Were you inside last week’s Global Law Summit or at a protest? It would be unfair to say the police and obtrusive perimeter fence kept the outside world at bay. From discussion of the plight of Syrian refugees to concern over the rights of asylum seekers, the event was often broad in its outlook.
However the health of the legal profession in the round was only mentioned en passant – Neuberger’s reminder that first-rate judges cost money excepted.
TheCityUK unveiled research suggesting the combined fee income of UK law firms rose 6% last year to £32.4bn. The report rightly trumpeted London’s vigour as the leading international centre for dispute resolution.
Unacknowledged in the discussion that followed, however, was the wider effect of the parlous state of the legal economy that many solicitors still work in. The system cannot prosper with one limb in athletic prime, the other gangrenous.
South African jurist Catherine O’Regan raised parallel issues in another discussion. O’Regan pointed to the problem of a South Africa where foreign investors enjoy the protections of the rule of law, but small business owners have no redress as victims of corruption and extortion. This cuts the latter off from the global economy, though they live in its shadow. Something to consider the next time thousands of lawyers gather, perhaps.