One of the initiatives of the LSC has been to set up a pilot project in seven areas of the country predicated on the assumptions that family solicitors are a) unnecessarily expensive and b) too defensive of their role leading to an absence of joint working. The evaluation of the data collected over the life of the project established that neither is true.
In something of a Hoorah! To our desk-bound colleagues, the report finds the only real change in solicitors’ working methods is that they are marginally more likely to discuss mediation, but less likely to actually refer and that they took an average of eight more minutes to interview their clients. The report suggests that these unspectacular results might result from the fact that in other jurisdictions the engagement with non-legal solutions is a precondition of access to legal services. What that actually means is that where clients can get access to lawyers, they do, and I should have thought that to do fairness in the report, its authors should have said so. As it is, the report does absolutely nothing to support any proposed changes in the funding or arrangement of solicitors’ contracts but I am perfectly sure that that will not stop it happening.