New out of court initiative for city’s judges

Birmingham Law Society has launched a new initiative designed to improve dialogue between the local judiciary and solicitors.

The organisation’s dispute resolution committee launched the Judges/Solicitors Forum following a request from regional judges keen to get a better understanding of the issues currently facing solicitors.

A panel of 12 solicitors spoke at the inaugural event on subjects including the day-to-day role of a solicitor, trends in the profession and future challenges, such as professional indemnity insurance, alternative business structures (ABS), the role of the legal ombudsman, legal aid and new regulation.

Dean Parnell, president of Birmingham Law Society and chairman of the dispute resolution committee, said: “The legal landscape is in a state of flux and this has been exacerbated by the recession. The introduction of ABS is also likely to have a profound impact, particularly on those smaller firms who undertake the more routine volume work.

“Fewer clients are able to pay for legal advice, which is prompting the need for more flexible arrangements such as conditional and fixed fees. There is also a rise in litigation, which will inevitably increase the court’s caseload.

“This event was a first for the Society and we are delighted to facilitate relations between these two arms of the profession. We aim to provide a regular platform for direct dialogue and exchange of information between solicitors and judges.”

Speakers at the event, chaired by Dean Parnell, included Gavin Faber (Higgs & Sons), Simon Thomas (The Wilkes Partnership), Mary Kaye (Martineau), Verona Cocks (Weightmans LLP), Peter Adkins (Sydney Mitchell LLP), Chris Belcher (Eversheds LLP), Mushtaq Khan (HBJ Gateley Wareing LLP), Peter Brewer (Weightmans LLP), Sarah Archer (Sydney Mitchell LLP), Jon Preston (Martineau), Caroline Coates (Buller Jeffries) and Robin Humphreys (Thursfield).

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