Richard Barr Writer (and lawyer)

Books: Now and Then

This book was written to celebrate 200 years of the Law Publishers Sweet & Maxwell (for many years publishers of Solicitors Journal). My remit was to predict what legal practice would be like 25 years on from 1999 (in 2024). Many of my predictions appear to have been reasonably accurate, including a general (and not very enthusiastic) prediction of the way legal services are likely to go. I said:

Gone are the days when the same solicitor could, as my father did, dabble in divorce, put in an appearance at the local magistrates court (then called the police court), advise companies and partnerships, make wills, wind up estates, draw up leases and conveyances, sit as the local coroner, terrorise his partners, go trout fishing on balmy summer evenings and organise money raising events for the Wisbech Town Football Club.

The trend is likely to be towards fewer and larger firms providing a superstore style service. Major skills could well be far away from the office of contact. Specialised departments in Dunstable and Swansea will - bank style - offer the main skills.

Life will move increasingly towards "package" or "plan". Every legal procedure will be uniform throughout the European community. There will be competition between firms in different countries for lucrative legal work. This is already happening, with the very large firms branching out into other countries, even outside Europe. Several major UK law firms have gained a foothold in the USA, employing top ranking American legal experts, and competing with native firms.