The Death Of The Common Attorney.- Jerry Pearlman — 14 August 2017

Born in Redcar and art­icled in Leeds in 1950’s, Jerry Pearlman prac­ticed as a soli­citor in Leeds for nearly sixty years.  As well as the enorm­ous range of work one might expect in a gen­eral legal prac­tice,  Jerry has par­tic­u­lar expert­ise in rights of way.  His ram­bling and access talk how­ever is for another occasion.

Whilst look­ing at many aspects of a legal gen­eral prac­tice, his theme was to com­pare the legal pro­fes­sion of yes­ter­day with the legal industry of today and to ques­tion if the public is now really better served.

When Jerry qual­i­fied the use of Latin phrases was common place and helped to dis­tin­guish the legal pro­fes­sion.  An aver­age house cost £500 as did a motor car and the con­vey­an­cing fees for house pur­chases were often the main stay of a soli­cit­ors prac­tice.  Today the cost of con­vey­an­cing has come down but so has the secur­ity of the trans­ac­tions. Traditionally the con­vey­ance date was on a Friday.  This is now called Bad Friday and is when fraud­sters target soli­cit­ors offices on line to inter­cept money trans­ac­tions and redir­ect funds into their bogus bank accounts.  The intro­duc­tion of licensed con­vey­an­cers over the past 45 years has brought down costs for the public but Jerry argued that the busi­ness is less secure.

On the sub­ject of pre­par­ing one’s will, it used to be the sole province of a soli­citor and the value of a soli­cit­ors prac­tice was often based on the number of wills kept in the office safe.  Then account­ants and Banks offered the ser­vice and now there is even a Society of Will Writers.  The latter is com­pletely unreg­u­lated.  Jerry asked if this is really in the best interests of the public?

Liquor licens­ing is another area where Jerry wondered if the relax­ing of having to prove public need is a good thing.  Today alco­hol can be bought at most super­mar­kets and even at petrol sta­tions.  He blamed this for an increase of binge drink­ing and alco­hol con­sump­tion generally.

Divorce is another area that was the province of the soli­citor who might be able to temper the situ­ation.  Now with legal aid more dif­fi­cult to obtain, divorce can be some­thing where much is done on line.  Law stu­dents now help couples through divorce.

The Police  now have a power to cau­tion and fewer minor cases  come to court.  This means that there is less oppor­tun­ity to train young law­yers in court pro­ced­ures and this has lead to a lower­ing in the stand­ard of the law­yers’ per­form­ance in court.

This was a  pro­vok­ing talk on mat­ters that most people are aware of but have not given thought to.  There was great poten­tial for dis­cus­sion during and after the talk which was well received.