training over five years, and three references; and ‘senior fellows’ had to be recognized as ‘distinguished practitioners’. But some found even this insufficiently elitist. Richard Grand, who had created the (American) Inner Circle of Advocates, limited to 100 lawyers who had won a $1 million verdict, launched the still more exclusive Richard Grand Society for twenty-five solicitors who had completed at least five personal injury or medical negligence cases totalling £5 million. He promptly enrolled two former Law Society presidents and other prominent solicitors (after relaxing the requirements and doubling the numbers),37

Partly in response to government proposals to create a criminal defence service and award exclusive contracts for criminal legal aid and advice and assistance (see Chapter 10), the Law Society issued a criminal specialization consultation. When it was supported by two-thirds of the 500 responses, (p.229) including the Criminal Law Solicitors Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association, the Society commented: ‘four years ago, it would have been seen as quite a controversial issue—but now the need for specialisation is almost universally recognised as a good thing’. The Law Society Commerce & Industry Group urged members to acquire a National Vocational Qualification or MBA and talked to the Law Society College of Law about post-qualification courses and to Leeds Metropolitan University about an LL.M. leading to the Institute of Directors' qualification. Fearing competition from accountants qualifying as authorized probate practitioners under the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, the Society launched its first substantive section in 1997 (modelled on the ABA's). Contemporaneous surveys found that 28–40 per cent of solicitors regularly probated wills. The 12,000 letters of invitation enrolled 1,600 in two months, continuing to attract 100 a week.38

By 1997, 71 per cent of solicitors considered themselves specialists (more than 80 per cent of those under 45, 90 per cent of those in firms with more than ten partners), and a third of generalists thought they would be more satisfied as specialists. The material advantages were clear. A solicitor found that children's law increased from 20 to 90 per cent of his caseload after he joined the panel, and he earned higher legal aid rates. A personal injury panelist called it ‘a far better marketing tool than competing on price in litigation’. The chief assessor of the mental health panel assured a member that ‘many potential plaintiffs telephone the Law Society for a recommendation and they are always given the names of panel members’.39

E. Lay Competitors

Solicitors faced competition not only from large companies, other professions, and each other but also from laypeople. In 1991 the Law Society spent £200,000 on a public relations campaign directed partly against will writers—‘no more than insurance salesmen in disguise’. It threatened cooperating solicitors with discipline for violating rules against referring business and liability for will writer negligence. Immediate past president Tony Holland called the Government's failure to regulate non-solicitor probate ‘unbelievable in these days of increasing chicanery’ and warned of ‘a veritable free for all in dealing with the winding up of estates’. Although the CA found little difference in the quality and price of wills drafted by solicitors, banks, and will-writing companies, the Advertising Standards Authority received increasing numbers of complaints against companies. Worried about ‘cowboys’, the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) formed that year, requiring training, adherence to ethical rules, and indemnity coverage.

(p.230) Two years later the Society again complained to the LCD about will writers' ‘frequently deficient or misleading’ advertisements and to ACLEC about their inadequate training. The Society also assailed the Government for authorizing probate practitioners, opening ‘the door to all sorts of people, some of whom might be quite undesirable … they'll actually have the money in their own bank accounts’. With ‘a wave of his hand’, complained Tony Girling, the Lord Chancellor ‘conjures up the Ugly Sisters in the guise of the approved probate practitioners’. Illustrating competitive pressure for imitation, a solicitor urged colleagues to ‘get away from the concept that solicitors must actively run probate departments. We must offer an efficient service at a lower price than we do now, and the way to do that is to “deskill”.’ A contemporaneous survey found that nearly all solicitors felt that ‘will-writing business must be safeguarded since its loss would mean the loss of other business such as probate and introductions to beneficiaries’. The Society should ‘persist to get all will-writing services subject to statutory standards and regulations’.

The next year the Society and the Will Writers Association (apparently the IPW under a new name) renewed their call for regulation, without success. The Society's own promotional campaign made sure that ‘any advertisements … contain the word “solicitor”’ in order ‘to differentiate between solicitors and unqualified will-writing agencies’. When another CA report rated four out of nine will-writing and insurance companies poor and none good, but six out of thirty-one solicitors firms good, twenty reasonable, and only five poor, the (new) Society of Will Writers called it ‘misleading, inaccurate, and potentially defamatory’. Far from being ‘completely unregulated’, as the CA alleged, its members had to train employees for two to five days! It also called for regulation. But when it incorporated in Delaware as the Royal Society of Will Writers, the Companies Office (at the Law Society's behest) ordered it to drop the false claim of a royal charter.

Two years later the Gazette feared ‘substantial erosion’ of solicitors' market share, noting that 15 per cent of wills were drafted by testators and DIY probate had increased 33 per cent in five years. But a contemporaneous CA survey now found half of solicitor-drafted wills only ‘average’ or ‘poor’ and, on the whole, no better than those drafted by laypeople. The Nottinghamshire Law Society responded with a campaign warning about the poor quality of non-lawyer advice. When LS President Sayer promoted the eighth annual ‘Make a Will Week’ in 1999 he declared it ‘as important as ever for solicitors to defend their share in what is an increasingly crowded and competitive market’.40

Claims adjusters also invaded lawyers' turf. Independent Legal Practitioners had sold exclusive jurisdictions for £5,000–50,000 (depending on size) to sixty franchisees, who were handling 2,000 cases a year, mostly unfair dismissals and work injuries, for a contingent fee (usually 25 per cent), (p.231) which lawyers could not employ. ILP (which took 15 per cent of fees) had a staff of six, advised by six to eight lawyers, and accepted just one out of forty applicants, who trained for three days. The rival Claims Direct offered no training and accepted all fifty-two applicants, who paid £5,950 each and took a 30 per cent contingent fee from the recoveries of clients they found themselves or bought from CD after they had been vetted by a solicitors' firm. CD also had panels of doctors who prepared medical reports, barristers who evaluated damages, and solicitors who litigated cases that did not settle. Michael Napier, outgoing APIL president, condemned the ‘selling of cases’. Martin Mears felt such practices ‘have a bad smell whatever the theoretical justification’. When CD convinced the Advertising Standards Authority to require solicitors offering ‘no win, no fee’ to advise clients to insure against an adversary's costs, Napier complained that the object was ‘not protection of the consumer but a political battle by claims assessors afraid of their territory being encroached on by solicitors’. Direct Legal Advisers of Manchester only admitted charging 50 per cent of damages; but, winding it up, the DTI found that 56 per cent of successful claimants got nothing after fees and expenses, 14 per cent less than 10 per cent, and only 12 per cent more than 40 per cent.

After a Pembrokeshire oil spill, Managers and Processors of Claims, a ‘multidisciplinary practice’ of accountants, surveyors, and ‘legal representatives’ (not lawyers), signed up most potential clients for a 10 per cent contingent fee. A local solicitor complained that ‘they cornered the market’ within a week ‘before any of the local solicitors could get a look in’. The Law Society head of court business insisted ‘these people pose a great danger to the public’. Napier feared ‘the cut-price conveyancers of yesterday will be overtaken by quick-fix under-settlers of personal injury claims tomorrow’.

In 1996 APIL complained about claims assessors to the LCD Parliamentary Secretary, who declared himself ‘horrified’. APIL Vice-President Ian Walker maintained that ‘putting their case in the hands of a claims assessor is not going to do [victims] any good whatsoever’. President Caroline Harmer agreed: ‘accident victims very often as they lie in hospital or even in an ambulance, are prey to these unscrupulous people’. ‘At worst’, said the Law Society, ‘these unqualified legal advisers are just cowboys or crooks. At best, they can only provide a second-rate service.’ Delighted the LCD would investigate, APIL called it ‘a fair trading issue … the public need to know they are going to lose bigger chunks of their damages’.

The Society used the opportunity of the 1999 Access to Justice Bill debate to brief Edward Gamier QC to move amendments limiting assessors. Solicitors complained that assessors' fees were ‘unduly costly, and that the settlements they achieve fall far below the settlements that a competent lawyer would achieve. In addition, they compete unfairly with members of the legal profession, who must bear the considerable costs of regulation.’ (p.232) Gamier denied this was ‘a lawyer's whinge’, and Andrew Dismore (in a rare alliance) called it ‘a serious problem’. But because the Government had only ‘anecdotal evidence’, it rejected the motions, promising further investigation.

When the LCD review committee chair reported that most complaints were from solicitors concerned about work ‘slipping away from them’, Napier dismissed the charge of self-interest as ‘rubbish’. The Solicitors Journal worried that ‘very little evidence of consumer exploitation will befound, and the whole exercise will be written off as a sop to lawyers scared of competition’. Doubting victims could ‘make an informed decision’, it condemned ‘small groups of cowboys’ who ‘persuade people to sign up to contingency fee deals and try and settle them at the earliest possible opportunity without any reference at all to lawyers’. The inquiry's only result was that CD replaced its 30 per cent contingent fee with litigation insurance, once premiums could be recovered under the Access to Justice Act (see Chapter 8). Delighted it was ‘off the “hit list”’, CD wanted to work with the LCD ‘to deal with the cowboys’.41

Information technology intensified the threat of lay competition. The press lauded Desktop Lawyer, accessible through the internet. Mistitling its story ‘Why the Web's bad news for Rumpole (and very good news for the rest of us)’, the Daily Mail declared:

more and more people are turning their backs on flesh-and-blood lawyers and sorting out their legal affairs on-line. With just a few clicks of the mouse, it is possible to get reliable and accurate advice for a fraction of the cost of a conventional high street solicitor.

