Adam Sampson (8 April) decries the use of the word ‘client’ in favour of ‘customer’. Despite him possibly confusing Julius Caesar with Cicero as a renowned lawyer in the Roman courts, Mr Sampson should be wary of rejecting the client relationship. In classical times there was a mutuality of obligation between patron and client, and something of that relationship is still required between solicitor and client.
He says in the emerging legal market customers are buying legal services as though at a supermarket. That clearly is not the case, as the existence of the Legal Ombudsman makes clear. When we have a Supermarket Ombudsman – where customers can complain about the service they have received and the price they paid for goods, and they can subsequently be fined or prevented from carrying out their business – then Mr Sampson can with all honesty say we live in a similar environment.
The use of the word ‘customer’ by the ombudsman and also by the Legal Services Board betrays their misunderstanding of the relationship between a solicitor and a client, and also discloses that contempt (some may say an almost irrational fear and loathing) of professionalism.
I should state that this is my view and not that of the Law Society or its membership board.
David Taylor, St John’s Chambers, London SW11