Alistair Morris, the president of the Law Society of Scotland, eagerly directed our attention (Law and Legal Affairs, 29 December) to the Ipsos Mori poll, commissioned by the society.
According to the poll, “solicitors are highly regarded by the public”. Apparently 89 per cent of those polled agreed that their solicitor was an expert in their area of law.
Eighty-nine per cent said their solicitor provided good customer service and 82 per cent would recommend their solicitor to other members of their family or friends. Experienced recipients of what too many solicitors have to offer would contend that this was a rogue poll. Some would go further and contend that only by polling solicitors, their relatives, their friends and members of the Law Society, could such a result emerge.
The recipients know from painful and expensive experience, that many solicitors hide their many talents behind a mask of mesmeric mediocrity – thereby facilitating the emergence of copious ineptitude, capacious incompetence, comical pomposity and appalling misconduct.
Mr Morris assured us that “members of the public expressed confidence in the regulation of solicitors”. Those “members” have clearly never used the system used by the Law Society to “regulate” solicitors. He also opined that we “have a strong regulatory system in place”. We do indeed, but its strength inheres in the mechanisms deployed by the society to protect solicitors whose conduct generated complaints.
The mechanisms include the diligent application of innate bias (inevitable under any system of self-regulation) and the liberal deployment of obfuscation, sophistry, obscurantism and chicanery. The mechanisms are constantly refined and this ensures that the complainants, in the throes of compete mental exhaustion, give up the struggle, thus enabling the society to achieve its objective: the exoneration of the solicitors.
Scotland, unarguably the “best wee country in the world”, is unique regarding how the legal fraternity is regulated. Solicitors “investigate” solicitors through the Law Society. Advocates “investigate” advocates through the Faculty of Advocates and judges “investigate” judges through the Judicial Office for Scotland.
For reasons yet to be ascertained, that system of regulation is remarkably efficient in achieving the complete exoneration and (occasionally) the partial deification of solicitors, advocates and judges whose conduct merited “investigation”.
However, any academic study of the system would inevitably conclude that the Law Society, the recipient of the most complaints, is the Mozart of self-regulation – and the master of the art of exoneration.