But the chair of the Law Society family law committee professed unconcern: ‘If you feel you can proceed without [a lawyer's] advice, that's fine’.42

Two anecdotes illustrate the gamut of challenges. A group collected £80 a year from non-lawyers to join its ‘Society of Lawyers’; a member had to ‘demonstrate that he is suitably trained and experienced in his discipline and so knows what he is talking about’, his ‘knowledge is up to date’, and ‘commercially he is safe to do business with’. The Law Society sought to enjoin the name because ‘there is clearly a need to protect the publici’. The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) agreed. The SoL retorted defiantly (if illogically): ‘If there are 80,000 solicitors, there must be 800,000 more people practising law who want to be accredited’. When the injunction was issued the SoL considered renaming itself ‘NottheSociety of Lawyers’. The Gazette warned that ‘the growth in the USA of “legal technicians”—providers of legal services outside the legal profession—who work for much cheaper rates than lawyers, has been very substantial’. Since such competition was ‘much less developed’ in the UK, ‘there is still time to mount a strong challenge’. The ‘Law Society can help by monitoring the non-lawyer industry (p.233) and highlighting at every opportunity the risks of unregulated provision of legal services’. ILEX itself was a much more formidable threat. Concerned that its qualification was ‘perceived as old fashioned and unattractive in the new legal services market-place’, it responded to the Access to Justice Act 1999 by contemplating seeking the right to do probate, sign compromise agreements in employment disputes, and engage in more criminal advocacy. Both ILEX and the Incorporated Company of Scriveners also emulated solicitors (unsuccessfully) by claiming exclusive rights to the titles of legal executive and scrivener.43

F. A Free for All?

The Bar Wars were as much about status as economics. Aside from young barristers' realistic fear of the CPS, the most intense conflicts were provoked by archaic distinctions of dress and address, private practitioners' condescension toward their employed colleagues, and appointments of QCs and judges. Most solicitors did not want to do advocacy. But powerful competitors coveted solicitors' markets, threatening long-standing but unstable accommodations among: solicitors, insurers, estate agents, and lenders; solicitors and accountants; domestic and foreign lawyers; generalist and specialist solicitors; and solicitors and laypeople (both subordinates and independent practitioners). Many potential competitors were reluctant to initiate what is always a costly zero-sum game (for producers). Yet its rewards, disproportionately enjoyed by first movers, inevitably propelled someone—usually an outsider—to evade, flout, or challenge restrictive practices. Large employers of professionals were the greatest threat: lenders and estate agencies for conveyancing (as government was for advocacy). Such challengers often found, or bought, internal allies. The first response of those threatened was to resist by deploying state and professional power, rhetoric, and economic leverage. The inevitable (if often delayed) failure of this strategy frequently provoked a rush to imitate: solicitors advertising and claiming specialization; selling property, loans, insurance, and investments; representing buyers and sellers; merger mania in the City and inflated ambitions for market share by the Big Five. Professional regulation reluctantly, and vainly, played catch-up to market innovation.

Solicitors carefully cultivated an image of sweet reasonableness in deliberate contrast to the Bar's rigid traditionalism. But though they talked the language of laissez faire, solicitors responded to competition with a protectionism that verged on, even transgressed into, illegality. They objected to lenders offering conveyancing as a loss leader and regulated colleagues who delegated such work to laypeople. The Law Society sought to agree an ‘indicative’ range of fees with the CML—and was promptly reprimanded by the OFT. Local law societies openly engaged in price fixing nearly thirty (p.234) years after the abolition of scale fees—and had their knuckles rapped by the DGFT. But Mears remained ‘entirely confident we could put up strong public interest arguments’ in their favour. And Sayer even wanted to tie fees to property values again. Just when the Society had required solicitors to quote advance fees (see Chapter 9), Sayer advised colleagues to avoid price competition by charging hourly fees for conveyancing, as he did. Sounding like southern American school districts flouting the Supreme Court's desegregation decision, Law Society Council members seriously proposed defying the OFT and risking public opprobrium in order to preserve restrictive practices for a few years until the MMC ruled against them. The Society advised solicitors to discuss fees with colleagues—about as close to the line as one could get (and clearly illegal in the USA). Walter Merricks adamantly resisted ‘sharing reserved areas of work with other professions’.

Solicitors strenuously tried to get SIF to discriminate against cut-price conveyancers, asserting a connection between price and indemnity exposure on the basis of evidence that they would never tolerate as lawyers. Mears declared the link ‘inherently probable’ and ‘common sense’. Sayer called it ‘obvious and direct’, dismissing legitimate questions about his sample size. Bogan asked rhetorically: ‘could 8,500 solicitors all be wrong?’ A high street solicitor drew a wildly inappropriate analogy to the relationship between smoking and cancer. Solicitors opposed title insurance in order to retain conveyancing. To increase revenue, the Society sought separate representation of lenders (who did not want it), despite OFT opposition. John Edge found a silk to call the practice kosher, and the often critical New Law Journal thought there was a colourable argument. To block MNPs, the Society initially proposed to require SIF payments from every partner of a foreign lawyer practising in the UK In support of eschatological prophecies about the imminent demise of high street practitioners, Sayer and Bogan adduced highly suspect and mutually inconsistent statistics. The SPyG warned members that their practices were coming to a ‘very abrupt end’ and Society officials against ‘killing the goose that lays the golden egg’. Edge found it ‘offensive’ that after twenty-five years in practice he should enjoy such a ‘meagre financial reward’. But Andrew Lockley and Eileen Pembridge thought small firms should accept euthanasia.

Combatants had no compunctions about retaliating against competitors. Sole practitioners asked the Law Society to boycott lenders who excluded them from conveyancing panels. The SPyG (which boasted that its members competed only against estate agents, not each other) threatened to withdraw deposits from lenders who engaged in conveyancing. The NAE A members sought to conduct their own title searches to prevent solicitors from reaching clients first. Scottish solicitors' property centres refused to accept listings from estate agents or even solicitor property (p.235) sellers who listed with agents. Estate agents refused to refer clients to solicitors selling property. Leeds solicitors stopped referring clients to AA when it opened an affiliated solicitors' firm; accountants boycotted solicitors engaged in insolvency practice. But cartels are always difficult to sustain (as City firms found when American competitors bid up salaries): while some solicitors joined property centres, others co-operated with estate agents to secure referrals.

Nevertheless the genie of competition (like that of democracy) is hard to force back into the bottle. Solicitors had good reason for concern when the Consumers' Association and the Adam Smith Institute agreed that house sales had to be simplified. Faced with growing voter anger at the cost, delay, and uncertainty of house sales, Government found solicitors a convenient whipping boy. Deep suspicion of lawyers led the media to dismiss their claims about the irreducible complexity of conveyancing and applaud lay competitors and DIY. Even solicitors acknowledged (contemptuously) that secretaries were learning conveyancing in fifteen hours. When the property market recovered, lenders and estate agents grew more interested in conveyancing. Lawyers and accountants, not surprisingly, found ways to create the equivalent of MNPs, MDPs, and SPyCs well before they were formally authorized. The rapidity of their growth testified to the demand that had been frustrated by restrictive practices (just as the sharp drop in conveyancing fees exposed monopoly rents). Size, multinationality, and multidisciplinarity were potent (if unreliable) advertisements for quality, which otherwise was very hard to evaluate.

Attempts to preserve restrictive practices, much less create new ones, invariably backfired. Solicitors feared that efforts to retain the conveyancing market would provoke lenders to bring work in-house. John Edge unrealistically wanted solicitors to dictate estate agent commissions rather than allow agents to set conveyancing fees. Professional politicians played the populist card. Bogan urged the Society ‘to behave as a trade union and protect its members’. Sayer successfully rode the ‘groundswell of anger’ to power. But the Society never embraced scale fees or SIF discrimination against cut-price conveyancing. Even solicitors admitted that the ‘underlying reason’ to propose separate representation of lenders was ‘to increase the fees’; and the SPyG rightly feared the headline: ‘Solicitors rip off the public’.

Justifications for restrictive practices were archaic, contradictory, flimsy, even incomprehensible. Solicitors were torn between maintaining that conveyancing was technically too difficult for laypeople and delegating it to their own subordinates. Some attacked the competence of will writers (although empirical studies found little difference in quality), while others declared solicitors could only retain that market by deskilling. Solicitors opposed corporate conveyancing while trying to break into the market for property and loans and campaigning to combine litigation with advocacy. (p.236) The Law Society wanted to stop employed solicitors from conveying property while championing their higher court audience rights. Solicitors criticized others for tying-in but wanted to retain will writing as a source of probate work and introductions to beneficiaries. A Law Society President opposed MDPs as ‘product based rather than client based’ and warned that the ‘rule of money would overcome the rule of law’ (whatever that meant). The Society claimed to pursue the public interest, only to be denounced by impartial representatives like the DGFT. The Society's lack of credibility emerged in its inability to convince the public and the government of the real dangers of unregulated will writers and claims adjusters.

