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.