Morning Briefing: Law firms must change to 'survive and thrive'

Squire Patton Boggs boss looks into the future… law firms suffer identity theft… UK offers new route to becoming a solicitor… HK Law Society president resigns… and woman sues hair salon alleging ‘pot-laced cookies’

Morning Briefing: Law firms must change to 'survive and thrive'
Squire Patton Boggs partner looks into the future
“The law firms that change will survive and thrive” says Ed Newberry, co-global managing partner at Squire Patton Boggs. In an interview with Forbes, he says that years ago law firms didn’t really look into the future and if they did then what they saw was more of the same. Now, he says it’s hard to predict the future but believes that private money being invested in the profession and private litigation will have “a profound impact” as will the increasing role of non-lawyers. Newberry highlights the changing expectations of clients to provide alternative billing and more efficiency in the law business. There is also, he says, a need for law firms to prepare better for changes, including financial ones. He sees an end to the common practice of law firms paying out the profits every year and starting the New Year fresh. Ultimately his message is that only those firms that look ahead and are ready, willing and able to change will have a long-term future.

Law firms suffer identity theft
The UK’s Solicitors Regulatory Authority says it is getting at least one report a day about bogus law firms. The fake firms are used by criminals to give a legitimate appearance for their scams. The fraudsters use pictures and profiles of real lawyers on websites and claim that they are holding funds left to the potential victim by a deceased relative. Sometimes the law firm name will be real too, but it will be an overseas firm, and the fake website is presented as the local office of that firm. One of the biggest crimes resulting from a scam of this kind saw thieves steal a £200,000 mortgage payment as the lawyer acting for the buyer believed he was paying into the account of a genuine branch office.
Apprentices now able to work their way up the profession
A change in the rules means that apprentices working in law firms in the UK will be able to qualify as solicitors. Currently apprentices can qualify as chartered legal executives with the possibility of further qualifying as a solicitor; the newly approved changes will allow apprentices to qualify as a solicitor directly. The scheme will only be allowed through participating employers and apprentices will still be able to qualify as legal executive or paralegal instead of solicitor. The change is seen as a positive step towards a more diverse legal profession.
Hong Kong Law Society president stands down
Hong Kong Law Society president Ambrose Lam has resigned from his role with immediate effect, it was announced yesterday. At an EGM last week a majority 2,392 voted against Mr Lam with 1,478 backing him. That was despite many large law firms in mainland China urging colleagues in HK to give their support.

Pensioner sues hair salon after allegedly eating complimentary snack laced with pot
A 72-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit against a Los Angeles hair salon claiming that a complimentary tray of chocolate chip cookies contained marijuana. Within an hour she was suffering the effects and, believing she was having a heart attack, was taken to hospital where the pot was found in her system. She claims that she has never used the drug and is suing the salon for undisclosed damages. The salon has declined to comment.

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