Solicitors (like barristers) resorted to anti-market arguments. The Solicitors Journal called the loan market ‘a vicious, highly competitive, plundering jungle’, where ‘the borrower is the prey’. Bogan invoked anachronistic warrants to condemn ‘unfettered competition’. Tony Holland warned of a ‘free for all in dealing with the winding up of estates’. When solicitors ventured into new markets (in competition with accountants or foreign lawyers, who thought the Law Society's restrictive practices hopelessly quaint) they confronted regulators far less deferential than the British Government. Solicitors found it difficult to resist the incursions of will writers or claims adjusters, who operated in relatively private arenas and, exempt from Law Society regulation, could solicit business and accept contingent fees. Information technology intensified these threats.

Unable to claim superior efficiency, solicitors played the trump card of ‘independence’, allegedly absent in those employed by lenders or estate agents or subordinated to accountants in MDPs. As Law Society DVP, Mark Sheldon raised ‘ethical objections when legal functions are carried out by organisations concerned to develop commercial profits’. But there was no evidence that privately practising solicitors were more independent or that clients wanted (and would pay for) this trait, since hardly any sought financial advice from solicitors. Even privately practising solicitors were divided about separate representation of lenders and borrowers, buyers and sellers. And they quickly abandoned ethical pretensions under economic duress. The Law Society might ‘worry about the high moral ground’ if solicitors were allowed to sell property, said Leslie Dubow, but ‘conveyancers are worried about whether they will have a crust to eat next year’. Calling conflicts of interest ‘complete nonsense’, Robert Sayer exhorted the Society to ‘trust solicitors to be honest; they are, by and large’.

Once solicitors exhausted protectionism and retaliation they had no choice but to challenge competitors for new markets. The real question was who would dominate. Sayer, with typical candour, voiced the fear that solicitors would ‘simply get swallowed up’. Edge wanted to ‘see how estate agents like having their fees dictated by others!’ Solicitors were determined to sell property, loans, financial advice, and insurance rather than allow (p.237) estate agents, lenders, or insurers to do conveyancing. They needed to contact buyers before estate agents and lenders, just as barristers wanted direct access to reach litigants before solicitors. English firms wanted to dominate foreign lawyers within MNPs, not work for Americans. The Law Society wanted solicitors to diversify into (potentially more profitable and unregulated) financial services rather than allow MDPs controlled by accountants (especially the Big Five) to offer legal services. Solicitors could hardly object to laypeople delivering legal services when they had relied on managing clerks (renamed legal executives) for centuries and were expanding the role of paralegals. They simply wanted to continue controlling them (and extracting their surplus labour value).

Subordinates and newer market entrants responded by seeking to professionalize. Estate agents accused of unethical behaviour sought state licensure. Will writers invited regulation. Some claims adjusters sought to differentiate themselves from the real ‘cowboys’. Legal executives, already a successful paraprofession, sought to diversify their functions and broaden the scope of independent practice. But these hopes were largely frustrated. The age of professionalization had passed; a government determined to eliminate the monopoly rents enjoyed by entrenched professions was not about to let newcomers control production of and by producers. And solicitors naturally opposed any challenge to their superior status and economic power. Estates simply could not be probated by the ‘Ugly Sisters’, or ‘all sorts of people’, some ‘quite undesirable’.

Solicitors naturally differed in their concerns about and reactions to external competitors. A few entrepreneurs were eager to emulate them by seeking economies of scale and substituting capital and non-professional labour for professionals. Most were traditionalists, however, who wanted to remain small and offer personal service but feared that consumers, unable to evaluate quality, would be unduly swayed by price. Innovation tended to come from outside: businessmen like Richard Berenson, solicitor estate agents like Michael Garson. As solicitors lost market share, abandoning contested areas for others with higher profit margins, the constituency to defend what remained (of conveyancing or probate, for instance) dwindled in size and clout.

It was internal competition, however, that exposed and enlarged the deepest fissures. The SPyG condemned price competition as fratricide: ‘solicitors killing their brothers’. Solicitors who denounced the quality and ethics of estate agents or claims adjusters in strong, even abusive, terms were reluctant to breach collegiality by casting aspersions on other solicitors. Attitudes towards advertising and MDPs differed by firm size and solicitor age. Solicitors who had struggled (successfully) to wrest regulatory authority from the state and use it to restrict competition now suspected that those powers had been captured by professional fractions. Caught between lay (p.238) competitors eager to take over tasks that could be routinized and monopsonistic consumers (lenders, estate agents, the government) shaving profit margins while offering employment, solicitors embraced specialization. The battle over its definition replayed the politics of the original professionalization project; indeed, specialization was a reaction to the progressive devaluation of that credential. Now, however, the contest occurred within a mature profession, whose basic precepts it challenged. Some specialisms, such as trust and estate practitioners, even questioned the professional category by including non-lawyers.

Professionalism responds to the market failure of information asymmetries between specialist producers and generalist consumers by offering quality assurances that assert the fungibility of professionals. Professions forbid members to claim comparative superiority. The adversary system promises justice regardless of who represents the two sides. But everyone knows this is a fiction; clients buy the best lawyers they can afford, and the enormous variation in lawyer incomes reflects these radically different valuations. Specialization and kite marks simply institutionalize these judgements, while reasserting quality assurance and equality within the new enclaves. Just as professions suppress price competition, so specialization seeks to avoid it by claiming superior quality. Like professionalizing occupations, specialist certifications compete for turf: among ISO 9000, Lexcel, and Investment in People with respect to management practices; between both the SFLA and APIL and the Law Society over substantive specialties. The most contentious issue, of course, is the boundary: specialists pursue exclusivity by creating new associations (the Richard Grand Society being an extreme example); generalists demand that the Law Society preserve inclusiveness, insisting ‘we are all specialists now’. APIL offered a characteristically English compromise (possibly inspired by silk): four ranks, largely defined by seniority. This strategy advantages specialists by disadvantaging generalists. Like professions, specialisms seek authority to define standards and engage in self-regulation and governance. Although the government resisted the emergence of new professions, it encouraged divisions within existing professions, especially when these facilitated its efforts to control the legal aid budget (see the next chapter). The resulting fractions did not exhibit the rivalries of specialists and generalists, but they also eroded professional solidarity.

In the previous chapter I predicted the Bar would retain most of its advocacy market (aside from losses to the CPS and CDS), as well as the associated prerogatives of silk and judgeships. The solicitors' market was more valuable, vulnerable, and volatile. House-selling will be vertically integrated, with solicitors unlikely to be the big winners. Conveyancing will be concentrated, since consumers care more about price than quality. MNPs (p.239) will proliferate, although some City firms will dominate rather than be subordinated to foreign lawyers (even Americans). MDPs will expand (even if able to perform only some accounting functions). And the future of law, like all knowledge industries, lies with the specialist. Restrictive practices that had withstood criticism for centuries collapsed in less than a decade. The market is truly inexorable.


(1) Unless otherwise noted, this account is based on Abel (1988: 140–2 and chap. 12; 1989a: 291–9).

(2) LCD (1983: R21.1–11).

(3) Farrand 1984; ‘No Profit in Prudential's Conveyancing’ (1987) 131 SJ 421; ‘Insurance Companies Expand’ (1987) 131 SJ 605; ‘Property Firms: The Client’ (1988) 132 SJ 328; ‘suggestions of New Code for Conveyancing’ (1988) 132 SJ 344; (Zander 1988: 9).

(4) ‘The Lincoln Experience’ (1987) 84 LSG 1630; Leslie Dubow, ‘NASPyC: Developments to Date’ (1987) 84 LSG 2992; ‘Property Services Plan’, LSG (27.1.88) 3; ‘On The Move … ’, LSG (10.2.88) 6; ‘NASPyC: The New Dimension’, LSG (20.4.88) 49; ‘Law Society Attacked by Homex Solicitor’ (1987) 131 SJ 604; ‘Twelve Firm Centre’ (1987) 131 SJ 637; ‘New Finance Facilities for Solicitors’ (1987) 131 SJ 1296; ‘MPs Lobbied by Estate Agent’ (1988) 132 SJ 1040.

(5) Peat Marwick (1986); LA (12.87) 4; ‘Firm Reports Conveyancing Success with Computers’ (1987) 131 SJ 985; ‘Conveyancing: Falling Charges not being Felt’ (1987) 131 SJ 1197; ‘Letters: Skipton Building Society’ (1988) 132 SJ 1374; Bowles 1987; Paterson et al. (1988); ‘Licensed Conveyancers not being Treated as Professionals’, LSG (13.4.88) 2; ‘The cost is clear’, ES (30.3.88) 32; ‘Cost of legal work varying by as much as 100%, poll shows’, T (23.8.88); Marre Committee (1988: para. 11.49); Domberger and Sherr (1989); Joseph (1989); ‘Legal scourge exposes conveyancing “fraud”’, ST (29.1.89); ‘NCC says Home Buyers Need more Info’ (1990) 134 SJ 992; NCC (1990); Bowles 1990.

(6) Zander (1988: 12); ‘Corporate Conveyancing: “Liberal” Code of Conduct causes Concern’, LSG (15.2.89) 8; John Hayes, ‘The Green Papers: A Personal View’, LSG (15.2.89) 11; Richard Gaskell, ‘President's Column’, LSG (22.2.89) 2; Tony Holland, ‘2001: A Conveyancing Odyssey’, LSG (22.2.89) 15; ‘solicitors Prepare for Corporate Conveyancing Challenge’, LSG (22.2.89) 4; ‘One-stop Shopping’, LSG (22.2.89) 5; ‘sFPS Mortgage Service’, LSG (17.5.89) 3; ‘Mortgage Funding from SFPS’ (1989) 133 SJ 640; ‘solicitors move into mortgages’, FT (20/21. 5. 89); ‘solicitors' Property Centres Thrive despite Downturn’, LSG (21.6.89) 4; ‘sPG Warning to Financial Institutions’, LSG (4.10.89) 7; ‘sFPS Poised for First Hurdle’, LSG (22.11.89) 4; ‘First-time Buyers’ (1991) 135 SJ 207; ‘sFPS deficit rises’, LA (2.91) 6.

