Law Practice Management

Law practice pays 'too much too quickly to the wrong people doing the wrong thing,' UK lawyer says

Have attorneys and governments lost sight of why laws exist? Yes, says Stephen Mayson, a United Kingdom lawyer and consultant who also serves as director of the Legal Services Institute.

“What we have in the legal practice is a reward system that pays out too much too quickly to the wrong people doing the wrong thing,” said Stephen Mayson, speaking in Chicago at the 2013 Futures Conference. The event is sponsored by the College of Law Practice Management and takes place at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

In his keynote presentation, Mayson noted that law should protect the public interest. Instead, there’s been an artificial market for legal services in which lawyers are doing work that could be left to others.

“If there’s any risk I might lose my life, liberty, children, home, health care, access to education—I’d be quite happy for those types of legal rights to only be pursued by those who are authorized to do so,” he says.

His address also mentioned partnerships between law and other industries. In the United Kingdom, nonlawyers can own or invest in law firms and have been able to do so since the Courts and Legal Services Act became law more than two decades ago.

“Has the legal market collapsed? No,” he says. “Are people getting really cheap, low quality work? No.”

Some individuals have received bad legal services since the change, Mayson added, but that would happen regardless of whether nonlawyers can invest in or own legal practices.

“If lawyers are as good as they say they are, clients will buy their services. Let the market decide,” he said. “The future of law is fundamentally dependent on a balance between public interest, professional interest and client interest.”

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