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  • Lawyers are a burden on the state
  • By Tim Collard
  • The Telegraph
  • 05/02/2010 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: PrincePlanet ( 4 articles in 2010 )
“The first thing we’ll do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. No, sadly not the preamble to the election manifesto of any of the major political parties, just a minor quotation from the Bard (Dick the Butcher, Henry VI part 2). One might not wish to go quite as far as Jack Cade’s associate, and if one did the Telegraph wouldn’t print it. But the fact is that they are a ruddy plague.

I wrote the other day that I’d been refused legal aid for a petit problème I’ve been having. Well, my very clever and resourceful solicitor has found an alternative source of funding, meaning that I can get representation after all. And, even as a potential victim of the undiscriminating Dick the Butcher, he didn’t mince words about the state of his profession. The reason poor sods like me can’t get legal aid, he told me, is because everyone is under enormous pressure to cut the government’s legal bills. Perfectly sound, you will say. But, he continued, it isn’t poor sods on legal aid who are responsible for most of the government’s expenditure on m’learned friends: it’s the humongous bills for high-profile cases, the sort of thing of which Private Eye’s coverage represents the tiny tip of a titanic iceberg.

Of course there is no way this expenditure can be reduced at all. The business of state allows no corners to be cut. And this seems to involve nodding through the most outrageous fees without question. It’s just the going rate, they will say. What sort of market forces establish this “going rate”? I’d love to know, because I suspect they’re not really market forces at all. Essentially, the law is a monopoly (there’s only one of it, after all) and lawyers form a cartel. Of course lawyers are necessary. So are traffic wardens. But neither are in any way wealth creators. They can’t even threaten to go elsewhere if not paid squillions, as bankers do. They are simply a burden on the wealth generation process, and it is about time proper market forces were brought to bear on them; we might start with some hard-headed haggling from the public sector.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, nothing is likely to change while there are so many of them in Parliament, protecting their little sidelines. I know that there’s no point in asking Telegraph readers to vote for my party: but I would ask them to withhold their vote from members of this vastly overpaid and over-represented profession.


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