(7) ‘“Greedy” estate agents’, DM (14.3.89); ‘Buyers “pressured” by estate agents’, DT ‘Call for Clean-up of Estate Agents’ (1989) 139 NLJ 355; ‘Estate Agents Slammed’, LSG (12.4.89) 5; ‘Halifax Criticises Solicitors’ (1989) 133 SJ 604; ‘Public Sees Problems in One-stop Shopping’, LSG (28.6.89) 5; ‘solicitors Stand to Lose: Survey’, LSG (22.11.89) 5; ‘Call for Ban on Sale of Financial Services by Estate Agents’, LSG (10.1.90) 6; ‘society Urges more Estate Agent Regulation’ (1990) 140 NLJ 7; ‘society Back on Estate Agent Offensive’ (1990) 134 SJ 28; ‘Estate Agents' Malpractice’, LSG (28.2.90) 5; ‘Estate Agents Cheat, claims Which?’ (1990) 134 NLJ 314; ‘Estate Agent Curbs Fall Short’, LSG (14.3.90) 4; ‘Financial Services—No Ban Yet for Estate Agents’ (1990) 140 NLJ 350; ‘Tories get Tough on “Rogue” Estate Agents’ (1990) 134 SJ 464; ‘Conveyancing Rules Omit Disclosure Duty’, LSG (1.5.91) 9; ‘Total Tying-in’, LSG (8.5.91) 5.

(p.547) (8) ‘solicitors Stand to Lose: Survey’, LSG (22.11.89) 5; ‘sensible Protocol’ (1990) 134 SJ 323; ‘TransAction Gathers Momentum’, LSG (28.3.90) 4; ‘Protocol “Sinister” says Kent’ (1990) 134 SJ 348; ‘Nervous Agents’ (1990) 134 SJ 379; ‘8000 Offices Take up TransAction’, LSG (2.5.90) 7; ‘Law Society to Appear on the Big Screen’ (1990) 134 SJ 500; ‘Property sellers tighten screw on Law Society’, ST (18.1.91) 36; ‘Early Change Resisted on Conflict Rule’, LSG (23.1.91) 5; ‘Monopoly Referral for Scots’, LSG (20.3.96) 3; ‘Glasgow Success’, LSG (14.8.96) 4; ‘Help Solicitors Sell’, LSG (29.8.96) 15; ‘Moving Houses’, LSG (29.8.96) 20; ‘Hope for Go-Ahead on House Selling’, LSG (16.10.96) 1; ‘Property Futures’, LSG (23.10.96) 13; ‘Property Shops Win Seal of Approval’, LSG (3.9.97) 1.

(9) Tony Girling, ‘Where are the Goalposts?’ LSG (5.6.91) 2; ‘Facing the Future’, LSG (19.6.91) 2; ‘society blasts LCD Draft Regulations’, LSG (19.6.91) 3; ‘Comment: Conveyancing’ (1991) 135 SJ 743; ‘“Sticking to our Knitting”—the Leeds’ (1991) 135 SJ 908.

(10) ‘Conveyancing reforms on ice but Tories back no-fault divorce’, G (12.2.92); ‘Market forces help solicitors stay ahead in the monopoly game’, I (28.2.92); ‘LCD U-turn May Leave Solicitors out of Pocket’ (1992) 136 SJ 179; ‘Public Wants Conveyancing from Institutions’ (1992) 136 SJ 203; ‘Wigs and Tories’ (1992) 136 SJ 230; ‘Authorised conveyancer scheme postponed’, L (17.3.92) 1; ‘LCD Shelves Plans to Widen Conveyancing’, LSG (18.3.92) 7; ‘Mitchell Slams LCD Decision to Drop Scheme’ (1992) 136 SJ 255; ‘Conveyancing—Where Now?’ (1992) 136 SJ 259; ‘Depressed Property Sector is "Bad News" for Firms’, LSG (8.4.92) 6; ‘Property Group Battles the Tide’, LSG (16.12.92) 10; Law Society Special Working Party (1994: 6); Sinclair (1994).

(11) ‘Conveyancing Network Targets Institutions’, LSG (3.7.91) 7; ‘150 Firms Flock to Join new Conveyancing Network’, LSG (25.7.91) 4; ‘Conveyancing Networks Multiply’, LSG (4.9.91) 8; ‘CA Network’, LSG (6.11.91) 9; ‘sPG Plans Conveyancing Network’, LSG (31.7.91) 6; ‘Green Light for Conveyancing Referrals’, LSG (17.10.91) 9; (Clarke 1991: 27–8).

(12) ‘sole Practitioners Demand Action on Panels’ (1993) 137 SJ 496; ‘Lender Curbs on Solos to be Referred to the OFT’, LSG (17.11.93) 3; ‘societies Could Act against Sole Practitioners says Skipton’ (1993) 137 SJ 1229; ‘Home Truths’, LSG (24.11.93) 9; ‘skipton Sole Practitioner Ban’ (1993) 137 SJ 1205; ‘skipton “No”’, LSG (17.12.93) 7; ‘Conveyancing Panel Cut from 1,000 to 10’, LSG (14.4.99) 1.

(13) ‘Restrictions on Seller-Buyer Rule Strongly Opposed’, LSG (31.1.90) 5; ‘Council told OSS Still has Problems’ (1991) 141 NLJ 1091; ‘Hambro to Recruit Solicitors’, LSG (13.12.96) 1; ‘Law Soc Urged to Act over Hambros Move’ (1996) 140 SJ 1187; ‘Comment: Decimation on the High Street’ (1996) 140 SJ 1191; Anthony Bogan, ‘Letters to the Editor: Conveyancing: Beginning of the End or End of the Beginning’ (1996) 140 SJ 1216; ‘Kent Firm Anchors Title Cover Scheme’, LSG (22.1.97) 1; ‘Hambros Threat Played Down’ (1997) 141 SJ 51; ‘Editorial: Back at the Council Chamber’ (1997) 147 NLJ 81; ‘Property Centre Talks’, LSG (29.1.97) 5; Leslie Dubow, ‘Letters to the Editor’, LSG (29.1.97) 16; ‘Comment: Another Fine Mess’ (1997) 141 SJ 79; ‘surrey Backs Property Centre’, LSG (26.2.97) 5; ‘Conveyancers to be Offered Stake in Property Centre Share Issue’, LSG (5.3.97) 4; ‘shoosmiths-Hambros alliance signals new conveyancing era’, L (11.3.97) 1; ‘Firms Sign Hambro Conveyancing Deal’, LSG (12.3.97) 1; ‘Editorial: Home (p.548) Arrangements’, LSG (12.3.97) 16; ‘Property Centre Model in Pipeline’, LSG (19.3.97) 1; ‘Wide Support for Relaxing Rules’, LSG (26.3.97) 5; ‘Conquest Launches Property Shop Plan’, LSG (16.4.97) 1; ‘Property Shop Prospectus Issued’, LSG (16.4.97) 6; ‘Property Centre Talks Begin’, LSG (23.4.97) 4; ‘Property Centre Cash Injection’, LSG (8.5.97) 4; ‘Local Lawyers will Decide on Ownership of Property Centres’, LSG (14.5.97) 5; ‘Eversheds Joins up with Hambro’, LSG (16.5.97) 5; ‘sPC Chair’, LSG (29.5.97) 5; Richard Berenson, ‘Centres of Attention’, LSG (29.5.97) 15; ‘Property Consultation Launched’, LSG (11.6.97) 4; ‘Hambro Firms set £350 Flat Fee’, LSG (25.6.97) 5; ‘One Stop Shops “will Dominate”’, LSG (9.7.97) 4; ‘Property Concern’, LSG (16.7.97) 4; ‘Council Clears Obstacles to Property Sales’, LSG (23.7.97) 1; Leslie Dubow, ‘Comment: The Open Window’, LSG (23.7.97) 15; Anthony Bogan, ‘Letters to the Editor: One Stop to Property’, LSG (23.7.97) 16; ‘Law Soc Backs Deregulation’ (1997) 141 SJ 712; ‘Property Selling Scheme Forges Ahead with Minister's Blessing’, LSG (30.7.97) 5; ‘solicitors embark on homebuying revolution’, ST (3.8.97) §4, 1; ‘sPC Initiative Receives “Tremendous” Response’ (1997) 141 SJ 759; ‘solicitors for Sales’, LSG (13.8.97) 12; ‘Lawyers Identified as Main Obstacle to Change’ (1997) 141 SJ 784; ‘Property Shops win Seal of Approval’, LSG (3.9.97) 1; ‘Rival Property Centres on the Horizon’ (1997) 141 SJ 831; ‘IPSO Launch’, LSG (24.9.97) 4; ‘sPC to let Solicitors Determine Local Structure’ (1997) 141 SJ 908; ‘Interim Deregulation Passed’ (1997) 141 SJ 964; ‘London Launch for Edinburgh Property Shop’, LSG (22.10.97) 1; ‘scottish Solicitors March on London’ (1997) 141 SJ 992; ‘survey Boost for Property Centre Plans’, LSG (12.11.97) 1; ‘Editorial: Selling Confidence’ LSG (12.11.97) 15; ‘The London Property Shop is Unveiled’ (1997) 141 SJ 1067; ‘Round the Houses’, LSG (19.11.97) 24; ‘Property Sales to go Ahead’ (1997) 147 NLJ 1838; Adam Smith Institute 1997; ‘Property Sales Bid needs Mass Support’, LSG (21.1.98) 1; ‘Editorial: Housekeeping’, LSG (21.1.98) 13; ‘Record £1 billion Sales for Edinburgh Property Centre’ (1998) 142 SJ 52; ‘House Sales Plan’, LSG (28.1.98) 5; ‘North East Emerges as Favourite in English Property Shop Venture’, LSG (18.2.98) 4; ‘Property Selling Initiative Hit by Five Month Delay’ (1998) 142 SJ 171; ‘Property Shop Fails to Hit 350-firm Target’, LSG (8.4.98) 1; ‘Networks Battle on as Deadlines Slip’ (1992) 142 SJ 483; ‘Go-ahead for Newcastle Property Shop’, LSG (3.6.98) 1; ‘Conveyancing Pow-Wow’, LSG (17.6.98) 5; ‘First Property Shop Launched’, LSG (22.7.98) 4; ‘North East to Lead the Way on Property Selling’ (1998) 142 SJ 707; ‘Comment: Scotland Leads the Way’ (1998) 142 SJ 711; ‘Direct Move’, LSG (2.9.98) 4; ‘Busy Hambro’, LSG (7.10.98) 4; ‘Bulking Up’, LSG (11.11.98) 4; ‘Newcastle Property Selling Boost’, LSG (6.1.99) 4; ‘Preston v Swansea in Property Race’, LSG (13.1.99) 3; ‘Estate Agents Buy Property Practice’, LSG (13.1.99) 1; ‘sPC Promises to have First Centres Ready by April’ (1999) 143 SJ 75; ‘First American Moves into Conveyancing’ (1999) 143 SJ 123; ‘Property Selling Drive Gathers Pace’, LSG (17.3.99) 1; ‘Bogan launches West London Centre’ (1999) 143 SJ 284; ‘Hambro on 1,000 a Week’ (1999) 143 SJ 309; ‘Obiter’, LSG (14.4.99) 12; ‘Law Firm Launches Seller's Pack Plan’, LSG (9.6.99) 1; ‘shock Property Centres Split’, LSG (30.6.99) 4; ‘National Property Selling Initiative in Crisis’ (1999) 143 SJ 651; ‘sPC Severs Ties with Berenson’ (1999) 143 SJ 676; (p.549) ‘Property Shop to Expand’, LSG (13.10.99) 6; ‘One Solicitor Property Selling Bid Fails as Another Expands’, LSG (3.11.99) 3.

