This month, we report on high profile TV advertising, APIL's #backoff campaign; the continued saga of solicitors' PI, further discount rate delays and how the 'Super Regulator' has been sticking up for lawyers.
With personal injury law firms, claims management companies and ABS-led brands testing the waters of a new post Legal Services Act regime, the number of TV adverts promoting legal services appears to be on the rise. This month it was the turn of Slater & Gordon, whose' slick production had all the hallmarks of quality one would expect from a reported £1m commercial made by the 'Mad Men' at M&C Saatchi. S&G's new marketing director was quoted as saying "the ads were created to build a strong brand that has meaning in an increasingly diversifying UK market".
Meanwhile, it's that time of the year again as solicitors work to meet their renewal deadlines for professional indemnity insurance. With 2013 so far being no less controversial than previous years the news was not good as those covered by German insurer Berliner, having previously been Balva-insured before the latter's collapse then discovered they could be left in the lurch once again.
Brokers circled in the legal trade press after Berliner wrote to more than 1000 firms to say that it may not be able to remain in the market for the 2013-14 year, with the likes of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Marsh and Legal Risk all indicating premiums may 'harden' following the German underwriter's withdrawal.
Unfortunately, the difference as we all know in 2013 is the removal of the assigned risks pool, leaving the open market the only option for already hard pressed firms. The Law Society has come out fighting with its direct route to indemnity insurance, Chancery PII - a joint venture between Chancery Lane and broker Miller Insurance but the news post 1 October will no doubt be read across the industry with interest.
In other news, it's a well known fact that regulators tend to be at loggerheads with the firms' they authorise. Therefore it is with a great deal of fascination that the legal services market found the LSB in apparently charitable mood last week. Admittedly, the 'Super Regulator' Legal Services Board has rather stirred up a hornets' nest by suggesting that barriers to entry within the profession be lowered, and that 'there is no evidence of an oversupply of lawyers in the market'. It appears in fact that the LSB's attempts to promote one argument within its Legal Education and Training Review have met with the opposite response it would have liked. Law Society chair for education and training John Wotton suggested the whole thing was a distraction from what the LSB should be 'getting on with' and Diane Burleigh, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, said that while the principle of diversifying entry was 'admirable', the LSB 'appears to be jumping the gun'.
And finally, it's been two and a half years since the beginning of the discount rate review and if one of the defendant camp's busiest commentators is to be believed, the delay could continue. Speaking to Solicitors Journal, Christopher Malla of Kennedys said that an IPSOS Mori poll into the impact of a change suggested further questions would need answering, largely because claimants themselves were already too cautious and risk averse. The research also indicated that any change to the rate would likely impact the cost of motor insurance.
The review itself was instigated at the behest of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. APIL's silence on this particular story could be significant suggesting either that this research proves little beyond that which is already understood, or that they are busy dealing with tailgating motorists right now…