Hold tight for 2018
Get set for another rollercoaster ride through the year
I expect that by the time you read this, 2018 will be well into its stride, and offer my best wishes that it works out well for each one of you.
To do so, it will have to defy quite a lot of predictions – our employment survey that we reported on last month found that in almost all types of organisation, private practice or in-house, more solicitors expected things to get worse over the following 12 months than to improve.
Brexit is clearly casting a shadow for many – only a small percentage expect it to benefit their organisation, though in addition to the “don’t knows”, a sizeable minority see it as making no difference. However, there is no doubt that clients will increasingly want advice on how to prepare for change, even ahead of knowing what form that change will take, and those who can equip themselves to meet that need will stand to gain, whatever their views on the wisdom of leaving the EU.
For hard-pressed legal aid lawyers, whose prospects are more heavily, and directly, dependent on decisions taken by Government, there is at least the hope that the independent review under Martyn Evans, due to report in the spring, will conclude that improved funding is needed to ensure the future viability of the sector. Even if it does, that would not in itself secure an increase in public funds, though we could certainly hope for a less hostile climate of public debate around the subject.
The results of the other main review, by Esther Roberton of the regulation of legal services, will likely take rather longer to reach implementation, and practices will meantime have to continue to compete as best they can in a partly unregulated market.
On top of all that we face the ongoing, and increasing, pace of change on the IT front. This could be beneficial in many ways, if promised developments in the courts and at Registers of Scotland, to name but two, come to fruition, even if the new GDPR rules present yet another administrative challenge.
In short, if you have experienced recent times as years of turbulence, then like it or not, 2018 seems set to deliver more of the same. But keeping a cool head through the turbulence and looking out for the new opportunities that are bound to exist, should stand most businesses in good stead. Those “Keep calm and...” messages have plenty of life in them yet.