(14) Tony Holland, ‘Thriving on Conveyancing Competition’, LSG (26.9.90) 2; ‘society Urged to Stamp out Cut-price Conveyancing’, LSG (24.3.93) 5; ‘Lease of Life for Loss Leader’, LSG (16.3.93) 7; ‘Cheap Conveyancing’, LSG (16.6.93) 8; ‘OFT Warns on Conveyancing Fees’ (1993) 137 SJ 700; ‘Cut-Price Chaos’, LSG (15.9.93) 9; ‘Unknown Effects of Price Cutting’, LSG (13.10.93) 7; ‘Carsberg backs MDPs’, LSG (3.11.93) 11; ‘Conveyancing fee Guidelines’, LSG (17.12.93) 5; ‘Comment: Paying for Quality’, LSG (4.2.94) 87; ‘Comment: Deskill Conveyancing for Profit’ (1994) 138 SJ 139; Law Society Special Working Party (1994: 50). Local cartels had been created in the 1980s. Peat Marwick (1986: para 2.6.2); Paterson et al. (1988: 369).

(15) Chambers and Harwood Richardson 1991: 49); ‘Conveyancing Moves’, LSG (23.3.94) 6; ‘Property buyers face two sets of legal bills’, T (29.3.94); ‘Conveyancing Shake-up’, LSG (30.3.94) 4; ‘Lenders Oppose Conveyancing Moves’ (1994) 138 SJ 299; ‘Comment: Last Chance Saloon?’ (1994) 138 SJ 303; ‘Conquests for Conquest’ (1994) 138 SJ 327; ‘Comment: Make your Views Known’ (1994) 138 SJ 331; ‘solicitors oppose reform of conveyancing laws’, T (10.5.94); ‘Birmingham Rejects Conveyancing Plan’, LSG (1.6.94) 5; ‘south-west “Yes” on Conveyancing’, LSG (8.6.94) 4; ‘solos Surprise’, LSG (8.6.94) 4; ‘Lenders' Doubts on Conveyancing’, LSG (15.6.94) 6; ‘Property Firms Voice Concern’, LSG (22.6.94) 6; ‘society Urged to Cut Deal with Lenders’, LSG (29.6.94) 3; ‘Lenders Support Restricted Panels’, LSG (6.7.94) 8; ‘North's “Get Tough” Call’, LSG (13.7.94) 7; ‘Bristol Group Oppose Separate Representation’ (1994) 138 SJ 705; ‘Conveyancing Survey Limits’, LSG (20.7.94) 8; ‘Network Backs Separate Representation’ (1994) 138 SJ 807; ‘Conveyancing Survey Blocks Joint Representation’ (1994) 138 SJ 975; ‘Comment: We Need a Solution’ (1994) 138 SJ 1007; ‘Quality Net’, LSG (9.11.94) 9; ‘Plan Dropped’, LSG (9.11.94) 4; ‘Conveyancing Split may Stay’, LSG (16.11.94) 4; ‘Cut-price rivals reduce lawyers' profits’, T (23.11.94); ‘sPG Warns Law Society against Adopting “Divisive” Conveyancing Proposals’ (1994) 138 SJ 1195; Richard Hegarty and Robert Sayer, ‘The Conveyancing Battle’ (1994) 138 SJ 1226; Robert Sayer, ‘Proposal Breaks Up the Parties’, LSG (7.12.94) 12; ‘Compromise on Separate Representation Welcomed’ (1994) 138 SJ 1248; ‘Going round the houses to move’, T (13.12.94); ‘Conveyancing Talks Continue’, LSG (16.12.94) 3; ‘sayer Slams Representation Compromise’ (1994) 138 SJ 1275; ‘Conveyancing Compromise’ (1994) 144 NLJ 1758; Law Society Special Working Party (1994); ‘Lenders Trash Retainer Plan’, LSG (11.1.95) 2; ‘Mortgagees and Purchasers: Separate Solicitors?’ (1995) 145 NLJ 193; ‘society Firmly Rules out Separate Representation’, LSG (3.5.95) 4; ‘Lenders Warn over Terms’, LSG (19.7.95) 2; Sidaway and Cole (1996: Tables 5–11. 12).

(16) ‘Mortgage Deal under Attack’, LSG (20.10.96) 4; ‘OFT Warns over “Fee Fixing’”, LSG (23.4.97) 4; ‘Property Consultation Launched’, LSG (11.6.97) 4; ‘Council to Consider Rule 6 Change’, LSG (17.12.97) 5; ‘Council Casts Hang-ups Aside and goes for “Full Monty”’ (1997) 141 SJ 1193; ‘Council Sets Limits on Acting for Lenders in Conveyancing’, LSG (30.9.98) 3; ‘Conveyancing Alarm’, LSG (16.12.98) 1; ‘Lenders to Go it Alone with Standard Instructions’ (1998) 142 (p.550) SJ 1144; ‘Indemnity Decision Set for March’, LSG (27.1.99) 4; ‘Conveyancing Delight’, LSG (28.4.99) 5; ‘89 Lenders Sign up to Handbook’, LSG (29.9.99) 4.

(17) ‘society Approves Quality Certificates’, LSG (15.3.95) 3; ‘Row over Quality’, LSG (7.6.95) 64; ‘Property Lawyers “Disturbed” at Law Society Actions’ (1995) 139 SJ 539; ‘Comment: Flying a kitemark’ (1995) 139 SJ 543; ‘sPG Flies Off over Kitemark’ (1995) 139 SJ 573; ‘Group Fury’, LSG (21.6.95) 2; ‘Kitemark Concern’, LSG (28.6.95) 5; ‘Conveyancing Club’, LSG (5.7.95) 2.

(18) Tony Holland, ‘Conveyancing is at a crossroads’, T (5.4.94); ‘Branch Office Controls’, LSG (18.5.94) 4; Robert Sayer, ‘A Profitable Proposition?’ LSG (12.10.94) 12; ‘Conveyancing Fees Fall Again’, LSG (19.10.94) 3; ‘Conveyancing Idea Refreshes the Parts’, LSG (26.10.94) 4; ‘Practitioners back Law Society Critic’ (1994) 138 SJ 1115; ‘Branch Offices Code Amended’, LSG (11.1.95) 2; ‘Conveyancing Fee Scales Urged’, LSG (15.2.95) 6; ‘Fewer Cuddles in Oxford’, LSG (15.2.95) 6.

