City law firms are ticked off because government legal procurement doesn't seem to be going their way. Legal Week reported on government's reliance on one or two firms for its banking crisis work, well, mostly one--Slaughter & May. During the Northern Rock crisis it billed government £20 million in fees.
The latest beneficiary is Freshfields, which isn't on the panel, and partner Barry O'Brien of Marks & Spencer conflicts of interest notoriety.
However, what really intrigues me are the comments following the article. They represent the polar extremes of formalism and professional responsibility. My take is that lawyers are superb at avoiding accountability but then their forensic training ensures they make these distinctions. For example, the way the SRA Code of Conduct is used to justify positions is rather like the way evangelical preachers on TV use quotations from the Bible. In a country where legal ethics is not properly taught, now is the time.
I've added the comments below:
Reality check: the regulators should have regulated. Or worst case the banks should have seen what was coming. Legal advisers advise on, shock horror, legal issues. Financial institutions advise on, shock horror, financial issues. Admittedly there is some crossover, but to assert that lawyers shouldn't be working on deals that they don't 100% understand from an economic perspective is frankly absurd and highlights a 'bash the banker/lawyer' attitude promulgated by a government that fundamentally failed to protect the economy.
People are out for themselves. It is the responsibility of the government to check this, unless something is actually unlawful (which everything referred to above was not, it was merely inadvisable). If it were unlawful, only the government could have made it so.
reality -17 Jun 2011 | 14:56
A friend sent me another picture of a lawyer at work which I thought I'd include here. Indeed, it's quite accurate....