I have had quite a lot of dealings with the Legal Ombudsman’s office recently. Fortunately for me that experience has been positive. They deal with matters by email, get to the relevant point, and determine the issues quickly. It seems much less confrontational than it was. There was a time when work was farmed out to other organisations and my experience of that was not happy. If a client complained about fifty things and you were at fault on one then you got hammered on the single point. That has hopefully changed.
However despite having complaints rejected recently (that is tempting fortune if anything is!) I have concerns. The system is still stacked in favour of the unreasonable client. They can complain to fee earner, the complaints partner in the firm and then two tiers of complaints handling with the OLC. The unreasonably dissatisfied client is going to keep complaining and complaining.
The second point is the complaints service we as a profession offers is first class and therefore expensive. Can the profession afford this at a time when budgets and income for many high street firms are falling?
We learn that reorganisation at the top of the Legal Ombudsman could cost the profession an extra £90,000 a year in managers’ salaries…The Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) this month started advertising for the posts of both chief executive and chief ombudsman. The new additions come as part of a completely new management team at the ombudsman’s Birmingham headquarters. Posts for head of policy, research and communications, and head of IT, both receiving between £68,000 and £80,000, were advertised this week, while a new finance manager is also being recruited on up to £52,000 a year.
I wish the new Ombudsman well. We want the public to have confidence in the profession. Presumably I will be told the profession cannot afford a reduced complaints service. I wonder. Who do I complain to?