(19) John Edge, ‘Letters to the Editor: Conveyancing Fees’ (1995) 139 SJ 758; ‘shots in Fee Battle’, LSG (9.8.95) 1; ‘Editorial: Conveyancing—a Reasonable Return’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1249; ‘7000 Back Scale Fee Plan’, LSG (31.8.95) 64; ‘Letter to the Editor’, LSG (6.9.95) 11; Anthony Bogan, ‘To Fix or Not to Fix’ (1995) 139 SJ 892; ‘Comment: Something Nasty Lurks’, LSG (20.9.95) 10; ‘Comment: Conveyancing Sense’ (1995) 139 SJ 1091.

(20) ‘Cost Cutters could Lose SIF Insurance’, LSG (13.9.95) 1; ‘Editorial: Image Matters’, LSG (13.9.95) 10; ‘Edge in Call for Scale Fee for Lenders’, LSG (20.9.95) 3; ‘Boost for Scale Fees’, LSG (4.10.95) 2; ‘Conveyancing Alert’, LSG (11.10.95) 3; ‘Estate Agents Turn the Screw on Introductions’, LSG (18.10.95) 10; ‘Editorial: Agents' Favours’, LSG (18.10.95) 12; ‘Code Clamp-down on Misleading Ads’, LSG (15.10.95) 5; ‘Competing Opinions’ (1995) 139 SJ 1062; ‘Life out on the Edge’ LSG (6.12.95) 11.

(21) Harwood (1989: Table 3.1); Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: The First 100 Days’, LSG (22.11.95) 11; ‘Low fee Link to High Claims’, LSG (29.11.95) 1; ‘sIF Argues against Indemnity Change’, LSG (6.12.95) 2; Robert Sayer, ‘sensible Fees’, LSG (6.12.95) 16; Anthony Bogan, ‘survival is at Stake’, LSG (6.12.95) 26; Jenkins & Lewis 1995: Table 3.11) (excludes firms earning less than £15,000/year).

(22) ‘Minimum Fee Mooted’, LSG (22.11.95) 1; Robert Sayer,‘sensible Fees’, LSG (6.12.95) 16; Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Reactions to Change’, LSG (6.12.95) 12; ‘Fees Plan goes to Profession’, LSG (15.12.95) 1; ‘Conveyancing Compromise for Consultation’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1878; Richard Hegarty, ‘Comment: A Note of Realism’, LSG (10.1.96) 11; ‘Getting in a Fees Fuss’, LSG (10.1.96) 8; ‘Edge Floats Fund’, LSG (17.1.96) 2; ‘QCs give Fees Verdict’, LSG (24.1.96) 1; ‘OFT Warns of Fee Initiative Pitfalls’, LSG (24.1.96) 3; ‘Fee Consultation Postponed’, LSG (31.1.96) 3; ‘Comment: Covering all Comers’, LSG (31.1.96) 15; Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: SIF-ting the Evidence’, LSG (31.1.96) 16; ‘Fees Fund Hits £19,000’, LSG (7.2.96) 1; ‘Edge in Call for a Steer on Charges’, LSG (21.2.96) 1; ‘Change of Tack in Fee Campaign’, LSG (6.3.96) 1; ‘Debate Continues on Pay-as-convey’, LSG (13.3.96) 2.

(23) ‘Editorial: Another way’, LSG (13.3.96) 15; ‘OFT Expands Fees Enquiry’, LSG (20.3.96) 1; ‘Editorial: OFT Inquiries’, LSG (20.3.96) 13; Richard Hegarty, ‘Conveyancing Costs’, LSG (20.3.96) 20; ‘scots Reject Fees Plan’, LSG (27.3.96) 1; ‘Fee Think-tank’, LSG (19.6.96) 4; Richard Hegarty, ‘A Fair Fee for the Job’, LSG (p.551) (3.7.96) 22; ‘Conveyancing Appeal’, LSG (4.9.96) 4; ‘Call for Legal Think-tank’, LSG (12.9.96) 6; ‘Gloomy forecast’, ibid.; ‘Time to go’, ibid.; ‘“Change or Die” Warning’ (1996) 140 SJ 856; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Thinking about the Law Society’, (12.96) Cat 3 (‘Bring back scale fees for conveyancing’); ‘Comment: Scotland Leads the Way’ (1998) 142 SJ 711; ‘Bulking Up’, LSG (11.11.98) 4; ‘sole Practitioners Face “Abrupt End”’, LSG (28.4.99) 3; ‘Property Shop to Expand’, LSG (13.10.99) 6; ‘One Solicitor Property Selling Bid Fails as Another Expands’, LSG (3.11.99) 3.

(24) ‘London fears of a US invasion dispelled’, FT (22.5.89) 18; ‘MNP Indemnity Hitch’, LSG (10.4.91) 3; ‘sIF urges Strict Limits on MNP Indemnity Cover’, LSG (24.4.91) 5; ‘society Shifts Ground on Foreign Lawyer Practice Rights’, LSG (3.7.91) 3; ‘society Hopes to Speed through MNP Rules’, LSG (24.7.91) 9; T (13.8.91); ‘Register opens for MNPs’, LSG (17.10.91) 7; ‘Way cleared for MNPs’, LSG (8.1.92); ‘First MNP Established’, LSG (15.1.92) 4; ‘Dane Steps into Multinational Partnership’ (1992) 136 SJ 24; ‘Kennedys goes Multi-national’, LSG (29.7.92) 9; ‘City Firm in US Merger’, LSG (22.6.92) 5; Lee 1992; ‘NY Firm goes Solo’, LSG (25.10.95) 4; ‘City Assault by US Firms’, LSG (30.5.96) 1; ‘Commercial Bonanza Ahead’, LSG (12.6.96) 1; ‘US Firms Prowl City’, LSG (20.11.96) 11; Flood 1996; Lee (1999: chap. 3); ‘UK Practice Links with French Firm in First Full International Merger’, LSG (22.10.97) 4; ‘Allen ‘Overy in Italian Merger’ (1997) 141 SJ 1192; ‘Freshfields joins Euro-merger Club’, LSG (28.1.98) 1; ‘Freshfields merges with German Firm’ (1998) 142 SJ 100; ‘Clifford Chance to Recruit 500’, LSG (1.4.98) 6; ‘Europe's Largest Firm Unveiled’, LSG (29.7.98) 6; ‘Linklaters Secures North European Alliance’ (1998) 142 SJ 707; ‘salans Claims Transatlantic Merger First’ (1998) 142 SJ 853; ‘2 Law Firms Plan to Bridge the Atlantic’, NYT (25.5.99) CI; ‘Obiter’, LSG (16.6.99) 12; ‘British Law Firm creates global giant’, T (12.7.99) 1; ‘Law firm merger fuels salary war’, T (12.7.99) 4; ‘New life for lawyers’, T (12.7.99) 23; ‘Clifford Chance Partners Vote to Create World's Largest Law Firm’, LSG (14.7.99) 3; ‘Clifford Chance Takes Over the World’ (1999) 143 SJ 675; ‘Legal Diary’, T (20.7.99) 21; ‘Linklaters in Major Italy Move’, LSG (21.7.99) 6; ‘Press Round-up’, LSG (21.7.99) 12; ‘Comment: Why We Should all be Proud of Clifford Chance’ (1999) 143 SJ 703; ‘The transatlantic merger that is making waves’, I (Tues Rev) (27.7.99) 14; ‘German Mergers get Go-ahead’, LSG (8.9.99) 6; ‘This week in the law’ (1999) 143 SJ 825; ‘Lovells Leads Euro Merger Charge’, LSG (29.9.99) 6; ‘Luxembourg Deal for Allen 8c Overy’, LSG (11.10.99) 4; ‘CC adds Fourth Firm to Merger’, LSG (17.12.99) 6. See generally Abel (1994).

(25) ‘Coudert leads US drive on the City’, L (1.8.90) 1; ‘Wall Street sets sights on the City’, L (1.8.90); ‘City Firms Up Salaries to Match US pay’, LSG (26.3.97) 1; ‘Is it the end of the affair?’ T (1.7.97) 41; ‘search Begins for £1m Solicitor’, LSG (13.1.99) 4; ‘Why the entente is not so cordiale’, T (26.1.99) 41; ‘A legal way to land a million’, I (18.2.99) §2,14; ‘Legal diary’, T (29.6.99) 39; ‘City Salary Spiral to Slow Down after “Unprecedented growth”’ LSG (7.7.99) 3; ‘US Firms Up Salary Competition’, LSG (20.10.99) 6.

(26) Hayes 1987; David Ward, ‘The Rule of Law’, LSG (19.10.89) 2; ‘solicitors' chief takes on critics of legal changes’, T (16.7.90); ‘Borrie acts to end Law Society's ban on mixed practices’, T (17.9.90) 5; ‘Borrie Set to take Action over MDPs’ (1990) 134 SJ 1052; ‘Comment’ (1990) 134 SJ 1083; ‘No Big Six for City Solicitors’, LSG (12.10.94) 9; Kay 1994.

(p.552) (27) ‘Government move may delay MDP proposals’, L (20.11.90); ‘society Stands Firm in Face of Proposals on MDPs’, LSG (5.6.91) 5; ‘Practising in Partnership’, LSG (18.9.91) 2; ‘MDPs get Young Vote’, LSG (8.7.92) 9; ‘Interest in MDPs Wanes’, LSG (16.3.93) 7; ‘An Ally in Arthur’, LSG (31.3.93) 8; ‘Collin Garrett’, L (13.4.93); ‘Carsberg Backs MDPs’, LSG (3.11.93); ‘City Firm in Accountancy Link’ (1993) 137 SJ 1256; ‘MDPs Put on Ice’ (1994) 138 SJ 223; ‘salaries for Law Society Officers’ (1994) 144 NLJ 382; ‘Leeds Defection Fuels Local Anger’, LSG (25.4.94) 8; ‘Chain Reaction’, LSG (12.10.94) 15; ‘Garrett's Pennine Leap’, LSG (16.11.94) 3; Flood and Skordaki (1995: 13); ‘Insolvent Abuse?’ LSG (4.12.96) 14.

(28) ‘Accountants Threat’, LSG (7.2.96) 1; ‘Editorial: Big Six Move’, LSG (7.2.96) 13; ‘Ernst 8c Young Plans a Law Firm’, LSG (21.2.96) 1; ‘Case on MDP Ban’, LSG (21.2.96) 8; ‘The Thin End of the MDP Wedge?’ LSG (28.2.96) 10; ‘Accountants push Dutch over MDP Restrictions’, LSG (1.5.96) 8; ‘Labour Plans Spark MDP Review’, LSG (12.6.96) 1; ‘Editorial: Timely Look at MDPs’, LSG (12.6.96) 16; ‘Comment: Multiple benefits’ (1996) 140 SJ 653; ‘Garretts Claim Fastest Growth’, LSG (6.11.96) 11; ‘survey Finds Strong Support for MDPs’, LSG (13.12.96) 1 (73% response from 579 firms); ‘Dutch Bar Beats Off Accountants’, LSG (12.2.97) 11; ‘Editorial: The Competition’, LSG (12.2.97) 15; ‘Dutch Bar seeks MDP Compromise’, LSG (13.8.97) 6; Flood (1997).

(29) ‘Alarm Raised over “Big Six” Threat’, LSG (14.8.96) 1; ‘Garrett Expansion’, LSG (8.1.97) 8; ‘Coopers Launches its own Law Firm’, LSG (12.2.97) 1; ‘Arnheim 8c Co Doubles’, LSG (12.3.97) 9; ‘Battle Hots Up against “Big Six”’, LSG (16.4.97)9; ‘At the Double’, LSG (21.5.97) 12; David Keating, ‘Accountants: A Level Playing Field’, (6.97) Cat 21 (‘Recognising that conflicts of interest can arise in the work they do has never been a strong point with accountants’); ‘OFT in MDP Audit’, LSG (9.7.97) 4; ‘scotland's Largest Firm is Recruited to Big Six Network’, LSG (3.9.97) 4; ‘solicitor to Lead Push by Accountants into Legal Markets’ (1997) 141 SJ 831; ‘Big Six Law Firms Discuss Merger’, LSG (24.9.97) 5; ‘Garretts Trains MDP-Friendly Brood’, LSG (24.9.97) 8; ‘MDP Limits’, LSG (5.11.97) 1; ‘Firm Breaks Talks with Accountants’, LSG (12.11.97) 1; ‘Law Society Intensifies MDP Preparations’ (1997) 141 SJ 1067; ‘OFT Keeps Up the Pressure on MDPs’, LSG (26.11.97) 1; ‘Big Six Euro Network Grows’, LSG (5.3.98) 6.

(30) ‘Lawyers see Big Six Merger as “Threat to Independence”’, LSG (21.1.98) 9; ‘MDP decisions delayed by SIF’, ST (30.1.98) 75; ‘TBA reaches MDPs Compromise’, LSG (26.2.98) 10; ‘Lawyers Gear Up for Big Six Alliances’, LSG (18.3.98) 1; ‘Partners in Line for Big Draws’, LSG (8.4.98) 9; ‘Wilde Sapte Partners Vote to Join Arthur Andersen’ (1998) 142 SJ 243; ‘Report Calls for Strong Regulation of MDPs to Avoid Ethics Problems’, LSG (3.6.98) 8; ‘PW “Enthusiastic” about Wilde Sapte Merger after Rival Pulls Out’, LSG (10.6.98) 9; ‘Wilde Sapte's Marriage with Andersen Comes Unstuck’ (1998) 142 SJ 531; ‘Andersens Changes Tack as Chain Decides to Go’ (1998) 142 SJ 660; ‘World Lawyers in MDP Change of Heart’, LSG (16.9.98) 1; ‘society in Bid to Find MDP Formula’, LSG (21.10.98) 1; ‘MDP Debate Gets Practical’ (1998) 142 SJ 948; ‘Wonderful MDPs’, LSG (18.11.98) 5; ‘Report Backs Move to MDPs’, LSG (24.2.99) 8; ‘MDPs will Lead to Split’, LSG (8.4.99) 8; ‘MDPs Receive Cautious EU Backing’, LSG (28.4.99) 6; ‘Editorial: The Shape of Things to Come’, LSG (9.6.99) 16; ‘Editorial: Time to Move on MDPs’ (1999) 149 NLJ 921; ‘Call to End MDPs Ban’, LSG (30.6.99) 5; ‘Comment: MDPs: Why? (p.553) Why not? When?’, LSG (30.6.99) 15; ‘City and In-House Lawyers join Growing Clamour to Allow MDPs’, LSG (7.7.99) 8.

(31) ‘City Sceptical over Big Five Plans’, LSG (13.1.99) 9; ‘KPMG Moves into Law after Rival's Solicitors Offer to Set up New Firm’, LSG (6.5.99) 5; ‘Partners who sleep with the enemy’, I (Tues Rev) (1.6.99) 12; ‘Legal diary’, T (15.6.99) 41; ‘US Opposition to MDPs Takes Shape’, LSG (2.9.99) 6; ‘PwC sets 5,000 Lawyer Target’, LSG (8.9.99) 6; ‘Global Corporations “Favour MDPs”’, LSG (15.9.99) 6; ‘Massive Fees Rise’, LSG (15.9.99) 9; ‘Society Considers “Interim” MDPs’, LSG (13.10.99) 4; ‘What's in a Name?’ LSG (13.10.99) 8; ‘MultiDisciplinary Partnerships on Horizon after “Seismic” Vote’, LSG (20.10.99) 3; ‘Take your Partners’, LSG (20.10.99) 9; ‘Society Forges ahead on MDPs’ (1999) 143 SJ 968; ‘European Lawyers Vote for MDP Ban’, LSG (17.11.99) 1; ‘Big Five get Bigger’, LSG (24.11.99) 6; ‘Are MDPs the way forward?’ T (Law) (30.11.99) 17.

(32) ‘Specialist Qualifications for the Legal Profession: A Contrary Argument’ (1987) 84 LSG 87; Zander (1988: 88–9).

(33) ‘Society Moves to Meet Demand for Specialisation’, LSG (11.10.89) 4; ‘Glasgow and Beyond’ (1989) 139 NLJ 1513; ‘Law Society to do More For Commercial Lawyers’ (1989) 139 NLJ 1551; ‘Specialisation: the Way Forward’, LSG (2.5.90) 36; ‘Rules on Specialisation Claims Relaxed’, LSG (18.7.90) 4; ‘Law Society Approves Free Market’ (1990) 134 SJ 816; ‘What Makes You so Special?’ (1990) 134 SJ 891; ‘Specialisation Rule Criticised’, LSG (22.8.90) 5; ‘NCC Fuels Rumpus over Specialists’ (1990) 134 SJ 940; ‘Marketing specialists’, LA (8.90) 4; ‘Publicity code changes’, LA (9.90) 4; ‘Abdicating Responsibility?’ LSG (3.10.90) 2; ‘Specialisation: YSG Demands Tough Code’, LSG (3.10.90) 5; ‘YSG Worried by Rules on Specialisms’ (1990) 134 SJ 1112; ‘Specialisation: A Responsible Approach’, LSG (10.10.90) 2; ‘Mackay Criticises Society's Latest Decision on Rules’, LSG (21.11.90) 3; ‘Mackay upset by easing of lawyers' publicity rules’, G (23.1.91); ‘Mackay's criticism is downplayed by Holland’, L (29.1.91); ‘Society Defends Changes to Publicity Code’, LSG (30.1.91) 7; ‘No simple solution to specialisation’, L (5.2.91).

(34) ‘Society Prepares Guidelines on Quality Award’, LSG (18.10.90) 7; ‘Consultation Planned on Two Specialist Panels’, LSG (6.3.91) 4; ‘New Specialist Panels to Help Injured and Medical Victims’ (1991) 135 SJ 368; ‘APIL Sounds Caution on Specialist Panel Selection’, LSG (8.5.91) 6; ‘New Body for Trust and Estate Practitioners’ (1991) 135 SJ 884; ‘More Stringent Test for Child Care Panel’, LSG (25.9.91) 5; ‘Council backs PI Panel’, LSG (15.7.92) 4; ‘Medical Negligence Panel’, LSG (16.6.93) 10; ‘Firms Slow to Apply to Specialist Panel’, LSG (13.10.93) 4; ‘New Scheme for Interviews’ (1993) 137 SJ 1041; ‘Slow Take-up of PI Panel’, LSG (17.11.93) 4; ‘Going for Growth’, LSG (8.12.93) 5; ‘New-look PI Scheme’, LSG (2.2.94) 7; ‘Comment: STEP in the Right Direction’ (1996) 146 NLJ 299; ‘PI Lawyers Tussle over Conduct Code’, LSG (20.11.96) 4.

(35) ‘Society Prepares Guidelines on Quality Award’, LSG (18.10.90) 7; ‘Panel Thresholds may be Lowered’, LSG (11.5.95) 7; ‘On the Road’, LSG (17.5.95) 3; ‘Society Flags Panels Rethink’ LSG (24.5.95) 3; ‘Panels Trigger Local Passions’, LSG (7.6.95) 6; ‘Council Approves Standards Scheme’, LSG (19.7.95) 3; ‘Early Opposition to Mears on Election Mandate’ (1995) 139 SJ 699; ‘Specialist Support’, LSG (15.11.95) 8; ‘Kite Flying’, LSG (26.2.97) 23; ‘Practice Management Quality Mark Launched’ (1997) 141 SJ909; ‘Lexcellent’, LSG (3.9.98) 4; ‘Editorial: Different (p.554) Routes to Quality’, LSG (3.9.98) 15; ‘Flagship for Firms’, LSG (3.2.99) 24; ‘Law Brands Join Elite’, LSG (6.10.99) 5.

(36) ;Davis et al. (1994); ‘Family Law Panel Closer to Approval’, LSG (19.7.95) 8; ‘Judge Warns of “Dabblers”’, LSG (11.10.95) 4; ‘Accreditation for Family Lawyers’ (1996) 146 NLJ 296; ‘Family Law Paper Approved’, LSG (1.5.96) 4; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Comment: A Panel by Any Other Name’, LSG (17.7.96) 14; ‘Family Panel Support’, LSG (2.8.96) 4; ‘Accreditation Review’, LSG (23.10.96) 5; ‘Editorial: A Specialist Case’, LSG (23.10.96) 15; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Thinking about the Law Society’, 1 Cat (12.96) 3; ‘Specialist Schemes move Closer’, LSG (29.1.97) 6; ‘Accreditation Moves Ahead’ (1997) 141 SJ 75; ‘Family Law Committee Seeks Accreditation’ (1997) 141 SJ 195; ‘Family Best’, LSG (12.3.97) 6; Hilary Siddle, ‘Comment: Best Kept in the Family’, LSG (12.3.97) 16; Hilary Siddle, Peter Watson-Lee, Eileen Pembridge, and David Hodson, ‘Family Planning’, LSG (19.3.97) 26–27; Marlene Winfield, ‘Preferred Panels’, LSG (19.3.97) 30–31; Steve Orchard and Gary Streeter, ‘Preferred Panels’, LSG (19.3.97) 30–31; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Attacking the General Practitioner’, 2 Cat (3.97) 18 (‘the creation of more panels is a direct attempt to intervene into the market place’); ‘Anger at SFLA's Negative Leaflet’, LSG (28.8.97) 6; ‘Plan to Accredit Housing Lawyers’, LSG (25.8.98) 2; ‘Law Society and SFLA Go it Alone after Failing to Agree Family Plan’, LSG (4.11.98) 3; ‘Society to Launch Alternative Accreditation Scheme’ (1998) 142 SJ 1120; ‘Family Affairs’, LSG (27.1.99) 4; ‘Till Divorce do us part … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 155; ‘Advisory Board Voices Fear over Family Law Panel Qualifications’, LSG (3.6.99) 3; ‘SFLA Targets Top Family Lawyers’, LSG (27.10.99) 4.

(37) ‘Super Club for Top PI Earners’, LSG (5.3.97) 5; ‘PI Lawyers Launch Top Earners Club’, LSG (8.5.97) 5; ‘Club Relaxes Entry Criteria’, LSG (13.5.98) 4; ‘Personal Affairs’, LSG (3.6.98) 12; ‘PI College Opens’, LSG (6.5.99) 4; ‘APIL Unveils College of Personal Injury Law’ (1999) 143 SJ 428; ‘A School for Solicitors’, SJ Training & Career Development Supplement (6.8.99) 10.

(38) Jenkins (1995); ‘Probate Practitioners become First to Win Dedicated Section’, LSG (2.7.97) 5; ‘Editorial: Getting Sectioned’, LSG (2.7.97) 15; Cole 1997: Tables 4(c), 5(a)); ‘Plan to Accredit Housing Lawyers’, LSG (25.8.98) 2; ‘Crime Scheme Support’, LSG (9.6.99) 5; ‘Accreditation for Criminal Defence Solicitors’ (1999) 143 SJ 551; ‘In-house Qualification Planned’, LSG (23.6.99) 6; ‘In-house Qualification Planned’, LSG (1.12.99) 5.

(39) ‘Panel Power’, LSG (19.3.97) 28; ‘Survey Reveals Pay Dissatisfaction’, LSG (3.4.97) 4; ‘This Legal Lifestyle’, LSG (23.4.97) 20; Cole 1997: Tables 7(a)-(c)).

(40) ‘Wills Campaign Aims to Head off Probate Threat’, LSG (5.6.91) 6; ‘Mixed Report for Solicitors in Will-writing Study’, LSG (12.6.91) 7; ‘Compensation Power for Probate Ombudsman’, LSG (17.7.91) 9; ‘Unwilling 69% to be Wooed by Wills Campaign’, LSG (11.9.91) 5; ‘Tapping the Market for Wills and Probate’, LSG (25.9.91) 2; ‘Society Damns Probate Rules’, LSG (30.10.91) 10; ‘Absence of Probate Rules Criticised’ (1991) 135 SJ 1256; ‘Will Power is a Hit’, LSG (4.12.91) 6; ‘Moves to Stem Misleading Will Ads’, LSG (4.12.91) 6; ‘Law Society Calls for Probate Safeguards’ (1993) 137 SJ 471; ‘Accountants Bid for Probate Rights’, LSG (9.6.93) 6; ‘Probate Fears’, LSG (16.6.93) 10; ‘Call for Will Checks’, LSG (13.10.93) 5; ‘Society Calls for Regulation of Unqualified Willwriters’ (1993) 137 SJ 1039; ‘Eye on Will Writers’, LSG (16.3.94) 9; ‘Will to Carry On’, LSG (14.9.94) 6; ‘North West (p.555) Wills Push’, LSG (21.9.94) 9; ‘The Will to Succeed’, LSG (28.9.94) 2; ‘Will Writers' Anger’, LSG (12.10.94) 7; ‘Will Week’, LSG (19.10.94) 3; ‘Right Royal?’ LSG (1.3.95) 64; ‘Firms Face Probate Competition War’, LSG (11.1.95) 4; Jenkins (1995: 25–6); ‘Probate Practitioners urged to Fight Back’, LSG (10.7.96) 6; ‘Law Soc hits back at Which? wills report’, L (8.10.96) 3; ‘Notts lawyers warn about low-cost advice’, L (8.10.96) 3; Robert Sayer, ‘Driving Home the Message’ (1999) 149 NLJ 417.

(41) ‘Now on the Block’, LSG (22.9.93) 9; ‘Referrals Scrutiny’, LSG (20.3.96) 1; ‘Accident Scheme Attacked by APIL’, LSG (27.3.93) 2; ‘Claims Firm Scoops up PI Work’, LSG (2.8.96) 5; Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Try, Try, Try Again’, LSG (27.3.96) 17; Caroline Harmer, ‘Comment: The PI Challenge’, LSG (9.5.96) 15; ‘Staking a Claim’, LSG (12.6.96) 13; ‘Crackdown on No Win, No Fee Ads’, LSG (10.7.96) 1; ‘No Win No Fee Adverts Risk ASA Censure’ (1996) 140 SJ 675; ‘Solicitors Concerned over Increased Role of Agents’ (1996) 140 SJ 779; ‘Claims Assessor Scrutiny’, LSG (30.10.96) 4; ‘Pressure Mounts for Action on Claims Assessors’ (1997) 141 SJ 27; Tony Girling, ‘President's Column’, LSG (29.1.97) 14; ‘Public Warning’, LSG (8.5.97) 4; HC Standing Committee E (11.5.99, 13.5.99); ‘Legal diary’, T (15.6.99) 41; ‘Briefs’, I (Tues Rev) (15.6.99) 14; ‘Claims Assessors under Scrutiny’ (1999) 143 SJ 575; ‘Claims Assessors Inquiry Backed’, LSG (25.8.99) 5; ‘Editorial: Law of Diminishing Returns’, LSG (2.9.99) 14; ‘Claims Direct Abandons Contingency Fees’ (1999) 143 SJ 799; ‘Comment: Rounding Up the Cowboys’ (1999) 143 SJ 827; Lord Chancellor's Committee (2000).

(42) ‘Press Round-Up’, LSG (24.11.99) 12.

(43) ‘Society Acts on “Passing Off”’, LSG (13.3.96) 1; ‘Defining “Lawyer”’, LSG (20.3.96) 2; ‘When is a Lawyer Not a Lawyer?’ LSG (27.3.96) 10; ‘Editorial: Fighting Back’, LSG (27.3.96) 15; ‘Chancery Lane Wins “Passing Off” Injunction’, LSG (3.4.96) 2; ‘No more “Society of Lawyers”’ (1996) 140 SJ 321: ‘Law Society Wins Injunction against Society of Lawyers’ (1996) 146 NLJ 506; ‘Society of Lawyers Struck Down’, LSG (17.4.96) 3; ‘ILEX Battle Plan’, LSG (8.9.99) 5; HL 596: 1175–9 (28.1.99), 597: 655–7 (16.2.99); HC 333: 1056–9 (22.6.99).